Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III
AN INTRODUCTION to the OLD TESTAMENT
Little is known about this prophet. His name occurs only in the superscriptions to the book and the psalm it contains (Hab. 1:1; 3:1). The name may be derived from a Hebrew verb meaning “embrace”; others think that his name is from an Akkadian term for a garden plant. Many have concluded that Habakkuk was a cult prophet. The book does make use of the lament genre, a form of literature associated with the temple; the musical terms in the psalm in Habakkuk 3 also suggest liturgical use. Levitical musicians did have a prophetic function (1 Chron. 25:1-6). The description of a theophany (ch. 3) is perhaps also most natural in a cultic setting. However, the phrase “cult prophet” is not itself unambiguous. The precise relationship of the prophets with the temple is one of the most debated elements in Old Testament study. If by “cult prophet” one intends a cultic official whose maintenance was drawn from temple revenues and who performed his prophetic duty as a part of temple liturgy, there is insufficient data to warrant identifying Habakkuk in this way, and such an identification is questionable for the other prophets mentioned in the Bible. Some prophets were also priests (e.g., Ezekiel, Zechariah), but they are not prophets by virtue of their priestly office. The prophetic office was not hereditary. However, if one intends to indicate no more than a prophet whose ministry routinely brought him into the environs of the temple, this appellation could apply to Habakkuk and a great number of others. Childs (452) argues that although much of the material in Habakkuk may have originated in a liturgical setting, the autobiographical elements in the book (Hab. 2:1; 3:2, 16-19) show instead that it should not be attributed to the influence of the cult in its present form.