Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people: (Habakkuk 2:5 KJV)

It is difficult to find the origin of the suggestion that Habakkuk 2:5 has anything to do with the “devil” of post-exilic Jewish allegory. There are commentators who have connected Habakkuk 2:5 to Isaiah 14:12 and Isaiah’s condemnation of the king of Babylon. It is perhaps from that some Christian readers have got the idea that if the king of Babylon (Morning Star, Venus, Latin Lucifer) is not referring to “a man” as Isaiah says, but a fallen angel, then Habakkuk 2:5 must be about the same Lucifer fallen angel. But since in answering this question we have not been able to find any Christian commentary claiming that, that is supposition.

So, anyway, in answer no Habakkuk 2:5 has nothing to do with the Satan (Septuagint ‘diabolos’) character who appears two times in the Jewish Bible – Job 1 and Zechariah 3. It may be that Habakkuk 2:5 has an individual or class or nation as target (as KJV), but an alternative reading of the text suggests that wine itself is the target.

A modern translation:

“Moreover, wine[b] is a traitor,
an arrogant man who is never at rest.[c]
His greed is as wide as Sheol;
like death he has never enough.
He gathers for himself all nations
and collects as his own all peoples.” (Habakkuk 2:5 ESV)

As the footnotes [b] and [c] in the ESV show the Hebrew of the verse is uncertain.

Wine or Wealth?

The Masoretic Text (St Petersburg Codex) has “wine (ha-yayyin הַיַּיִן) is a traitor”, but the Pesher Habakkuk (1QpHab) found in Cave 1  among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran has “wealth (hon  הוֹן) is a traitor”. And the verb “never at rest” is a rare term.

“He shall not abide” (KJV) Never at rest?

The verb here is yinveh (יִנְוֶה) a Qal verb on the stem navah (נָוָה). The navah stem (if it is the same stem, and not just a homonym)  also has a Hiphil verb “adorn” which appears in Exodus 15:1 and Jeremiah 6:12, but it seems difficult to establish any connection in meaning between the Exodus 15:2 “adorn”  and any such meaning as “not adorn” in Habakkuk 2:5.


Just as a footnote to the footnotes, the Septuagint is not a reliable fix on the Hebrew at the time of the Greek translation, but may support the Qumran reading.

But the arrogant man (katoinomenos) and the scorner (alazwn), the boastful man (kataphrontes aner), shall not finish anything (ouden me perane); who has enlarged his desire as the grave, and like death he is never satisfied, and he will gather to himself all the nations, and will receive to himself all the peoples. (Habakkuk 2:5 Brenton )


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