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Habakkuk 3:8

Was your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation?

What is the chariot of salvation?

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The beautiful poetry of Hab 3 prayer (or song?) of praise is unsurprisingly filled with metaphors and allusions to Israel's history, especially the escape from Egypt.

  • The reference in Hab 3:5, 6 appears to allude to the plagues of Egypt.
  • Hab 3:7 is another indirect allusion to Egypt
  • Hab 3:8 appears to refer to the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan
  • Hab 3:9 might allude to the conquest of Canaan

Specifically concerning the "chariot of salvation", Ellicott comments as follows:

Of salvation.—Better, for salvation, or for deliverance. The allusion is obviously to Israel’s miraculous passage through the Red Sea and the Jordan. The “horses” and “chariots” which are here the symbols of Divine might, come in the more fittingly in view of Exodus 14 (see Habakkuk 3:14 seq.), where Pharaoh, pursued with “horses and chariots,” only to find Jehovah Himself arrayed against him.

The Cambridge commentary is also helpful:

chariots of salvation] Or, of victory, deliverance; lit. thy chariots which are victory, i.e. victorious, used to victory. The “horses” and “chariots” here are the storm-clouds on which Jehovah rides. Psalm 18:10; Isaiah 19:1; Deuteronomy 33:26; Psalm 68:33.

8–11. Is Jehovah’s anger against the rivers and the sea?

The reference to the “sea,” which is naturally to be understood as the Red Sea, is in favour of taking the whole passage as a description of the redemption of the Exodus. Jehovah moves in a glorious manifestation of light from His ancient seats in Paran and Sinai; He directs His movement towards the Red Sea for the delivery of His people. Sea and land are thrown into wild commotion and terror at His appearing. This suggests the prophet’s question, Is thine anger against the sea?

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Habakkuk 3

1This is a prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth:a

2O LORD, I have heard the report of You;

I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds.

Revive them in these years;

make them known in these years.

In Your wrath, remember mercy!

3God came from Teman,

and the Holy One from Mount Paran.

Habakkuk is praying for the Lord to come in a chariot of salvation to save Israel. The "horses" and "chariots" are symbols of the power of kings and pharaohs and God.

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What are Your Chariot(s) of salvation?

מַרְכְּבֹתֶ֖יךָ Markevoteikha | "[Your]-Chariots" (plural).

  • If Habbakuk 3:8 had stated "Your-Chariot" (singular), then the text would have said : מִרְכֶּבֶתיךָ Mirkev[e]teikha .

Chavaquq חֲבַקּ֖וּק | "Habbakuk" 3:8

Was YHVH angry with the rivers? Is His wrath against the rivers, or His fury against the sea? Only that You rode on Your steeds with Your-Chariots of salvation." ( הֲבִנְהָרִים֙ חָרָ֣ה יְהֹוָ֔ה אִם־בַּנְּהָרִים֙ אַפֶּ֔ךָ אִם־בַּיָּ֖ם עֶבְרָתֶ֑ךָ כִּ֚י תִרְכַּב֙ עַל־סוּסֶ֔יךָ מַרְכְּבֹתֶ֖יךָ יְשׁוּעָֽה )

Your-Chariots | מַרְכְּבֹתֶ֖יךָ Markevoteikha refers to Clouds.

  • See also Deuteronomy 33:26

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