Yahweh's campaign against the enemies of his people is depicted in terms reminiscent of the conflict with chaos in Semitic mythology--Marduk's victory over Ti'amat (the subterranean deep) in the Babylonian Genesis, for example, or Baal's victory over Yam (the unruly sea) in Ugaritic lore. The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary edited by Thomas E. McComiskey (Baker, 2009), p. 886Tsumura's article challenges this consensus of literary connection Habakkuk 3 and Ugaritic mythology. In his article Tsumura discusses and quotes various Ugaritic myths including discussion of Baal as "rider of the clouds"--a common designation for Baal in Ugaritic texts. Along with reading this article I also read some of the Enuma elish--sometimes called The Chaldean Account of Genesis. This depicts the god Marduk slaying Tiamat and then slicing her up to create heaven and earth. I read all this to get a handle on something of the Babylonian mindset as well as to see if this would help me understand Habakkuk chapter three better.
So with all these thoughts floating in mind I stopped studying to go for lunch at my favorite pizza place down the street. The sky was full of majestic clouds creating a somewhat overcast day. As I turned into the parking lot and while looking at the clouds (yet still managing to drive in a safe manner!) I thought of Baal's epithet--"rider of the clouds." My very next thought was, "Baal is dead and you, O God have killed him." This brought a smile to my face. Baal is dead. He is a spent force. There are no devotees to this ancient Babylonian god. He is studied for historical interest only. The true and living God--the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ--he is alive and active today. It is he who of whom Nahum speaks when he says:
In whirlwind and storm is his way, and the clouds are the dust beneath his feet. (1.3)This living God has made war against the false gods in the past (Exodus 12.12; Numbers 33.4; 2 Samuel 7.23) and these gods are no more. He will continue to make war against the false gods of our time. He will not give his glory to another!
I am Yahweh, that is my name; I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to graven images...The LORD will go forth like a warrior, he will arouse his zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, he will raise a war cry. He will prevail against his enemies. Isaiah 42. 8, 13