NIV

…so that a herald may run with it.

3For the revelation awaits an appointed time;

it speaks of the end

and will not prove false.

Though it linger, wait for it;

it will certainly come

and will not delay.

 

4See, the enemy is puffed up;

his desires are not upright—

but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness

5indeed, wine betrays him…

ESV

…so he may run who reads it.

3For still the vision awaits its appointed time;

it hastens to the end—it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it;

it will surely come; it will not delay.

 

4“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,

but the righteous shall live by his faith.

 

5 “Moreover, wine is a traitor…

Teleioteti

…so that the one who reads it will run—

3for the vision is still for an appointed time,

it speaks to this end and does not lie.

If it delays, wait for it,

for it will surely come; it will not tarry—

4behold, it is bloated: his appetite is not upright within him,

but the righteous one will live by his faith.

NET

…so the one who announces it may read it easily.

2:3For the message is a witness to what is decreed;

it gives reliable testimony about how matters will turn out.

Even if the message is not fulfilled right away, wait patiently;

for it will certainly come to pass—it will not arrive late.

2:4Look, the one whose desires are not upright will faint from exhaustion, but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness.

2:5Indeed, wine will betray the proud, restless man!..

.

 

NASB 

…That the one who reads it may run.

3“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;

It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.

Though it tarries, wait for it;

For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

 

4Behold, as for the proud one,

His soul is not right within him;

But the righteous will live by his faith.

5“Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, …

(Emphasis added)


Significance: There are two areas of significant difference among the translations of this passage. First, each variation in punctuation leads the English reader to connect these verses to their context in a different way. Second, the NIV and NET translate the word traditionally understood as “faith” as “faithfulness,” radically changing the sense of the passage (cf. Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:37-38). Each translation also renders the Hebrew word נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh, “soul” “desire” “appetite”) differently.

Reason for Translation: How one punctuates the passage depends on one’s interpretation of the passage. However, one question of interpretation is most significant in determining the appropriate English punctuation. This key point is the question “to whom does ‘his’ refer in v. 4?” By inserting a paragraph break, ESV leaves the referent ambiguous and the NASB and NIV connect this verse with what follows (v. 5), making “his” the Chaldean. The NET gives no paragraph break, yet translates it in a universal way (“the one”). In context, though, “his” can only refer to the reader who runs in v. 2. This connection is obscured in all these translations (cf. the previous post in this series).

As for the more crucial question of translating “faith,” the NIV and NET go with the the usual meaning of the Hebrew word in question (אֱמוּנָה, emunah). However, the context and the New Testament quotations of this passage (Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:37-38) strongly argue against this choice. Careful attention to the meaning of the word indicates that both “faith” and “faithfulness” are legitimate meanings. The context highly favours “faith” (cf. Hab. 1:5).

As for the different renderings of nepesh, “desire” “appetite” and “soul” are all appropriate translations of this word. In context, nephesh refers to negative desires, a sense best conveyed by “appetite” (cf. the NASB rendering of this word in Hab. 2:5).

 

In summary, verse 3 explains the reason that those who read the vision will run, it is certain to come to fruition. Verse 4 describes the nature of those who respond to the vision. The one who runs is bloated in his appetites and is not upright. The one who waits, who trusts God for the vision, this person is truly righteous and will live by his faith in the vision. The punctuation of all these standard translations obscurs this vital connection between verses 4 and 2. Furthermore, the New Testament clearly interprets the Hebrew word emunah as “faith,” grounding in this text a key piece of  Biblical theology. Habakkuk anticipates the New Testament teaching that the Christian life is lived wholly by faith in God and it is this faith, not works, that justifies someone.

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