(Violent Surge of Excellent Writing) Habakkuk (Shavuot)


Locked up tight in the liturgical reading of Scripture in the synagogue as the haftarah on the second day of Shavuot, the holiday of revelation, the manifestation of  God in the third chapter of Habbakuk signals total world disaster. In the mode of Shigionpth, the coming of God from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran is told in the form of brilliant light and pestilence, the earth bursting in streams and torrents of rain, the shattering of mountains and the loud roaring deep, a treading of the earth in rage and a trampling of nations in fury, the failure of grain, olive, fig, sheep, and cattle. The prophet’s bowels quake and his lips quiver; but his strength is God, who makes his feet like the deer’s striding upon the heights. And that I suggest is the most stunning image in the chapter, the fleet foot of the prophet. Able to run very fast, the prophetic as such is the violent surge of excellent writing, which the savvy reader knows to leave at that. Selah.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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