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.


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.

| improve this answer | |

Hidden idiom: קֶ֫רֶב is - as many NT readers know - the root of Gk Korban, for the offering devoted for "bringing near," but of far more extensive application for general indication to be contrasted to ‎רקב, wide. This usage for "close by" as in Genesis 20:4 of Abimelech takes place for Isaac in counterpoint to the relief that Patriarch found at Rehoboth in Ch. 26:22, with the name-place thanksgiving for " כִּֽי־עַתָּ֞ה הִרְחִ֧יב יְהוָ֛ה לָ֖נוּ". Rashi would not have considered this a hidden idiom because the near-far antithesis is natural. The fact of its having a "metathetical" signification in the Hebrew derives from very ancient times, considered Edenic among many similar sound-structures posited by the scholar Isaac Mozeson - see http://edenics.org and the Isaac Mozeson Facebook page for updates of new discoveries.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.