This article is about Habakkuk, a biblical prophet. For other uses, see Habakkuk (disambiguation).

Russian icon of the prophet Habakkuk

An 18th-century Russian icon of the prophet Habakkuk (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia).
Venerated in Judaism
Major shrine Toyserkan, Iran
Kadarim, Israel
Feast January 15 (Roman Catholic; Greek)
December 2 (Orthodox)
Attributes Prophet
Major works Book of Habakkuk

Habakkuk (i/həˈbækək/ or i/ˈhæbəkʊk/; Hebrew: חֲבַקּוּק; also spelled Habacuc) was a prophet in the Hebrew Bible. He is the author of the Book of Habakkuk, the eighth of the collected twelve minor prophets.[1]


Almost nothing is known about Habakkuk, aside from what few facts are stated within the book of the Bible bearing his name, or those inferences that may be drawn from that book.[2] His name appears in the Bible only in Habakkuk 1:1 and 3:1, with no biographical details provided other than his title "the prophet."[3] Even the origin of his name is uncertain.[1]

For almost every other prophet, more information is given, such as the name of the prophet's hometown, his occupation, or information concerning his parentage or tribe.[4] For Habakkuk, however, there is no reliable account of any of these.[5] Although his home is not identified, scholars conclude that Habakkuk lived in Jerusalem at the time he wrote his prophecy.[6] Further analysis has provided an approximate date for his prophecy and possibilities concerning his activities and background.

Beyond the Bible, considerable conjecture has been put forward over the centuries in the form of Christian and Rabbinic tradition, but such accounts are dismissed by modern scholars as speculative and apocryphal.[7][8]

Biblical account

Because the book of Habakkuk consists of five oracles about the Chaldeans (Babylonians), and the Chaldean rise to power is dated circa 612 BC, it is assumed he was active about that time, making him an early contemporary of Jeremiah and Zephaniah. Jewish sources, however, do not group him with those two prophets, who are often placed together, so it is possible that he was slightly earlier than the pair.

Because the final chapter of his book is a song, it is sometimes assumed that he was a member of the tribe of Levi, which served as musicians in Solomon's Temple.[9]


The name Habakkuk, or Habacuc,[lower-alpha 1] appears in the Hebrew Bible only in Habakkuk 1:1 and 3:1.[3] In the Masoretic Text, it is written in Hebrew: חֲבַקּוּק (Standard Ḥavaqquq Tiberian Ḥăḇaqqûq).[11] This name does not occur elsewhere.[9] The Septuagint transcribes his name into Greek as Ἀμβακοὺμ (Ambakoum),[12] and the Vulgate transcribes it into Latin as Abacuc.[13]

The etymology of the name is not clear,[1] and its form has no parallel in Hebrew.[14] The name is possibly related to the Akkadian khabbaququ, the name of a fragrant plant,[1] or the Hebrew root חבק, meaning "embrace".


Habakkuk appears in Bel and the Dragon, which is part of the deuterocanonical Additions to Daniel. Verses 33–39 state that Habakkuk is in Judea and after making some stew, he's told by the angel of the Lord to take the stew to Daniel, who is in Babylon in the lion's den. After proclaiming he is unaware of both the den and Babylon, the angel transports Habakkuk to the lion's den. Habakkuk gives Daniel the food to sustain him, and is immediately taken back to "his own place".

Habakkuk is also mentioned in Lives of the Prophets, which also notes his time in Babylon.[15]

According to the Zohar (Volume 1, page 8b) Habakkuk is the boy born to the Shunamite woman through Elisha's blessing:

(2 Kings 4:16) And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace (חבקת – hoveket, therefore Habakkuk) a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, [thou] man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid.


Main article: Book of Habakkuk

The only work attributed to Habakkuk is the short book of the Bible that bears his name. The book of Habbakuk consists of five oracles about the Chaldeans (Babylonians) and a song of praise to God.

The style of the book has been praised by many scholars,[16] suggesting that its author was a man of great literary talent. The entire book follows the structure of a chiasmus in which parallelism of thought is used to bracket sections of the text.[17]

Habakkuk is unusual among the prophets in that he openly questions the working of God (1:3a, 1:13b).[18] In the first part of the second chapter, the Prophet sees the injustice among his people and asks why God does not take action: "1:2 Yahweh, how long will I cry, and you will not hear? I cry out to you 'Violence!' and will you not save?" (World English Bible).


The final resting place of Habakkuk has been claimed at multiple locations. The fifth-century Christian historian Sozomen claimed that the relics of Habakkuk were found at Cela, when God revealed their location to Zebennus, bishop of Eleutheropolis, in a dream.[19] Currently, one location in Israel and one in Iran lay claim to being the burial site of the prophet.

Tomb in Israel

Tomb of Habakkuk near Kadarim, Israel.

The burial place of Habakkuk is identified by Jewish tradition as a hillside in the Upper Galilee region of northern Israel, close to the villages Kadarim and Hukok, about six miles southwest of Safed and twelve miles north of Mount Tabor.[20] A small stone building, erected during the 20th century, protects the tomb.[21] Tradition dating as early as the 12th century AD holds that Habakkuk's tomb is at this location,[22] but the tomb may also be of a local sheikh of Yaquq, a name related to the biblical place named "Hukkok" (mentioned in Joshua 19:34), whose pronunciation and spelling in Hebrew are close to "Habakkuk".[23] Archaeological findings in this location include several burial places dated to the Second Temple period.

Persian shrine

Shrine of Habakkuk in Tuyserkan, Iran.

A mausoleum southeast of the city of Tuyserkan in the west of Iran is also believed to be Habakkuk's burial place.[24] It is protected by Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization. The Organization's guide to the Hamadan Province states that Habakkuk was believed to be a guardian to Solomon's Temple, and that he was captured by the Babylonians and remained in their prison for some years. After being freed by Cyrus the Great, he went to Ecbatana and remained there until he died, and was buried somewhere nearby, in what is today Tuyserkan. Habakkuk is called both Habaghugh and Hayaghugh by the locals.

The surrounding shrine may date to the period of the Seljuq Empire (11–12th century); it consists of an octagonal wall and conical dome. Underneath the shrine is a hidden basement with three floors. In the center of the shrine's courtyard is the grave where Habakkuk is said to be buried. A stone upon the grave is inscribed in both Hebrew and Persian stating that the prophet's father was Shioua Lovit, and his mother was Lesho Namit.[25]

Christian commemoration

On the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar, his feast day is December 2.[26] In the Roman Catholic Church, the twelve minor prophets are read in the Roman Breviary during the fourth and fifth weeks of November,[27] which are the last two weeks of the liturgical year, and his feast day is January 15.[28] This day is also celebrated as his feast by the Greek Orthodox Church.[5] In 2011, he was commemorated with the other Minor Prophets in the calendar of saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on February 8.[29]

Habakkuk has also been commemorated in sculpture. In 1435,[30] the Florentine artist Donatello created a sculpture of the prophet for the bell tower of Florence.[31] This statue, nicknamed Zuccone ("Big Pumpkin") because of the shape of the head, now resides in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. The Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome contains a Baroque sculpture of Habakkuk by the 17th-century artist Bernini.[32] Between 1800 and 1805, the Brazilian sculptor Aleijadinho completed a soapstone sculpture of Habakkuk as part of his Twelve Prophets.[33] The figures are arranged around the forecourt and monumental stairway in front of the Santuário do Bom Jesus do Matosinhos at Congonhas.[34]

See also


  1. The spelling "Habacuc" is the one used in the Douay–Rheims Bible, an official translation of the Roman Catholic Vulgate into English[10] that was completed in 1610. Most other English translations use the spelling "Habakkuk".



  • Achtemeier, Elizabeth (1993). "Habbakuk, The Book of". In Metzger, Bruce M.; Coogan, Michael D. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-19-504645-5. 
  • Andersen, Francis I. (2001). Habbakuk: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible. 25. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-08396-3. 
  • Armenian Church. "February 2011 Liturgical Calendar". The Armenian Church, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  • Baker, David W. (1988). Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press. ISBN 0-87784-249-3. 
  • Batiffol, Pierre (1898). History of the Roman Breviary. Trans. Atwell M. Y. Baylay. London: Longman's, Green, and Co. 
  • Benedictine Monks (1920). Book of the Saints. 
  • Ben Yosef, Seffi (2007). "Ein Hokuk and the story of Habakkuk". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  • Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. (1986) [First published 1851]. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. Hendrickson Publishers. ISBN 0-913573-44-2. 
  • Bretas, Rodrigo José Ferreira (2002) [First published 1951]. Antônio Francisco Lisboa: O Aleijadinho. Editora Itatiaia, Belo Horizonte. 
  • Brownlow, Leroy (1961). "Habakkuk". The Old Testament Books and their Messages in the Christian Age. Second Annual Fort Worth Christian College Lectureship. Fort Worth: The Manney Company. pp. 439–453. 
  • Bruce, F. F. (2009). "Habakkuk". In McComiskey, Thomas Edward. The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. pp. 831–896. ISBN 978-0-8010-3631-6. 
  • Colvin, E. H.; Blashfield, E. W. & Hopkins, A. A., eds. (1903). Donatello. Masters in Art. 41. Boston: Bates and Guild Company, Publishers. 
  • Coogan, Michael D. (2009). A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament – The Hebrew Bible in its Context. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533272-8. 
  • Cook, Thomas (1905). Cook's Tourist Handbook for Southern Italy, Rome, and Sicily. London: Thomas Cook and Son. 
  • Gigot, F. (1910). "Habacuc (Habakkuk)". The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. New Advent. Retrieved 2010-12-19. 
  • Gowan, Donald E. (1976). The Triumph of Faith in Habakkuk. Atlanta: John Knox Press. ISBN 0-8042-0195-1. 
  • Hailey, Homer (1972). "Habakkuk". A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. pp. 271–296. ISBN 0-8010-4049-3. 
  • Henderson, Ebenezer (1980) [First published 1858]. The Twelve Minor Prophets. Thornapple Commentaries. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. ISBN 0-8010-4217-8. 
  • Hirsch, Emil G. (1906). "Habakkuk". Jewish Encyclopedia. 
  • & Seligsohn, M. (1906). "Hukkok". Jewish Encyclopedia. 
  • Irving, T. Johnstone (1908). "Habakkuk". The Biblical World. 31 (1): 51–61. doi:10.1086/474001. 
  • Janson, H. W. (1963). The sculpture of Donatello. Princeton University Press. 
  • Kubler, George & Soria, Martín Sebastian (1959). Art and architecture in Spain and Portugal and their American dominions, 1500 to 1800. Penguin Books. 
  • Lehrman, S. M., Rabbi (1948). "Habakkuk". In A. Cohen. The Twelve Prophets. London: The Soncino Press. pp. 210–220. 
  • Leslie, E. A. (1962). "Habakkuk". In Buttrick, George Arthur; et al. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. 2. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. pp. 503–505. ISBN 0-687-19271-4. 
  • Lissovsky, Nurit (2008). "Hukkok, Yaquq and Habakkuk's Tomb: Changes over Time and Space". Palestine Exploration Quarterly. 140 (2): 103–118. doi:10.1179/003103208X312863. 
  • McBrien, Richard P. (2001). Lives of the Saints. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-123283-1. 
  • MyTzadik. "The Prophet Habakkuk". MyTzadik.com (in Hebrew). 
  • Sozomen (1855). History of the Church. Bohn's Ecclesiastical Library. Trans. Edward Walford. London: Henry G. Bohn. 
  • Tehran Jewish Committee. "Habakkuk the Prophet, Hosting Kermanshah's Jews". www.iranjewish.com. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  • "آلبوم عکسهای تویسرکان". Toyserkan.com (in Persian). 
  • Walker, H. H. & Lund, N. W. (1934). "The literary structure of the book of Habakkuk". Journal of Biblical Literature. 53 (4): 355–370. doi:10.2307/3259376. 
  • Weber, Robert & Gryson, Roger, eds. (2007). Biblia Sacra: Iuxta Vulgatum Versionem (5th ed.). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. ISBN 978-3-438-05303-9. 
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