Click to Change

Return to Top

Return to Top

Printer Icon


The Blue Letter Bible
ESV Global Study Bible :: old testament introductions :: Introduction to Habakkuk

ESV Global Study Bible :: Introduction to Habakkuk

Choose a new font size and typeface



Author and Date

Habakkuk is unusual as a prophetic book. It never addresses the people of Judah directly. Rather it is a dialogue between the prophet and God. The prophet Habakkuk was probably a contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah, and possibly even of Ezekiel and Daniel. He probably prophesied no later than the end of Josiah's reign (640-609 b.c.).

Theme and Overview

The first two chapters are organized around Habakkuk's questions and the Lord's replies. Habakkuk saw Judah's rapid moral and spiritual decline, and this deeply troubled him. Yet God's response puzzled him even more. How could a good and just God use a more wicked nation (Babylon) to punish a less wicked one (Judah)? God makes it clear that both nations are to be judged and appropriately punished for their sin. Although Habakkuk may not fully understand, he has learned to rely totally on God's wisdom and justice. He knows God can resolve issues in ways he could never have imagined. This God is certainly worthy of Habakkuk's praise and worship, which is how the book ends.

Many of the righteous in Judah would have agreed with Habakkuk's words. They wondered what God was doing and struggled with the same issues as Habakkuk. God's words reassured them that he was in control and would deal appropriately with the nations.

Key Themes

  1. God is just and merciful, even though his people may not always understand his ways (2:4).
  2. Wickedness will eventually be punished, and the righteous will ultimately see God's justice (2:5-20).
  3. God uses some wicked nations to punish other wicked nations, but ultimately God will judge all nations (1:6; 2:5-20).
  4. The key phrase "the righteous shall live by his faith" (2:4) summarizes God's plan for his people. It is quoted three times in the NT (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38). Each time a different aspect of the phrase's meaning is highlighted.


  1. Superscription (1:1)
  2. First Cycle (1:2-11)
    1. Habakkuk's lament (1:2-4)
    2. God's response (1:5-11)
  3. Second Cycle (1:12-2:20)
    1. Habakkuk's lament (1:12-2:1)
    2. God's response (2:2-20)
  4. Habakkuk's Prayer (3:1-19)

The Near East at the Time of Habakkuk

c. 620 b.c.

Though the exact date of the prophecies of Habakkuk is difficult to determine, it is likely that he prophesied a short time before the Babylonian invasions of Judah, which began in 605 b.c. During this time the Assyrian Empire was in decline, and the Babylonians were rising to replace them as the dominant power in the Near East.

The Near East at the Time of Habakkuk


The ESV Global Study Bible
Copyright © 2012 by Crossway.
All rights reserved.
Used by permission.

BLB Searches
Search the Bible

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval

Daily Devotionals

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.