Zephaniah was the last of the minor prophets, before the captivity. He foretells the captivity of Judah by the Chaldeans, sets their sins in order before them, calls them to repentance, threatens the neighbour - nations, and gives encouraging promises of their return.
The title of the book, ver. 1. The destruction of Judah foretold, ver. 2 - 4. A charge against them for their sins, ver. 5 - 9. A description of the day of the Lord, ver. 10 - 18.
Zephaniah - He is thought to have been the great - grandson of king Hezekiah. In the days of Josiah - So he was cotemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and foretells what Jeremiah and Ezekiel did.
The remnant - Whatsoever remains of the idolatry of Baal. This place - Jerusalem. The name - Both the persons, and the memory of them. The Chemarims - Either called so from their black garments they went in, or, from their swarthy colour occasioned by the black smoak of incense: they were door - keepers, and sextons of Baal. The priests - The priests of Baal.
House - tops - On the flat roofs of their houses. And that swear - That mixt idol - worship, and the worship of the true God; that devote themselves to God, and Baal, or Malchim, that is, Moloch.
Hold thy peace - Thou that murmurest against God, stand in awe. The day - A day of vengeance from the Lord. A sacrifice - The wicked Jews, whom he will sacrifice by the sword. His guests - summoned the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, to eat the flesh, and drink the blood.
The princes - The great ones, who dreamed of shifting better than others, but fell with the first, 2Kings 25:19 - 21. Children - Sons and grand - children, Josiah: Jehoahaz died a captive in Egypt, 2Kings 23:34, Jehoakim died in Babylon, and was buried with the burial of an ass, Jer 22:18,19, Jeconiah died a captive: and Zedekiah and his children, fared still worse. Strange apparel - The garb of foreigners, imitated by the wanton Jews.
In the same day - At the same time. Their masters houses - Either the oppressing kings, whose officers these were, or publick officers and judges, whose servants thus spoiled the poor. Violence - Goods taken by force, by false accusations, or by suborned evidence.
The noise - The great out - cry and lamentation. The fish gate - At which gate the Babylonians first entered into the city. The second - This gate was in the second wall of Jerusalem, which on that side was fortified with three walls. Crashing - Of things broken into shivers; possibly the noise of doors, windows, closets, and chests broken up. The hills - On which the city stood.
Howl - Cry aloud, and bitterly. Maktesh - The lower town. Merchant people - Who were wont to lodge in this place. That bear silver - That brought it with them to pay for what they bought.
I will search - God speaks after the manner of men, who searches dark places with candles. He will fully discover and punish. Their lees - In allusion to liquors, which not being poured out from vessel to vessel to refine them, grow thick and foul.
The voice if the day - The day which will come with a great noise.
A day - Of unparalleled calamities.
Like blind men - Not knowing where to go. As dust - As abundantly, and as carelessly as dust in the highway.
In the land - Therefore let not sinners be laid asleep by the patience of God; for when the measure of their iniquity is full, his justice will both overtake and overcome them, will make quick and thorough work.
An exhortation to repentance, ver. 1 - 3. A denunciation of the judgments of God against the Philistines, ver. 4 - 7. The Moabites and Ammonites, ver. 8 - 11. The Arabians and Assyrians, ver. 12 - 15.
Gather yourselves - Call a solemn assembly, proclaim a fast. Not desired - Or, not desirous. Unwilling to return, and unworthy to be received on your return.
The decree - Before God's decree is put in execution. The day - Before the day of your calamities. As the chaff - Carry you away as the wind carries chaff away.
Seek - Fear, worship, depend on him alone. Ye meek - Ye humble ones. Wrought his judgment - Obeyed his precepts. Seek righteousness - Continue therein. Seek meekness - Patiently wait on the just and merciful God. Hid - Under the wing of Divine Providence.
For - It is time to seek God; for your neighbours, as well as you, shall be destroyed. Gaza - A chief city of the Philistines. They - The Babylonians. Shall drive - Into captivity. At the noon day - It shall be taken by force at noon.
The inhabitants - All the Philistines. Cherethites - Or destroyers, men that were stout, fierce, and terrible to their neighbours. O Canaan - That part that the Philistines kept by force from the Jews.
For shepherds - Instead of cities full of rich citizens, there shall be only cottages for shepherds.
The coast - The sea - coast, the land of the Philistines. The remnant - That survive the captivity. Shall feed - Their flocks. In the houses - In places where these formerly stood. They - Both shepherds and flocks. Shall visit - In mercy.
I - God. Magnified themselves - Invading their frontiers.
Of nettles - Not cultivated, but over - run with nettles. Salt - pits - A dry, barren earth, fit only to dig salt out of. The residue - That return out of Babylon. Possess them - Settle upon those parts of their lands, that are fit for habitation.
Famish - Take away all their sacrifices and drink - offerings. The gods - Idols of those lands. From his place - Not only at Jerusalem, but every where.
By my sword - The Chaldeans are called God's sword; because God employed them.
He - God. The north - Assyria, which lay northward of Judea, and due north from Babylon.
All the beasts - All sorts of beasts which are found in those countries. The bittern - A bird that delights in desolate places.
This - So the prophet triumphs over her. There is none - None like me, or that can contend with me.
Jerusalem threatened for her wickedness, ver. 1 - 7. A promise of a glorious reformation, ver. 8 - 13. And deliverance consequent upon it, ver. 14 - 20.
To her - Jerusalem.
The voice - Of God by his mercy and judgments crying aloud.
Her princes - Persons of principal place and authority. Lions - Which hunt for prey, and are ever affrighting or devouring. Wolves - Insatiable and cruel, like wolves of the evening, whetted with hunger. Gnaw not the bones - They leave nothing but the bones to be eaten on the morrow.
Her prophet - So called, false prophets. Light - Unstable and inconstant. Violence to the law - Wresting it by perverse interpretation.
In the midst - Observing all. Not do iniquity - He will judge them righteously. Every morning - Daily he discovers his displeasure against the wicked. Faileth not - Lets no season slip to convince them, by public and visible punishments. The unjust - But the wicked Jews proceed without shame, and without fear.
The nations - Of old, the Canaanites, lastly the ten tribes, and later yet, the Assyrians.
I said - I thought (speaking after the manner of men). Thou - O Jerusalem. Fear me - For the many and great judgments executed upon others. I punished them - In some measure.
Therefore - Since you will not be amended. Wait ye - Attend my resolution. Until - Until I rise up to destroy first, and next to take the spoil. Upon them - The incorrigible Jews. Devoured - Consumed as if burnt up. My jealousy - That jealousy wherewith God is jealous for his own glory.
A pure language - I will give them a pure way of worshipping me, the issue of a pure heart.
My dispersed - The praying remnant of the scattered Jews shall return to their own land, and bring themselves an offering unto the Lord.
Thy doings - Thy sins formerly committed. In thy pride - Proud formalists. No more be haughty - Ye shall no more boast, because of the city, or the temple.
Of thee - In Judea and Jerusalem.
Shall feed - Shall enjoy peace and plenty.
Taken away - Abolished, and put an end to the judgments thy sins brought upon thee. Thine enemy - The Babylonian. Is in the midst - He is returned to redeem and govern thee. Any more - While thy carriage is as becomes my presence with thee, thou shalt neither fear, nor feel the like evils.
Sorrowful - That mourn their distance from the solemn worship of God. Who are of thee - Thy children. Reproach - The taunts of their enemies.
Undo - I will break their power and dissolve their kingdom. That halteth - Who is in trouble and ready to fall. Driven out - Into remote countries.
A praise - So the universal church of the first - born will be, in the great day. And then the Israel of God be made a name and a praise to all eternity.