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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Zephaniah 3

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament CommentaryKeil & Delitzsch

Verses 1-4

To give still greater emphasis to his exhortation to repentance, the prophet turns to Jerusalem again, that he may once more hold up before the hardened sinners the abominations of this city, in which Jehovah daily proclaims His right, and shows the necessity for the judgment, as the only way that is left by which to secure salvation for Israel and for the whole world. Zephaniah 3:1. “Woe to the refractory and polluted one, the oppressive city! Zephaniah 3:2. She has not hearkened to the voice; not accepted discipline; not trusted in Jehovah; not drawn near to her God. Zephaniah 3:3. Her princes are roaring lions in the midst of her; her judges evening wolves, who spare not for the morning. Zephaniah 3:4. Her prophets boasters, men of treacheries: her priests desecrate that which is holy, to violence to the law.” The woe applies to the city of Jerusalem. That this is intended in Zephaniah 3:1 is indisputably evident from the explanation which follows in Zephaniah 3:2-4 of the predicates applied to the city addressed in Zephaniah 3:1. By the position of the indeterminate predicates מוראה and נגאלה before the subject to which the hōi refers, the threat acquires greater emphasis. מוראה is not formed from the hophal of ראה ( ἐπιφανής , lxx, Cyr., Cocc.), but is the participle kal of מרא = מרה or מרר , to straighten one's self, and hold one's self against a person, hence to be rebellious (see Delitzsch on Job, on Job 33:2, note). נגאלה , stained with sins and abominations (cf. Isaiah 59:3). Yōnâh does not mean columba, but oppressive (as in Jeremiah 46:16; Jeremiah 50:16, and Jeremiah 25:38)), as a participle of yânâh to oppress (cf. Jeremiah 22:3). These predicates are explained and vindicated in Zephaniah 3:2-4, viz., first of all מוראה in Zephaniah 3:2. She gives no heed to the voice, sc. of God in the law and in the words of the prophets (compare Jeremiah 7:28, where קול יהוה occurs in the repetition of the first hemistich). The same thing is affirmed in the second clause, “she accepts no chastisement.” These two clauses describe the attitude assumed towards the legal contents of the word of God, the next two the attitude assumed towards its evangelical contents, i.e., the divine promises. Jerusalem has no faith in these, and does not allow them to draw her to her God. The whole city is the same, i.e., the whole of the population of the city. Her civil and spiritual rulers are no better. Their conduct shows that the city is oppressive and polluted (Zephaniah 3:3 and Zephaniah 3:4). Compare with this the description of the leaders in Micah 3:1-12. The princes are lions, which rush with roaring upon the poor and lowly, to tear them in pieces and destroy them (Proverbs 28:15; Ezekiel 19:2; Nahum 2:12). The judges resemble evening wolves (see at Habakkuk 1:8), as insatiable as wolves, which leave not a single bone till the following morning, of the prey they have caught in the evening. The verb gâram is a denom. from gerem , to gnaw a bone, piel to crush them (Numbers 24:8); to gnaw a bone for the morning, is the same as to leave it to be gnawed in the morning. Gâram has not in itself the meaning to reserve or lay up (Ges. Lex.). The prophets, i.e., those who carry on their prophesying without a call from God (see Micah 2:11; Micah 3:5, Micah 3:11), are pōchăzı̄m , vainglorious, boasting, from pâchaz , to boil up or boil over, and when applied to speaking, to overflow with frivolous words. Men of treacheries, bōg e dōth , a subst. verb, from bâgad , the classical word for faithless adultery or apostasy from God. The prophets proved themselves to be so by speaking the thoughts of their own hearts to the people as revelations from God, and thereby strengthening it in its apostasy from the Lord. The priests profane that which is holy (qoodesh, every holy thing or act), and do violence to the law, namely, by treating what is holy as profane, and perverting the precepts of the law concerning holy and unholy (cf. Ezekiel 22:26).

Verses 5-6

Jerusalem sins in this manner, without observing that Jehovah is constantly making known to it His own righteousness. Zephaniah 3:5. “Jehovah is just in the midst of her; does no wrong: morning by morning He sets His justice in the light, not failing; but the unjust knoweth no shame. Zephaniah 3:6. I have cut off nations: their battlements are laid waste; I have devastated their streets, so that no one else passeth over: their cities are laid waste, that there is no man there, not an inhabitant more.” Zephaniah 3:5 is attached adversatively to what precedes without a particle, in this sense: And yet Jehovah is just beqirbâh , i.e., in the midst of the city filled with sinners. The words recal to mind the description of the divine administration in Deuteronomy 32:4, where Jehovah is described as אין עול and ישׁר . It follows from this that tsaddı̄q is not to be referred to the fact that God does not leave the sins of the nation unpunished (Ros.), but to the fact that He commits no wrong: so that לא יעשׂה עולה is only a negative paraphrase of tsaddı̄q . His justice, i.e., the righteousness of His conduct, He puts in the light every morning ( babbōqer babbōqer , used distributively, as in Exodus 16:21; Leviticus 6:5, etc.), not by rewarding virtue and punishing wickedness (Hitzig, Strauss, after the Chaldee, Jerome, Theodoret, and Cyril), according to which mishpât would signify judgment; but by causing His law and justice to be proclaimed to the nation daily “by prophets, whose labour He employs to teach the nation His laws, and who exert themselves diligently by exhorting and admonishing every day, to call it to bring forth better fruit, but all in vain (Ros., Ewald, etc.; cf. Hosea 6:5). It is at variance with the context to take these words as referring to the judgments of God. These are first spoken of in Zephaniah 3:6, and the correspondence between these two verses and Zephaniah 3:7 and Zephaniah 3:8 shows that we must not mix up together Zephaniah 3:5 and Zephaniah 3:6, or interpret Zephaniah 3:5 from Zephaniah 3:6. Just as the judgment is threatened there (Zephaniah 3:8) because the people have accepted no correction, and have not allowed themselves to be moved to the fear of Jehovah, so also in Zephaniah 3:5 and Zephaniah 3:6 the prophet demonstrates the righteousness of God from His double administration: viz., first, from the fact that He causes His justice to be proclaimed to the people, that they may accept correction; and secondly, by pointing to the judgments upon the nations. לא נעדּר paraphrases the idea of “infallibly;” the literal meaning is, that there is no morning in which the justice is wanting. Hitzig, Strauss, and others have rendered it quite unsuitably, “God does not suffer Himself to be wanting,” i.e., does not remain absent. But the perverse one, viz., the nation sunk in unrighteousness, knows no disgrace, to make it ashamed of its misdeeds. In Zephaniah 3:6 Jehovah is introduced as speaking, to set before the nations in the most impressive manner the judgments in which He has manifested His righteousness. The two hemistichs are formed uniformly, each consisting of two clauses, in which the direct address alternates with an indefinite, passive construction: I have cut off nations, their battlements have been laid waste, etc. Gōyı̄m are neither those nations who are threatened with ruin in Zephaniah 2:4-15, nor the Canaanites, who have been exterminated by Israel, but nations generally, which have succumbed to the judgments of God, without any more precise definition. Pinnōth , the battlements of the fortress-walls and towers (Zephaniah 1:16), stand per synecdochen for castles or fortifications. Chūtsōth are not streets of the city, but roads, and stand synecdochically for the flat country. This is required by the correspondence of the clauses. For just as the cities answer to the castles, so do chūtsōth to the nations. Nitsdū , from tsâdâh , not in the sense of waylaying (Exodus 21:13; 1 Samuel 24:12), but in accordance with Aramaean usage, to lay waste, answering to nâshammū , for which Jeremiah uses nitt e tsū in Jeremiah 4:26.

Verses 7-8

In Zephaniah 3:7 and Zephaniah 3:8 the prophet sums up all that he has said in Zephaniah 3:1-6, to close his admonition to repentance with the announcement of judgment. Zephaniah 3:7. “I said, Only do thou fear me, do thou accept correction, so will their dwelling not be cut off, according to all that I have appointed concerning them: but they most zealously destroyed all their doings. Zephaniah 3:8. Therefore wait for me, is the saying of Jehovah, for the day when I rise up to the prey; for it is my right to gather nations together, to bring kingdoms in crowds, to heap upon them my fury, all the burning of my wrath: for in the fire of my zeal will the whole earth be devoured.” God has not allowed instruction and warning to be wanting, to avert the judgment of destruction from Judah; but the people have been getting worse and worse, so that now He is obliged to make His justice acknowledged on earth by means of judgments. אמרתּי , not I thought, but I said. This refers to the strenuous exertions of God to bring His justice to the light day by day (Zephaniah 3:5), and to admonitions of the prophets in order to bring the people to repentance. תּיראי and תּקחי dna תּ are cohortatives, chosen instead of imperatives, to set forth the demand of God by clothing it in the form of entreating admonition as an emanation of His love. Lâqach mūsâr as in Zephaniah 3:2. The words are addressed to the inhabitants of Jerusalem personified as the daughter of Zion (Zephaniah 3:11); and מעונהּ , her dwelling, is the city of Jerusalem, not the temple, which is called the dwelling-place of Jehovah indeed, but never the dwelling-place of the nation, or of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The clause which follows, and which has been very differently interpreted, כּל אשׁר פּקדתּי עליה , can hardly be taken in any other way than that in which Ewald has taken it, viz., by rendering kōl as the accusative of manner: according to all that I have appointed, or as I have appointed everything concerning them. For it is evidently impracticable to connect it with what precedes as asyndeton, because the idea of יבוא cannot be taken per zeugma from יכּרת , and we should necessarily have to supply that idea. For hikkârēth does not in any way fit in with אשׁר פּקדתּי , whether we take פּקד על in the sense of charge, command, appoint (after Job 34:13; Job 36:23), or in that of correct, punish. For the thought that God will cut off all that He has appointed concerning Jerusalem, would be just as untenable as the thought that He will exterminate the sins that have been punished in Jerusalem. But instead of repenting, the people have only shown themselves still more zealous in evil deeds. Hishkı̄m , to rise early, then in connection with another verb, adverbially: early and zealously. Hishchı̄th , to act corruptly; and with ‛ălı̄lōth , to complete corrupt and evil deeds (cf. Psalms 14:1). Jehovah must therefore interpose with punishment.

Zephaniah 3:8

With the summons chakkū lı̄ , wait for me, the prophecy returns to its starting-point in Zephaniah 3:2 and Zephaniah 3:3, to bring it to a close. The persons addressed are kol ‛anvē hâ'ârets , whom the prophet has summoned in the introduction to his exhortation to repentance (Zephaniah 2:3), to seek the Lord and His righteousness. The Lord calls upon them, to wait for Him. For the nation as such, or those who act corruptly, cannot be addressed, since in that case we should necessarily have to take chakkū lı̄ as ironical (Hitzig, Maurer); and this would be at variance with the usage of the language, inasmuch as chikkâh lay e hōvâh is only used for waiting in a believing attitude of the Lord and His help (Psalms 33:20; Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 30:18; Isaiah 64:3). The lı̄ is still more precisely defined by ליום וגו , for the day of my rising up for prey. לעד does not mean εἰς μαρτύριον = לעד (lxx, Syr.), or for a witness (Hitzig), which does not even yield a suitable thought apart from the alteration in the pointing, unless we “combine with the witness the accuser and judge” (Hitzig), or, to speak more correctly, make the witness into a judge; nor does לעד stand for לעד , in perpetuum, as Jerome has interpreted it after Jewish commentators, who referred the words to the coming of the Messiah, “who as they hope will come, and, as they say, will devour the earth with the fire of His zeal when the nations are gathered together, and the fury of the Lord is poured out upon them.” For “the rising up of Jehovah for ever” cannot possibly denote the coming of the Messiah, or be understood as referring to the resurrection of Christ, as Cocceius supposes, even if the judgment upon the nations is to be inflicted through the Messiah. לעד means “for prey,” that is to say, it is a concise expression for taking prey, though not in the sense suggested by Calvin: “Just as lions seize, tear in pieces, and devour; so will I do with you, because hitherto I have spared you with too much humanity and paternal care.” This neither suits the expression chakkū lı̄ , according to the only meaning of chikkâh that is grammatically established, nor the verses which follow (Zephaniah 3:9, Zephaniah 3:10), according to which the judgment to be inflicted upon the nations by the Lord is not an exterminating but a refining judgment, through which He will turn to the nations pure lips, to call upon His name. The prey for which Jehovah will rise up, can only consist, therefore, in the fact, that through the judgment He obtains from among the nations those who will confess His name, so that the souls from among the nations which desire salvation fall to Him as prey (compare Isaiah 53:12 with Isaiah 52:15 and Isaiah 49:7). It is true that, in order to gain this victory, it is necessary to exterminate by means of the judgment the obstinate and hardened sinners. “For my justice (right) is to gather this.” Mishpât does not mean judicium , judgment, here; still less does it signify decretum , a meaning which it never has; but justice or right, as in Zephaniah 3:5. My justice, i.e., the justice which I shall bring to the light, consists in the fact that I pour my fury upon all nations, to exterminate the wicked by judgments, and to convert the penitent to myself, and prepare for myself worshippers out of all nations. לשׁפּך is governed by לאסף וגו . God will gather together the nations, to sift and convert them by severe judgments. To give the reason for the terrible character and universality of the judgment, the thought is repeated from Zephaniah 1:18 that “all the earth shall be devoured in the fire of His zeal.” In what follows, the aim and fruit of the judgment are given; and this forms an introduction to the announcement of salvation.

Verses 9-10

“For then will I turn to the nations a pure lip, that they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve Him with one shoulder. Zephaniah 3:10. From beyond the rivers of Cush will they bring my worshippers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, as a meat-offering to me.” By the explanatory kı̄ the promise is connected with the threat of judgment. The train of thought is this: the believers are to wait for the judgment, for it will bring them redemption. The first clause in Zephaniah 3:9 is explained in different ways. Many commentators understand by sâphâh bh e rūrâh the lip of God, which He will turn to the nations through His holy servants. According to this view, Luther has adopted the rendering: “Then will I cause the nations to be preached to otherwise, with friendly lips, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord.” But this view, which has been defended by Cocceius, Mark, and Hofmann ( Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, pp. 573-4), would only be admissible if bâruur signified clear, evident, - a meaning which Hofmann assumes as the ground of his explanation: “A clear, easily intelligible, unmistakeable language does God turn to the nations, to call them all in the name of Jehovah, that they may serve Him as one man.” But, apart from the inadmissible rendering of קרא בשׁם יי , this explanation is proved to be erroneous by the fact that bârūr does not mean clear, intelligible; that even in Job 33:3 it has not this meaning; but that it simply means pure, purified, sinless; and that sâphâh bh e rūrâh , the opposite of טמא שׂפתים in Isaiah 6:5, cannot be used at all of the lip or language of God, but simply of the lip of a man who is defiled by sin. Consequently הפך אל must be explained according to 1 Samuel 10:9, since the circumstance that we have הפך ל in this passage does not make any material difference in the meaning. The construction in both passages is a pregnant one. God turns to the nations a pure lip, by purifying their sinful lips, i.e., He converts them, that they may be able to call upon Him with pure lips. Lip does not stand for language, but is mentioned as the organ of speech, by which a man expresses the thoughts of his heart, so that purity of the lips involves or presupposes the purification of the heart. The lips are defiled by the names of the idols whom they have invoked (cf. Hosea 2:19; Psalms 16:4). The fruit of the purification is this, that henceforth they call upon the name of Jehovah, and serve Him. קרא בשׁם יי , when used of men, always signifies to call solemnly or heartily upon the name of Jehovah. To serve sh e khem 'echâd , with one shoulder, is to serve together or with unanimity. The metaphor is taken from bearers who carry a burden with even shoulders; cf. Jeremiah 32:39.

As an example of the way in which they will serve the Lord, it is stated in Zephaniah 3:10 that they will offer the widely scattered members of the Israelitish church as a sacrifice to the Lord. Compare Isaiah 66:20, where this thought is applied to the heathen of all quarters of the globe; whereas Zephaniah, while fixing his eye upon that passage, has given it more briefly, and taken the expression “from beyond the rivers of Cush” from Isaiah 18:1, for the purpose of naming the remotest heathen nations instar omnium. The rivers of Cush are the Nile and the Astaboras, with their different tributaries. עתרי בּת פּוּצי is the accusative of the nearest object, and מנחתי that of the more remote. ‛Athâr does not mean fragrance (Ges., Ewald, Maurer), but worshipper, from ‛âthar , to pray, to entreat. The worshippers are more precisely defined by bath pūtsai , the daughter of my dispersed ones ( pūts , part. pass.), i.e., the crowd or congregation consisting of the dispersed of the Lord, the members of the Israelitish congregation of God scattered about in all the world. They are presented to the Lord by the converted Gentiles as minchâh , a meat-offering, i.e., according to Isaiah 66:20, just as the children of Israel offered a meat-offering. In the symbolism of religious worship, the presentation of the meat-offering shadowed forth diligence in good works as the fruit of justification. The meaning is therefore the following: The most remote of the heathen nations will prove that they are worshippers of Jehovah, by bringing to Him the scattered members of His nation, or by converting them to the living God. We have here in Old Testament form the thought expressed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11, namely, that the Gentiles have been made partakers of salvation, that they may incite to emulation the Israelites who have fallen away from the call of divine grace. The words of the prophet treat of the blessing which will accrue, from the entrance of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God, to the Israelites who have been rejected on account of their guilt, and refer not only to the missionary work of Christians among the Jews in the stricter sense of the term, but to everything that is done, both directly and indirectly, through the rise and spread of Christianity among the nations, for the conversion of the Jews to the Saviour whom they once despised. Their complete fulfilment, however, will only take place after the pleroma of the Gentiles has come in, when the πώρωσις , which in part has happened to Israel, shall be removed, and “all Israel” shall be saved (Romans 11:25-26). On the other hand, Mark, Hitzig, and others, have taken ‛ăthârai bath pūtsai as the subject, and understand it as referring to the heathen who have escaped the judgment by flying in all directions to their own homes, for example even to Cush, and who having become converted, offer to the Lord the gift that is His due. But, apart from the parallel passage in Isaiah 66:20, which alone is quite decisive, this view is proved to be untenable by bath pūtsai , daughter of my dispersed ones. The thought that Jehovah disperses the heathen, either at the judgment or through the judgment, is foreign to the whole of the Old Testament, as Hitzig himself appears to have felt, when he changed pūts , to disperse, into its very opposite - namely, to come home. The thought, on the other hand, that God will disperse His people Israel among all nations on account of their sins, and will hereafter gather them together again, is a truth expressed even in the song of Moses, and one which recurs in all the prophets, so that every hearer or reader of our prophet must think at once of the Israel scattered abroad in connection with the expression “my (i.e., Jehovah's) dispersed ones.” The objection, that Judah is first spoken of in Zephaniah 3:11 (Hitzig), is thereby deprived of all its significance, even if this really were the case. But the objection is also incorrect, since the Judaeans have been already addressed in Zephaniah 3:8 in the expression חכּוּ לי .

Verses 11-13

“In that day wilt thou not be ashamed of all thy doings, wherewith thou hast transgressed against me; for then will I remove from the midst of thee those that rejoice in thy pride, and thou wilt no more pride thyself upon my holy mountain. Zephaniah 3:12. And I leave in the midst of thee a people bowed down and poor, and they trust in the name of Jehovah. Zephaniah 3:13. The remnant of Israel will not do wrong, and not speak lies, and there will not be found in their mouth a tongue of deceit; for they will feed and rest, and no one will terrify them.” The congregation, being restored to favour, will be cleansed and sanctified by the Lord from every sinful thing. The words of Zephaniah 3:11 are addressed to the Israel gathered together from the dispersion, as the daughter of Zion (cf. Zephaniah 3:14). “In that day” refers to the time of judgment mentioned before, viz., to the day when Jehovah rises up for prey (Zephaniah 3:8). לא תבושׁי , thou wilt not need to be ashamed of all thine iniquities; because, as the explanatory clauses which follow clearly show, they occur no more. This is the meaning of the words, and not, as Ewald imagines, that Jerusalem will no more be bowed down by the recollection of them. The perfect אשׁר פּשׁעתּ does indeed point to the sins of former times; not to the recollection of them, however, but to the commission of them. For the proud and sinners will then be exterminated from the congregation. עלּיזי גאוה is taken from Isaiah 13:3, where it denotes the heroes called by Jehovah, who exult with pride caused by the intoxication of victory; whereas here the reference is to the haughty judges, priests, and prophets (Zephaniah 3:3 and Zephaniah 3:4), who exult in their sinful ways. גּבהה a feminine form of the infinitive, like moshchâh in Exodus 29:29, etc. (cf. Ges. §45, 1, b, and Ewald, §236, a). גּבהּ , to be haughty, as in Isaiah 3:16. The prophet mentions pride as the root of all sins. The holy mountain is not Canaan as a mountainous country, but the temple mountain, as in the parallel passage, Isaiah 11:9. The people left by the Lord, i.e., spared in the judgment, and gathered together again out of the dispersion, will be ‛ânı̄ and dal . The two words are often connected together as synonyms, e.g., Isaiah 26:6 and Job 34:28. עני is not to be confounded with ענו , gentle or meek, but signifies bowed down, oppressed with the feeling of impotence for what is good, and the knowledge that deliverance is due to the compassionate grace of God alone; it is therefore the opposite of proud, which trusts in its own strength, and boasts of its own virtue. The leading characteristic of those who are bowed down will be trust in the Lord, the spiritual stamp of genuine piety. This remnant of Israel, the ἐκλογή of the people of God, will neither commit injustice, nor practise wickedness and deceit with word and tongue, will therefore be a holy nation, answering to its divine calling (Exodus 19:6), just as God does not wrong (Zephaniah 3:5), and the servant of Jehovah has no deceit in his mouth (Isaiah 53:9). What is stated here can, of course, not refer to those who were brought back from Babylon, as Calvin supposes, taking the words comparatively, because there were many hypocrites among the exiles, and adding, “because the Lord will thus wipe away all stains from His people, that the holiness may then appear all the purer.” The prophetic announcement refers to the time of perfection, which commenced with the coming of Christ, and will be completely realized at His return to judgment. Strauss very appropriately compares the words of John, “Whatsoever is born of God doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9). Zephaniah explains what he says, by adding the assurance of the blessing which is promised in the law as the reward of faithful walk in the commandments of the Lord. This reason rests upon the assumption that they only rejoice in the promised blessing who walk in the commandments of God. In this respect the enjoyment of the blessing yields a practical proof that wrong and wickedness occur no more. The words ירעוּ ורבצוּ may be explained from the comparison of the remnant of Israel to a flock both in Micah 7:14 and Luke 12:32 (“little flock;” for the fact itself, compare Micah 4:4). This blessing is still further developed in what follows, first of all by a reference to the removal of the judgments of God (Zephaniah 3:14-17), and secondly by the promise of God that all the obstacles which prevent the enjoyment of the blessing are to be cleared away (Zephaniah 3:18-20).

Verses 14-17

“Exult, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! rejoice and exult with all the heart, O daughter Jerusalem. Zephaniah 3:15. Jehovah has removed thy judgments, cleared away thine enemy; the King of Israel, Jehovah, is in the midst of thee: thou wilt see evil no more. Zephaniah 3:16. In that day will men say to Jerusalem, Fear not, O Zion; let not thy hands drop. Zephaniah 3:17. Jehovah thy God is in the midst of thee, a hero who helps: He rejoices over thee in delight, He is silent in His love, exults over thee with rejoicing.” The daughter Zion, i.e., the reassembled remnant of Israel, is to exult and shout at the fulness of the salvation prepared for it. The fulness is indicated in the heaping up of words for exulting and rejoicing. The greater the exultation, the greater must the object be over which men exult. הריעוּ , to break out into a cry of joy, is a plural, because the Israel addressed is a plurality. The re-establishment of the covenant of grace assigns the reason for the exultation. God has removed the judgments, and cleared away the enemies, who served as the executors of His judgments. Pinnâh , piel, to put in order (sc., a house), by clearing away what is lying about in disorder (Genesis 24:31; Leviticus 14:36), hence to sweep away or remove. 'Oyēbh : with indefinite generality, every enemy. Now is Jehovah once more in the midst of the daughter Zion as King of Israel, whereas, so long as Israel was given up to the power of the enemy, He had ceased to be its King. Y e hōvâh is in apposition to melekj Yisrâ'ēl , which is placed first for the sake of emphasis, and not a predicate. The predicate is merely בּקרבּך (in the midst of thee). The accent lies upon the fact that Jehovah is in the midst of His congregation as King of Israel (cf. Zephaniah 3:17). Because this is the case, she will no more see, i.e., experience, evil ( ראה as in Jeremiah 5:12; Isaiah 44:16, etc.), and need not therefore any longer fear and despair. This is stated in Zephaniah 3:16: They will say to Jerusalem, Fear not. She will have so little fear, that men will be able to call her the fearless one. ציּון is a vocative of address. It is simpler to assume this than to supply ל from the previous clause. The falling of the hands is a sign of despair through alarm and anxiety (cf. Isaiah 13:7). This thought is still further explained in Zephaniah 3:17. Jehovah, the God of Zion, is within her, and is a hero who helps or saves; He has inward joy in His rescued and blessed people (cf. Isaiah 62:5; Isaiah 65:19). יחרישׁ בּאחבתו appears unsuitable, since we cannot think of it as indicating silence as to sins that may occur (cf. Psalms 50:21; Isaiah 22:14), inasmuch as, according to Zephaniah 3:13, the remnant of Israel commits no sin. Ewald and Hitzig would therefore read yachădı̄sh ; and Ewald renders it “he will grow young again,” which Hitzig rejects as at variance with the language, because we should then have יתחדּשׁ . He therefore takes yachădı̄sh as synonymous with יעשׂה חדשׁות , he will do a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). But this rendering cannot be justified by the usage of the language, and does not even yield a thought in harmony with the context. Silence in His love is an expression used to denote love deeply felt, which is absorbed in its object with thoughtfulness and admiration,

(Note: “He assumes the person of a mortal man, because, unless He stammers in this manner, He cannot sufficiently show how much He loves us. Thy God will therefore be quiet in His love, i.e., this will be the greatest delight of thy God, this His chief pleasure, when He shall cherish thee. As a man caresses his dearest wife, so will God then quietly repose in thy love.” - Calvin.)

and forms the correlate to rejoicing with exultation, i.e., to the loud demonstration of one's love. The two clauses contain simply a description, drawn from man's mode of showing love, and transferred to God, to set forth the great satisfaction which the Lord has in His redeemed people, and are merely a poetical filling up of the expression, “He will rejoice over thee with joy.” This joy of His love will the Lord extend to all who are troubled and pine in misery.

Verses 18-20

“I gather together those that mourn for the festive meeting; they are of thee; reproach presses upon them. Zephaniah 3:19. Behold, at that time I will treat with all thine oppressors, and will save the limping, and gather together that which is dispersed, and make them a praise and a name in every land of their shame. Zephaniah 3:20. At that time will I bring you and gather you in time; for I will make you a name and a praise among all the nations of the earth, when I turn your captivity before your eyes, saith Jehovah.” The salvation held up in prospect before the remnant of Israel, which has been refined by the judgments and delivered, was at a very remote distance in Zephaniah's time. The first thing that awaited the nation was the judgment, through which it was to be dispersed among the heathen, according to the testimony of Moses and all the prophets, and to be refined in the furnace of affliction. The ten tribes were already carried away into exile, and Judah was to share the same fate immediately afterwards. In order, therefore, to offer to the pious a firm consolation of hope in the period of suffering that awaited them, and one on which their faith could rest in the midst of tribulation, Zephaniah mentions in conclusion the gathering together of all who pine in misery at a distance from Zion, and who are scattered far and wide, to assure even these of their future participation in the promised salvation. Every clause of Zephaniah 3:18 is difficult. נוּגי is a niphal participle of יגה , with וּ instead of ו , as in Lamentations 1:4, in the sense of to mourn, or be troubled. Mō‛ēd , the time of the feast, when all Israel gathered together to rejoice before Jehovah, as in Hosea 12:10, except that the word is not to be restricted to the feast of tabernacles, but may be understood as relating to all the feasts to which pilgrimages were made. The preposition min is taken by many in the sense of far from; in support of which Hitzig appeals to Lamentations 1:4. But that passage is rather opposed to the application of the meaning referred to, inasmuch as we have מבּלי there, in which min denotes the cause. And this causal signification is to be retained here also, if only because of the close connection between נוּגי and ממּועד , according to which the dependent word can only denote the object or occasion of the nōgâh . Those who are troubled for the festal meeting are they who mourn because they cannot participate in the joy of assembling before the face of the Lord, namely, on account of their banishment into foreign lands. Mimmēkh hâyū , from thee were they, i.e., they have been thine ( min expressing descent or origin, as in Isaiah 58:12; Ezra 2:59; Psalms 68:27; and the whole clause containing the reason for their meeting). The explanation given by Anton and Strauss is unsuitable and forced: “They will be away from thee, namely, separated from thee as mourners.” In the last clause it is a matter of dispute to what the suffix in עליה refers. The explanation of Strauss, that it refers to Zion, is precluded by the fact that Zion is itself addressed, both in what precedes and what follows, and the thought does not require so rapid a change of persons. It is more natural to refer it to נוּגי , in which case the singular suffix is used collectively as a neuter, like the feminines הצּלעה and הנּדּחה ; and the meaning takes this form: a burden upon them, viz., those who mourned for the feasts, was the reproach, sc. of slavery among the heathen (compare Zephaniah 3:19, at the close). Consequently the clause assigns a still further reason for the promise, that they are to be gathered together.

In Zephaniah 3:19, עשׂה with את signifies neither to handle in an evil sense, nor comprimere, conculcare , but to treat or negotiate with a person, as in Ezekiel 23:25 and Ezekiel 17:17, where אות , according to a later usage of the language, is a preposition, and not a sign of the accusative. The more precise definition of the procedure, or of the kind of negotiation, is evident from the context. The reference is to a punitive procedure, or treating in wrath. מענּיך as in Ps. 60:14, the heathen nations who had subjugated Israel. What follows is taken almost verbatim from Micah 4:6; and the last clause points back to Deuteronomy 26:19, to tell the people that the Lord will assuredly realize the glorification promised to the people of His possession, and make Israel an object of praise to the whole earth. בּכל־הארץ בּשׁתּם , in all lands, where they have suffered shame. Boshtâm is epexegetical of hâ'ârets , which governs it; this explains the use of the article with the nomen regens (cf. Ewald, §290, d). In order to paint the glory of the future salvation in still more vivid colours before the eyes of the people, the Lord ends by repeating this promise once more, with a slight change in the words. At that time will I lead you. The indefinite אביא might be expounded from the context, by supplying the place to which God will lead them, after such passages as Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 43:5. But it is more natural to think of the phrase, to lead out and in, according to Numbers 27:17, and to take אביא as an abbreviation of הוציא והביא , picturing the pastoral fidelity with which the Lord will guide the redeemed. The following words קבּצי אתכם point to this: compare Isaiah 40:11, where the gathering of the lambs is added to the feeding of the flock, to give prominence to the faithful care of the shepherds for the weak and helpless. קבּצי is the infinitive: my gathering you, sc. will take place. The choice of this form is to be traced, as Hitzig supposes, to the endeavour to secure uniformity in the clauses. A fresh reason is then assigned for the promise, by a further allusion to the glorification appointed for the people of God above all the nations of the earth, coupled with the statement that this will take place at the turning of their captivity, i.e., when God shall abolish the misery of His people, and turn it into salvation (“turn the captivity,” as in Zephaniah 2:7), and that “before your eyes;” i.e., not that “ye yourselves shall see the salvation, and not merely your children, when they have closed your eyes” (Hitzig) - for such an antithesis would be foreign to the context - but as equivalent to “quite obviously, so that the turn in events stands out before the eye,” analogous to “ye will see eye to eye” (Isaiah 52:8; cf. Luke 2:30). This will assuredly take place, for Jehovah has spoken it.

On the fulfilment of this promise, Theodoret observes that “these things were bestowed upon those who came from Babylon, and have been offered to all men since then.” This no doubt indicates certain points of the fulfilment, but the principal fulfilment is generalized too much. For although the promise retains its perfect validity in the case of the Christian church, which is gathered out of both Jews and Gentiles, and will receive its final accomplishment in the completion of the kingdom of heaven founded by Christ on the earth, the allusion to the Gentile Christians falls quite into the background in the picture of salvation in Zephaniah 3:11-20, and the prophet's eye is simply directed towards Israel, and the salvation reserved for the rescued ἐκλογὴ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ . But inasmuch as Zephaniah not only announces the judgment upon the whole earth, but also predicts the conversion of the heathen nations to Jehovah the living God (Zephaniah 3:9-10), we must not restrict the description of salvation in Zephaniah 3:11-20 to the people of Israel who were lineally descended from Abraham, and to the remnant of them; but must also regard the Gentiles converted to the living God through Christ as included among them, and must consequently say that the salvation which the Lord will procure through the judgment for the daughter Zion or the remnant of Israel, commenced with the founding of the Christian church by the apostles for Judah and the whole world, and has been gradually unfolded more and more through the spread of the name of the Lord and His worship among all nations, and will be eventually and fully realized at the second coming of Christ, to the last judgment, and to perfect His kingdom in the establishment of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21 and 22). It is true that both the judgment and the salvation of the remnant of Israel seeking Jehovah and His righteousness commenced even before Christ, with the giving up of Judah, together with all the tribes and kingdoms falling within the horizon of Old Testament prophecy, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and the imperial rulers who followed him; but so far as the question of the fulfilment of our prophecy is concerned, these events come into consideration merely as preliminary stages of and preparations for the times of decision, which commenced with Christ not only for the Jews, but for all nations.

Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Zephaniah 3". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kdo/zephaniah-3.html. 1854-1889.
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