Habakkuk & the Gods of Israel

Habakkuk & the Gods of Israel



Chapter three of Habakkuk is widely regarded as one of the ‘most difficult’ passages in the Hebrew Bible to translate,1 due to its ‘poor condition’.2 It contains a large number of ‘apparently insurmountable’3 textual corruptions,4 some of them ‘impossibly corrupt’,5 with a ‘severe lack of agreement’ in places on how they should be corrected or translated.6 In some places the text is verbally coherent, but conceptually meaningless. These difficulties require scholars to consult early translations of Habakkuk—such as Greek, Syriac, and Latin—to attempt puzzling out what the original Hebrew text may have said. Even aside from this, Hab 3 stands out in the Hebrew Bible for a few reasons. It is unusual for being a hymn set within poetic prophecy; usually such hymns are located within a narrative. It also contains several textual markers used in the Psalms.7

Hab 3 also functions as a perfect demonstration that even the ‘orthodox’ among ancient Judeans—including the author of the hymn, in this case—were polytheists, and that significant elements of Judean religion derived from local Canaanite religious traditions.

Structure and Dating

There is little debate over how the chapter should be formatted. It is usually divided into a title, and a prologue and an epilogue, which frame two stanzas.8

The title (3.1) attributes the hymn to Habakkuk, ‘according to Shigionoth’. The meaning of this word or phrase is unknown, and was rendered in Greek as μετὰ ᾠδῆς, ‘with a song’. The prologue (3.2) and epilogue (3.16–19) are vocative petitions: the author speaks in the first person, and addresses Yahweh directly. He calls to mind Yahweh’s past works, admits to his own fears, and insists that he still will worship Yahweh as his protector. The epilogue has textual overlap with other biblical passages.9 The main focus of the chapter is found in the two stanzas (3.3–7 and 8–15).10

Similar to the linguistic difficulties in the hymn, the date of the hymn is not simple. Some scholars argue that parts of the hymn thematically mirror pieces of Habakkuk’s oracles in chapters one and two,11 but these have not convinced many of their peers. Instead, chapter three is broadly agreed not to have come from the prophet Habakkuk, due to the huge differences ‘in content, style, vocabulary, political orientation, etc.’,12 and predates chapters one and two by quite some time.13 The title ascribing the hymn to his name is later than the rest of the chapter,14 written when the hymn was attached to the oracles, probably during the exilic or early post-exilic periods. Likewise, the prologue and epilogue appear to be secondary, written later than the rest of the hymn, but appended at some point before the title. Even the term ‘selah’, repeated three times (3.3, 9, 13), may be an addition.15

The hymn itself is commonly argued to contain ‘archaic’ elements,16 but in what way? Some claim this was a conscious decision of the author to grant his hymn the tone of an ancient song. Others insist the simpler explanation is that the archaisms are due to the hymn actually being quite ancient.17 If the Book of Habakkuk is a unified composition,18 the only definitive clue to when it was written is mention of the ‘Chaldeans’ as an emerging threat against Judah’s enemies (1.6). This would require a date sometime after 625 BCE, when Babylon (the Chaldeans) posed a threat to the Assyrians, but probably before the end of that century, when the same threat began to turn toward Judah.19 Yet, as mentioned, Hab 3 appears to be an independent composition from the rest of the book, and its content is rather comparable to other passages in the Hebrew Bible, ones thought to be its oldest surviving texts.

Yahweh’s March

The hymn in Hab 3 should be split into two main stanzas, and each stanza contains a series of bicolons, where each bicolon iterates the same idea within each of its two lines. The first two bicolons (3.3) of the first stanza (3.3–7) set the stage for the hymn.

Eloah came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran. (Selah)

His glory covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.

Although the deity is named as ‘Yahweh’ in the second stanza (3.8), as well as the framework (3.2, 18–19), he is first identified by the name ‘Eloah’. This belongs to the same family of Hebrew words commonly translated as capital-g ‘God’, but each has its own textual history. Usually Yahweh is given the name Elohim (an intensified plural) in the Hebrew Bible. In some texts, particularly Genesis, he is conflated with the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon, El (sometimes given the titles Shaddai or Elyon, usually translated as ‘Almighty’ and ‘Most High’, respectively). Use of the name Eloah in the Hebrew Bible is considerably rarer, more likely to be found in older texts.20

The first stanza depicts Eloah emerging from a location called Teman and Mount Paran (3.3). As he marches across the earth, his path begins in Cushan and Midian (3.7). These are not his target, they are his home.21 Teman has been identified as an Edomite city,22 but more likely it was the name for a region within Edom, or for Edom itself.23 Mount Paran is a mountain in Edom. This brings us to our first major similarity with a small collection of texts regarded as the oldest within the Bible. Hab 3.3, alongside Deut 33.1 and Judges 5.4, does not depict Yahweh coming from Zion (Jerusalem), Sinai (southwest of Judah), or another more traditional location in the biblical narrative. The idea found in these poetic texts may be corroborated by three Egyptian texts from the late second millennium BCE, which connect ‘Yahu’ with a nomadic people living in the region of Edom and Midian.24 Hab 3, with those two other poems, appears to preserve a tradition that Yahweh-worship originated outside Canaan, to its southeast.25

The middle three verses of the first stanza (3.4–6) describe Yahweh’s appearance as he steps out from his dwelling on Mount Paran. There is a lot of dissent on precisely how to translate individual lines within the stanza, but the general idea is agreed to be that Yahweh is covered in light (3.4; cf. Deut 33.2; Psa 104.1–2), and his presence disrupts nature itself, shaking the earth (3.6; cf. Psa 18.7). In common with Deut 33.2, which shows Yahweh accompanied by ‘myriads of holy ones […] a host of his own’, Hab 3.5 mention Eloah’s military retinue. The NRSV renders the verse as:

Before him went pestilence,
and plague followed close behind.

It is not itself unexpected that Eloah/Yahweh might be said to have control over ‘pestilence’ and ‘plague’, considering various miracles attributed to him throughout the Hebrew Bible, but this translation seriously dilutes the full impact of what the author is trying to communicate in this instance. Some casual readers may recognize the text is personifying these two forces, but the Hebrew goes further than that: ‘pestilence’ translates deber, and ‘plague’ rešef. These are the names of Canaanite gods.26

Resheph is attested all across the Near East, associated with plagues and the underworld.27 His identification in the hymn is essentially unanimous among critical scholarship.28 Deber, thus far, is possibly found in just one Ugaritic text,29 but Deber and Respheh are mentioned in a few other parts of the Hebrew Bible. While most of these occasions use deber and rešef as basic nouns (the previous ‘pestilence’ and ‘plague’), a few do seem to reflect the idea they are deities (e.g. Resheph in Deut 32.24 or Job 5.7; Deber in Deut 28.21 or Psa 91.6).30 The placement of Resheph and Deber in parallel lines of this bicolon could suggest either that they are two names for the same deity,31 but more likely that they are two deities who fulfill similar a similar role. We have Ugaritic texts regularly display a god’s importance by describing his retinue, listing multiple gods rather than simply naming one multiple times.32

Epic of Gilgamesh 11.96–100
With the first glow of dawn,
A black cloud rose up from the horizon.
Inside it Adad thunders,
While Shullat and Hanish go in front,
Moving as heralds over hill and plain.33

This turns us back to the preceding verse, Hab 3.4, where the final line has puzzled translators. English Bibles typically render the line as Eloah ‘hiding’ his ‘power’. The Hebrew may instead mention a third deity.

In Isa 25.6–8, Yahweh holds a feast of victory for humanity, during which ‘he will swallow up death forever’. English readers completely miss the larger point the author intended with this act. The Hebrew for ‘death’ (מות) is simply the name of the Canaanite god of death, Mot, and one myth has Mot swallow the storm god Baal Hadad (rendered Adad in the Gilgamesh epic above).34 This temporary defeat of Baal by Mot was an etiology for the failure of crops for part of the year, similar to the Greek story of Demeter, Persephone, and Hades. The author of Isa 25 reverses the story, with Yahweh devouring Mot to show the end of not just human death, but the end of crop failure.

This is not the only time the author of Isa 24–27 borrows from Canaanite traditions. Ugaritic texts speak of another god of the underworld named Haby.35 In one text, the god El gets drunk and sees Haby in his stupor, terrified by his appearance. Isa 26.20, usually translated with the command ‘hide yourself’, probably instead mentions Haby, who again instills fear.36 The final line of Hab 3.4, instead of containing an awkward phrase of Eloah/Yahweh ‘hiding’ his power (contradicting the rest of the hymn, which is a public display of his power),37 may contain a variant spelling of Haby’s name, Hebyon. The result is 3.4b–5 depicting Eloah’s military retinue as he advances from Teman, identifying three gods by name: Hebyon, Deber, and Resheph.38

Yahweh’s Weapons

The second stanza turns attention from Yahweh’s appearance to the war on his enemies.

Was your wrath against the rivers, O Yahweh?
Or your anger against the rivers,
or your rage against the sea,
when you drove your horses,
your chariots to victory?

After this, the ‘deep’ shows fear (3.10), and Yahweh ‘trampled the sea with your horses, churning the mighty waters’ (3.15).

The reason for this assault on water itself is inexplicable in English, even in a poetic context. This has led a few scholars to suggest that the ‘work’ of Yahweh (3.2) is in reference to Israel’s exodus from Egypt, so that the attack on the rivers and sea in the second stanza is interpreted as a highly poetic account of Moses parting the Sea of Reeds (and mention of the sun and moon in 3.10–11 is likewise connected to Josh 10.12–13).39 Comparisons are made to Psa 77 in defense of this view,40 but I find this tenuous. Hab 3 neither mentions nor alludes to Israel, Egypt, Moses, Joshua, slavery, or the conquest of Canaan. The ‘Sea’ against which Yahweh is enraged is not the Sea of Reeds from the exodus, but some other body of water ‘near the Gulf of Aqabah’.41 The ‘historical’ setting is restricted to an emergence from the southeast, a general aggression against ‘the nations’ (3.6, 12), and the rescue of ‘your people’ and ‘your anointed’ (3.13). This latter term is never applied to the whole community in the Hebrew Bible,42 so the author may have in mind Yahweh’s chosen king (cf. Psa 2.2, 5),43 a very different context from the exodus.

Yahweh’s portrayal in this stanza instead has uncanny parallels with the Baal myths found in the Ugaritic texts. One of Baal’s chief enemies is Yam, also called Nahar. The blacksmith god Kothar gives Baal two clubs to fight Yam.

Kothar wa-Khasis said:
‘I tell you, O Prince Baal
I declare, O Rider of the Clouds.
Now your enemy, O Baal,
Now you will smite your enemy’

‘Strike the head of Prince Yam,
Between the eyes of Judge Nahar.
Yam shall collapse
And fall to the ground.’44

The Hebrew word for ‘sea’ in Hab 3.8 is yam (ים), and ‘rivers’ is neharim (נהרים), which is just the plural of nahar (נהר). While the present form of the hymn has somewhat lessened the presence of Yam/Nahar (by rendering the latter in the plural), the hymn’s dependence on the Baal myth is still obvious.45 Similar examples of Yahweh waging battle against Yam/Nahar can be found in other parts of the Hebrew Bible. It is likely that a somewhat earlier edition of the hymn simply named Yam/Nahar as the target of Yahweh’s wrath. The ‘deep’ mentioned in verse 10 is Hebrew tehom (תהום; cf. Gen 1.2), cognate of Akkadian Tiamat, the name of the primeval sea god who embodies chaos.46 In the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, Tiamat is the primary antagonist to the ascendant god Marduk, similar to how Yam/Nahar opposes Baal in his myth cycle.47

The bicolon in Hab 3.9a seems to have suffered the worst copyist corruptions. The best attempts to reconstruct the verse must compare the existing Hebrew text to early Greek and Syriac translations and guess what word they each misread. The general consensus is that the first line of the bicolon depicts Yahweh readying his bow,48 but translations of the second line differ wildly.

You took the sheath from your bow;
the arrows are ready to be used with an oath.

Your bow was exposed,
and your arrows targeted by command.

Thy bow was made quite naked,
according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word.

Your bow was made bare,
The rods of chastisement were sworn.

You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows.

You brandished your naked bow,
sated were the arrows at your command.

This second line consists of three words in Hebrew: שבעות מטות אמר.

Where the KJV, for example, has ‘oaths’ (שבעות), the Greek text in the Septuagint has επι τα σκηπτρα, ‘against the scepters’. The Septuagint appears to itself be a corruption of επτα σκηπτρα, ‘seven scepters’.49 This suggests that ‘oath’ (שבעות) should be emended ‘seven’ (שבעת), a simple correction (remove ו).50 The second word (מטות), brought into English as ‘tribes’ and into ancient Greek as ‘scepters’, also has other possible translations available. It appears similar to ‘Akkadian miṭṭu (“mace”),51 which appears frequently in Akkadian literature as a divine weapon’,52 but is more likely ‘a rare, poetic term for arrows’, based on usage of its cognate mṭm in Ugaritic texts.53 Reading the Hebrew text this way yields the translation ‘seven arrows’, which is perfectly sensible after the previous line of the bicolon mentioning a readied bow.

The third word (אמר)—given variously in the English versions above as ‘command’, ‘word’, or ‘sworn’—is more contentious. It appears to be the verb ‘to say’, but is often interpreted by scholars as a corruption of ‘your quiver’ (אשפתך), a significant change to the Hebrew text based on the Greek Barberini Codex.54 Instead, the error could be a simple misreading of the first letter as an Aleph (אמר) rather than a Tav (תמר). This emended verb may be translated as ‘to smear with poison’, seen in an ancient practice of coating arrow and spears with a snake’s venom or bile.55 This would be particularly relevant in tandem with the gods Resheph and Deber as gods of plague or disease. Taken with the rest of the stanza, we have Yahweh portrayed as a charioteer, preparing his bow and poison-tipped arrows (cf. Psa 104.3; Job 6.4).56

Yahweh’s Storm

Our detour through Yahweh’s armory in 3.9a is important because it brings us to another parallel with Baal. The Book of Kings relates an intense, often violent rivlary between the worshipers of these two gods, Yahweh and Baal. Their feud may depend, in part, on both their roles as storm gods.

RS 24.245.1–4
Baal returns because of the throne to (his) mountain,
Hadd, the She[pherd], because of the Flood to the midst of his mountain,
Yea, the god of Zaphon to the [midst of] the mountain of (his) victory.
Seven lightnings [and] eight store-houses of thunder,
the tree of lightning he [creates].57

Like Yahweh in Hab 3, Baal also causes the world to shake when he emerges from his sanctuary.

Baal gives forth his holy voice,
Baal discharges the utterance of his lips.
His holy voice convulses the earth [...] the mountains quake,
Trembling are [...]
East and west, earth’s high places reel.58

Several biblical texts associate Yahweh with the storm. Psa 18 offers one of the clearest examples, next to Hab 3.59

He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering around him,
his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
there broke through his clouds
hailstones and coals of fire.
Yahweh also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice.
And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.

Amid heavy wind, dark clouds, and thunder, the final bicolon of this passage depicts the lightning of Yahweh’s storm as arrows he shoots at his enemies. And in Hab 3.9 we find Yahweh wielding seven arrows (3.9), which flash with light as he shoots them (3.11). This portrait of Yahweh as carrying seven lightnings was a detail assimilated from Baal.60 (Note also that Yahweh is given the title ‘Most High’; he has likewise assimilated El at this stage of theological development.) That the thunder is what causes the earth to shake in the two texts above should lead us to notice the storm imagery does not begin in Hab 3.9, but in 3.6.61 There is even a text which, though highly fragmentary, can clearly be seen telling the story of Baal slaying a dragon with the help of Resheph, who appears to shoot the monster’s heart with a bow.62

One other element of Yahweh’s attack stands out. His presence continues to overwhelm the surrounding world, but this thought weaves between a natural and mythological understanding of the cosmos. The Hebrew text of 3.10–11 directly names the Canaanite gods of the sun and moon—Shamash and Yariḥ—as frozen in place while they witness the battle waged against Yam/Nahar. Yariḥ appears with Resheph in a Ugaritic text,63 while Shamash is mentioned with Resheph three times in the Hadad Statue inscription.64 Worship of Shamash/the Sun is found in the Hebrew Bible, but not just in passages condemning the activity (e.g. 2 Kings 23.11). Several locations bear Shamash’s name, not the least being Beth-Shemesh, the ‘House of Shamash’.65 The events involving the judge Samson largely take place around Beth-Shemesh, and his name (šimšon) is even a Shamash theophoric (the same way, e.g., Isaiah or Jerubbaal are theophorics for Yahweh and Baal, respectively).66 In a ‘naturalistic’ sense, Shamash and Yariḥ being seized by fear at the sight of Yahweh’s presence corresponds to the sun and moon disappearing behind his storm clouds.67


Hab 3 is not a long chapter, but it contains several points of confusion for translators to work through, and—oddly—multiple places where popular translations are watered down in English. Though some adjustments made to the Hebrew are, ultimately, educated guesses, their plausibility is cumulative. The hymn in this chapter, originated as a poem worshiping Eloah/Yahweh as a god of storms and warfare, from among a larger pantheon.

We could say the author ‘borrowed’ from Canaanite religion, but this wrongly implies a discontinuity between the author’s traditions and that of the Canaanites. Judean religion was not an independent stream of thought that sometimes looked to a neighbor and borrowed a few ideas. Judean religion evolved out of Canaanite religion, so the adaptation of attributes from Baal (or other gods) for Yahweh was an intra-cultural process. However, the text as we have it now comes from a time when Judean religion was actively reducing certain gods into generic elemental forces (such as Yam/Nahar into merely the sea and rivers),68 part of a slow movement toward monolatry, then monotheism.

Eloah came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran. (Selah)
His glory covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.
The brightness was like the sun;
rays came forth from his hand.
There was Hebyon, the strong one;
before him went Deber,
and Resheph followed close behind.
He stopped and shook the earth;
he looked and made the nations tremble.
The eternal mountains were shattered;
along his ancient pathways
the everlasting hills sank low.
I saw the tents of Cushan under affliction;
the tent-curtains of the land of Midian trembled.
Was your wrath against Nahar, O Yahweh?
Or your anger against Nahar,
or your rage against Yam,
when you drove your horses,
your chariots to victory?
You brandished your naked bow,
you poisoned your seven arrows. (Selah)
You split the earth with rivers.
The mountains saw you, and writhed;
a torrent of water swept by;
Tehom gave forth his voice.
Shamash raised high his hands;
Yariḥ stood still in his exalted place,
at the light of your arrows speeding by,
at the gleam of your flashing spear.
In fury you trod the earth,
in anger you trampled nations.
You came forth to save your people,
to save your anointed.
You crushed the head of the wicked house,
laying it bare from foundation to roof. (Selah)
You pierced with their own arrows the head of his warriors,
who came like a whirlwind to scatter us,
gloating as if ready to devour the poor who were in hiding.
You trampled Yam with your horses,
churning the mighty waters.


1 Michael Barré, ‘Yahweh Gears Up for Battle: Habakkuk 3,9a’, Biblica 87, 75; Aron Pinker, ‘The Lord’s Bow in Habakkuk 3,9a’, Biblica 84.1, 417.

2 Mária Eszenyei Széles, Wrath and Mercy: A Commentary on the Books of Habakkuk and Zephaniah, 42.

3 Stephens, ‘The Babylonian Dragon Myth in Habakkuk 3’, Journal of Biblical Literature 43, 291.

4 Michael Barré, ‘Habakkuk 3:2: Translation in Context’, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 50, 185; Széles, 50.

5 Aron Pinker, ‘On the Meaning of מטיו in Habakkuk 3,14a’, Biblica 86.1, 376.

6 Barré, ‘Context’, 184.

7 Robertson, The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, 135; Watts, ‘Psalmody in Prophecy: Habakkuk 3 in Context’, Forming Prophetic Literature: Essays on Isaiah and the Twelve in Honor of John D.W. Watts, 210–212.

8 Hiebert, God of My Victory: The Ancient Hymn in Habakkuk 3, 59; Prinsloo, ‘Yahweh the Warrior: An Intertextual Reading of Habakkuk 3’, Old Testament Essays 14.3, 476; Shupak, ‘The God from Teman and the Egyptian Sun God: A Reconsideration of Habakkuk 3:3–7’, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Society 28.1, 98–99.

9 Stephens, 292. Hab 3.17 shares similarities with a passage from Atrahasis, while 3.18 is nearly the same as Micah 7.7, and 3.19 as Psa 18.32–33.

10 Hiebert, 59.

11 Prinsloo, 477.

12 Hiebert, 82.

13 Tchavdar S. Hadjiev, Joel, Obadiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: An Introduction and Study Guide, 78; Hiebert, 121; Paul Sanders, The Provenance of Deuteronomy 32, 308.

14 Hiebert, 82.

15 Pinker, ‘Bow’, 417; Széles, 43.

16 Hiebert, 82; Shupak, 98; Watts, 211.

17 Hiebert, 82; Watts, 219–220.

18 Walter Dietrich, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 95; Wilda C.M. Gafney, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 105; Aron Pinker, ‘‘Captors’ for ‘Years’ in Habakkuk 3:2’, Revue Biblique 112.1, 22–23; Shupak, 97.

19 Robertson, 34.

20 Patterson, ‘The Psalm of Habakkuk’, Grace Theological Journal 8.2, 166.

21 Hiebert, 95–96.

22 Robert Haak, Habakkuk, 83; Széles, 47.

23 Hiebert, 85–86.

24 Hadjiev, 77; Hiebert, 90; Shupak, 110.

25 Hadjiev, 76; Hiebert, 84, 121.

26 Hiebert, 92; Széles, 48.

27 Hiebert, 92; Shupak, 111.

28 John Day, ‘New Light on the Mythological Background of the Allusion to Resheph in Habakkuk III 5’, Vetus Testamentum 29.3, 353.

29 Hiebert, 93.

30 Ibid., 92.

31 Patterson, 169.

32 Haak, 90; Hiebert, 93.

33 E.A. Speiser, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James Pritchard), 94.

34 Leslie Hoppe, Isaiah, 68.

35 Paolo Xella, ‘Haby’, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter William van der Horst), 377.

36 Ibid.

37 Patterson, 168; Xella, 377.

38 Alberto R.W. Green, The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East, 264, 266; Haak, 83, 90; Mark Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts 47, 149.

39 Patterson, 163–164; Prinsloo, 480; Széles, 48.

40 Gafney, 110–111; Prinsloo, 478; Watts, 211.

41 Haak, 84.

42 Robertson, 237.

43 Hadjiev, 77.

44 Adapted from H.L. Ginsberg, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 130–131.

45 Day, ‘Light’, 353; Prinsloo, 484;.

46 Stephens, 291.

47 Gafney, 110.

48 Pinker, ‘Bow’, 417.

49 John Day, ‘Echoes of Baal’s Seven Thunders and Lightnings in Psalm XXIX and Habakkuk III 9 and the Identity of the Seraphim in Isaiah VI’, Vetus Testamentum 29.2, 146.

50 Barré, ‘Gears’, 77–78.

51 Prinsloo, 484.

52 Barré, ‘Gears’, 78.

53 Ibid.

54 Ibid., 78–79.

55 Ibid., 79–83.

56 Though see Day, ‘Echoes’, 147, who argues for the translation ‘Utterly laid bare are your bow and seven arrows with a word’. He points to texts like Jer 25.29 and Zech 13.7 for examples of summoning a weapon by verbally commanding it. These parallels do not seem particularly relevant to me, since, unlike them, the hymn in Hab 3 is a theophany; we have not a physically-removed Yahweh giving orders, but a physically-present Yahweh readying his own weapons. See also the bizarre interpretation in Pinker, ‘Bow’, 417, who justifies the translation ‘Naked bare your bow, of seven strips’ by arguing that ‘seven’ describes the physical shape of the bow, because Habakkuk associated with the rainbow, which has seven colors. The concept that rainbows contain seven colors originated with Isaac Newton, at least two thousand years after Hab 3 was written.

57 Adapted from Loren R. Fisher and F. Brent Knutson, ‘An Enthronement Ritual at Ugarit’, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 28.3, 158–159.

58 Adapted from H.L. Ginsberg, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 135.

59 Stephens, 290.

60 Day, ‘Echoes’, 143–146; Gafney, 110.

61 Patterson, 170. This is against Prinsloo, 480, who alleges that a lack of storm imagery in the first stanza suggests Eloah/Yahweh should be identified as a sun god in the hymn.

62 Day, ‘Light’, 354.

63 Maciej M. Münnich, The God Resheph in the Ancient Near East, 133.

64 Ibid., 210.

65 John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, 162.

66 Ibid., 162.

67 Ibid., 154.

68 Green, 266; Smith, 49.