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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Zephaniah 3

Verses 1-7

REASONS

Zephaniah 2:4 to Zephaniah 3:7

Zephaniah 2:4 For Gaza shall be forsaken,

And Ashkelon shall become a desolation;
Ashdod, they shall drive her out at noon-day,1

And Ekron shall be rooted out.

5 Woe to the inhabitants of the sea-coast!2

The nation of the Cherithim!3

The word of Jehovah is against you,
O Canaan, land of the Philistines!
I will destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

6 And the sea-coast2 shall become places for pasture,

And folds for flocks.

7 And the coast2 shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah;

Upon them will they feed;
In the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening,
For Jehovah, their God, will visit them,
And turn their captivity.

8 I have heard the reproach of Moab,

And the revilings of the sons of Ammon,
Who [wherewith they] have reviled my people,
And acted insolently against their boundary.

9 Therefore as I live, saith Jehovah of hosts,

The God of Israel:
Surely Moab shall become like Sodom,
And the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah,
A possession of nettles and salt-pits,4

And a desolation forever.
The remnant of my people shall plunder them,
And the residue of my nation shall possess them.

10 This shall be to them for their pride,

Because they have reviled and carried themselves haughtily
Against the people of Jehovah of hosts.

11 Terrible is Jehovah against them,

For He destroys all the gods of the earth;
And all the islands of the nations,
Each from his place, shall worship Him.

12 Also ye Cushites,5

Slain of my sword are they.

13 And He will stretch forth his hand over the north

And destroy Assyria;
And He will make Nineveh a waste,
A dry place like the desert.

14 And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her;

All the wild beasts6 of the nations;

Both the pelican and the hedge-hog
Shall lodge on her capitals;
The voice of the singer in the window:
Desolation upon the threshold,
For the cedar-work He has made bare.

15 This is the exulting city, which dwelt securely,

Which said in her heart, I am, and there is none besides me,
How has she become a desolation,
A lair for beasts!
Every one that passes by her will hiss,
He will shake his hand.

3

1 Woe to the rebellious and polluted,7

The oppressive city!

2 She listened not to the voice:

She did not accept discipline:
She did not trust in Jehovah:
She did not draw near to her God.

3 Her princes in the midst of her

Are roaring lions:
Her judges are evening wolves;
They reserve8 nothing for the morning.

4 Her prophets are vain-glorious,

Men of treacheries:
Her priests profane what is holy;
They do violence to the law.

5 The righteous Jehovah is in the midst of her;

He will not do wickedness;
Every morning He will bring his judgment to light;
It does not fail;
But the unrighteous man does not know shame.

6 I have cut off nations:

Their battlements are laid waste;
I have made their streets desolate,
So that no one passes over [them];
Their cities are destroyed,
So that there is no man [there],
So that there is no inhabitant.

7 I said: Only do thou fear me,

Do thou receive correction,
And her dwelling shall not be cut off,
According to all that I have appointed concerning her;
But they rose up early;
They corrupted all their doings.

EXEGETICAL

The reason for the announcement of the judgment made in chap. 1 (comp. Introd. 3):—
1. God brings the judgment upon all the heathen, 2:4–15.
2. And yet Jerusalem remains incorrigible, 3:1–7.

Chap. 2 Zephaniah 2:4-15. The Judgment upon the Heathen. Representative nations from the four cardinal points, West, East, North, and South, are mentioned, so that by the completeness of the quaternary number of the four quarters of heaven arises the idea of the universal judgment upon the heathen nations (comp. Zephaniah 2:11 and the judgment of the four winds, Jeremiah 49:36; Zechariah 2:6; Zechariah 6:5).

The description is divided into three parallel strophes of four verses each:—
(a) Judgment upon Philistia, Zephaniah 2:4-7.

(b) Judgment upon Moab and Ammon, Zephaniah 2:8-11.

(c) Judgment upon Ethiopia and Assyria, Zephaniah 2:12-15.

Zephaniah 2:4-7. The judgment upon Philistia, the land of the West. For—thus the prophet immediately joins argument to the exhortation, which, in its final clause, directs [us] to the certainty of the judgment—Gaza shall be forsaken. עַזָּה and עֲזוּבָה form a paronomasia, like Ekron and תעקר, at the close of the verse (comp. Micah 1:10 ff). And Ashkelon shall become a desolation. Ashdod (the seat or the worship of Dagon (1 Samuel 5:0)) they, (undefined enemies) will drive out at noon-day: so defenseless will it be against the sudden and powerful attack, that there is not even need of a surprise by night. Compare Jeremiah 15:8, where also a word of similar sound, שׁוֹדֵד, occurs, which forms also an unexpressed paronomasia of though to אַשְדּוֹד; and Ekron is ploughed up. Even the enumeration of cities is governed by the symbolical number four, so that of the five cities of the Philistines (Joshua 13:3), one, Gath, is omitted, according to the example of Amos 1:7 f.

Zephaniah 2:5. The prophet directly addresses those who are threatened: Woe to you who inhabit the sea-coast, חבל הים, a name of the country of the philistines (see Deuteronomy 3:4), ye Cretans. The connection of the Philistines with the island of Crete was known from very ancient times (1 Samuel 30:14 ff.; comp. Tac., Hist., v. 2), although the arguments adduced by Bertheau (Gesch. der Israeliten, p. 188 ff. [History of the Israelites, etc.]) to identify Caphtor, the native country of the Philistines, who were not originally settled in Canaan, but immigrated into it at a later period, (Amos 9:7), with Crete, are not sufficient. [Philistine means emigrant: in the LXX. they are called Ἀλλόφυλοι. For an account of their origin see Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, s.v. “Philistines.” Compare Rawlinson’s Herodotus, vol. iv. p. 64, note 4, and Lenormant and Chevallier, vol. i. p. 124.—C. E.] Caphtor seems rather to be designated, Genesis 10:13 f., as an Egyptian district. Compare Starck, Gaza, p. 66 ff.; 99 ff.; Duncker, Gesch. des A. I., p. 339 A. Hence also the name Cretim is to be derived from Crete. To derive it from כּרת, to destroy, and to designate the Philistines by it, as those who are to be destroyed, as Keil, following the Targum and the Vulgate, does, is unnatural. The play upon words, which the prophet possibly had in mind (comp. 3:6; also the expression כְּרֹת immediately following this verse, and the plays upon words, Zephaniah 2:4) is far from etymology. The word of Jehovah is against thee, Canaan, properly “low country,” originally the name of the whole tract of land on the Mediterranean, inhabited on the North by the Phœnicians and on the South by the Philistines (Numbers 13:30 (29?)); Thou land of the Philistines. And I will destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. מִן. is, as is frequently the case, equivalent to ὥστε μὴ εἶναι.

Zephaniah 2:6. And there shall be [it will not do to construe, with the interpreters, the verb היתה with חבל, for this is masculine: it can only he construed with נוֹת (comp. Micah 1:9; Ges. 146, 3), so that חבל הים is to be understood as acc. loci] in the district upon the sea-coast extensive places for pastures and sheep-folds. Some take כְּרֹת as the plural of כֵּרָה, which (from the root כרה, to dig) would signify, according to Kimchi, the ditch made round a fold; according to Cölln, a cistern; both of which interpretations are untenable. Others (Strauss, Keil), following Bochart, take it for the infinitive of כרת; and understand by נוֹת כרֹת pastures of shepherds’ caves, i.e., where shepherds dig caves for a protection against the sun. Yet the expression, aside from the superfluity of the required complement, is little adapted to characterize the activity of the shepherds only. It is best to consider, with Hitzig, the word as a plural from כֵּר, pasture. The apparent tautology with נות, is no argument against it, since נות, [plural of נוה; see Ges., s. v.—C. E.], dwelling, pasture [for flocks and herds—C. E.] is a more comprehensive idea than כּר, a pasture for lambs [such is the strict meaning of the Heb. word כּר: Kleinert renders it Viehweide—C. E.]; and since moreover נְּרֹת רֹעִים and גִדְרוֹת צאן form two pairs of words closely belonging together, both of which are subordinate to נות. The abnormal form [the regular form is כָרֵי] [the plural of כַר, wherever it occurs, is כָרִים.—C. E.] is occasioned by the preceding נְוֹת, and likewise perhaps by playing upon the word כְּרֵתִים. It cannot be by accident that shepherds and their flocks are mentioned here instead of destroyers, whilst in threatening prophecies in other places, destruction is announced by this form of threatening, viz., that the city or territory is delivered up to beasts of the wilderness, monsters, ponds of water, or to desert vegetation. The resemblance of the turn of thought to Jeremiah 6:3 (comp. Introd. 4) is remarkable, and it is natural to suppose that as Jeremiah has there, so Zephaniah has here his eyes fixed upon the distress caused by the hordes of Scythians, whose march through the land of the Philistines, appeared also to Herodotus to be sufficiently noteworthy to obtain mention in his history (i. 104). They set out, the men and frequently also the women, on horseback: they took with them wagons yoked with oxen, which, furnished with a felt covering, served, at the same time, for tent and house; also their property, which consisted of droves of horses, cattle, and sheep, from whose wool they prepared those coverings. (Herod., 4:2, 61, 75, 114, 122.) At a later period, when there shall be only a remnant of Judah left, another event will follow the first punishment of Philistia:—

Zephaniah 2:7. Then the sea-coast shall fall to the lot of the remnant of Israel [Judah is the reading in the Hebrew text—C. E.], they will feed upon them (עליהם is construed with כְּרֹת Zephaniah 2:6, as if it were written there כָּרֵי) and in the houses—which have become empty—of Ashkelon will they lie down in the evening. A reproduction [of the idea] of Obadiah 1:19. The connection of thought (Zephaniah 2:6-7) would accordingly present itself thus: first Philistia is laid waste by a pastoral nation. Then Judah is judged, compare 7c; and then the remnant of Judah inherits Philistia as pasture-ground. Hitzig also [interprets it] in a similar way. However the reference to the Scythians is not at all necessary. Quite as good and perhaps a still simpler understanding of the passage results, if we, as indicated in the translation, render prominent in נוֹת the idea of an open, empty place, so that in Zephaniah 2:6 the destroyers, the shepherds that obtain possession, do not form the prominent idea so much as the emptiness, which resulted from a catastrophe left undefined. The district on the sea-coast, hitherto covered with cities rich in commerce, becomes open grounds for pastures, etc. And these open grounds, after Israel is purified, become the possession of the remnant. Thus יִרְעוּ (Zephaniah 2:7) naturally connects with רֹעִים (Zephaniah 2:6).

The following reason: for Jehovah, their God, will certainly visit them, Israel, and, whilst the wound of the heathen is incurable (Nahum 3:19), he will turn their captivity, is consistent with both constructions: it shows how the restoration of the place is effected. פּקד is to be understood in this passage of the gracious visitation of those already chastised (Strauss and others), on account of its close parallelism with שׁוּב שבוּת: it is, however, contrary to the prevailing usage of the book. Concerning the turning of the captivity, the restoration of the captives, comp. Deuteronomy 30:3; on Nahum 2:3, and below 3:20.

[Keil: “Paqad, to visit in a good sense, i. e., to take them under his care, as is almost always the meaning when it is construed with an accusative of the person. It is only in Psalms 59:6, that it is used with an acc. pers. instead of with על, in the sense of to chastise or punish. שׁוּב שְׁבוּת as in Hosea 6:11 and Amos 9:14. The Keri, שְׁבִית, has arisen from a misinterpretation”—C. E.]

Zephaniah 2:8-10. The Judgment upon the East: Moab and Ammon, the sons of Lot. Comp. Isaiah 16:6; Isaiah 25:11; Jeremiah 48:29 ff. If the subject here were historical, and not rather the universal and ideal character of the judgment of the world, then the interjacent, hereditary enemy, Edom, would certainly not have been omitted. I have heard the abuse (הרפה sensu activo, as in Lamentations 3:61) of Moab, who from of old armed evil tongues against me and my people (Numbers 4:22 ff.), and the revilings of the sons of Ammon, whose old hatred continued even to the latest times (Nehemiah 4:3; Nehemiah 4:7); wherewith they have reviled my people and haughtily violated, literally, acted insolently against their boundary. Comp. Amo 1:13; 2 Kings 13:20; Jeremiah 40:0. The suffix in גבוּלָם is to be referred to עַמּי (comp. Zephaniah 2:10, Zephaniah 2:9).

Zephaniah 2:9. Therefore as I live—̓Επεὶ κατ̓ οὐδενὸς εἶχε μείζονος ὀμόσαι ὤμοσε καθ̓ ἑαυτοῦ (Hebrews 6:13; for the construction compare Ew., 329 a)—saith Jehovah of hosts (comp. on Nah. 2:14 [13]) the God of Israel: Moab shall become as Sodom and Ammon as Gomorrah,—they will incur a destruction like that of the cities, in whose fate their ancestor, Lot, was involved—an inheritance of nettles and salt-pits (see note on Zephaniah 2:9—C. E.], like the Dead Sea, on which they dwell, and desert forever. The remnant of my people shall plunder them and the residue of my nation (גּוֹי instead of גוֹיִי, comp. Olsh., 39 d; 164 d) shall inherit them. If the details of a special historical prophecy were treated of, then Hitzig would be right in objecting, that the plundering and seizure by the returned remnant of Israel must take place before the final destinies of these countries, that the desolated land is not suitable for a נַחֲלָה, etc. But the prophet does not think of individual chronologically arranged dates, but of the grouping together of everything that involves the execution of Jehovah’s judgment upon the heathen nations; and this certainly has for its chief moment the destruction of the sinners and the redemption of his people.

Zephaniah 2:10. This shall be to them for their pride, because they have despised and boasted against the people of Jehovah of hosts. The judgment is talio. The universality of it stands out with still greater precision, according to its two-fold fundamental characteristic.

Zephaniah 2:11. Jehovah will be terrible against them (comp. Deuteronomy 7:21), for He will destroy all the gods of the earth, so that, after they have brought their peoples to ruin and judgment, they must themselves now pass away and die like men (Psalms 82:7). Compare below, the Doctrinal and Ethical part.

And they will worship Him, after that the hostile powers over them have passed away, every one from his place, all the islands of the nations. It is the common teaching of prophecy, that all islands, all nations the most remote, shall turn to Jehovah. But it generally takes the form, that they [the nations] shall flow to Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:0; Micah 4:0). Now it is certainly undeniable that in the idea of this Jerusalem [of the time] of the consummation, the spiritual element predominates (comp. on Micah 4:1 ff.). But that in this preexile prophet the local covering should already be so removed, as e.g. in Malachi 1:11, that he should consider a worship of Jehovah in all places the fulfillment of the times, is, although it commends itself at the first view of this passage, nevertheless very doubtful, the more so as Zephaniah himself (3:10) adheres to the older form of representation, namely, the offering of the heathen at the Holy City [Jerusalem—C. E.]. Hence I believe that the words: they will worship each from his place, are used in a pregnant sense: they will pour to Him worshipping; compare the trembling (hither) Micah 7:17; Hosea 3:5.

[Keil: “Mimnekomo, coming from his place: the meaning is not that the nations will worship Jehovah at their own place, in their own lands, in contradistinction to Micah 4:1; Zechariah 14:16, and other passages, where the nations go on pilgrimages to Mount Zion (Hitzig); but their going to Jerusalem is implied in the min (from), though it is not brought prominently out, as being unessential to the thought.”—C. E.]

Zephaniah 2:12-15. The Judgment upon Ethiopia and Assyria, South and North. It is in keeping with the great perspective, which is opened in Zephaniah 2:11, that distant nations should be introduced for illustration. The retrospect to Nahum 3:8 ff. is apparent. Ye Cushites also, Ethiopians, slain of my sword are ye; literally “are they.” The transition from the second to the third person has in itself nothing unusual (comp. 3:7 and the whole of Nahum).

Calvin connects with it the ingenious remark: “In secunda persona initio versus propheta compellit ad tribunal Dei, postea in tertia adjungit: erunt,” etc., in a certain manner the sentence of the judge.

Yet the predicative position of the הֵמָּה is so remarkable, that Ewald and Hitzig (against Rückert, Strauss, Keil) are certainly right in considering it as a substitute for the copula. Comp. Isaiah 37:16.

[Keil says: “הֵמָּה does not take the place of the copula between the subject and predicate any more than הוּא in Isaiah 37:16 and Ezra 5:11 (to which Hitzig appeals in support of this usage: see Delitzsch, on the other hand, in his Comm. on Isaiah, l. c.), but is a predicate.”—C. E.].

Zephaniah 2:13. And He will stretch out his hand (comp. 1:4) over the North and destroy Asshur, and make Nineveh a barren waste, dry like the desert, whilst at this very time [that the prophet was speaking—C. E.] the streams of water and the abundant irrigation are the pride and joy of the powerful city (comp. pp. 101, 104).

[Keil: “The prophet dwells longer upon the heathen power of the north, the Assyrian kingdom with its capital Nineveh, because Assyria was then the imperial power, which was seeking to destroy the kingdom of God in Judah. This explains the fact that the prophet expresses the announcement of the destruction of this power in the form of a wish, as the use of the contracted forms yet and yâsçm clearly shows. For it is evident that Ewald is wrong in supposing that וְיֵט stands for וַיֵּט, or should be so pointed, inasmuch as the historical tense, “there He stretched out his hand,” would be perfectly out of place. &יָד נָטִהָ(to stretch out a hand), as in Zephaniah 1:4 : ’Al tâsphôn, over (or against) the North. The reference is to Assyria with the capital Nineveh. It is true that this kingdom was not to the north, but to the northeast, of Judah; but inasmuch as the Assyrian armies invaded Palestine from the north, it is regarded by the prophets as situated in the north. On Nineveh itself, see at Jonah 1:2 (vol. 1, p. 390); and on the destruction of this city and the fall of the Assyrian empire, at Nahum 3:19 (p. 42).”—C. E.]

Zephaniah 2:14. And herds shall lie down in the midst of it [viz., of the city, which has become a desert—C. E.], but certainly not herds of cattle, which have no nourishment in the desert, but every kind of heathen beasts. חַיְהוֹ is not חַיָּה with the suffix of the third person, and is accordingly not to be translated, and all his beasts, the heathen: this form is חַיָּתוֹ (Job 33:20); but it is the known archaic form of the status constr. from חַיָּה (Genesis 1:24; Ges., 90, 3, 6). גוֹי is accordingly the stat. abs. By the beasts of the heathen it is most natural to understand either (according to 2 Samuel 23:13; Psalms 68:31 [comp. the Heb. text—C. E.], the conquering world-powers, which take possession of Nineveh as the remnant of Israel take possession of the ruined kingdoms of the Philistines and Ammonites (Zephaniah 2:7; Zephaniah 2:9); or the roving hordes of Scythians. However the interpretation of Cölln, Rosenm., De W., Strauss, and Keil is not to be characterized positively as erroneous: [they interpret it] every (real) beast, that is accustomed to range in herds (גוֹי); compare the goi of the locusts, Joel 1:6.

[Keil: “The meaning can only be, ‘all kinds of animals in crowds or in a mass.’ גּוֹי is used here for the mass of animals, just as it is in Joel 1:6 for the multitude of locusts, and as עַם is in Prov. 30:35, 36, for the ant-people; and the genitive is to be taken as in apposition. Every other explanation is exposed to much greater objections and difficulties. For the form חַיְתוֹ, see at Genesis 1:24.”—C. E.].

Pelicans also [see Thomson’s The Land and the Book, vol. 1. p. 403—C. E.] and hedge-hogs—the inhabitants of deserted countries and ruined places—will lodge on their capitals. The association of ideas leads the prophet to reminiscences from Isaiah 34:11; Isaiah 14:23; compare the first clause [of the verse] with Isaiah 13:21. “The capitals of the pillars do not lie on the ground, but now stand unattached, after the palaces, roofs, and floors, which rested upon them, are thrown down.” Hitzig. Hark, how it sings,—the nesting bird,—in the window.

קוֹל, as in 1:14, Nahum 3:2, literally vox (ejus qui) canit, or auditur (is qui) canit. Desolation on the threshold! None passes over it any more. For the cedar-panelling, the beautiful ornament of the walls (comp. on Habakkuk 2:17) He, Jehovah, has torn down [Heb. has made bare—C. E.]. אַרְזָה is related to אֶרֶז, as דִּגִה is to דָּג, it conveys a collective idea (Ew., sec. 179 c).

[Keil: “The sketching of the picture of the destruction passes from the general appearance of the city to the separate ruins, coming down from the lofty knobs of the pillars to the windows, and from these to the thresholds of the ruins of the houses.”—C. E.]

Zephaniah 2:15. This is the city, the exulting one (Isaiah 23:7), which dwelt so securely, sheltered behind her defenses of water; the expression is taken from Judges 18:7. “Vox ut exsultantis super illam.” Remigius. Which said in her heart: I am and besides me none; literally, and besides me (none) further. “Before ‘besides,’ the negation, if the supposition is intimated by the proposition, or in it, can be omitted, and the words for ‘besides’ can hence signify also ‘only,’ comp. Micah 6:8.” Hitzig. [?—Micah 6:8, however, is a different case; compare on the passage. And I would prefer, though against the consensus interpretum, to explain it: I, and if I am no more, still I; I and always I. The sense is the same in both views.] The same expression, with the same signification, is applied to Babylon, Isaiah 47:8; Isaiah 47:10.

[Keil: The Yod in ’aphsi is not paragogical, but a pronoun in the first person; at the same time, ’ephes is not a preposition, “beside me,” since in that case the negation “not one” could not be omitted, but the “non-existence,” so that אַפְסִי אֵינִי, “I am absolutely no further (see at Isaiah 47:8).” See Ges., Thesaurus, s. v.—C. E.] How has she become a desolation! (applied to Babylon, Jeremiah 50:23) a lair of beasts! Every one that passes by her, hisses, waves his hand. The thought is from Nahum 3:19. The waving of the hands, like the clapping, Nahum 3:19, is a sign of gratified feeling (comp. Psalms 43:2; Isaiah 55:12). The expression is, in part, similar to Jeremiah 19:8. [See Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, vol. i. p. 245.—C. E.]

  3

Zephaniah 3:1-7. The Obduracy of Jerusalem. Woe to the refractory (מוֹרְאָה, part. from the root מָרָא, the hiphil of which occurs Job 39:18, and in the Cod. Sam. Leviticus 13:51-52; Leviticus 14:44; equivalent to מרֵאה; compare יֹצָא, Ecclesiastes 10:5, contracted from יֹצְאָה equivalent to יְוֹצֵאה), and polluted, the oppressive city! יגֹנָה is the part of יָנֽה, press it, Jeremiah 50:16 and above. The prophet gives four reasons for this sharp address.

Zephaniah 3:2. She hearkens not to the voice, with which the faithful God speaks to her, Zephaniah 3:7, in all these acts (2:4 ff.). The בּ denotes a hearing with pleasure and effect: she hearkens not, although she hears. She does not accept discipline. מוּסַר, the lesson which is derived from the experience of one’s own or another’s suffering [Schadens, damage, harm—C. E.], and generally from attention to the ways of God; compare Proverbs 1:2. She trusts not in Jehovah, but in her wealth (1:12): to her God she does not draw near, but to the Baals (1:6): the acts of God and the voice of the prophets die away unheard; no change is effected.

Zephaniah 3:3. Her princes, in the midst of her, (comp. on 1:8) are roaring lions (for the idea comp. Micah 3:3; for the expression, Proverbs 28:15; Sir 13:19). Her judges are evening wolves, which go out in the evening for prey and are very ravenous (“non quod reiiquo tempore quiescerent,” Calv. on Psalms 59:7), which leave nothing for the morning, but so eager are they that they instantly devour the victim that falls into their clutches. “Ubi latrocinium in ipso foro exercetur, quid jam de tota urbe dicendum erit?” Calv.

Zephaniah 3:4. Her prophets are knaves, פּוֹחֲזים, people, who utter פַחֲזוּת, i.e., vain, empty talk, brag (comp. Jeremiah 23:32), men of treachery, who defraud God (Hosea 6:7) and men, since they pretend that their own word is the word of God (Ezekiel 22:28; comp. Micah 2:11 ff.). Her priests desecrate that which is holy, the temple, with their sacrilege, comp. Jeremiah 23:11 (Hieron.), the sacrifices (comp. קדֶשׁ, Jeremiah 2:3) by the neglect of the prescribed ritual, Ezekiel 22:26, comp. Malachi 1:11 (Cölln): in short, they make everything sacred common (Hitzig), instead of strictly discriminating, according to Leviticus 10:10 ff., between the holy and profane. Thus they do violence to the law, of which they ought to be the guardians. There is a corruption of all classes, of the organism of the kingdom in its substance, almost still worse than Micah had pictured it, chap. 3. And the cause of this disorder does not lie with God (Zephaniah 3:5-7). He has left nothing untried.

Jehovah is righteous, as a righteous one (comp. for the constr. Hosea 11:9) in the midst of her, He does no wrong. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:4.) Morning by morning (comp. Exodus 26:21) He sets his justice in the light (comp. Hosea 6:5). God’s justice is neither his teaching (“docendo populum leges et jura sua per prophetas, qui hortando et monendo per singulos dies id operam dant, ut eum ad meliorem frugem vocent” (Rosenm., Keil), nor his righteous administration (Chald., Hieron., Cyr., Strauss, Hitzig), but the announcement of the judgment, which it was right for Him and obligatory upon Him to bring upon these mad practices (comp. Calvin, above, p. 17): the sentences of the predicted judgment (comp. 15 and Micah 3:8), which, on the one hand, are declared against the heathen, but principally against Israel. He declares them, literally, without failing: He does not miss, returning faithfully every morning. The wicked have their work in the evening and leave nothing for the morning (Zephaniah 3:3), Jehovah has it in the morning and has each day a clear announcement. But in vain; the wicked [person] knows no shame (comp. 2:1): neither the example of the righteous government of God, nor the merited threatening of coming judgments causes him to blush. Jehovah himself is introduced as speaking (Zephaniah 3:6); He sets forth his great deeds, which He had accomplished for and before the eyes of Israel: I have destroyed nations, those mentioned chap. 2. and many others; their battlements are laid waste, synecdochically for the walls and fortresses, which they crown. I have desolated their streets, literally made dry, since the multitude of men crowding them is considered as a flood (comp. Habakkuk 3:15), so that no one any more passes through them. מִבְּלִי with the part. like the bare מִן in other places or the pleonastic מאֵין, 2:5, in the sense of necessary negative result (Ew., 323 a). The same turn [of thought] occurs Isaiah 34:10. [In the passage cited אֵין is used.—C. E.] Their cities are laid waste, literally, fallen by ambuscade (צדח, Exodus 21:13; comp. Joshua 8:0), without people, without inhabitant. And why all this? For. a warning example, that his people may consider his severity and his goodness.

Zephaniah 3:7. I said,—thought in me and spoke to them by these deeds,—only wouldst thou fear me, the imperf. instead of the imperative, in order to show the kindness and tenderness of the warning; only wouldst thou receive correction, suffer thyself to be taught. Then their (change from the second to the third person, as in Micah 3:2 ff.: a mental speaking and meditating on the part of God in a certain manner, is indicated) house, i.e., not merely the temple (Strauss), but their possession and dwelling-place, the place Zion (comp. Matthew 23:38) would not have been destroyed. To the substantive idea of destruction in this clause the following forms an apposition: destruction should not fall upon them, according to all that I have appointed concerning them; the whole sum of the evils included in he destruction, the daily announced &פקד משׁפּט cannot have the common meaning, to charge, to command (so still Strauss, for in this sense the subjoined עַל designates, according to the usage if the language, not the object, concerning which a command is given, but him upon whom the charge is enjoined. But as it can signify the divine care for any one, so it signifies also the laying up of a debt against any one, so that it hangs, in a certain manner, over his head, in order to fall at last upon him or his descendants and to destroy them: like נטר, Nahum 1:2. So also Exodus 20:5; Hosea 1:4. Thus God would have his deeds considered by Israel, but what avail is it? But nowאכן after אָמַרְתִּי points out the contrast of the empirical reality to the fruitless or mistaken thoughts of the speaker; just as in Psalms 31:23 (22); Isaiah 49:4,—they only speed the more all their infamous deeds, literally, they are in haste to pervert all their doings. The verb חשחיהוּ (Psalms 14:2), takes the auxiliary verb הִשְׁבִּימוּ (for the construction, comp. Ew., 285 b), which brings into the sentence the emphasis of the contrast required by אָכֵן: not only that they do not refrain from acting infamously, they even hasten to do so.

So it is evident that the judgment denounced, chap. 1, is just, since all the judgments which befell the heathen in favor of Israel (Nahum 2:1) produced no effect upon the people. So firmly convinced is the prophet of the incorrigibility of the people, that he, without farther ado, as if it were a question of the present, presupposes and declares it: even after the judgments described, Zephaniah 2:4 ff, which in his day were yet future (תִּהְיֶה, 2:4,etc.), Jerusalem shall wear just such an appearance, and, before that time, a worse than at present.

[Keil: “In Zephaniah 3:7-8 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.”—C. E.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

The contest of Jehovah of hosts (2:9, comp. Com. on Nahum, p. 36) against the heathen, has a fourfold design. First, it involves—which is the final point of view on this side—the restoration of the kingdom of David (comp. Psalms 60:0), whose extension, according to prophetic vision, is measured by the promise to Abraham. But in this respect only the countries which took possession of portions of this kingdom, viz., Philistia, Moab, Ammon, representative of the neighboring nations, come into consideration. Of Cush and Nineveh it is not said that the remnant of Israel will take their lands into possession. The second, and much higher point of view, is that of a contest between God and the [false] gods, which represent the antagonism to the true God among the heathen (comp. Zephaniah 2:11 a), The fundamental view of the O. T. concerning idols [Götter, false gods], is that they are nothing [nichtse, nothings], אֱלִילִים (Leviticus 19:4), and that the God of Israel, as He alone made the world (Exodus 20:11; Exodus 31:17), is the only true God, not merely among his own people and in his own land, but also in the land of the heathen (Exodus 9:22 f); another proof of which is furnished in the bestowal of Canaan [upon Israel] notwithstanding the prevailing idolatry. Deuteronomy formally repeats this doctrine of the oneness of the God of Israel (6:4; 32:39), and the idols are expressly designated as not-gods (Deuteronomy 32:21; comp. 8:19). Besides this another representation is presented to view in the further development of the Old Testament revelation, which seems to ascribe to the idols an actual existence. In the Pentateuch the passages directly bearing upon this point have no weight. Either they seem to be spoken from a heathen standpoint, consequently they are without the sphere of revelation (comp. Exodus 18:11; Genesis 14:20; Numbers 24:16; comp. also Isaiah 36:18ff; Isaiah 14:14); or idolatry appears as the worship of the objects of nature, temporarily permitted by God, which objects of nature are themselves subect to the power of God (Deuteronomy 4:19). There is, however, here, no doubt, a germinant intimation of the opposition existing between God and idols in the contest of Jehovah with the Egyptian magicians, who by virtue of their gods imitated his miracles. And undeniably the idea of a certain reality on the part of the gods seems to be expressed in the eighty-second Psalm. There God judges among the gods (comp. Exodus 7:12). Because they executed their office unjustly and suffered their worshippers to sink into iniquity, they were to perish like men (Zephaniah 2:7), and Jehovah would enter upon his inheritance, which they had governed for a time (Zephaniah 2:8). Psalms 97:9 teaches the same thing; and the passage, 2:11, receives hence a clear illustration. A twofold explanation of this phenomenon is possible. Either that the gods have a (subjective) subsistence by virtue of their worshippers, as a spiritual power, which unites and moves these worshippers in their appointed worship; which power consequently stands or falls with the existence of the people. So old Tarnov seems to understand the matter, when he explains the destruction of the gods at the place mentioned: “Paulatim ac sensim perdit idola, adimendo ipsis cultores omniaque sacrificia abolendo.” Compare below also, Bucer in the Homiletical suggestions. Or, that we trace back idolatry to satanic influences. “This satanic influence, after it has obtained a place within the soil of humanity, so insinuates itself into all the forms of development of the divine revelation and education as to produce a perverted counterpart of them, in which the substance of truth is destroyed and falsehood makes its abode; for in the common revelation the false god confronts the pure idea of God, in which [false god] not only, as in an idol the substance of divine truth is destroyed, but also, as in a positive phantom, the spiritual power of the evil one presents and communicates itself.” Beck. “Among the heathen, active, objective, devilish powers acquire divine honor by a darkening of the human conscience.” Kling. This latter view of the matter is prominent in Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:20. It is evident, too, that the Old Testament passages, and especially the one in question [Zephaniah 2:11 a—C. E.] coincide more nearly with this view than with the first [i. e, with Kling’s rather than with Beck’s—C. E.]; only that the solidaric connection of the [false] gods with the kingdom of Satan and of the demons is not expressly accomplished in conformity with the Old Testament standpoint. The doctrine is this: that, while, according to the general view of prophecy, the idols are to be despised as dead and dumb nonentities, yet the [false] gods, in a certain sense, rule over the nations, as objective powers, and that by their overthrow, which forms the inner intellectual side to the external judgments of the people, the nations, in a certain sense, are restored to an unprejudiced condition, since it is again possible to them to decide for God.

The third object of the judgments upon the heathen is this. They must, so far as they are heathen nations, and as such resist God, be overthrown, in order that having been delivered from the fetters of idolatry, they may seek Jehovah and learn to worship Him. 2:11 b.

Finally, the fourth object of these judgments upon the nations is, that Israel may come thereby to the knowledge of the glory and power of his God, and learn to stand in fear of his severity, and bow to his goodness. This is effected by God, in that, beside the judgments without, He causes the import of them—his justice and sentence—to be explained to the people by the prophets. His design is this: That thou mightest only fear me, in order that thou mayest remain safe from the manifestation of my wrath.

But this, plan of salvation is defeated by the people’s hardness of heart, which blunts the instruments of the divine proclamation and of regulating the [seiner, His] kingdom; and the judgment must come also upon Israel: there will only be a remnant, that will enter upon the deserted fields of Philistia, Ammon, and Moab.

The final and total aim of the judgment is, therefore, certainly Israel, but not so much the present Israel, who, rather, is, like the heathen, under the training of God, and is within this training certainly nearest to Him, yet not to such a degree that the heathen should come into consideration merely as objects of the judgment, for also for them the goal of worshipping Jehovah is presented in prospect; and Israel, if he does not receive correction, likewise incurs their judgments. The final object is rather the future Israel, the remnant, to whom, from the nature of the case, the heathen worshippers will also belong.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Of the exhortations which God, by his guidance of the world’s destiny, directs to those who are called to his salvation.

(1.) He exhorts us to repentance by the severe punishments which He brings upon the evil-doers (3:6); by the majestic power with which He desolates populous cities (2:4–6); He humbles the proud and leaves nothing unpunished (2:8–10); He reminds us also that the most powerful nations are not too powerful for Him (2:12), that the most distant are not too distant, the most populous not too numerous (2:13 f) for Him to bring down their secure arrogance and to deliver up to scorn and contempt those who trample others under foot (2:15). He who considers this rightly must surely perceive that God intends it for the destruction of every being antagonistic to him upon earth (3:11), and that He is a righteous God (3:5).
(2.) He exhorts us to faith. The promises, which He has given to his own, are not destroyed by any judgments, but only confirmed anew (2:7, 9): and there is not one of the great works, which are done under the sun, upon which an illustrative light does not fall from his Word (3:5). No one has an excuse that God has not drawn near to him (3:7), and that He has not also had his highest interests in view (2:11).

(3.) But how little do men profit by warnings! Refer, e.g., to Jerusalem (3:1–3); and to ourselves (3:7).

On Zephaniah 2:4. God’s way of destruction are also ways of grace (Acts of the Apostles, 8:26).

Zephaniah 2:7. Our hope of the future rests alone upon grace; and we need not wonder, though our gracious guidance leads through chastisements, on account of sin adhering [to us]. The remnant of Baal must be driven out, in order that the remnant of God may come to the light.

Zephaniah 2:8. Murmur not at poisonous tongues. God hears better than thou that in which thou art unfairly dealt with: pray for them who injure thee, for the injury weighs upon them and not upon thee. The memory of God is one of the most fearful things of which a man can think. God notices so particularly the dishonor done to his people for the reason that only those belong to his people, who take no heed of dishonor, and are not allowed to avenge themselves. But take heed that you are not reviled on account of your own sins. Such reviling God does not punish, but it is itself punishment.

Zephaniah 2:11. Prophecy will certainly come to pass and not fail. Even the smallest and most distant island is known to God and is included in his plan of salvation. But how shall they believe if it is not preached to them? Where the fear of God has been abandoned, in a country or among men, a salutary fear of Him must intervene, in order that his worship may be restored. On 13 ff. compare the Homiletical Suggestions on Nahum.

Zephaniah 3:1. God addresses his own city the most severely (Amos 3:2). The way of destruction begins with obstinacy against God: then comes pollution by vice, finally the destruction of conscience, which becomes manifest in open acts of violence and crime.

Zephaniah 3:2. He who listens to God’s voice, has this advantage from it, that he learns prudence. He who trusts in Him has the advantage, that he can draw near to Him at all times with assured confidence. We know obedience by prudence, faith by confidence. Disobedience is folly, and despondency unbelief.

Zephaniah 3:3. Strength and bravery do not govern a country; even the lion is a strong and brave animal. They must be restrained by the fear of God and guided to the right objects. A speedy sentence often does more harm and wrong than the detriment arising from ten tardy ones.

Zephaniah 3:4. If the salt becomes insipid, wherewith shall it be salted? He who speaks in God’s name should always speak with fear and trembling, and as if he were going to stand to-morrow before the judgment seat.

Zephaniah 3:5. No one is so liable to profane what is holy as a priest; and no one is so responsible. Thou shouldst offer no violence to the Word of God. What it does not say thou shouldst not make it say. Though priests and prophets may be wicked, it is nevertheless wrong to separate one’s self from the Church of God. The Lord of Hosts, who does no wrong, is still in the midst of her. Therefore do the sects go so speedily to ruin. We cannot think of anything more touching than the long-suffering love, with which God follows a people and a soul, and keeps always anew, daily and a hundred times, one and the same thing before its eyes, namely, whether it will allow itself to be saved. Dark and confused things are not utterances of God. They all have their light in themselves and do not require that one should bring in mysteries, which no man sees. Persistent unbelief is a shamelessness of the soul. How much has God torn from his heart, for the purpose of confirming the Word of his prophets, in order that we might learn to believe. Not merely innumerable men, whom He created, and who were judged according to this prophecy, but his own son.

Zephaniah 3:7. It is a singular thing, that even the most faithful counsels and friendly instructions and allurements strengthen in his perversity, him who is already in the wrong way. He has shame, but false; and there is no stronger enemy of the true shame than the false.

Luther: On Zephaniah 2:6. The most magnificent and powerful cities, which were subdued under no king but David, are so laid waste and razed, as Hieronymus frequently states that one sees remaining only some ruined portions.

Zephaniah 2:9. These surrounding nations have all been scattered and exterminated by the Persians, Romans, etc., so that they have not been able to retain even their name, which they bore of old; they have all been united into one nation with the name of Arabians.—Chap. 3 Zephaniah 2:1 ff. Although the pure unadulterated word is accomplished, yet some will always be found, who will adulterate the word and the true service of God, until Christ, at his last advent, will make an end of this evil.

Zephaniah 2:7. In these few words the prophet has briefly expressed what belongs to an honest Christian life, for the fear of God brings with it faith, humility of heart, so that we hold the majesty of the Lord in all honor. Discipline [Ger. Zucht; Heb. Musar] includes in it outwardly good morals, so that we may walk together, one with another, with propriety and honor, without the displeasure of the brethren.

Starke: On Zephaniah 2:5. Even in Christendom there are many who practice Canaan’s doctrine and life: may God free the Church from them.

Zephaniah 2:6. Compare Luke 13:5.

Zephaniah 2:7. The wealth of the godless is preserved for the pious.

Zephaniah 2:9. God confirms his promises with zeal for the consolation of the godly, his threatenings for the terror of the wicked.

Zephaniah 2:11. In the New Testament the service and the worship of God are confined to no fixed place.

Zephaniah 2:13. When God has warned a city many years by a Jonah, Nahum, Zephaniah, at last the punishment comes suddenly.

Zephaniah 2:14. Cities, castles, houses, which are built with much pride by the toiling sweat and blood of poor people, usually come to a mournful end.

Zephaniah 2:15. Whoever says, I am he, and there is none besides, robs God of an honor which belongs to Him alone.—Chap. 3 Zephaniah 2:2. It is a certain indication of approaching destruction, when the people become more obstinate by punishment.

Zephaniah 3:3. Contempt of God’s Word causes corruption among all classes.

Zephaniah 3:5. The more one despises God’s Word, the more will God continue in the teaching of it.

Zephaniah 3:7. Genuine repentance obtains not only certain forgiveness of sins, but also often averts temporal punishments. unbelievers are more assiduous in evil than believers in good.

Rieger: On Zephaniah 2:4 ff. Israel has often been stimulated to zeal by the surrounding nations. For example, they would also have a king like the heathen around them; they fretted themselves, on the ground that the other nations should so advance and become great in their idolatry, and that they themselves, possessing the true worship of God, should so decline. Therefore the judgments executed upon other nations are so frequently held up before them: partly because all these are under the government of God, who has fixed and beforetime determined their boundary how far and how long each nation should have its habitation; partly to show what kind of a distinction God makes, in all His judgments, between his people and between the heathen, and how in these He always remembers the covenant with their fathers and guides them to the fulfillment of his promise; that those shall be blessed that bless the seed of Abraham, and that those shall be cursed who curse them. For this reason also their excessive arrogance toward Israel and their pleasure in his misfortunes are charged so high to the account of these nations. O seek humility! What may one bring upon himself by his vainglorious mouth!

Gregory the Great: On Zephaniah 2:10. Other vices drive away merely the virtues, with which they stand in natural contradiction; wrath drives away patience; drunkenness, soberness; but pride is in nowise satisfied with the extirpation of a single virtue, but arms itself against everything good in the soul, and utterly corrupts it like a pest, so that under its influence every work, although it may be adorned with the appearance of virtue, nevertheless no longer serves God, but vain self-glory.

Eusebius: Zephaniah 2:11. In Zephaniah the appearance of Christ is evidently connected with the extirpation of idolatry and with the worship of God on the part of the heathen.

Bucer: Whilst God destroys all the nations around, and thereby shows that what the worshipped as divinities, are nothing but false gods, since in the time of need of their worshippers, they afford them neither support, nor shelter, He makes the gods themselves disappear.

Bucer: Zephaniah 2:12. Observe, He calls it His sword. No evil comes upon any one in which the hand of God is not.

Pfaff. Zephaniah 2:15. To the Lord there is nothing more detestable than the pride of self-arrogating men. How well He knows to punish it with terrible power; how his wrath hastens to humble the proud.

Bucer: Zephaniah 3:2. As it is the beginning and foundation of all salvation to hear the Word of God with faith, so contempt of the Word of God with faith, so contempt of the Word of God is the source of all corruption. If a man despises the Word of God, then the next thing is that he refuses all amendment, because he is well pleased with himself and imagines everything which is in him good. And this is the climax of perversion of the life from God.

Bucer: Zephaniah 3:4. There is no divine gift on which Satan does not cast his filth. So he has also polluted prophecy.

Beck: The wicked one makes an idol of the earthly spirit of the age in the polymorphean practice of error extending itself over the entire circle of the earth.

Footnotes:

[1][Zephaniah 2:4.—צָהֳרַיִם is dual, and signifies double light, i.e., strongest, brightest, Genesis 43:16; Genesis 43:25; Deuteronomy 28:29; Jeremiah 6:4.

[2][Zephaniah 2:5.—חֶבֶל, a cord, rope, Joshua 2:15; Ecclesiastes 12:6; a measuring line, 2 Samuel 8:2; Amos 7:17; a portion measured out, as of land, and assigned to any one by lot, Joshua 17:14; Joshua 19:9; hence, it signifies portion, possession, inheritance, tract, district, region.

[3][Zephaniah 2:5.—גּוֹי כְּרֵתִים LXX; πάροικοι Κρητῶν; Vulg.: gens perditorum. They inhabited southern Philistia, 1 Samuel 30:14; Ezekiel 25:16. See Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, articles “Cherethims,” “Cherethites,” and “Caphtor.”

[4][Zephaniah 2:9.—מִכְרֶה. This word is nowhere else used in the Bible. See a copy of “the Moabite Stone,” in The Jewish Times, Friday, June 10, 1870, in which the plural of the same word, 2:25, is rendered “ditches.” See also Lenormant and Chevallier, vol. ii. p. 211, note.

[5][Zephaniah 2:12.—See Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, article “Cush;” Kitto’s Cyclopædia of Bib. Lit., and Lenormant and Chevallier’s Ancient History of the East, vol. i. p. 57 ff.

[6][Zephaniah 2:14.—כָּל־חַיְתוֹ־גוֹי: LXX., πάντα τὰ θηρια τῆς γῆς; Vulg., Omnes bestiæ gentium; Kleinert, alles heidnische Gethier; Keil, “all kinds of animals in crowds or in a mass.”

[7][Zephaniah 3:1.—נִגְאָלָה, Niphal of גָאָל, to be defiled, polluted, unclean; used in this sense only in the later Hebrew. See Isaiah 59:3; Isaiah 63:3; Lamentations 4:14; Malachi 1:7; Ezra 2:62; Nehemiah 7:64; Daniel 1:8.

[8][Zephaniah 3:3.—גָֽרְמוּ, from גָרַם, to cut off or away; Piel, to gnaw, crush, craunch bones; LXX.: οὐχ ὑπελείποντο εἰς τὸ πρωί; Vulg.: non relinquebant in mane; Luther: die nichts lassen bis auf den Morgen überbleiben.—C. E.]

Verses 8-20

THE SALVATION

Zephaniah 3:8-20

Zephaniah 3:8 Therefore wait for me is the saying of Jehovah,

For the day when I rise up to the prey;1

For it is my right to gather nations together,
To assemble kingdoms;
To pour upon them my fury,
All the heat of my anger;
For by the fire of my zeal
The whole earth shall be consumed.

9 For then I will turn to the nations a pure lip,

That they may all call upon the name of Jehovah;
That they may serve Him with one shoulder.2

10 From beyond the rivers of Cush

My worshippers,3 the daughter of my dispersed ones

Will present my offering.

11 In that day thou wilt not be ashamed

On account of all thy doings,
By which thou hast transgressed against me,
For then will I remove from the midst of thee
Thy proud exulting ones, [or, those that exult in thy pride],
And thou shalt no more carry thyself proudly in my holy mountain.

12 And I will leave in the midst of thee

A people poor and bowed down,
And they shall trust in the name of Jehovah.

13 The remnant of Israel will not commit wickedness;

They will not speak lies;
And in their mouth will not be found a tongue of deceit;
But they will feed and lie down
And none will make them afraid.

14 Exult, thou Daughter Zion;

Shout4 O Israel;

Rejoice, and exult with all the heart,
O Daughter, Jerusalem.

15 Jehovah has removed thy judgments;

He has cleared5 away thine enemy;

The King of Israel, Jehovah, is in the midst of thee;
Thou wilt see evil no more.

16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:

Fear not Zion, let not thy hands be feeble.

17 Jehovah, thy God, is in the midst of thee,

A Mighty One, who saves;
He rejoices over thee with gladness;
He is silent in his love;
He exults over thee with rejoicing.

18 I gather together those that mourn for the festivals;6

They are of thee;
Reproach presses upon them.

19 Behold, at that time, I will deal with all thy oppressors,

And I will save the limping,
And gather the outcasts,
And make them a praise and a name
In every land of their shame.

20 At that time I will bring you,

Yea, at the time I will gather you;
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.

EXEGETICAL

The Way to the Accomplishment of the Salvation opened by the Judgment.

Zephaniah 3:8-10. The Salvation of the Heathen following the Judgment. Directly at the close of the first threatening proclamation begins the address (Zephaniah 3:8), directed to the meek of the earth (Zephaniah 2:3), the second cheerful address stretching over the intermediate statement of the causes.

What we should expect according to the course of thought at the close of Zephaniah 3:7,—therefore I will rise to the judgment upon Jerusalem,—was already said, chap. 1; now comes the consolation by which that threatening of judgment is tolerable.

Zephaniah 3:8. (According to the remark of the Masorah the only verse of the O. T., in which all the letters of the alphabet, inclusive of the five finals, occur.) Thereforeלָרֵן is employed, as it often is, in prophetical language, to indicate not exactly the immediate consequence of what precedes, but the link of the connection, i.e., of the transition from threatening to promise (comp. Isaiah 10:24; Isaiah 27:9; and other passages in Ges., Thes., s. v.): but therefore still wait upon me, ye humble, thou remnant of the promise (Zephaniah 2:3; Zephaniah 2:7; Zephaniah 2:9; comp. Isaiah 8:17; Habakkuk 2:3), saith Jehovah until the day that I rise up to the prey (so Drusius, Cölln, Strauss, Keil, following the Masoretic text, translate it. On the contrary, LXX., Syr., Hitz., following the reading לְעֵד, render it “for a witness.” The sequel favors the former translation) for it is my right, my fixed sentence uttered against the earth, not to be retracted, to gather the nations together. There is no intimation here that the language refers to a gathering together of the heathen, in the sense that those among the heathen desirous of salvation fall to Jehovah as a prey (Strauss, Keil); the intervention of a judgment, which is a necessary condition of the salvation, previously fixes the connection. The last act of the judgment, as it is a fixed element of the prophetic eschatology, the final gathering of the heathen nations before Jerusalem, in order to be destroyed in the decisive struggle (comp. above, Introd. p. 9), is here represented under the point of view, that God, after He has subdued the separate powers that resisted Him, each in its own land (Zephaniah 2:4 ff.), now causes the collective mass of nations to flock together, in order to shatter in one last decisive struggle everything opposed to God, in one day (comp. Micah 4:12). That is an object of hope for the meek of the land, and therefore the prophet proceeds: wait for me until I (the ל and the suffix in לק עי require, what interpreters have overlooked, that this infinitive, like קוּמי ליוֹם, must be construed with הַכּוּ), bring the kingdoms in crowds, and pour out upon them my fury, all my burning wrath. Theodorus Mopsu. makes the language to be addressed to the exiles: “Καὶ διατελεῖτε δὲ πρὸς ἐμὲ , ἣν κατὰ καιρὸν ὑμῖν παρέξω, ὡς ἐκ νεκρῶν ὑμᾶς ͂ς αἰχμαλωσίας ἐπανάγων δὲ πάνταω ὑμᾶς ἐπὶ τὰ οἰκεῖα” This view has, at the first glance, something in its favor: the consolatory moment intended for Israel in the prophecy of the judgment, Zephaniah 3:8, comes out very plainly in it. Notwithstanding it is hardly correct, though Strauss assents to it; since Zephaniah does not predict the exile, but everywhere addresses the people in Jerusalem, and the thought introduced by Theodorus into this verse from the restoration of the captives first occurs Zephaniah 3:18 ff., but even there in such a way, that the flower of the congregation are supposed to be remaining in Jerusalem, and the captives are supposed to come as scattered apart from these (also in a similar way the שבוה שבות seems to be employed in the oldest prophets), comp. the לְעֵינֵיכֶם, Zephaniah 3:20. For by the fire of my zeal the whole earth shall be devoured: everything, which is not from God; the day of judgment, which comes after the separate acts of judgment, which turned to the advantage of Israel, is entirely general; as He judges the incorrigible Israel, chap. 1, so He also judges the degenerate nations: only the Anavim [meek], who are enjoined to wait for Him, are excepted. But it lies in the nature of the case that that for which they are to wait, is properly not the day of judgment itself (Amos 5:18), but the result, of which it is the conditio sine qua non.

Zephaniah 3:9. For then, after the destruction of the power antagonistic to God upon earth, first of all of the power antagonistic to Him in the heathen world, whose judgment, according to what follows, is not considered as a destruction of the substance of life, but as a destruction of the δυνάμεις under heaven alienating the life from God (comp. Zephaniah 2:11), will I turn to the nations, which have hitherto with unclean lip called upon their idols (Hosea 2:19; Psalms 16:4), a pure lip; I will give it to them, I will create it in them. This act of grace, which, in Isaiah 6:0., is represented under the view of the expiating act of God, is here exhibited under that of the new creative act.

The two views [Momente] complete one another. [Many interpreters understand the “pure lips” of the lip of God Himself, which He will employ in friendly language to the nations (Luth., Cocc., Marck, Hofmann). But that God’s lip is pure is self-evident; it will not be pure then for the first time, but it is always pure. Our translation (comp. Theodoret: “Καθαρὸν δὲ χεῖλος τὸ μὴ θεοὺ̀ς ”) is required by the connection, and is also given by the oldest versions (Chald., Syr., Aq., Symm., Vulg.). For the expression [i.e., turn, etc.], comp. 1 Samuel 10:9; Mal. 3:23, in A. V. Malachi 4:6.—C. E.]

The purity of the lips proves itself by the fact that they all call upon the name of Jehovah—the unity of the children of God existing before the flood, at the beginning of the history of revelation, is restored, Genesis 4:26That they serve Him with one shoulder; compare the expression “with one mouth,” 1 Kings 22:13. “The unity is restored by means of all of them bearing the same yoke, i.e., the yoke of Jehovah, Jeremiah 2:20.” Hitzig. Compare also Isaiah 9:3. Those who escape from the great slaughter of the judgment (Zephaniah 3:8), are dispersed into their own lands, and there Jehovah’s new work of grace reaches them: compare the fuller expansion of the same thought, Isaiah 66:19 f.

Zephaniah 3:10. Even from beyond the rivers of Cush—from the southern extremity of the known world, which also appeared to be (Zephaniah 2:12) the southern terminus of the judgments will my worshippers (the signification of fragrance, which Ges, Ew., Maur., give to the word עהרי, is untenable), my dispersed people (on בה, comp at Micah 4:14), bring my meat-offering; the saved heathen become like a wide diaspora, after they have received pure lips, join themselves to the organism of the people of God [Heilsgemeinde, the congregation of salvation], as Isaiah had prophesied, chap. 18., to which Zephaniah refers by repeating the words (comp. Isaiah 18:7). [The Vulg., Luth., in his Comm., Marck, Hitzig, consider the words עֲתָרַי and בת־פּוּעַי as two coördinate nominatives. Not only the parallel, Isaiah 28:7, decides in favor of this construction, but also the context, which, in ver, 11, applies only to Israel. Compare also Malachi 1:11. De Wette, Hengstenberg, Strauss, Keil, with Luther’s translation, take the words as accusatives: from beyond the rivers of Cush will they bring my worshippers, my dispersed ones, as my meat-offering. But this thought is introduced into this passage only from the reference to Isaiah 66:20. The devotional-allegorical turn, which is combined with this view, that the heathen will convert again to God the Israelites dispersed among them (Hengstenb., Keil), is entirely foreign to the passage, since the dispersed, according to the entire connection, even though Israelites were to be understood by them, could not after all be considered as unconverted; and the act of bringing them, according to the usage of prophetic language (comp. Isaiah 49:22, and above), is an act of homage, and not of conversion. There are other interpretations, namely, the old versions, which seem to rest, in part, on different readings, comp. in Cölln, p. 56]. My meat-offering, is that which is due to me, comp. thy vows (Psalms 56:13 [12]).

Zephaniah 3:11-13. The Restoration of the Righteous Remnant in Israel. In that day, thou, the congregation of Israel, wilt not be ashamed of all thy doings, by which thou hast transgressed against me, and on account of which it is impossible for thee to enter, as thou art, into the perfected salvation (Zephaniah 3:7): for then will I remove, this prediction is proved by the whole connection to be fut. exactum; then will I have removed from thee those that rejoice in thy pride (comp. Isaiah 13:3), so that only the meek are left, and thou wilt no more pride thyself (גָבְהָה, fern. inf.,Ges., 45, 1, b) upon my holy mountain. Pride would certainly bring shame after it (Isaiah 3:0), but it will be destroyed.

Zephaniah 3:12. And I leave in the midst of thee a people bowed down and poor, which, because it consists of עֲנִיִם, afflicted, are in the right disposition to become עֲנָוִים. [In themselves the words עָנִי and עָנָו, which, besides this, occurs only once in the singular, do not point out the antithesis of the external pressure and of the internal humility, but they meet in the same fundamental meaning; compare, in opposition to Hengstenberg and the interpreters that follow him, the proof given by Hupfeld at Psalms 9:13; but in both the passages of our prophet (Zephaniah 2:3; Zephaniah 3:12) that antithesis is required by the connection and parallelism]. They will trust in the name of Jehovah: antithesis to Zephaniah 3:2.

Zephaniah 3:13. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong, like God Himself, Zephaniah 3:5; Leviticus 19:2, and one shall not find in their mouth the tongue of deceit, which is now found even in the mouth of their prophets (Zephaniah 3:4). But they will feed, in the undisturbed enjoyment of the fulfilled promise they live and rejoice in the good shepherd (Micah 7:14), and lie down, comp. Zephaniah 2:7, and no one terrifies them, as it is promised, Leviticus 26:6.

Zephaniah 3:14-20. The New Jerusalem. As in Micah 7:14 ff., the prophecy here takes a turn. It has from the beginning, and especially in this concluding promise, the tenor of the discourse in Micah 6:7, a tenor removed from the empirical present and raised to a jubilation over the accomplishment; with dithyrambic psalm-tones to the end, in such a manner, however, that by means of the expression, “in that day,” Zephaniah 3:16; Zephaniah 3:19 f., the prophetic character is maintained: “Confirmat superiorem doctrinam exhortans fidcles ad gaudium, quasi jam præ oculis exstaret, quod antea pollicitus est.” Calvin. Exult thou daughter Zion (comp. Zech. 2:14; Zechariah 9:9).

Zephaniah 3:15. Jehovah has removed the judgments: “everything that He appoints concerning them,” the judgments, which were held out in prospect for the great day, Zephaniah 3:7; Zephaniah 3:5; swept away thine enemy, as in Micah 7:8, a common designation of the world-power (Babylon, Nimrod, comp. Com. on Micah, p. 51) in all its relations. The King of Israel is Jehovah in the midst of thee, as Obadiah had promised for this time of salvation, Zephaniah 3:20, comp. Zech. 2:14 f. (Strauss, Keil: the King of Israel, Jehovah, is in the midst of thee; but this method of placing the [noun in] apposition before is not Old Testament, but modern usage.) Thou wilt see evil no more, neither evil, but Him alone, in whom is all good, Hosea 3:5, nor sin, Zephaniah 3:11, for the Holy One does not suffer it in his presence, Deuteronomy 23:15 (14). Therefore thou canst be fearless, Zephaniah 3:16 f.: On that day will men say to Jerusalem, fear not, Zion!—Zion is in the vocative—let not thy hands sink down, in slackness and despondency. The understanding of the address as a designation of the new name (they shall call Jerusalem: “Fear not Zion; let not thy hands sink down!” Ewald), is certainly entirely in accordance with the prophetic spirit, but it is introduced into this passage from Isaiah 62:11 ff., and is not indicated by anything. According to this view Zion should be construed, like Jerusalem, with לְ. The hands have become slack at the approach of the day of Jehovah, Isaiah 13:7 : “Omnis vigor ita concidit metu, ut nullum membrum suo fungatur officio.” Calvin. The requirement that the slackness shall cease, shows that the judgment is past.

Zephaniah 3:17. Jehovah, thy God, is in the midst of thee, a mighty one, who is a Saviour; comp. Jeremiah 14:9. The אֵל גִּבּוֹר, Isaiah 19:5 (6), promised by the prophets, is Jehovah Himself, comp. Isaiah 10:21. He rejoices over thee in delight, since. He sees no more anything impure, and the old marriage covenant is gloriously restored anew, Isaiah 62:5, comp. Hosea 2:19. He is silent (Anton, Hitzig, following the LXX. read יַחֲדִישׁ instead of יהרישׁ: He does a new thing) in his love: a silence arising no longer from forbearance, in order to punish at last (Psalms 1:2); but because He has nothing more to reprehend, comp. Zephaniah 3:5; Zephaniah 3:11. His love is, then, a blessed enjoyment and nurturing. A beautiful anthropopathy. Calvin: “Deus ergo tuus quietus erit in amore suo, i.e., erunt hœ summœ deliciœ; hœc erit prœcipua Dei tui voluptas, ubi te fovebit; quemadmodum si quis uxorem dilectissimam foveat: ita etiam Deus tuus quiescet in amore tuo.He will rejoice over thee with rejoicing. Isaiah 65:19. Bucer: “Cum amor Dei ergasuos verbis humanis explicari nequeat, quicquid omnino in amore vehemens est et flagrans, illi se dominus comparat. Hinc modo patris, nunc matris tunc et mariti affectum sibi sumit.” Both silence and rejoicing belong to love, as salvation is called an eternal rest and an eternal praising of God. And in this rejoicing the whole Church is to have a part.

Zephaniah 3:18. Those that mourn, נוּגֵי instead of נוֹגֵי part. Niph. from וָגַי יָגָה, Olsh., 192 a. Rem. 266 a; so also נוּגוֹת, Lamentations 1:4; Vulg.: nugæ!] far from the festive assembly, the great festival of the accomplishment of salvation in the New Jerusalem, which, in accordance with Hosea 12:10 (9), is also represented, in Zechariah 14:16 ff., under the figure of the Feast of Tabernacles as being the most joyful, I will gather together, I will gather [them] from the dispersion, comp. Zephaniah 3:20 (for the constr. comp. Ges., 116, 1): they are of thee (מִן, as in Ezra 2:59) [see also Isaiah 58:12; Psalms 68:27, מִן expressing descent or origin—C. E.], reproach presses upon them, literally, as a burden does. The suffix in עָלֶיהָ refers to the collective idea גּוֹלָה or שׁבוּת existing in נוּגֵי (Hitzig). In order that they may be disburdened and set free, the destruction of the enemies, in whose fetters the mourners are held, is necessary.

Zephaniah 3:19. Behold at that time I will deal with (עֹשֶׂה intransitive with emphatic meaning as in Ezekiel 23:25; Ezekiel 27:17; Jeremiah 18:23) all thine oppressors, and that in such a way that I will heal the limping and gather together the dispersed, (designations of the Church tried with suffering, from Micah 4:6, comp. at the passage) and make them a praise and a name (as it was promised in Deuteronomy 26:19) in every land of their shame. “Praise and name,” hendiadys for a celebrated name, which is praised, so that the original promise, Genesis 12:0, is fulfilled, and all nations long to be invested with the citizenship of the new community. Psalms 87:0. Comp. also Zechariah 8:23 and Isaiah 4:1.

Zephaniah 3:20. At that time will I bring you,—the sentence, like all the statements of the verse, has something compendious, “abbreviatory.” הֵבִיא, in itself, signifies neither to bring to a possession, to rank and condition (Ewald), nor to lead out and in (Keil). Rather the whole sentence becomes clear only from the reference to Deuteronomy 30:3 ff., which passage the prophet quotes as one known to the hearers. To this, נדח, Zephaniah 3:19, comp. Deuteronomy 30:4, which accords nearly quite with Micah, has already pointed; likewise קבּע and שׁוּב שׁבוּת, which soon follow, point to it. And thence the elliptical אביא receives also (Deuteronomy 30:5) the signification “to lead home.” It certainly does not have the same meaning in the passage Isaiah 14:2, from which Hitzig and Strauss derive this meaning,—there the object of the action is directly added [to the verb],—but it appears in closer correlation to this verse [20] in Jeremiah 31:8. And at that time I will gather you. Instead pf the verb fin. אֲקבֵּע the infin. with the suffix is chosen as in Daniel 11:1, probably to produce a conformity of sound with אביא(Hitzig). For I will make you a name … before your eyes, saith Jehovah. The conclusion of Zephaniah’s prediction of judgment reaches back to the beginning of that of Obadiah.

[Keil: “A fresh reason is 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 chap. 2.Zephaniah 3:7; Zephaniah 3:7), 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.—C. E.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

The ways of God lead not to death, but to life; for He is a faithful God. But just because He is faithful, He adheres not only to the promises, which He has made, but also to the conditions of salvation, which exist in his holiness, and whose substance is embodied in the law. Accordingly the revealed agency of God and its progress to accomplishment have a twofold fundamental character. In the first place there is a work of judgment, so that the whole history of the kingdom is exhibited as a process of judgment, as a purifying, cleansing, struggling, and demolishing to the last. In the second place there is a work of salvation, a new-creating work, so that the same history is presented as a progressive communication of the divine life-germ, advancing to the complete recreation of that which has become corrupt by sin. To represent only one of these views as the central one is wrong; yea they do not in reality allow themselves to be so much as wholly separated; each receives its internal form by (the irradiating lines of the other. As by the process of judgment salvation shines throughout as expiation, forgiveness, amnesty to the elect, so by the process of salvation the judgment appears as sifting, removing, and pronouncing death upon that which is unholy. Both views form a perfect complex, so that one cannot be conceived without the other. As they form in this complexity the foundation of all prophetic preaching, so do they also that of prophetic eschatology. Hence their separate elements are clear in their internal organic connection.

In his judicial proceeding it is not enough that God should overthrow the hostility against his kingdom just at the point where it becomes directly actual by a temporal juncture of circumstances; that He should punish the heathen powers only so far as they come successively and singly into historical contact with the Church; there must be a complete breaking up of heathenism, so far as it is a system of positive opposition to Him: in this the judgment culminates. This final conflict of the judgment, briefly announced by Zephaniah, Zephaniah 3:8, more fully exhibited by Ezekiel 38 f., and Zechariah 12 f., supposes a concentrated gathering together against the kingdom of God of all the powers, which have not yet been added to it. If this march is elsewhere indicated by the announcement that the nations of the remotest distance will be incited to rush against Jerusalem, Zephaniah indicates it by the simple emphasis of the words, “gather together.”

It is not incomprehensible that this gathering together, so far as its occurrence is a necessity required by the history of the kingdom, does not lie in the sphere of free-will, and that on this account its ultimate cause is referred to God. (Acts of the Apostles Acts 4:28). It was potentially fulfilled by the struggle of Christ with the combined powers of heathenism, and of Judaism dissevered from the kingdom of God, of fanaticism, epicureanism and skepticism (Pharisees, and priests, Sadducees, Herod, and Pilate), avarice and inconstancy (Judas, Peter, and the multitude), death, and the Evil One. These are the idols of the world, and its centralized power is destroyed by the work of redemption (1 John 3:8). But the realization of this ideal in history which the prophecy requires possibly not only in accordance with its form, but also in accordance with its substance, and which cannot be conceived without the actual taming of all these powers in the kingdom of God, is still unaccomplished. “The prophetic representation of the victory over the antitheocratic central powers reaches into the most distant time, and we must carefully guard against any weakening by rash interpretation.” Beck. To the form of the prophecy, on the other hand, belongs the expression, “to gather,” so far as it seems to contain a local reference. That it treats of a gathering on the field of spiritual conflict is evident from the fact, that after this decisive battle, the separate central heathen powers, which have been subdued, experience and become partakers of God’s work of grace in their lands.

This work of grace is the restoration of the people [der Völker, the peoples] of God to the kingdom of God by the most ancient and most peculiar mark of God’s children, calling upon the name of Jehovah (Genesis 4:26). The Word is the central idea of all revelation: the Word on the part of God is revelation itself in the widest extent: the Word on the part of man is the concentrated symbol of the life of the human soul. (Comp. Oehler, art., “Name” in Herzog, Real-Encyc., 10:193 ff.). The purity of the lips manifested and effected by the calling upon the name of God, is at the same time purity of the inner man (Matthew 15:18). The other constitutive elements of divine worship—bowing and sacrifice—fall in with the expression. And indeed the bloody sacrifice is abolished after the offering of the great sacrifice Zephaniah 1:6, with which the reconciliation is connected (comp. Zephaniah 3:9 with Isaiah 6:7; also Zechariah 13:1). The offerings of the heathen world joining themselves to God are represented by the mention of the meat-offering. (Comp. Malachi 1:11.) There is at least tacitly promised thereby an essential change of the Mosaic worship for the time of salvation—as it is connected solidarily with the demolition of the barrier of the law between Israel and the nations, between Canaan and the distant lands. It can be nothing else than an entirely new order of things, in which the worshippers of Jehovah, “the congregation of his dispersed ones,” even beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, are found among the sons of Ham. The beginning of the fulfillment is related by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles Acts 8:26 ff., and the entire prophecy of this book chimes in with his narrative throughout. (Comp. Zephaniah 2:5 with Acts of the Apostles Acts 8:26; Acts 3:10 with Acts 8:27; Acts 3:9 with Acts 8:37; Acts 3:17 with Acts 8:39).

If an entirely new creation is necessary in the heathen world to effect the salvation, then the matter of moment in Israel is to restore by purification the pure heart of the poor in spirit, of the humble life of faith, which procures righteousness before God. The new Israel will be essentially different from the present in so far as they will be no more liable to punishment. As in the case of the heathen so also here the fact of reconciliation, of purification, and of forgiveness is tacitly presupposed (comp. however, Zephaniah 3:14 :) although they have sinned as Israel, as a nation, yet in the time of salvation there will be a remnant (comp. Com. on Micah, p. 32; Com. on Nahum, p. 36; ante, Introd. p. 9), which is not swept off together with the others in the judgment, which has also obtained forgiveness and accepted it in humility, and which now places its confidence and hope only in the name of Jehovah. But the proud, who place their confidence in themselves, who little consider that the mountain, on which they celebrate their self-sufficiency, is the abode of the Holy God, will be swept away in the purification. It also belongs to the complete humility of Israel, that they should abandon the narrowness of their particularistic pride. In this way this fact is connected with the former, by which it is worthy of consideration, that the conversion of the heathen is placed before the restoration of Israel.

Both are works of grace: in the case of the heathen the grace lies in the entirely new beginning; in the case of Israel, in the fact, that after they have become, according to human view, a wretched miserable remnant, as such they obtain favor. Such has been God’s way from the beginning: the younger sons are his chosen in the history of the patriarchs and kings; when Israel had pined away in the bondage of Egypt, Moses arose; when toward the end of the time of the judges they had almost ceased to be a nation (1 Samuel 13:19), Samuel came. So will it be also at the time of the consummation.

So also the marks of the work of grace in Israel and among the heathen agree. The signature of the new Israel is given with the word of truth, as the signature of the dispersed congregation, gathered from the heathen, is given with the word of confession. What precedes the times of the consummation are on the one hand the times of ignorance; and on the other the times of falsehood. Falsehood is the mortal enemy, which resists the development of the kingdom of God from within; and so long as it is not removed, so long the consummation is delayed. John 8:44. And as among the heathen, so also in Israel the form of the new kingdom of God is a perfect worship of God: the consummation bears the character of a festival. So had Isaiah, chap. 4, already described, after the type of the Feast of Tabernacles, the achievement of salvation, which is allotted to the remnant of Israel after the judgment and reconciliation.

But this is the preëminence of Israel over the heathen, that they are the centre of the new kingdom, and that Jehovah dwells in the midst of them as a Mighty One and a Saviour. The heathen come into, but “salvation comes from the Jews,” and the new congregation, although the heathen (under the supposition, that they acknowledge this privileged position of Israel with praise) are added to it, is essentially the continuation and completion of the O. T. Church. It is indeed nothing else than the fulfillment of the promises which were made to the fathers, and which are chartered and sealed in the Torah Only that this continuation and completion pass through the deep rupture, which discloses itself in the name of “the lame and the outcasts;” and that the covenant of a holy and blessed love between God and the Israel, whom He has abandoned in all lands to deserved shame, must be a new covenant. And indeed the complete and most peculiar nature of this new covenant was not exhibited in the time of the prophet: it will itself be a revelation and that a visible one: before the eyes of his own, God will carry it into effect. The Word of God, which was communicated to Moses and the prophets, and which his Church has heard with the ear, will appear to the eye in the fullness of times. Hebrews 1:1 ff.; John 1:5; John 1:9 f.

Concerning the double relation, in which this prophecy places the heathen to salvation (John 8:19; John 9:10) compare at Nahum 1:0.

HOMILETICAL

What is the mission of the church, which God has made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light? (Zephaniah 3:15).

1. We should in the immovable unity of the Spirit, who is mighty in us, stand fast against the assembled powers of darkness, until they are overcome (Zephaniah 3:8).

2. We should carry on the contest in the name of God and with pure lips. The purity of the lip is acquired and preserved by the constant calling upon God (Zephaniah 3:9, a, b).

3. Those who believe should not press shoulder against shoulder, nor should they wish to be one higher than another, but to become one in humble adoration (Zephaniah 3:9 c.).

4. We should not fix our hearts on the possessions of the world, but remember that, in this world, we are a scattered church of God, and prepare the offering of the soul for the eternal home (Zephaniah 3:10).

5. We should, in everything hold fast to the one thing needful. Namely, that we have no right to glory through ourselves, but through grace against judgment (Zephaniah 3:11-12).

6. We should keep silent at the purifications, by which grace qualifies individuals for the inheritance purchased once for all (Zephaniah 3:11-19 a, b).

7. We should wage the contest of the light with the weapons of the light and of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, Zephaniah 3:13 a, and with perfect fearlessness, as the flock of the good shepherd, whom all enemies are too few to resist (Zephaniah 3:13 b, Zephaniah 3:16, Zephaniah 3:17 a).

8. We should always be joyful in the Lord (Zephaniah 3:14-18). For after the acts of reconciliation He takes delight in man (Zephaniah 3:17 b).

9. We should walk for the honor of God, as those who know that it is God’s will, that his name should not be reviled in us, but praised by the nations (Zephaniah 3:19 c).

10. We should keep our eyes open to the past and present proofs of the powerful manifestation of God, and to the signs of his coming (Zephaniah 3:20. Luke 12:35).

God’s purpose is a missionary purpose.

Zephaniah 3:1. A purpose of external missions (Zephaniah 3:8-10).

Zephaniah 3:2. A purpose of internal missions (Zephaniah 3:11-20).

All prophecies are fulfilled in Christ.

In the holiness and veracity, in the struggles and sufferings, in the humiliation and, exaltation of the historical Christ everything meets, which the prophets recorded of the deeds, experiences, and successes of Israel, as the mediator of salvation, and of the coming of God for the accomplishment of salvation. He has struggled with the united powers of darkness and vanquished them: He was the poor and humble remnant, who did no wrong and in whom God was present, and whom the Father loved with perfect satisfaction.

Zephaniah 3:2. In the advancing acts of salvation, by which the exalted Christ brings his eternal acts in his body, the Church, to their temporal realization and form, is fulfilled continuously what the prophets predicted concerning them, that not merely an individual, but a congregation of the dispersed people of God should be the heir of the promise.—At Zephaniah 3:8 f. It is God’s right to gather together the heathen for wrath. But because He is God grace is the end of his righteous way. Only those who are near to Him thus know Him, and hence wait confidently upon Him, however He may walk abroad in his power spreading terror. A pure lip is the mark of the work of God’s grace. If those who belong to Him would think of this, how much less, not merely of filthy speech and buffoonery, which are not becoming, but also of contention, quarreling, anger, and unrighteousness would there be in the world. From the impurity of the lips it comes, that Christendom, instead of serving Him with one consent [mit einer Schulter, with one shoulder] becomes more unsettled and rent from day to day.

Zephaniah 3:10. There were and are Christians, so-called worshippers of God, who go up the Nile to sell the heathen as slaves to Christians. A meat-offering of abomination (Isaiah 1:11 ff.). Missions should make amends for this.

Zephaniah 3:11. The most dangerous desecration of the holy place and of the holy congregation takes place through pride.

Zephaniah 3:12. It is painful to the human heart, that it must first become completely poor and humble, before it learns to trust entirely in the name of the living God. This is the reason that the hearts rich in the opinion of the world are richest in dead idols.

Zephaniah 3:13. Behold there the marks of the true Church, congregationes Sanctorum, Aug. vii. Truly the holiness of the saints comes from the grace of God, and so long as they carry in themselves the flesh of sin their perfection is piece-work. But whoever he be that knowingly and willingly offends and lies and deceives from the bottom of his heart, him the word of God excommunicates, though his lips may be full of hypocritical profession. The pure lip is the lip of the heart. Such sanctification follows, when a soul feeds tranquilly in the pasture, which God has given to it in his Word. Such souls no one alarms. In proportion to the internal separation from the Word, in that proportion are there much anxious looking around and despondency.

Zephaniah 3:14 f. The enemy of the Church is in the last instance only one: he, whose works God, who was in Christ and reconciled the world to Himself, has destroyed. The legal practice [Praxis] produces in souls fear of the devil as a conqueror; the prophetic and evangelic inspires in them courage against him as a vanquished [enemy].

Zephaniah 3:16 f. Zion, let not thy hands become slack. How much is there everywhere to do! and how must it invigorate our alacrity for work, when we know that God, the Mighty One and Saviour, is with us, and that He looks upon our work with heartfelt delight.

Zephaniah 3:18. Such work is not a trouble, but a feast. It is a disgrace to him, who does not engage in it. Pray everywhere that God may turn the disgrace of the afflicted, who perish far from work in his kingdom, and gather them.

Zephaniah 3:19. We cannot certainly avoid the necessity of bearing for a short time the derision and abuse of the world for the Lord’s sake. But it is a paltry view to set this as the final object and result of living Christianity upon earth. By doing so we close our eyes. The final object which we must always keep present to ourselves, is that men should learn to glorify God in his own. But for that active Christianity is necessary. He who strives after the object in another self-chosen way, whether, whilst abandoning the Gospel, he seeks to gain the praise of the crowd, whether whilst turning his back upon his brethren, only hinders the work of God and impedes it.

Zephaniah 3:20. How many who belong to the Israel of God by baptism are prisoners in the world. Cease not to pray for your brethren that He may restore them before your eyes. For this the word of promise is given, that the faith of those who labor in this work may be strengthened by it; and that we who are so ready to say, their destruction is at hand, may learn to take shame to ourselves in view of the faithfulness and long-suffering following of God, who speaks there.

Luther: Zephaniah 3:8. The gathering together of the kingdoms and nations is effected through the word of the Gospel, which has been proclaimed to every one throughout the world.

Zephaniah 3:12. He describes .the Christian Church with few, but yet with most beautiful words; namely, that it is a poor, needy, and oppressed little people, that calls upon the Lord and trusts in Him, which is the highest righteousness and the most exalted worship. This is the true glory of the kingdom of Christ, that we are joyfully and in peace reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Not that there is no longer any cross reserved for us; not that the world and Satan will not lie in wait for us; but, provided that against all this our conscience is preserved secure, we need not care for it. This is the work of the power of God in us.

Zephaniah 3:20. Also the apostles and martyrs came at last to honor before God and the world, who before were considered by the world a despised people; now their memory sounds with thanksgiving, like that of John Huss, and of all who have suffered persecution and death for the glory of God. But the memory of the ungodly perishes.

Starke: The fulfillment of this text is generally placed in the times of the Apostles. Though indeed this interpretation in part is not to be denied, yet it cannot be granted that these prophecies attained their full measure of fulfillment at that time.

Zephaniah 3:8. If we are a long time chastised for our sins, we should remember, that we also were a long time disobedient to God, when He warned us against sin; and also that it is no wonder, if He does not soon answer us, because we would not listen soon to Him.

Zephaniah 3:10. Believers present themselves as a gift, when they put themselves entirely under obedience to God and mortify the old man. Although the unbelieving Jews still continue in such pride of their relation to God, yet those objects of pride will be put away from them at the time of their conversion, and they will perish with Antichrist, to whom they belong. Though pride is displeasing to God everywhere, yet it is particularly repugnant to Him, when we are proud in the service of God.

Zephaniah 3:12. The Christian Church is not to be estimated according to its external appearance.

Zephaniah 3:13. Although the pious have their infirmity in them, nevertheless they have, according to the inward man, pleasure in God’s law. Where true faith exists, good works also must infallibly follow. Those who have been justified by faith have peace with God and with his creatures.

Zephaniah 3:14. The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, etc., Romans 14:17.

Zephaniah 3:17. There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, much more over the fact that entire Christendom is reconciled to God. He will be silent in his love, i.e., He will be no crier; He will not deal harshly with and utterly cast down the terrified consciences of those who make a false step; He will not magnify trifling faults; in a pharisaic manner make camels out of gnats, and for that reason make the erring to be ill spoken of, that every one may fear to associate with them; but his care will be exercised to raise them up again and to win their heart to him. As He dealt with Peter, the thief, etc., would that all teachers would also deal with poor erring sinners.

Rieger: Zephaniah 3:8 ff. When causes of judgment greatly multiply on one side, then God grants largely on the other side much that is conducive to a clear understanding of his word. In the most doubtful times we must also not just consider ourselves and our own as merely a purifying offering of the judgments that befall us, for God can also thence prepare for himself fit instruments for his purposes.

Zephaniah 3:11 ff. O, that all the trouble to establish their own righteousness, O that all glorying in the flesh, were brought to an end; that we may enjoy rest without fear, when the father of lies shall be imprisoned, and his [power of] seducing shall be put down with him!

Zephaniah 3:14. It is something great when the joy in God and in his grace of those that are pardoned, and God’s joy in the fulfillment of his counsel, shall coincide. He to whom all this seems too great, let him only look at the great seal, which is appended to the whole: thus saith the Lord. He can do great things and execute them speedily, when the unbelief of men or weak faith sees yet no preparation for them. Remember, Lord, this Thy word to Thy servants, upon which thou hast caused us to hope.

Bucer: At Zephaniah 3:8. Things, whose intrinsic nature it is to go far from God, of which one properly says, when they perish, that they are gathered again to Him.

Zephaniah 3:9. Whoever acknowledges God in truth can do nothing else than love and proclaim Him.

Höcker: Heart, mouth, and works meet in the appellation, pure lips. So long as there is agreement among these three hypocrisy has no place in men. But if the heart is not purified, then the lips and works are also unclean, Matthew 6:22-23.

Burck: The concordant worship of God corresponds to the pure lip. As once a counterfeit unanimity produced multiplicity and confusion of languages, so unity and purity of speech are about to produce and maintain true unity.

Pfaff: Zephaniah 3:11. Those who glory in the true church and are still unconverted, are proud saints, who are an abomination to the Lord.

Augustine: Zephaniah 3:13. There is a difference between peccantes and peccatores, just as there is between scribentes and scriptores.

Bucer: Zephaniah 3:15. What we suffer is nothing but judgment, i.e., merited evil, and no one can turn it from us, but the Lord, who sends it. He who apprehends this by faith will learn to bear injuries and will be broken by no suffering.

Calvin: Zephaniah 3:16. On that day He says. But we must wait as long as it pleases God to disicipline his people under the cross. All men might have rest from nature and suffer nothing bad, therefore He sets right the too great precipitation, which we are accustomed to have under chastisement.

Bucer: Zephaniah 3:17. All blessings are in God. He dwells in the Church, so it has nothing further to desire.

Calvin: What seems more alien to the glory of God, than to exult like a man in the pleasure of love. But we would rest in Him, and, as He weans us from the world, strive after this one thing, that He would vouchsafe to us his favor: this is no derogation from, but a proof of his honor and glory. This is his chief glory—his unending and transcendent goodness, by which He has embraced us and conducted us to the end.

Bucer: Zephaniah 3:19. As a virtuous wife, who loves her husband sincerely, would a thousand times rather die than forsake him, or violate her fidelity to him, and yet does many things which she knows are displeasing to him, so it is with the hearts of the pious: they cannot apostatize from God, and they love Him above everything else, and yet the flesh is not entirely delivered from its weakness. There is no one, whom thou wouldst not be obliged to censure for many faults, no one, who does not constantly need the physician Christ, no one to whom we must not preach repentance. The more the truly pious apprehend that they are constantly in need of Christ, the more ardent will be their love to Him.

Schmieder: The lame and the cast out are the wretched and scattered, who limping after the flock, remain behind, or are driven into flight and scattered by the inroad of the wolf.

Zephaniah 3:20. “Thus has God spoken.”

Augustine: So great is the depth of the Holy Scriptures, that if one would apply himself to their study alone from childhood to declining age with the use of all his time and the greatest industry, he would be able to speak of daily progress. Not as though any one by diligence, however great, attained to know that which is necessary to salvation. But if one has grasped this by faith, and holds it fast, without which a pious and correct life is impossible, there always remains still for those who continue advancing farther such a great fullness of is mysterious and veiled, such an exalted wisdom in the matter and words, that precisely the longer, the more zealously, and with the more ardent desire for learning, one continues in them, the better he understands what Sirach has said (Sir 18:6): a man when he has even done his best, has scarcely begun; and if he thinks that he has completed his task, he is still far from it.

Footnotes:

[1][Zephaniah 3:8.—The LXX., the other Greek Versions, and the Syriac, render עַד by trstimony or witness; but when it has this meaning it is pointed עֵד. Comp. Genesis 49:27; Genesis 32:23. It is derived from עָדָה, to rush upon, to attack. See Ges. s. v.

[2][Zephaniah 3:9.—שְׁכֶס אֶחָד, one shoulder, i.e., with unanimity. The figure is taken from those who carry burdens with even shoulders.

[3][Zephaniah 3:10.—עֲתָרַי, from עָתַר, to burn incense, to pray as a suppliant. Some interpreters make it the subject of the verb “bring;” others, the object. See Exeget.

[4][Zephaniah 3:14.—הָרִיעוּ is plural, because Israel is addressed as a plurality.

[5][Zephaniah 3:15.—פִּכָּה, piel, signifies to clear from impediments, to put in order to prepare, e. g., a house. Genesis 24:31; Leviticus 14:36; a way, Isaiah 40:3; Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:10; Malachi 3:1.

[6][Zephaniah 3:18.—מוֹעֵד, the time of the feast, when all Israel gathered together to rejoice before Jehovah. It also signifies an assembly, and place of assembly.—C. E.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Zephaniah 3". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/zephaniah-3.html. 1857-84.