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Zep 1:1 The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
Ver. 1. The word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah ] Which is (by interpretation) God’s secretary, or, hidden one, Psalms 27:5 ; Psalms 83:3 . Or, as Jerome and some others will have it, God’s watchman, Ezekiel 33:7 . A fit name for a prophet.
The son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, &c. ] These were, if not prophets (as the Jewish doctors make them), yet men famous in the Church ( Hebraei Prophetarum patres, quotquot nominatim recensentur, ipsos quoque prophetas fuisse dicunt ); as were Alexander and Rufus, though they be but mentioned and no more, Mark 15:21 .
In the days of Josiah ] Who reigned thirty-one years, but, being in his minority, began not to reform religion, much corrupted in the days of his idolatrous father, Amon, till the eighteenth year of his reign, 2 Kings 22:1 ; 2 Kings 23:23 , whether before or after the reformation, "the word of the Lord came unto Zephaniah," interpreters agree not. Jeremiah (his contemporary) began not to prophesy till the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign, Jeremiah 1:1-2 , at what time (viz. in his twelfth year) he had begun to reform with a great deal of zeal, 2 Chronicles 34:3 , but also he met with a great deal of opposition from the princes and people who had been woefully hardened and abituated in their idolatry under Manasseh and Amon, and therefore with much difficulty drawn off. Zephaniah and Jeremiah were singular helps, no doubt, to that peerless king in his zealous undertakings for God. But why he should send to Huldah, the prophetess, rather than to either of them, 2 Kings 22:13 , what other reason can be given but that she dwelt in the college at Jerusalem, and so was next at hand? And why he went up against Pharaoh Necho, and sent not first to any prophet to ask their advice, what can we say but this, that sometimes both grace and wit are asleep in the holiest and wariest breasts? and that the best of God’s saints may be sometimes miscarried by their passion, to their cost?
Zep 1:2 I will utterly consume all [things] from off the land, saith the LORD.
Ver. 2. I will utterly consume all things from off the land ] Exordium plane tragicum. A tragic beginning of a terrible sermon. Hard knots must have hard wedges; hard hearts, heavy menaces; yea, handfulls of hell fire must be cast into the faces of such, that they may awake out of the snare of the devil, by whom they are held captive at his pleasure, 2 Timothy 2:26 . It is in the Hebrew, gathering I will gather all things, &c. q. d. g. I will pack up, I will take mine own, and be gone. Converram et convasabo omnia, I will sweep away all by the besom of my wrath, and leave a clean hand behind me, for the sins of those that dwell therein. The doubling of this denunciation, colligendo colligam, importeth the certainty, verity, and vehemence thereof.
Saith the Lord ] Dictum Iehovae. You may believe it, therefore; for every word of his is sure, and cannot be broken, John 10:35 , may not be slighted or shifted off, Hebrews 12:25 .
Zep 1:3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.
Ver. 3. I will consume man and beast ] Heb. I will gather as Zep 1:2 them, and cast them away as they do the sweepings of the house. See the word used in this sense, Psalms 26:9 , "Gather not my soul with sinners," &c. God gathered his people for a better purpose; both while they are alive, Psalms 27:10 , and when they die, Isaiah 57:1 . The righteous is taken away (Heb. gathered) from the evil to come: as a shepherd gathereth his sheep when a storm is coming; or as a master of a family doth his jewels, when his house is on fire. But as for the wicked, they are gathered too, but it is for slaughter, as beasts in a pound, malefactors in a prison; and at the last day the tares shall be gathered and bundled up together for hell’s furnace, Matthew 13:41-42 .
I will consume the fowls of the heaven ] Made for man’s use, to be to him for food, Genesis 9:2 , for health and for delight, as companions of his life; hence it is threatened as a judgment to him to lose them, Jeremiah 4:25 , and here.
And the fishes of the sea ] Made likewise for man’s use to feed him, Numbers 11:5 ; Num 11:22 Luke 24:42 ; hence the Latin piscis of pasco, to feed, and the Hebrew Berechah for a fishpool; the word signifieth a blessing, Gen 12:2 cf. Nehemiah 2:20 . Now the Lord here threateneth destruction to beasts, birds, and fishes, not by the way of hyperbole, as the Rabbis dream; but because in common calamities, in warlike tumults, and when God will destroy a people indeed, the beasts also are killed, the fowls hunted away, the fishpools wasted, &c. Let those that will not believe this look into Illyricum, Thracia, Macedonia, Greece, and various parts of Turkey, laid utterly desolate and empty both of men and other creatures. Jerome upon this text, and likewise upon Hosea 4:3 , affirmeth the same of his native country, wasted so with war, ut praeter coelum et coenum, et crescentes vipres et condensa silvarum, cuncta perierint, that besides air and earth, and briers and forests, all was destroyed. And that we may not wonder at this severity of God, hear what the same Father saith elsewhere of his ungracious countrymen (Epist. ad Chremat.): In men patria deus Venter est, et in diem vivitur, et sanctior est ille qui ditior: In my country their belly is their god, their glory is in their shame, they mind earthly things: and so their end hath been destruction, and utter desolation, as Philippians 3:19 . Gualther’s note here is very good; herein we may observe, saith he, the judgment of God and his wonderful providence; that whereas we see in populous places rivers and pools to abound with fish, woods and fields with birds and beasts, though they be continually caught and carried away; yet where there lack men to make use of them, there are few or none to be found. For as they were all made for man, so when men are consumed they also are consumed, as is here threatened. Non ita temere fieri putemus. Let us not think this to happend rashly. Let God’s hand herein be acknowledged, and his anger appeased by faith in Christ Jesus and repentance from dead works, that our land may be sowed with the seed of men and of beasts.
And the stumblingblocks of the wicked ] Those Balaam’s blocks, those moments and monuments of idolatry, that so much offend God, and cause offence and ruin to those that worship them (as Eucherius interpreteth it), who are here called wicked, with an accent, and by a speciality.
And I will cut off man from off the land ] Even the better sort of men too, who shall be wrapped up together with the wicked in the common calamity. The good figs as well as the bad are packed to Babylon; but with this difference that God will there set his eyes upon the good for good, Jeremiah 24:6 , as the grain is cut down as well as the weeds, but for better purpose.
Saith the Lord ] Who hath spoken it twice that you may once well observe it, and lay it to heart.
Zep 1:4 I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, [and] the name of the Chemarims with the priests;
Ver. 4. I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah ] To whom I have so long stretched out my hand in vain to reclaim them, Isa 65:2 Proverbs 1:25 . If God do but put forth his hand to afflict, as Satan solicited him to do against Job, Job 1:11 ; Job 2:5 , who can abide it? but if he stretch it out as here, woe be to those that must feel the weight of it! His hand is a mighty hand, 1 Peter 5:6 , the same that spans the heavens, and holds the earth as a very little thing, Isaiah 40:15 . "Lord," saith David (who had felt it in part), "who knoweth the power of thine anger? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath." q.d. Let a man fear thee never so much, he is sure to feel thee much more who falleth under the stroke of thine heavy hand. Oh keep out of his fingers, who can crush us to death before the moth, Job 4:19 .
And upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem ] Who are therefore worse than others because they should be better; and shall fare the worse for their external privileges wherein they glory.
And I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place ] That which remained since Josiah’s reformation, 2 Kings 23:3-5 , saith Diodati, shall a nation be born at once? Isaiah 66:8 .
And the name of the Chemarims ] Baal’s chimney chaplains, they are translated idolatrous priests, 1 Chronicles 23:5 . But because we find them here mentioned as distinct from the priests, therefore many expositors hold that they were certain ministers of their idolatry different from the priests; such as the monks are among the Papists. The Vulgate rendereth it Aedituos, underlings to the other priests: Elias in Tisby, saith they were such as were shut up in cloisters, Chemarim Atrati they are called, either from their black garments, or because they were smutched with burning incense, or from the brandmarks they had superstitiously set upon their bodies, or because of their pretended fiery zeal and fervency in their religion, such as are the Sacrifici Seraphici among the Papists, who falsely and foolishly call them the lights of the world, sc. to light them into utter darkness.
Zep 1:5 And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship [and] that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;
Ver. 5. And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops ] Called elsewhere the Queen of heaven, the constellations and heavenly bodies: whom they thought to worship so much the more acceptably, if in an open place and on high, in the very sight of the stars. Observent ista qui hodie Astrologiam iudiciariam profitentur, saith Gualther, Let those among us observe this who profess judiciary astrology; for these worship the stars no less than did the heathens of old, and do openly bring in heathenism again; while (first) they call the stars by the names of those heathenish deities, that ought to be abolished; and next, they subject to those stars all events of things, yea, man himself as touching all his manners and fortunes, which the Scripture affirmeth to depend upon the eternal providence of God alone. This is intolerable impiety, and they that fall into it, shall not escape the just judgment of God.
And them that worship and that swear by the Lord (or to the Lord, consecrating themselves as by oath to his service), and that swear by Malcham] That is, by their king, as the Egyptians did of old, Genesis 42:15 . The Spaniards at this day, in the pride of their monarchy, are grown also to swear by the life of their king. There are a sort of mongrel Christians in the East called Melchites, as one would say of the king’s religion, because they resolved to do as Melech the king commanded them, though it were to make a mixture of religions, as these in the text would, and as our late moderators, Sancta Clara and others, of whom one said well, that they had made a pretty show, had there been no Bible, to tell us, that the jealous and just God hateth and plagueth halting between two, lukewarmness and neutrality in religion, all dough baked duties, speckled birds, ploughing with an ox and an ass, mingled seeds, linseywoolsey garments, Leviticus 19:19 . Upon which text the Douay doctor’s note is, here all participation with heretics and schismatics is forbidden. But by Malcham most understand here an idol of the Ammonites, otherwise called Molech, served in Tophet near to Jerusalem, and in the mount of Olives, called therefore the mount of corruption, 2 Kings 23:13 . Which God could not but see as often as he looked out of the sanctuary. These worshippers of Malcham would not utterly renounce the true God, but they would set up others with him as partners: this would not be endured. Such were of old the Samaritans among the Jews, the Ebionites among the Christians, the Papists to this day, who swear by God and saints, and pray to God and his saints, and commit themselves to them (together with God) as their tutelars and patrons.
Zep 1:6 And them that are turned back from the LORD; and [those] that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.
Ver. 6. And them that are turned back from the Lord ] Not gross idolaters, but yet treacherous backsliders, that fall off from their former forwardness, that turn from the holy commandments, 2 Peter 2:21 , that depart a post Dominum, from after the Lord, as the Hebrew here hath it, apostates, those worst of men, that do not only not fulfil after the Lord, as Caleb, but utterly forsake him. A heavier judgment awaiteth such. "God shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity," Psalms 125:5 .
And those that have not sought the Lord, nor enquired after him ] Diligently sought him, Hebrews 11:6 , zealously inquired after him, as after a lost jewel, Jeremiah 29:13 . God will visit for unzealousness; and curse those that do his work carelessly, cursorily, in a perfunctory, formal, bedulling way.
Zep 1:7 Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD [is] at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.
Ver. 7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God ] When his hand is upon thy back let thy hand be on thy mouth. Chat not against him, murmur not at his menaces, but stand mute before him. He is the Lord God, Three in One, and One in Three: thou art also always in his presence, which thou canst not flee from them, Psalms 139:7 , therefore see Habakkuk 2:20 , See Trapp on " Hab 2:20 " and the rather because God stands over thee with his judgments.
For the day of the Lord is at hand ] Wherein he will powerfully declare himself to be a God that cannot lie, and that his wrath is quo diuturnior eo minacior, the longer in coming the heavier it lands. This was soon after fulfilled in the death of their good King Josiah, with whom died all the peace and prosperity of that people: and Judea often changed her masters, but not her miseries, till at length she was carried captive to Babylon.
For the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice ] That is, a bloody slaughter of you, by the cruel Chaldees, who shall sacrifice you, that have so much gloried in the multitude of your sacrifices: and God shall glorify himself as much now in your just destruction as ever he did in your forefathers’ commendable devotion.
He hath bid his guests ] The Babylonians, and (after they have filled themselves) the birds and beasts, as Revelation 19:17-18 , so that ye shall have sepulturam insepultam, a graceless burial.
Zep 1:8 And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.
Ver. 8. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice] Or, good cheer; for at their sacrifices they used to feast their friends; and here the Lord is providing dainties for his guests; viz. the flesh of princes, gallants, courtiers, Zephaniah 1:9 , merchants, Zephaniah 1:11 , who use to eat the fat and drink the sweet, "nourishing their hearts as in a day of slaughter," James 5:5 ; and now also for a day of slaughter, when the beasts shall tear their flesh and the birds bare their bones.
That I will punish the princes and the king’s children] Who might seem to be safest of any, and farthest off from danger; but God’s hand can easily reach them, and shall do with the first, because their faults fly fast abroad upon those two wings of example and scandal. See this threatening fulfilled in Josiah’s sons, those degenerate plants, Heroum filii noxae. Jehoahaz ambitiously stepped into his father’s throne before his elder brother, and was soon after carried down to Egypt, and there slain. Jehoiakim, the elder brother, succeeded him; but rebelling against the King of Babylon, he was carried captive, and dying by the way, was buried with the burial of an ass, being cast out, to be torn by birds and beasts, according to this prophecy, Jeremiah 22:19 . Jechoniah came after, and was likewise carried into captivity: but because he hearkened to Jeremiah, persuading him to yield, and to go into voluntary banishment, he had some good days toward his latter end, Jeremiah 52:31-32 . Lastly Zedekiah, another son of Josiah, was made king; who as he was worse than the former, so he sped worse. See Jeremiah 39:6-7 . Potentes potenter torquebantur. The powerful are twisted powerfully.
And all such as are clothed with strange apparel ] Those gallants, that imitated in their raiment those whom they most inclined to; some the Egyptians, others the Babylonians. A vanity not known in England, they say, till the wars in Holland. And (as ex malls moribus bonae leges ) then first were great ruffs, with huge wide sets, and cloaks reaching almost to the ankles, no less uncomely than costly, restrained by proclamation (Camd. Eliz. 215). Now, what so common with our fashion mongers (against whom this is a stinging and a flaming text) than to be clothed with strange apparel, a la mode de France especially, and other Popish countries? But what saith one, borrow not (fashions) of the Egyptians; if you do you may get their boils and botches; of the Polonians, lest you get the plica Polonica in your hairy scalps; of the French, lest the lues Gallica befall you. Oh what enemy of thine hath taught thee so much vanity? said Mr John Fox to his son, returning from his travels, and attired in a loose outlandish fashion. (Hist. of Modern Divin.) Those that affected the Babylonian habit were sent captives to Babylon, Ezekiel 23:15 , and those proud dames (whose wardrobe is inventoried, Isa 3:16-24 ) were a cause that the mighty men fell in battle, Isaiah 3:25-26 . Seneca complaineth, that many in his time were more solicitous of their attire than of their good behaviour; and that they had rather the commonwealth should be troubled than their locks and set looks. And doth not our age abound with such fantastic Cincinnatuli?
Zep 1:9 In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.
Ver. 9. In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold ] i.e. Great men’s officers, who by an absolute power went into other men’s houses, and to whom no doors were shut, saith Mr Diodati. These leap upon the threshold, that is, with great impudence and insolence, they invade and spoil other men’s houses, and do what they wish, like so many lurdaines, or lord danes: neither dare any question or control them. Lo, such things were done in good Josiah’s days without his consent or so much as knowledge; for none might be suffered to come to him with a complaint; always being shut up by those great ones about him, whose houses were by that means filled with violence and deceit, that is, with those ill-gotten goods, got by wrench and wile from the right but unrelieved possessors, through the might and sleight of those unconscionable subordinates.
Zep 1:10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, [that there shall be] the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.
Ver. 10. There shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate ] Called also the first gate, Zechariah 14:10 , whereat the Chaldeans entered, and caused a great hubbub, as in such a case is usual.
And an howling from the second ] Called by the Chaldee paraphrast the bird gate; there was also one called the horse gate, Jeremiah 31:40 . Some understand the text, not of any gate, but of the second part of the city: for there was the upper town and the lower town (whence Jerusalem is of the dual number, Jerushalajim ), and the tower of David, on the hill of Zion. Others, of the college where Huldah dwelt, 2 Kings 22:14 , a school of learning, as the Chaldee interpreteth it, and called Mishneh, as you would say, a place of repetition, or of catechizing the younger sort; with whom nothing sticks but what is repeated to them over and over, as the knife goeth over the whetstone. Shanan et Shauah repetere, sicut in acuendo. See Deuteronomy 6:7 .
And a great crashing (or shivering, Heb. shebhor) from the hills] Gareb and Goath, Jeremiah 31:39 , and the rest that were round about Jerusalem, Psalms 125:2 . The prophet’s scope is to show that all places shall be full of tumult and outcry upon the approach of the enemy. They, that would not listen to the sweet voice of God, inciting and enticing them to repentance, have now their ears filled with hideous and horrid notes and noises.
Zep 1:11 Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.
Ver. 11. Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh ] Or, of the mortar, or of the low and hollow place, of the base town, where grain was ground in mortars, before mills were in use. These are here called upon to "turn their laughter to mourning, and their joy into heaviness, to weep and howl for the evils that shall come upon them," James 4:9 ; James 5:1 , but especially for their sins, the cause of those miseries; for God’s judgments upon sinners are feathered from themselves: as a fowl shot with an arrow feathered from her own body.
For all the merchant people are cut down ] The merchant men were wont to furnish the mortar men, such as dealt in grain, spicery, and the like. These shall be cut down, as being more like Canaanites (a people devoted to destruction) than Israelites, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of their help, and the sword of their excellency, Deuteronomy 33:29 . See Hosea 12:13 . See Trapp on " Hos 12:13 " He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand, he loveth to oppress, see Amo 8:5-6 Micah 6:10-12 . Merchandise well managed is of great use to kingdoms and states, for many reasons. 1. For determining the counsels and strength of other nations. 2. For procuring the love and friendship of foreign princes and people. 3. For exchanging of commodities; for non omnis fert omnia tellus. not everything is born from all ground. 4. For gaining experience of many and great matters; this caused Thales, Hippocrates, and Solon to exercise merchandise. 5. It occasioned the building of many famous cities: Massilia for one, as Plutarch writeth. Nevertheless this honourable profession is much abused by those whom Nahum calleth cankerworms, Nahum 3:16 , for their covetousness, luxury, oppression, bringing in unnecessary wars (that emasculate and dissolve men’s spirits), and heretical books that undo their souls; and, lastly, for their carrying out the wealth of their country to strangers, yea, to enemies sometimes. Hence they are justly cut down by God, and are to be ordered by the magistrates according to Lev 19:35-36 Deu 25:15 Ezekiel 45:9-12 .
All they that bear silver are cut off ] The rich traders, that had marsupia plena full purse, and carried money in great burdens, these shall be also cut off or silenced, have nothing to say for themselves why they should not be destroyed with the rest, as those that have been involuti argento, as the Vulgate translation hath it here, so wrapped up in their money, and affected to it, as that it hath rather possessed them than they it. Cor habent in aere non in aethere, "their heart goeth after their covetousness," Ezekiel 33:31 . Here they are called portatores argenti, silver carriers, sumpter horses, laden with thick clay. Silver is that which the basest element yieldeth, the most savage Indians get, servile apprentices work, Midianitish camels carry, miserable muck worms admire, covetous Jews swallow, unthirsty ruffians spend. It is to be wondered (saith one) that treading upon these minerals we cannot condemn them. They lie furthest from heaven; and the best of them are in India, furthest from the Church; and yet how many doth money make to run quick to the devil on an errand, and pays them home for their pains?
Zep 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, [that] I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.
Ver. 12. I will search Jerusalem with candles ] Which yet he needs not do, sith the "darkness hideth not front him, but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are to him alike," Psa 139:12 cf. Job 34:22 Jeremiah 23:24 . Deo obscura lucent, muta respondent, silentium confitetur, Night will convert itself into noon before God, and silence become a speaking evidence. His eyes also are "a flaming fire," that needs no outward light, but sees by sending out a ray; but when Jerusalem is threatened to be searched with lights, the meaning is, that it shall be set all upon a light fire, and the inhabitants ferreted out of their lurking holes, their princes and potentates pulled out of privies and sepulchres by the pursuing enemy, as Jerome out of Josephus here affirmeth they once were. Besides that, they shall be brought to a particular and punctual account for their sins; God will be very exact and accurate with them that way; setting all their evil deeds in order before their eyes, Psalms 50:21 , and bringing wrath upon them to the utmost, 1 Thessalonians 2:16 . This is fearful, Psalms 130:3 , and shall be fulfilled especially at the last day, when wicked men shall give an account of every detail, of all their atheistical thoughts, Psalms 14:1 , ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him, Judges 1:15 , with the whole world flaming about their ears, 2 Peter 3:7 ; 2Pe 3:10 ; 2 Peter 3:12 1Co 4:5 2 Thessalonians 1:8 .
And punish the men that are settled on their lees ] Coagulati, curded or thickened, congealed and condensed; that are habituated and hardened in their evil practices; that have got a sward, nay, a hoof upon their hearts; that have brawny breasts and horny heartstrings; that stick stiffly in the mire of their sins, as Moab, Jeremiah 48:11 , and being deeply drowned in the world, are desperately divorced from God, whom they basely fancy to be a God of clouts. one that, however he speak big words, yet will do neither good nor hurt.
That say in their heart ] As that sapless fellow doth, Psalms 14:1 , נבל . Some set their mouths against heaven, and shame not to utter their reasonings and resolutions of this kind. These are Epicuri de grege porci; such as was Lucretius, Diagoras, Horace with his
-- credat Iudaeus Apella.
Non ego, namque deos didici securum agere aevum.
Let the Jews believe a providence; not I, &c., saith that profane poet. But behold here were Jews, yea, and that in good Josiah’s days, that said in their hearts (those feculent hearts of theirs, full of dregs and dross),
The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil ]
“ Nec bene pro meritis capitur, nee tangitur ira. ”
Of such practical atheists, that say in their hearts there is no God, and live thereafter, there are great store even among us; of such dust-heaps we may find in every corner. And when men are once arrived at this Terra del Fuego, this desperate degree of atheism, what wonder though they run riot in all sinful licentiousness.
Zep 1:13 Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.
Ver. 13. Therefore their goads shall become a booty ] Their illgotten goods, Zephaniah 1:9 ; Zephaniah 1:11 (for a proof of my providence which they blushed not to deny), shall be carried away by the Chaldees, to their unmedicinable sorrow and heartbreak, Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 .
And their houses a desolation ] Because built in blood. See Nahum 2:11-12 .
They shall also build houses, but not inhabit them, &c. ] Ex lege mutuatur minas. That they might the more regard his words, the prophet makes use of the menaces of the law, Deuteronomy 28:30 ; Deuteronomy 28:39 , whereof the prophets were interpreters; applying, as here, the general doctrine thereof to the people of their times. To rebuke or exhort men in good words, in God’s own words, is the readiest way to prevail with them; unless they be Lucifugae scripturarum (as Tertullian saith of the Marcionites and Valentinians), which yet will take hold of them howsoever, Zechariah 1:6 .
Zep 1:14 The great day of the LORD [is] near, [it is] near, and hasteth greatly, [even] the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
Ver. 14. The great day of the Lord is near, it is near ] It is the "day of the Lord," that fatal day appointed by him to ruin the nation; for with him it is all one, whether it be done against a nation or against a man only, Job 34:29 . Next, it is his great day; because therein the great God will set himself to do great matters: how much more at the day of judgment, called also "a great day," Revelation 6:17 ; Revelation 16:14 .
This great day is near, yea, very near, it hasteth greatly ] It hath wings, and wind under those wings, as Zechariah 5:9 ; it will be upon men ere they are aware; neither will anything more hasten it than their security and fearlessness. Think the same of the last day, which cannot but be at hand, and then the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the end of the wicked shall be cut off, Psalms 37:38 .
Even the voice of the day of the Lord ] Methinks I hear it.
“ Fallor? an arma sonant? non fallimur, arma sonabant.
Mars venit, et veniens bellica signa dedit. ”
Jerome speaketh thus to himself, whether I eat, or drink, or sleep, methinks I hear that last trump sounding these words in mine ears, Surgite mortui, venite in iudicium, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment. A very necessary meditation.
The mighty man shall cry there bitterly ] How much more the turba imbellis, the weak and cowardly! they shall take up a loud lamentation, and cry with the breaking of their loins.
Zep 1:15 That day [is] a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
Ver. 15. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress ] By this synathroismos, or heap of words, the prophet would frighten and arouse these dead and indolent sinners, settled upon their lees, so wedded and wedged to their wicked practices that nothing can sunder them but an extraordinary touch from the hand of Heaven. See Joe 2:1-3 cf. Amos 5:18-20 , See Trapp on " Amo 5:18 " See Trapp on " Amo 5:19 " See Trapp on " Amo 5:20 " and consider what the terror of the Lord’s last day will be.
Zep 1:16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
Ver. 16. A day of the trumpet ] With its horrid taratantara and alarm; not of those that shout and praise God, neither with a noise of joy and triumph, as Num 23:21 Psalms 67:5 Ezra 3:11-12 ; but of those that shout with broken sounds in the day of battle, as Amos 1:14 , in classico, in a war trumpet with a vociferation and horrible howling, such as the Turks to this day make when they storm a city.
Against the fenced cities, and against the high towers ] Wherein ye trust, but in vain. These high towers were built at the corners of the walls. Hence the Hebrew text here hath it, Against the high corners. Great men and such as bear up the weight of the commonwealth are sometimes called by this name, 1 Samuel 14:38 . Draw ye near hither, all ye chief of the people: Heb. All ye corners. See the like Zec 10:4 Judges 20:2 . Neither men nor means were ever true to those that trusted them. Our help is in the name of the Lord, that strong tower whereto the righteous run and are safe, Proverbs 18:10 .
Zep 1:17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
Ver. 17. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men ] The Dutch have a proverb, God puts out the eyes of him whom he intendeth to destroy; i.e. he besots and infatuates them, they shall be consilii et auxilii inopes: in rebus liquidis aqua haerebit: they grope for the wall like the blind, they grope as if they had no eyes: they stumble at noon day as in the night; they are in desolate places as dead men, Isaiah 59:10 . This was long before threatened, Deuteronomy 28:28-29 .
Because they have sinned against the Lord ] Sin is the mother of misery. See my Lovetokens.
And their blood shall be poured out as dust ] Than which nothing is more vile and abject; the enemy shall make no more of spilling their blood than of sprinkling a little dust, Copiosissime et abiectissime most richly and lowly. (Turner.)
And their flesh as dung ] Spread upon the land to manure it. The Hebrew word for flesh here may seem to signify worms’ meat. Our bodies are no better, why then do we pamper and pink them up?
Zep 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
Ver. 18. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath] "We were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold," 1 Peter 1:18 . Money hath drowned many a soul, 1 Timothy 6:9 , delivered none. See Pro 11:4 Isa 13:17 Ezekiel 7:19 . See Trapp on " Pro 11:4 " It is righteousness, and not riches, that delivereth from death, Proverbs 10:2 . Money can neither pacify God, nor still the conscience, nor stop the enemy’s mouth, but inflame them rather with an unsatisfiable desire of enjoying all, as Rome did the Gauls, and Cyprus the Romans (Sextus Rufus); and as the pearls, usually cast out with the flood, and gathered at the ebb, drew Caesar’s affection for the conquest of Britain (Sueton.).
But the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy ] The sins of God’s people are not only disobediences, but treacheries, because of the covenant. God is thereby provoked to jealousy, which "is cruel as the grave," or hard as hell; "the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame," Song of Solomon 8:6 , the word signifies the consuming flame of God.
For he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land ] Swept clean by God with the besom of destruction; so that the land was desolate after them, Zechariah 7:14 . Affliction rose not up the second time, Nahum 1:9 . See the notes there, and learn to give God the glory of his severity against sin.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Zephaniah 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13