Hab 2.1-20 contains Yehovah’s answer to Habakkuk about his feelings just expressed in Chapter 1.
v 1…I (Habakkuk) will stand on my guard )a place of waiting) and station myself on the rampart (a spying tower or fortress); and I will keep watch to see what he (Yehovah) will speak to me (as a revelation)-he did not do these things literally like Balaam did in Num 23.3, but this is figurative language for an internal preparation to be able to hear the words of Yehovah), and how I may reply when I am reproved (his complaint in Hab 1.13-17 about letting the wicked go unpunished; he will wait for an answer).
v 2…Then the Lord (Yehovah) answered me and said, “Record the vision (the revelation) and inscribe it on tablets (to draw a distinction between his own words and the Spirit of God), that the one who reads it may run (the prophecy is to be laid on the heart by all the people).
v 3…For the vision (prophecy) is yet for the appointed time (“moed”-the fixed time set by God for its manifestation and realization, which was still afar off); it hastens toward the goal (the end), and it will not fail (lie). Though it tarries (is not fulfilled immediately), wait for it, for it will certainly come (take place), it will not delay (fail or remain behind, not arrive).
v 4…Behold, as for the proud one (Chaldeans), his soul is not straight (steadfast) within him; but the righteous (the tzaddik, just) will live through his faith (Rom 1.17).
v 5…Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man (the Babylonians were addicted to wine), so he does not stay at home (is not content). He enlarges his appetite (opens his mouth) like Sheol (to gather up other nations), and he is like death, never satisfied (insatiable). He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples.
Hab 2.6-9 describes the retribution and destruction coming against the Chaldeans.
v 6…Will not all of these (nations) take up a taunt song (parable) against him, and a mocking riddle against him, and say, “Woe (lamentations to you) to him who increases what is not his (takes the possessions of others)-for how long- and makes himself rich (heavy) with loans (the Babylonians were seen as a harsh usurer, and his ill-gotten gains were pledges in his hands).
v 7…Will not your biters (enemies) rise up suddenly, and those who shake you (destroy) wake up? Indeed, you will become plunder for them (eventually the Medes and the Persians destroyed the Babylonian Empire-Dan 5.1-31).
v 8…Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the people will loot you because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the city (in general)-not Jerusalem) and all its inhabitants.
v 9…Woe (lamentations await you) to him who gets evil gain for his house (king’s royal dynasty), to put his nest on high (securing his government against attacks) to be delivered from the hand of calamity (war or invasion)!
v 10…You have devised a shameful thing for your house (instead of honor) by cutting off many peoples; so you are sinning against yourself (soul-bringing retribution upon himself).
v 11…Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer from the framework (because of the robberies and crimes committed in building Babylon).
v 12…Woe (lamentations await) to him who builds a city with bloodshed (the spoils taken) and founds a town with violence (oppression-it is vain to do this).
v 13…Is it not indeed from the Lord of hosts (Yehovah of the armies) that people toil for fire (they work and strain to build a city, only to have it consumed by fire when it falls), the nations grow weary for nothing (all the great buildings will end up in the dust-it is all vanity).
v 14…For the earth will be filled with the knowledge (“da’at”-the knowledge of God in Torah facts) of the glory (kivod/radiance) of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (his judgments on the ungodly powers will bring acknowledgment of his power and glory from all the nations).
v 15…Woe (lamentations await you) to you who make your neighbors drink (this is figurative), who mix in your venom even to make them drink (entices them into alliances with them with cunning and deception) so as to look on their nakedness (overthrow their nation).
v 16…You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your nakedness (to be overthrown). The cup in the Lord’s right hand (the power hand) will come around for you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory (the cup the Chaldeans gave to others will be given to them by Yehovah).
v 17…For the violence done to Lebanon (not satisfied with robbing the people, their cruelty extended to nature and the animal world by cutting down the wood and displacing and exterminating the animals-Isa 14.8) will overwhelm you, and the devastation of its beasts by which you terrified them (Babylon’s conquests terrified the natural world and devastated forests and the animals), because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, the city and all its inhabitants.
v 18…What profit is the idol (graven image) when its maker has carved it, a molten image (cast metal), a teacher of lies (it sustains the delusion that it is a god)? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols (and expects the idol to help him).
v 19…Woe (lamentations await) to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake’ (to help)! To a dumb stone, ‘Arise’! And that is your teacher (should it teach)? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it (so how can it teach if it is not alive).
v 20…But the Lord (Yehovah) is in his holy Temple (not in idols of metal and stone, but in his Temple in heaven). Let all the earth be silent before him (when he appears as a judge; if the whole earth is subject to him, then he is over Babylon also).”