This week I have begun doing a devotion purely devoted to the book of Habakkuk. If you aren’t sure who Habakkuk is, he was the prophet who wrote the book of Habakkuk… Big surprise right? This book contains the written accounts of a conversation between Habakkuk and God. Habakkuk has his complaints about the world and God responds to them through a set of visions. Other than what is said in the book, we really do not know much about who Habakkuk was at all. There are a few parts of his book that give us some hint though. For instance, the prayer that Habakkuk sings in chapter 3.
“This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk”
Habakkuk 3:1 NLT
Then at the end of chapter 3 it says,
“(For the choir director: This prayer is meant to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)”
Habakkuk 3:19 NLT
It says that the prayer written in this chapter was sung by Habakkuk, which, if you have ever been to a traditional church, the priest tends to lead the singing of prayers. Also, to accompany his prayer is suppose to be a group of stringed instruments. I think from that, it is a fair bet that this prayer was being said to an organized church that had an organized band or small orchestra. I may be wrong but that is what I think about who Habakkuk may be.
Now to the subject at hand. I was doing my devotion and decided to look at a few different versions of the book of Habakkuk. I looked at the New Living Translation (NLT), the New International Version (NIV), and the New King James Version (NKJV). I had read the NLT and NIV translations of chapter 1 and moved onto the NKJV. It was there where I found my dilemma. In the NLT version it says,
“I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.”
Habakkuk 1:6 NLT
It said roughly the same thing in the NIV translation, but then I got to the NKJV translation.
“For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.”
Habukkuk 1:6 NKJV
They look pretty similar, right? Well, I have a question for you. What is the difference between a Chaldean and a Babylonian? We have all heard of Babylon and the Babylonian empire but what we don’t know is inside the group we know as the Babylonians was a sub-group called the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans were a tribe of people that settled near the city or Babylon and the city of Ur. This tribe was absorbed by the Babylonian Empire and created the country of Chaldea in the southern part of Babylonia. The Chaldean people were known for being violent and were to be feared. A very familiar name in Babylonian history is Nebuchadnezzar II, who happened to be a Chaldean ruler in what is called the Neo-Babylonian Empire. So to make it all clear the Chaldeans are the tribe that reformed Babylonia forever in the Neo-Babylonia era. This era was ruled by four Chaldean rulers and began coming to an end when an Assyrian ruler came to power. All in all, the Chaldeans were just a very violent group of Babylonians.
It makes me wonder though. Why did one translation say Babylonian and the other say Chaldean? Is one more precise or descriptive than the other? I do not know. Maybe I am just overthinking all of this but I am going to ask you to please comment and help me with this. What do you think? Help me answer the question. Why do you think one translation says Chaldean and the other Babylonian?
“Babylonian Empire, Chaldean, 600 BC.” GROLIER ONLINE ATLAS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <http://go.grolier.com/atlas?id=mh00019>
“BibleGateway.” Habakkuk 3 NLT. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Habakkuk%2B3&version=NLT>
“Who Are the Chaldeans?” Who Are the Chaldeans? N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/BQA/k/167/Who-Are-Chaldeans.htm>.
“Chaldea.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaldea>.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Babylonian_Empire#Labashi-Marduk_556_BC>