NIV

“so that a herald may run with it.”

ESV

“so he may run who reads it.”

NET

“so the one who announces it may read it easily.”

NASB 

“that the one who reads it may run.”

Teleioteti

“so that one who reads it will run—”


Significance: This verse is essential to understanding the meaning of Hab. 2:4, the central verse of the entire book. By making the act of reading the act of public proclamation, the NIV and NET obscure the connection this verse has with 2:4.

Reason for Translation: The Hebrew text has “one who reads” with the verb “he runs.” This indicates that the purpose for making the vision clear is that someone—the “one who reads”—will run. The NIV and NET interpret the act of reading as the public proclamation of the vision. It is, then, a herald who is to run. The NET further takes “run” to refer to the quick movement of an eye over the words inscribed. Yet, the word meaning “run” never has the meaning the NET gives it. It refers to the physical act of running. The word translated “read”, furthermore, is never used to refer to a herald.

By using the verbal form with “may,” the NASB and ESV leave open the possibility that the clear writing enables one reading the vision to run, similar to the NIV. This is, however, not the best interpretation of the Hebrew text. By translating “will,” Teleioteti emphasizes the certainty of the result achieved, making it a causal connection (reading the vision causes him to run) and not a volitional connection (clear writing enables him to run). This best fits the context.

In summary, God wants Habakkuk to write the vision clearly. The result will be that those who are wicked in Judah (cf. the first line of v. 4) will run. This contrasts with the response God would have of those who are truly righteous, they are to “wait” (v. 3) and have “faith” (v. 4). The m-dash (—) concluding this line in the Teleioteti translation indicates that what follows is an explanatory parenthesis. “Behold” in v. 4 is intended to connect most closely with verse 2.  In the Hebrew text, the “he” of “his soul” is clearly “the one who reads”—the nearest possible person that “he” could refer to.

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