BIOGRAPHY OF PROPHET HABAKKUK
The prophet Habakkuk lived at the time of the exile of King Jechoniah, eleven years before the destruction of the First Beth Hamikdosh in the year 3328 (after creation). He succeeded Nahum in the line of prophecy in the year 3254 and became a link in "the chain of tradition" which reaches back to Moshe Rabbenu. Habakkuk's main prophecy was directed against the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia and Media, which were later to grow into world powers, conquering the Land of Israel and the rest of the ancient world. Habakkuk owned several estates which he had inherited in the Land of Israel, where he remained even after the Exile. One evening, when the laborers had finished their work in the fields and were gathered for their evening meal, G-d's word came to the prophet instructing him to take some food from the meal and carry it to Daniel, who had been cast into a lion's den in Babylon. Habakkuk wondered how he could possibly take of this meal and transport it to Daniel, who was hundreds of miles away in Babylon. But at that very moment an angel lifted up Habakkuk by the hair of his head and, an instant later, had carried him into the lions' den where Daniel was confined. While the hungry, savage lions prowled about their den round and round the two prophets, yet without touching them, Habakkuk and Daniel sat down together to feast in comfort of the food brought by Habakkuk. Together they praised G-d for the wonderful miracles He had shown them. At this meal Daniel related to his visitor about his life in the royal palace of Babylon and of the events that had led to his being thrown among the lions. "When Darius, king of Media," began Daniel, "appointed me as his adviser, a post in which I had served the Babylonian kings before him, the other courtiers in the palace were filled with envy, jealous that the king had promoted me and given me so much power and honor, and more so because he showed so much respect for my religion. They therefore sought ways and means to poison his mind against me. Since they could discover no crime I had committed, they tried another method. They persuaded the king to proclaim a law throughout his kingdom, that every citizen should acknowledge the king as their "god," and that for a period of thirty days no one should ask a favor of, or utter a prayer to, anyone other than the king alone. Though I knew the great peril in which I stood, I naturally continued to pray to G-d three times daily - Shachrit, Minchah and Maariv - as in the past. My enemies were watching me and caught me engaged in this 'crime.' They requested the king to inflict the penalty published for this violation of the royal decree, namely, to have me thrown into a den of wild and hungry lions so that I should be devoured alive. The king, aware that I was innocent of any desire to rebel against him, tried to dissuade the courtiers from insisting on such a terrible death, but his efforts were in vain. He assured me of this himself and told me how distressed he was on my account, but he was powerless to change the law he himself had introduced. I was therefore cast into this den, which was covered securely. The only way of escape, the roof, was locked and sealed with the royal seal. As I was being lowered into this fearful place, I prayed to G-d to save me from the lions and in this way to show the heathen that the Lord of the Universe, whom we Jews worship, is the only true G-d. And the Almighty hearkened to my prayer. I quickly beheld a Divine miracle for, instead of rushing at me and tearing me limb from limb, the kings of the jungle knelt before me and meekly lay down at my feet, just like faithful hounds before their master!" Shortly after, Habakkuk took leave of Daniel and was carried by the angel back to his estates in the Land of Israel in the same manner in which he had been taken to Babylon. Later Habakkuk learned, as did the rest of the world, of the wonderful Kiddush Hashem (Sanctification of G-d's...
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