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The phrase "in the midst of the years" occurs in some more literal translations of Habakkuk 3:2:

Yahweh, I have heard the report of you, and your work, Yahweh, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. (~ESV)

Is this a Hebrew idiom? What does it mean? Does it indicate something about the prophet's perception of himself in the flow of human history? Is the NIV rendering appropriate?—

Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

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I just wanted to remind everyone to vote on questions as well as answers. It's important for our community! –  Jon Ericson Jun 19 '12 at 1:24

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Rashi says:

Your deed. In the midst of the years: 'Your original deed, that You would wreak vengeance for us upon our enemies in the midst of the years of trouble in which we are found.'

revive it: 'Awaken it and restore it.'

in the midst of the years: 'And in the midst of these years let it be known.'

I can't imagine there to be a hidden Hebrew idiom that Rashi was not aware of. Possibly because the Hebrew word for midst (קֶ֫רֶב) is only associated with year (שָׁנִים֙) in Habakkuk that the question was formed, but it seems the NIV is fine.

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Kerev, not b'tokh? (I haven't looked it up, obviously.) –  Gone Quiet Jun 18 '12 at 13:06
@MonicaCellio - שׁנה šâneh קרב qereḇ. I have to look it up and could barely understand your comment. For difficult Hebrew I will be asking you:) –  Mike Jun 18 '12 at 14:57
The word בְּתוֹךְ (in the midst) or with a mem prefix (from the midst) seems to refer to physical midst -- the tree of life is b'tokh the garden, God spoke to the people m'tokh the fire on the mountain, etc. קֶרֶב refers to nearness; for example, the burnt offering is a korban (same root) because it draws us closer to God. When I saw "midst" in the question I assumed b'tokh, but I see that's not the word used here. Interesting. (Did this explanation help?) –  Gone Quiet Jun 18 '12 at 15:39
@MonicaCellio - Oh I see what your saying, yes that helped, thanks. –  Mike Jun 18 '12 at 16:24
Sorry about that Mike. Sometimes the connections that seem so clear in my brain...aren't. :-) –  Gone Quiet Jun 18 '12 at 16:57

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