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Jehovah’s impending Judgment upon Judah’s Neighbours and Foes
The universal note which is struck in Zephaniah 1:2-3 is now further amplified. Jehovah’s agents of punishment, the Scythians, shall carry desolation along the Philistine plain to Egypt (as they actually did), and to the nations E. of the Jordan and Dead Sea, and even to distant Assyria, which in 605 b.c. fell before them.
1-3. Exhortation to repentance. The Heb. text is exceedingly doubtful. It is also not clear whether or not Zephaniah 2:1-3 should go with the preceding or following section. If the latter, Philistia is the nation addressed: RV ’O nation that hath no shame.’
2. Before the day, etc.] The parallelism suggests that the original read, ’before you become like the passing chaff.’
3. The earnest exhortation in this v. must primarily have been addressed to the people of Judah, whether it comes from Zephaniah or from a later editor of his prophecy. In doing the will and winning the favour of God is man’s only sure way of escape from all the dangers of life.
4. As in Amos 1:6-8 their chief cities represent the Philistines as a whole. Each name suggests the fate awaiting it. To reproduce the assonance in exact English is impossible: ’Gaza shall be a ghastly ruin; Ashkelon a deserted ash-heap.’ The measure is elegiac, so that the literary form powerfully aided in conveying the prophet’s message.
5. Cherethites] a synonym of Philistines, as in 1 Samuel 30:14; Ezekiel 25:16.
6, 7. The Philistine coast plain shall be desolate and given up to shepherds and their flocks.
8. The nations of Moab and Ammon were hereditary enemies of the Israelites whom they treated with contempt on every possible occasion. Their hatred was returned by Israel, whose attitude is well expressed in their accepted view of the origin of these nations (Genesis 19:30-38). The reproach of Moab, and the revilings of.. Ammon were the taunts and curses they had uttered from time to time, especially when Israel was in danger from other foes: cp. Isaiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:26-27, Jeremiah 48:29-30, Jeremiah 48:42. Cp. also for the same attitude at a later date Ezekiel 25:1-11.
11. Famish] i.e. ’starve’; hence it means ’weaken.’ ’cause to fail.’
12. Ethiopians] lit. ’Cushites,’ i.e. the Egyptians who at this time were ruled by Ethiopian rulers. Ethiopia was the part of Egypt S. of the first cataract of the Nile.
13-15. Assyria with its capital city, Nineveh, will also be destroyed. The cormorant and the bittern] RV ’the pelican and the porcupine’ (i.e. the hedgehog), both of them being signs of desolation, as they avoid the presence of man: cp. Isaiah 34:11. Upper lintels] RV ’chapiters,’ i.e. the capitals of the pillars, now lying with the other stones in heaps on the ground as they have fallen. Their voice shall sing] better, ’the little owl shall sing,’ as many scholars read. For desolation read ’the raven.’
For he shall uncover] RV ’for he hath laid bare.’
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Zephaniah 2". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/