Translations of Habakkuk 3:9


You uncovered your bow,

you called for many arrows.


You stripped the sheath from your bow,

calling for many arrows.


9Your bow is wakened from its sheath,

your rods sworn in with a word.


Your bow is ready for action;

you commission your arrows.


Your bow was made bare,

The rods of chastisement were sworn.

(Emphasis added)


The differences in the translations here are not significant for the meaning of the text; instead, they reflect different strategies for approaching the Hebrew text.

Reason for Translation

In the first line, the Hebrew reads at first glance, “into nakedeness your bow is wakened.” However, the word for “nakedness” (עריה) and “to be wakened” (עור) consist of the  same consonants, so most translations propose that the  verb is not the common word meaning “be wakened” but the only occurence of a verb related to the noun “nakedness.” The text makes perfect sense, however, when read in light of the common word “to be wakened,” so I adopt in my translation this rendering: “Your bow is wakened from its sheath.”

The Hebrew of the second line is quite difficult, so most translations have tried to communicate the sense and not the exact words. In doing this they have neglected the word translated “sworn” (though NET, NASB). Furthermore, the word here translated “arrows” by most translations refers to a piece of wood used as a staff. This is significant because the word appears in v. 14 again. In neither place “arrows” is likely; it is better to read it as a rod of discipline.

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