Zephaniah



by Ken Cayce



Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


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Zephaniah Explained





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Book of Zephaniah Explained

Title: As with each of the 12 Minor Prophets, the prophecy bears the name of its author, which is generally thought to mean "the Lord hides" (compare 2:3).


Author - Date: Three other Old Testament individuals share his name. He traces his genealogy back 4 generations to King Hezekiah (ca. 715 - 686 B.C.), standing alone among the prophets descended from royal blood (1:1). Royal genealogy would have given him the ear of Judah's king, Josiah, during whose reign he preached.


The prophet himself dates his message during the reign of Josiah (640 - 609 B.C.). The moral and spiritual conditions detailed in the book (compare 1:4-6; 3:1-7), seem to place the prophecy prior to Josiah's reforms, when Judah was still languishing in idolatry and wickedness. It was (in 628 B.C.), that Josiah tore down all the altars to Baal, burned the bones of false prophets, and broke the carved idols (2 Chron. 34:3-7).


While other prophets gave their pedigrees (Isa. 1:1; Jer. 1:1; Joel 1:1; Zech. 1:1), none goes into such great detail as Zephaniah, whose lineage shows that he was the great-great-grandson of good King Hezekiah. Zechariah traces his lineage back to his grandfather (Zech. 1:1). Thus the prophet is a descendant of the royal line, which makes his rebuke of princes and nobles all the more significant (1:8, 13, 18). By giving his lineage and citing King Josiah, during whose reign he ministered, Zephaniah linked himself with the godly kings and the godly remnant of Israel's history. Zephaniah ministered several decades after Nahum and was an early contemporary of Jeremiah. Zephaniah has been called "the orator" because of the oratorical style evident throughout the prophecy. Zephaniah has some literary affinities with Isaiah, but more with Jeremiah and Joel. Both he and Joel paint very dark pictures of the Day of the Lord, but in both books beautiful rays of light penetrate the darkness. Two recurring expressions are important:


(1) "Remnant" (1:4; 2:7, 9; 3:13); and


(2) The "Day of the Lord" (1:7-10, 14-16, 18; 2:2-3; 3:8, 11, 16).


The purpose of Zephaniah's prophecy is to set forth what the Day of the Lord will mean to ungodly Judah, to the world powers (1:2 - 3:7), and to the godly remnant (3:8-20). His theme is the Day of the Lord, which destroys the false remnant of Baal (chapter 1), destroys the God-rejecting nations (Chapter 2), and purifies the true remnant (3:8-20).


Historical Setting: Zephaniah does not make great use of historical events in the course of his prophecy. Against the dark backdrop describing the judgment of God upon Judah and the nation, Zephaniah goes farther than any other of the minor prophets in emphasizing the future conversion of the Gentiles to the worship of the true God. Zephaniah dates his writing "in the days of Josiah" (1:1).


Josiah was the God-fearing son of Amon, who with his father, Manasseh, was two of the most wicked kings of Israel's history (2 Kings 22 and 23). During Josiah's reign a spiritual reformation, which touched only the small remnant in Judah, took place (in 621 B.C.; 2 Chron. 34:3-7).


Zephaniah mentions nothing of this reformation; thus, it is logical to conclude that his ministry preceded it, and his preaching probably prepared the way for, greatly advanced, and furthered the power of the spiritual reformation under King Josiah. If these observations are true, the prophecy must have been given before the reforms under Josiah (about 630 to 625 B.C.).


The place from which the prophet ministered is not known with certainty. The fact that the 10 northern tribes had been in captivity nearly a hundred years, together with his royal lineage (which would give him access to the king's court), making it most likely that he ministered in Jerusalem. He may even have resided in the palace complex.


Background - Setting: Politically, the imminent transfer of Assyrian world power to the Babylonians weakened Nineveh's hold on Judah, bringing an element of independence to Judah for the first time in 50 years. King Josiah's desire to retain this newfound freedom from taxation and subservience undoubtedly led him to interfere later with Egypt's attempt to interdict the fleeing king of Nineveh (in 609 B.C.; compare 2 Chron. 35:20-27).


While repairing the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the High-Priest found the Book of the Law (2 Kings 22:8). Upon reading it, Josiah initiated extensive reforms (2 Kings chapter 23). It was during the early years of Josiah's reign, prior to the great revival, that this 11th hour prophet, Zephaniah, prophesied and no doubt had an influence on the sweeping reforms Josiah brought to the nation. But the evil kings before Josiah (55 years), had had such an effect on Judah that it never recovered. Josiah's reforms were too late and didn't outlast his life.


Historical - Theological Themes: Zephaniah is a book of contrasts; for no other prophet paints a darker picture of God's judgment, and no prophet paints a brighter picture of Israel's future glory. Historically, the Book of Zephaniah was used in the providence of God to prepare Judah for the reforms and revival under King Josiah. Through the prophecy the nation of the prophet's day was faced with its sin, reminded of coming judgment, and instructed concerning the ultimate glory that will come to Israel.


Zephaniah's message on the Day of the Lord warned Judah that the final days were near, through divine judgment at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (ca. 605-586 B.C.; 1:4-13). Yet, it also looks beyond to the far fulfillment in the judgments of Daniel's 70th week (1:18; 3:8). The expression "Day of the Lord" is described as a day that is near (1:7), and as a day of wrath, trouble, distress, devastation, desolation, darkness, gloominess, clouds, thick darkness, trumpet, and alarm (1:15-16, 18). Yet even within these oracles of divine wrath, the prophet exhorted the people to seek the Lord, offering a shelter in the midst of judgment (2:3), and proclaiming the promise of eventual salvation for His believing remnant (2:7; 3:9-20).





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Zephaniah 1
Zephaniah 2
Zephaniah 3

Zephaniah 1



Zephaniah Chapter 1

The prophet Zephaniah, who penned this book, was believed to be a direct descendant from Hezekiah. He prophesied in the urban area. His prophecy was during the reign of Josiah. Perhaps, his prophecy had something to do with the revival in the time of Josiah. Zephaniah was believed to be associated with Huldah, the prophetess, and with Jeremiah. This book is filled with prophecies of Judgment.


Zephaniah 1:1 "The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah."


"Hezekiah ... Josiah": Zephaniah traced his royal lineage back to his great-great-grandfather Hezekiah (ca 715-686 B.C.), and placed his ministry contemporaneous with Josiah (ca 640-609 B.C.).


The prophet's genealogy shows his royal relationship to "Hizkiah" (Hezekiah), the godly "king of Judah" (who had died in 686 B.C.).


"Josiah" was Judah's last godly king, during whose reign the Law was rediscovered (in 621 B.C.).


This verse pinpoints the time of these prophecies as in the time of King Josiah. This judgement is spoken specifically on Judah, but it is, also, for all the world, God sends warning to those who are not faithful to Him.


Verses 2-6: Six groups are singled out for judgment:


  1. "The remnant of Baal";
  2. "The idolatrous priests";
  3. "Them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops;"
  4. "Them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham," devotes of a syncretistic worship system;
  5. "Them that are turned back from the Lord;" and
  6. "Those that have not sought the Lord".

"Baal" was the Canaanite storm god often worshiped by idolatrous Israelites (Jeremiah 7:9).


"Chemarim" was an honorable Canaanite term for their priests but may translate "idolatrous priest" in Hebrew, and is used here to designate non-Levitical priests (2 Kings 18:4-6; 23:4-15).


"Worship" of the stars of heaven "upon the housetops" refers to Sabaism here identified with "Malcham". This practice was introduced by the ungodly king Manasseh (2 Kings 21:3-5), and was associated with the worship of the "queen of heaven" (Jer. 7:18; 44:17).



Verses 2-3: The prophet began by noting the far fulfillment of the Day of the Lord, when even animal and physical creation will be affected by His judgment of the earth (Gen. 3:17-19; Exodus 12:29; Joshua 7:24-25; Rom. 8:22).


Zephaniah 1:2 "I will utterly consume all [things] from off the land, saith the LORD."


"From off the land": Generally translated "ground," the term is used in reference to the whole earth (1:18). The phraseology is reminiscent of the Noahic Flood (Gen. 6:7, 17; 7:21-23).


This is spoken to all the world, as well as to Judah.


Isaiah 6:11 "Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,"


God is very angry with the unfaithful. This is speaking of a time when desolation is everywhere.


Zephaniah 1:3 "I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD."


Comparisons with the Genesis Flood continue with "man and beast" and fowls of the heaven": (Gen. 6:7; 7:23). The prophet also alluded to the creation, pairing man and beast (sixth day of creation), and birds with fish (fifth day of creation).


"Stumbling blocks": An alternate translation is "ruins". Whatever alienates man from God will be removed.


This wrath of God is spoken against man, and all of creation that God had provided for man, as well. God has been very patient with mankind, but this speaks of a time when His patience has run out. Once during the time of Noah, God was sorry that He had ever made man.



Verses 4-9: The Lord narrowed His words of judgment to specifically focus on Judah, specifying the causes of judgment as apostasy and idolatry (verses 4-6), as always coupled with moral and ethical corruption (verses 7-9).


Zephaniah 1:4 "I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, [and] the name of the Chemarims with the priests;"


"Cut off the remnant of Baal": The worship of Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility, was a constant source of temptation to Israel (Num. 25:1-5; Judges 2:13), as people tried worshiping him alongside the worship of the Lord (Jer. 7:9; 23:25-29).


This mix became a primary cause for judgment (2 Kings 17:16-20; Jer. 11:13-17; Hos. 2:8), which would forever excise the worship of Baal from Israel.


"Chemarims" is an idolatrous priest. The "stretching of God's hand" is showing that His judgement is about to be carried out. The hand symbolizes work. The judgement is against Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Judgement of a sinful world always begins at the house of God. "Baal" is a false god they had been worshiping.


Even the priests were involved in this. The temple of God was located in Jerusalem. They also, had the law of God to go by, that the heathen world around them did not. Their sins were with full knowledge. They were like an unfaithful wife. They had committed spiritual adultery.


Zephaniah 1:5 "And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship [and] that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;"


"Worship ... the host of heaven": Astrology was also a prominent part of Israel's idolatrous practices. They worshiped the host of heaven from as early as the Exodus, but they rebelled (2 Kings 23:5-6; Jer. 7:17-18; 8:2; 44:17-25). Altars were often erected on housetop roofs to provide a clear view of the sky (Jer. 8:2; 19:13; 32:29).


"Swear by Malcham": Judah's syncretistic worship was reflected in swearing by the Lord and, at the same time, by Milcom, who may be either the Ammonite deity (of 1 Kings 11:5, 33), or Molech, the worship of whom included child sacrifice, astrology, and sacred prostitution (Lev. 18:21; 2 Kings 17:16-17; Ezek. 23:37; Amos 5:25-26; Acts 7:40-43).


This is speaking of consulting the stars for answers. We call this horoscope reading today. They worshiped the sun, moon, and stars, rather than God who created the sun, moon, and stars. "Malcham" was the national idol of the Ammonites. This Malcham was the same as Molech.


God's people had stopped looking to God and started worshiping the false gods of the people around them. The sad thing is that some of them still went through the formality of worshiping God. They included God, as if there were many gods. God will not be God to anyone who has other gods. He will be the only One, or He will not be your God.


Zephaniah 1:6 "And them that are turned back from the LORD; and [those] that have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him."


Zephaniah lastly mentioned those who had at first heeded calls to repentance but later had willfully turned away.


This is speaking of back-sliders, when it says that are turned back from God. The last part of this verse, also speaks of those who have never sought God at all. They are not interested in hearing about God. I guess they would be atheists, who do not believe God exists. In very plain language, they are the lost.



Verses 7-8: In Zephaniah "the Day of the Lord" refers to the impending Babylonian invasion of Judah and to the destruction of Jerusalem. He pictures the victims of this conquest as the "princes" (nobles), the "king's" sons (royalty), and the wealthy who wear imported garments.


Zephaniah's prophecy was fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem (in 586 B.C.), slew the sons of Zedekiah (Josiah's youngest son), blinded Zedekiah, and led him captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7).


Zephaniah 1:7 "Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD [is] at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests."


"Hold thy peace": In view of the just judgment, there was no defense to be spoken. And in view of the devastation; only shocked and mute wonder (Hab. 2:20; Zech. 2:13).


"Day of the Lord" (see notes on Joel 1:15).


"Prepared a sacrifice ... bid his guests": God's judgment on Israel was viewed as His sacrifice. The guests were the dreaded Babylonians, who as "priest" were invited to slay the sacrifice, i.e. Judah (Isa. 13:3; 34:6; Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 39:17; Hab. 1:6; Rev. 19:17-18).


Romans 9:20 "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?"


The sacrifice that God prepared for all of us was Jesus who was the perfect Lamb sacrifice. He provided salvation to all who would believe. God invited the Jews to come to the feast, but they did not. Then God sent to the Gentiles, and offered the gift of salvation to them.


Matthew 22:10 "So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests."


God would have His house full.


Zephaniah 1:8 "And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel."


"The princes ... Kings children": Judgment began with the royal house. Lacking commitment to God's covenant, they had adopted the customs and idolatrous practices of the heathen.


Since Josiah was only 8 years old when he assumed rulership (ca 640 B.C.), the reference would not be to his sons but to the prices of the royal house or to the children of the king who would be ruling when the prophecy was fulfilled (2 Kings 25:7; Jer. 39:6).


We see in the following Scripture, that those who try to get to heaven by ways other than those God has chosen, have a very hard time. Jesus is the way. To Go before God with any garment, other than the robe of righteousness Jesus provides all believers, is dangerous.


Matthew 22:11-14 "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:" "And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless." "Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." "For many are called, but few [are] chosen."



Verses 9-13: "Those that leap on the threshold" probably are the priests of Dagan who would not step on the place where he had fallen (1 Sam. 5:5). They may also be creditors who crossed over the threshold of their debtors (Deut. 24:10-11).


"The merchant people (Hebrew "Kenaan", also a word for "Canaanite"), indicates they transacted their business like Canaanites or Phoenicians.


Zephaniah 1:9 "In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit."


"Leap on the threshold": This describes the eagerness with which the rich hurried from the temple to plunder the poor.


This "leaping on the threshhold" could be when they went into homes as a burglar.



Verses 10-11: The merchants, made wealthy from dishonest gain (verse 9), were singled out to depict the anguish of the coming judgment.


The Fish Gate, known today as the Damascus Gate, is located on the north side. The Second Quarter was a district within the city walls. "Maktesh" was a name applied to the Valley of Siloam from its shape; it was a district where merchants carried on business.


Zephaniah 1:10 "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, [that there shall be] the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and a howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills."


"And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord": In the day of the Lord's sacrifice, when He shall punish the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. Which, as well as what follows, shall surely come to pass, because the Lord has said it. For not one word of His shall pass away, but all be fulfilled.


"That there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate": A gate of the city of Jerusalem so called, which suffered as the rest in the destruction of the city by the Babylonians. And, after the captivity, was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah (Nehemiah 3:3).


According to Jerom, it was on the west side of the city, and led to Diospolis and Joppa. And was the nearest road to the Mediterranean sea, or any of the roads to Jerusalem, from whence fish were brought, and brought in by this gate. And very probably the fish market was near it, from whence it had its name.


Though Cocceius places it in the north corner of the east side of the city. And so was nearer Jordan, the sea of Tiberias, and the city of Tyre, from whence fish might be brought there, and sold (Nehemiah 13:16).


However, be it where it will, the enemy it seems would attack it, and enter in by it. Upon which a hideous cry would be made, either by the assailants, the Chaldeans, at their attack upon it, and entrance through it. Or by the inhabitants of it, or that were nearest to it, upon their approach, or both.


"And a howling from the second": Either from the second gate; and if the fish gate is the same with the first gate (Zechariah 14:10), then this may be pertinently called the second. Jarchi calls it the bird gate, which was the second to the fish gate. So the Targum, "from the bird, or the bird gate"; though some copies of it read, from the tower or high fortress.


Or else this designs the second wall, and the gate in that which answered to the fish gate. For Jerusalem was encompassed with three walls. The fish gate was in the outermost, and this was in the second, to which the Chaldeans came next. And occasioned a dreadful howling and lamentation in the people that dwelt near it.


Kimchi interprets it of the school or university that was in Jerusalem. The same word is rendered the cottage in which Huldah the prophetess lived (2 Kings 22:14). And there, by the Targum, "the house of doctrine or instruction".


So then the sense is, a grievous outcry would be heard from the university or school of the prophets. The enemy having entered it, and were slaying the students, or seizing them in order to carry them captive.


"And a great crashing from the hills": Either that were in Jerusalem, as Mount Zion and Moriah, on which the temple stood.


Or those that were round about it, as Gareb, and Goath, and others. Though some interpret this of the houses of nobles that stood in the higher parts of the city, where there would be a shivering. A breaking to pieces, as the word signifies, of doors and windows without, and of furniture within.


The fish gate was in the northern wall, and was a gate where the fishermen brought their fish to the market. There was usually a fish market just inside the gate. The army, that came to attack them, would have an easier chance to get in at this gate.


We know in some of the other prophetic books, the enemy was supposed to come from the North. This would be the logical gate for them to enter. The enemy will come crashing into Jerusalem.


Zephaniah 1:11 "Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off."


"Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh": The name of a street in Jerusalem, as Aben Ezra. Perhaps it lay low in the hollow of the city, and in the form of a mortar, from whence it might have its name, as the word signifies. Which is used both for a hollow place and a mortar (Judges 15:19).


Unless it might be so called from such persons dwelling in it that used mortars for spice, and other things. The Targum is, "howl, all ye that dwell in the valley of Kidron"; and Jerom thinks the valley of Siloah is intended, which is the same. Which, Adrichomius says, was broad, deep, and dark, and surrounded the temple in manner of a foss, or ditch.


And was disposed in the form of a mortar, called in Hebrew "machtes"; in Latin, "pila"; in which merchants and tradesmen of all kinds dwelt. It is thought by others to be the same which Josephus calls "the valley of the cheese mongers", which lay between two hills Zion and Acra.


"For all the merchant people are cut down": Either cut to pieces by the sword of the enemy, and become silent, as the word sometimes signifies. And the Vulgate Latin version here renders it; become so by death, and laid in the silent grave, and no more concerned in merchandise.


Or else stripped of all their wealth and goods by the enemy, and so cut down, broke, and become bankrupt, and could trade no more. The word for merchant signifies a Canaanite. And the Targum paraphrases it thus, "for all the people are broken, whose works are like the works of the people of the land of Canaan".


"All they that bear silver are cut off": That have large quantities of it, and carry it to market to buy goods with it as merchants. These shall be cut off, and so a great loss to trade, and a cause of howling and lamentation.


Or such that wear it in their garments, embroidered with it. Or rather in their purses, who are loaded with this thick clay, abound with it. The Targum is, "all that are rich in substance shall be destroyed."


"Maktesh" means "her that is broken down". This was, probably, a valley that the enemy entered by. This was, possibly, the route the merchant people from the North used to enter the city. They would be the first cut off. Those that bear silver are the wealthier of the merchant tradesmen.


Zephaniah 1:12 "And it shall come to pass at that time, [that] I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil."


"I will search": None would escape the punishment of the Lord (Amos 9:1-4).


"Settled on their lees": With this term referring to the thickened crust which forms on wine when left undisturbed for a long period of time, the prophet described the people's indifference and slothfulness toward God. Their indifference led them to regard God as morally indifferent.


"Lees" means settlings. These are a people who have given up on God. They are so complacent they do not believe good, or evil, of God. They are very much like agnostics who have no mind set at all. They have hidden in every conceivable place to keep from being found of those who will destroy. They cannot hide from God.


The Light reveals all. They will be found and dealt with. Many of them will die where they are found. No evil-doer can escape the Light of God. They have not directly come out against religion, but they have great doubts in their hearts that God exists. These people believe in luck, not in divine providence.


Zephaniah 1:13 "Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof."


"Therefore their goods shall become a booty": To the enemy; the riches they trusted in, and thought themselves so secure of; and therefore denied divine Providence. Which ought to be depended upon amidst the greatest affluence. Or otherwise the Lord has various ways by which he can soon strip men of all their enjoyments, and dispose of them to others.


"And their houses a desolation": Be pulled down by the enemy; or left uninhabited, they being killed or carried captive, even their whole families.


"They shall also build houses, but not inhabit them": Not long, at least; not always, as they expected, and promised themselves when they built them.


"And they shall plant vineyards, and not drink the wine thereof": But before the vines planted by them bring forth grapes, and these are pressed, and wine made of them, they should fall into the hands of the enemy, who would drink it, and not they. And all this agreeably to what was threatened them in the Law of Moses, which they ought to have regarded (Deut. 28:30).


They had trusted in their earthly wealth, and now, that is gone. They built fine houses to live in, but will not get to live in them. They will either die in the attack, or be carried off captives to Babylon. Someone else will benefit from their work.



Verses 14-18: Zephaniah vividly described the Day of the Lord in staccato fashion, rehearsing the ominous conditions characterizing that day. This section seems to point to the near fulfillment when Babylon subdued Judah (verses 4-13), as well as a far fulfillment which will involve the whole earth (verse 18).


Zephaniah 1:14 "The great day of the LORD [is] near, [it is] near, and hasteth greatly, [even] the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly."


"The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly": Not the day of judgment, but the day of God's vengeance upon the Jews, which yet bore some resemblance to that day of the Lord.


And it may be therefore so called; as the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans had some likeness to it, and therefore the signs of the one and of the other are given together by our Lord (in Matthew 24:1).


And this was a day in which he would do great things, by the Chaldeans, and against the Jews. And this is represented as very "near"; and repeated again for the confirmation of it. And to arouse the thoughtless and careless about it, and who put away this evil day far from them.


Yea, it is said to make great haste, and to fly away swiftly, even faster than time usually does. Though in common it has wings ascribed unto it.


"Even the voice of the day of the Lord": In which the Lord's voice will be heard. Not his voice of grace and mercy, as in the day of salvation; but of wrath and vengeance, which will be terrible; hence it follows:


"The mighty men shall cry there bitterly": Not the voice of the mighty men besieging the city, making a hideous noise to animate the soldiers in making the assault, as some. But the mighty men within the city of Jerusalem besieged.


Who, when they see the city broken up, would be in the utmost terror, and cry bitterly, like women and children, being quite dismayed and dispirited. Even the men of war, who were upon the walls and in the garrisons with their officers and generals. And if this would be the case with them, how must it be thought to be with others, the weak and those lacking confidence?


Zephaniah has told of all who will suffer under this judgment of God for their sins of idolatry. Now, he emphasizes the nearness of this judgment being carried out.


Isaiah 13:6 "Howl ye; for the day of the LORD [is] at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty."


The great day of the LORD could easily be the time of judgment God brought upon Judah by the Babylonians. It can also, be the time when God brings judgment upon any people.


There is a great day coming in our lifetime that is speaking of the second coming of the Lord. The mighty men will have no more protection than anyone else in the day that God judges them. They are no match for God.


Zephaniah 1:15 "That day [is] a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,"


"That day is a day of wrath": Both of the wrath of God against his people for their sins. These judgments being the effects of his wrath, provoked by their iniquities; and of the wrath and cruelty of the Chaldeans, exercised in a furious manner.


"A day of trouble and distress": To the inhabitants of Jerusalem, they being taken and led captive, their houses plundered and demolished, and the whole city and temple laid in ruins.


"A day of wasteness and desolation": Of the whole country of Judea, and the metropolis of it. Of their houses, fields, and vineyards.


"A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness": As it might be in a natural sense; the displeasure of God being shown in the very heavens, by the darkness and gloominess of them, and the thick clouds with which they were covered.


And made still more dark and gloomy by the burning of the city, and the smoke of it. And, in such circumstances, gloominess and melancholy must sit upon the minds of men. And thick clouds and darkness portend greater troubles and calamities coming on. And the whole is expressive of great adversity; for, as light frequently designs prosperity, so darkness adversity.


This is certainly speaking of that great day, when the end of the Gentile age comes. It is also, speaking of that day when the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and Judah.


Revelation 6:17-18 "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;"


Mark 13:24 "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,"


Zephaniah 1:16 "A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers."


"Day of the trumpet and alarm": In accordance with God's instructions, a trumpet was fashioned for the purpose of sounding an alarm (Num. 10:1-10).


The trumpet was blown to gather the people, and for war. The high towers were the places where the soldiers tried to ward off the attack. In this day, that will do no good. They cannot fight God.


Numbers 10:9 "And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies."


1 Corinthians 15:52 "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."



Verses 17-18: As though worthless, their blood and flesh were discarded as dust. Their silver and gold, corruptly gained (verses 9-13), would be of no avail to protect them from the wrath of holy God (Jer. 46:28).


Zephaniah 1:17 "And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung."


"Walk like blind men": As blind men, they would grope unsuccessfully for escape routes (Deut. 28:29).


They were walking like blind men, because they knew not where to go for safety. There was no escape. They have waited too late to repent.


Deuteronomy 28:28 "The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:"


2 Corinthians 4:4 "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."


Their blindness is of a spiritual nature. They are worthless, because they have sinned against God, and not repented. Their fate is death, and then hell.


Zephaniah 1:18 "Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land."


"All of them that dwell in the land": The discussion expands to include the whole earth (as in verses 2-3).


They cannot buy off the enemy with their silver and gold. The enemy will get all of that anyway. Fire is a way of purging. They will be purged by the fire of God. The earth will experience the very same thing at the end of the age. The earth will be destroyed by fire.


Silver and gold will not be able to help in that day. Those, who trust in silver and gold to save them, will be disappointed. The only safety from the wrath of God is the blood of Jesus.


1 Thessalonians 1:10: "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."


Those, who put their faith and trust in Jesus, but will be saved from the wrath of God. The wrath of God is for the unbelievers.


Zephaniah Chapter 1 Questions


Zephaniah was believed to be a descendant from ___________.


2. Where did Zephaniah prophesy?


3. Who was reigning when Zephaniah prophesied?


4. What prophetess was Zephaniah associated with?


5. Who was a prophet he was associated with?


6. The judgement is spoken specifically to _________.


7. The wrath of God is spoken on man and __________.


8. Name one time, when God was sorry He had made man.


9. What are chemarims?


10. What is shown by the "stretching of God's hand"?


11. The "hand" symbolizes _________.


12. Where does judgement of a sinful world always begin?


13. Who is "Baal"?


14. What advantages did Judah have over the world around them?


15. Their sins were with full _____________.


16. Who are those who worship the host of heaven?


17. What do we call it today?


18. Who was "Malcham"?


19. The first part of verse 6 is speaking of whom.


20. What would you call those who have never sought God at all?


21. Who was the sacrifice mentioned in verse 7?


22. Who was salvation first offered to?


23. Who is the Way to heaven?


24. What happened to the man who did not have on a wedding garment?


25. What is "leaping on the threshold" referring to?


26. Where was the fish gate located?


27. What does "Maktesh" mean?


28. Verse 12 says, He will search Jerusalem with _________.


29. What does "lees" mean?


30. What are they really saying, when they say, God will do no good, or evil?


31. What is Zephaniah emphasizing in verse 14?


32. What does the author believe the great day of the LORD to be?


33. What was the trumpet blown for?


34. The distress will be so great, they will walk as ________ men.


35. Who has blinded the minds of them which believe not?


36. They cannot buy off the enemy with ________ and ______.


37. Those, who put their faith and trust in Jesus, will experience ______________, but will be saved from the _________ of _____.





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Zephaniah 2



Zephaniah Chapter 2

Verses 1-12: Zephaniah calls upon the "Meek of the earth" to "seek" the Lord. Then he lists the nations that Babylon will conquer. The cities of the "Philistines (Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod", and "Ekron"), will be destroyed. "Moab" will be reduced to rubble. The "Ethiopians" will be "slain" by the "sword".


Verses 2-3: With the announcement of coming judgment, God mercifully invited His people to repent. They were to assemble to entreat the favor of the Lord and avert His wrath (Joel 2:16).


Zephaniah 2:1 "Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;"


"Nation not desired": No longer sensitive to God's call to repentance through His many prophets, Judah had sunk to shamelessness.


This is probably, calling those together to repent of their sins. It is a time of great shame. They are not desired because of their sins.


Zephaniah 2:2 "Before the decree bring forth, [before] the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger come upon you."


The prophet calls to national repentance, as the only way to prevent national ruin. A nation not desiring, that has no desires toward God, is not desirous of his favor and grace, has no mind to repent and reform. Or not desirable; not having anything to recommend them to God.


To whom God might justly say, depart from me; but He says, gather together to me that you may seek my face. We know what God's decree will bring against impenitent sinners; therefore, it highly concerns all to repent in the accepted time. How careful should we all be to seek peace with God, before the Holy Spirit withdraws from us, or ceases to strive with us.


Before the day of grace is over, or the day of life; before our everlasting state is determined! Let the poor, despised, and afflicted, seek the Lord, and seek to understand and keep his commandments better, that they may be more humbled for their sins. The chief hope of deliverance from national judgments rests upon prayer.


This is like John the Baptist said; "Repent for the LORD is coming". This is just warning over and over, that there is still time to repent. But they must do it quickly, before the anger of the LORD is upon them.


The three different mentions of the happenings of the day is to show them this judgment of God is to come very soon. The chaff is there today, but will be gone when the thresher comes. In fact, this chaff will be burned.


Zephaniah 2:3 "Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger."


"It may be ye shall be hid": Even the humble, those who had followed the law of the Lord, were encouraged to continue to manifest fruits of repentance, so they would be sheltered in the day of His judgment (Isa. 26:20).


This is speaking to the people who have not strayed away from God, but are still living the believer's life. This is saying to them, that even more than they have done in the past, they must make a stand for righteousness.


Matthew 5:5 "Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."


Even in the flood which covered the earth, God saved Noah and His family, because of the righteousness of Noah.


Genesis 7:1 "And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation."


Whatever generation of people it is, God will protect the meek and righteous, even in the midst of great judgment on the sinners. It is a great comfort to know that God will protect them, if they do remain righteous.



Verses 4-15: God used the heathen nations to punish His people, but He would not permit those nations to go unpunished. To illustrate this, 4 representative nations where chosen from the 4 points of the compass.


Zephaniah 2:4 "For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up."


"For Gaza shall be forsaken": Therefore, seek the Lord; and not to the Philistines, since they would be destroyed, to whom Gaza, and the other cities later mentioned, belonged.


So Aben Ezra connects the words, suggesting that it would be in vain to flee here for shelter, or seek for refuge there. Though others think that this and what follows is subjoined, either to assure the Jews of their certain ruin, since this would be the case of the nations about them.


Gaza was one of the five lordships of the Philistines. A strong and fortified place, as its name signifies; but should be demolished, stripped of its fortifications, and forsaken by its inhabitants. It was smitten by Pharaoh king of Egypt; and was laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 47:1), and afterwards taken by Alexander the great.


"And Ashkelon a desolation": This was another lordship belonging to the Philistines, that suffered at the same time as Gaza did by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 47:5). This place was ten miles from Gaza, as Mr. Sandys says, and who adds, and now of no note. And Strabo speaks of it in his time as a small city.


"They shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day": That is, the Chaldeans shall drive out the inhabitants of Ashdod, another of the principalities of the Philistines. The same with Azotus (Acts 8:40), "at noon day", openly and publicly, and with great ease.


"And Ekron shall be rooted up": As a tree is rooted up, and withers away, and perishes, and there is no more hope of it. This denotes the utter destruction of this place. There is here also an elegant allusion to the name of the place, not to be imitated in a version of it. This was another of the lordships of the Philistines, famous for the idol Beelzebub, the god of this place.


Gaza will be forsaken and depopulated, but in the time of Alexander the great, it will be settled again.


Jeremiah 25:20 "And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod,"


These were mentions of those who will be destroyed by the oncoming army. Ashdod's destruction happens at noon, which is a strange time to have a battle. Ashdod's inhabitants are driven out and a remnant is left. Ekron is totally rooted up.


Zephaniah 2:5 "Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD [is] against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant."


"Cherethites": Occasionally a synonym for Philistia, this term represented a branch from Crete (see note on Ezek. 25:16). David's bodyguard was comprised of both Cherethites and Pelethites (2 Sam. 8:18; 1 Kings 1:38, 44; see note on 1 Sam. 30:14).


This sea coast area is between Gaza and Ekron. "Cherethites" means cutters off, and is another name for the Philistines. Philistia is in a sense, like Canaan, because they will be totally annihilated. There will not be a remnant left of them.


Zephaniah 2:6 "And the sea coast shall be dwellings [and] cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks."


"And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds": That tract of land which lay on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, inhabited by the Philistines, should now become so desolate.


That instead of towns and cities full of merchants and sea faring persons, and houses full of inhabitants, and warehouses full of goods; there should now only be seen a few huts and cottages for shepherds to dwell in. That shelters them from the heat by day, and where they watched their flocks by night, and took their proper repose and rest.


"And folds for flocks": In which they put them to lie down in at evening. The phrases express the great desolation of the land. That towns should be depopulated, and the land lie untilled, and only be occupied by shepherds, and their flocks. Who lead them from place to place, the most convenient for them.


The seacoast area was used for sheep and their shepherds, but the caves were unsafe part of the year, because the sea backed up over the land.


Zephaniah 2:7 "And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity."


"Turn away their captivity": The Lord would initiate the physical return of Israel's exiles to occupy the land vacated by judgment on Philistia.


Ashkelon was destroyed, but later became a place of refuge for the remnant of Judah. This area will be for the families of Judah who will return to the land. God will restore Judah, and bring them back from their captivity. God always has a remnant of Judah.


Verses 8-11: To the east, the descendants of Lot by his daughters through incest. Moab and Ammon (Gen. 19:30-38), are mentioned. They had reproached and reviled God's people incurring divine wrath (Gen. 12:3). Like Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of their ancestor Lot, they too would come to ruin and desolation.


Zephaniah 2:8 "I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified [themselves] against their border."


"I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon": Two people that descended from Lot, through incest with his daughters; and are therefore mentioned together, as being of the same cast and complexion, and bitter enemies to the people of the Jews.


Whom they reproached and reviled for the sake of their religion because they adhered to the word and worship of God. This they did when the Jews were most firmly attached to the service of the true God. And the Lord heard it, and took notice of it; and put it down in the book of his remembrance, to punish them for it in due time. Even He who hears, sees and knows all things.


"Whereby they have reproached my people": Whom he had chosen, and confirmed to be his people. And who were called by his name, and called on his name, and worshipped him. And professed to be his people, and to serve and obey him. And as such, and because they were the people of God, they were reproached by them.


And hence it was so resented by the Lord; and there being such a near relation between God and them, he looked upon the reproaches of them as reproaches of himself.


"And magnified themselves against their border": Either they spoke reproachfully of the land of Israel, and the borders of it, and especially of the inhabitants of the land. And particularly those that bordered upon them. Or they invaded the borders of their land, and endeavored to add it to theirs.


Or as the Jews were carried captive by the Chaldeans, as they passed by the borders of Moab and Ammon, they insulted them, and jeered them, and expressed great pleasure and joy in seeing them in such circumstances (see Ezek. 25:3).


Jarchi represents the case thus: When the children of Israel went into captivity to the land of the Chaldeans, as they passed by the way of Ammon and Moab, they wept, and sighed, and cried. And they distressed them, and said, what do you afflict yourselves for? Why do ye weep? Are not you going to the house of your father, beyond the river where your fathers dwelt of old?


Thus, jeering them on account of Abraham's being of Ur of the Chaldees.


Moab had always been opposed to Judah. Perhaps, it was because of jealousy. The Moabites and the Ammonites were both descendants of lot. Lot had children by his own daughters. Their children were the beginning of the Moabites and the Ammonites. The Moabites and Ammonites were not in very good standing with God.


Jeremiah 12:14 "Thus saith the LORD against all mine evil neighbors, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them."


They were, many times, grouped with wicked Edom.


Jeremiah 25:21 "Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon,"


Zephaniah 2:9 "Therefore [as] I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, [even] the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them."


"Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel": The Lord here swears by himself; partly to show how provoked he was at, and how grievously he resented, the injuries done to his people. And partly to observe the certain fulfillment of what is after declared.


And it might be depended upon it would surely be done, not only because of his word and oath, which are immutable; but because of his ability to do it, as "the Lord of hosts".


"Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah": That is, should be utterly destroyed, as these cities were; whose destruction is often made use of to express the utter ruin and destruction of any other people. Otherwise it is not to be supposed that these countries were to be destroyed, or were destroyed, in like manner, by fire from heaven.


"Even the breeding of nettles": Or "left to nettles, or rather to "thorns", as the Targum. And so the Vulgate Latin version renders it "the dryness of thorns", though to a very poor sense. In general, the meaning of the phrase is, that those countries should be very barren and desolate, like such places as are overrun with nettles, thorns, briers, and brambles.


And these so thick, that there is no passing through them without a man's tearing his garments and his flesh. For Schultens from the use of the word in the Arabic language, shows that the words are to be rendered a "thicket of thorns which tear"; and cut the feet of those that pass through them. And even their whole body, as well as their clothes. And, wherever these grow in such plenty, it is a plain sign of a barren land, as well as what follow.


"And saltpits, and a perpetual desolation": Signifying that the countries of Moab and Ammon should be waste, barren, and uncultivated, as the above places were. Where nothing but nettles grew, as do in great abundance in desolate places. And such these countries of Moab and Ammon should be, and ever remain so, at least for a long time; and especially should be desolate and uninhabited by the former possessors of it (see Deut. 29:23).


This was fulfilled about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar, as Josephus relates, led his army into Coelesyria, and made war upon the Ammonites and Moabites. And subjected them to him, who were the inhabitant of it, as the same writer says.


"The residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them": That is, the Jews, the remnant of them that returned from Babylon. Now these, in the times of the Maccabees, and those that descended from them, seized on several places in these countries, and possessed them.


For, after these countries had been subdued and made desolate by Nebuchadnezzar, they became considerable nations again. Josephus says the Moabites in his time were a great nation; though in the third century, as Origen relates, they went under the common name of Arabians. And, even long before the times of Josephus, they were called Arabian Moabites, as he himself observes.


They had evil beginnings, and they had never changed. God speaks of the absolute truth of this happening. He uses the expression "as I live". He is eternal, so we know this is an unchangeable statement He makes here. God, Himself, is LORD of hosts here, and God of Israel. God rained fire and brimstone down on Gomorrah for their sins. Gomorrah was totally destroyed.


Their ancestor, Lot, and their mothers were the only ones spared at Gomorrah. All living were killed. This is what God is speaking of here, their total annihilation. This very thing does happen, and brings desolation to Moab and Ammon. The people of Judah will somewhat inhabit this desolate land at a later date.


We do know that the Lord Jesus (their Messiah), did offer salvation to them, when He came to the earth. In a sense, they are inhabited by the remnant. Even today, the place where they lived is a barren land.


Zephaniah 2:10 "This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified [themselves] against the people of the LORD of hosts."


"This shall they have for their pride": This calamity shall come upon their land, the land of the Moabites and Ammonites, for their pride, which often goes before a fall. And has frequently been the cause of the ruin of kingdoms and states, and of particular persons. And indeed, seems to have been the first sin of the apostate angels, and of fallen man. Of the pride of Moab (see Isaiah 16:6).


"Because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of hosts": They looked with disdain upon them, as greatly below them.


And spoke contemptibly of them, of their nation, and religion; and "made" themselves "great". And set up themselves "above" them, opened their mouths wide, and gave their tongues great liberties in blaspheming and reviling them. What was done to them is taken by the Lord as done to Himself (see Jer. 48:42).


In a sense, they are relatives, because Lot was the nephew of Abraham, and Ammon and Moab are descended from him. They have never been friendly with the Israelites, however, and especially Judah.


God has warned, from the beginning, that those who are opposed to His people are opposed to Him. God blesses those who bless His people, and curses those who curse His people.


Zephaniah 2:11 "The LORD [will be] terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and [men] shall worship him, every one from his place, [even] all the isles of the heathen."


"And men shall worship him ... all the isles of the heathen": The final fulfillment of these predictions is yet future depicting the Millennium when all the gods of the nations will be reduced to nothing and the Lord Himself will be worshiped universally (Isa. 66:18-21; Zech. 14:16; Mal. 1:11).


God is a jealous God. He will not tolerate the worship of false gods. He has waited for His people to do away with their own false gods, and the false gods of their neighbors, and they have not. Now, God will do this Himself. He will come and destroy the false gods they have been worshipping.


He defamed the false gods in Egypt with His 10 plagues. He has given these people ample time to come to Him. Now, He will destroy them, along with their false gods. This statement reaches far beyond Ammon and Moab. God will not allow anyone, anywhere in the earth, to worship false gods.


God will not share His creation with false gods. He will destroy the false gods, so all will turn to Him. The very first commandment is;


Exodus 20:3 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."


Zephaniah 2:12 "Ye Ethiopians also, ye [shall be] slain by my sword."


Ethiopia lay to the south of Israel. She would be judged by His sword, fulfilled in Nebuchadnezzar's invasion and conquest of Egypt (Ezek. 30:24-25).


"Ethiopians" are the same as the Cushites. They too, are an idolatrous nation. These represent all the evil people from the south. This was fulfilled, when the Assyrians conquered Egypt. The Sword of Jesus Christ is the Word of God. They will be won to Christ someday by that Word. Then the spiritual side of this fulfillment will take place.



Verses 13-15: Zephaniah also predicts the fall of "Nineveh," the capital of "Assyria, located northeast of Israel, would be desolated as well." The ancient metropolis will be reduced to the habitation of wild animals.


"Cormorant" (qaat), refers to a pelican or unclean bird.


"Bittern": A large marsh bird of the heron family.


Assyria and Nineveh fell shortly after this prophecy, to the Babylonians (in 612 B.C.). Famed for her irrigation system, she would be left dry.


Zephaniah 2:13 "And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, [and] dry like a wilderness."


"And he will stretch out his hand against the north": Either the Lord, or Nebuchadnezzar his sword; who, as he would subdue the nations that lay southward, he would lead his army northward against the land of Assyria, which lay to the north of Judea, as next explained.


"And destroy Assyria": That famous monarchy, which had ruled over the kingdoms of the earth, now should come to an end, and be reduced to subjection to the king of Babylon.


"And will make Nineveh a desolation": Which was the capital city, the metropolis of the Assyrian monarchy: Nahum prophesies at large of the destruction of this city.


"And dry like a wilderness": Which before was a very watery place, situated by rivers, particularly the river Tigris. So that it was formerly like a pool of water (Nahum 2:6), but now should be dry like a heath or desert.


Assyria first is a conqueror, and then becomes the conquered. God is opposed to Assyrians for the very same reason. They are idolaters. They represent Israel's enemies to the North.


"Nineveh" means house of fish. They worshipped fish. We discussed the stretching of God's hand shows action against these people. Nineveh was totally destroyed. Nineveh became a deserted wasteland.


Zephaniah 2:14 "And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; [their] voice shall sing in the windows; desolation [shall be] in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work."


"And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her": In the midst of the city of Nineveh. In the streets of it, where houses stood, and people in great numbers walked. But now, only should be seen the cottages of shepherds, and flocks of sheep feeding or lying down. As is before observed of the sea coast of the Philistines (Zeph. 2:6).


"All the beasts of the nations": That is, all sorts of beasts, especially wild beasts, in the several parts of the world, should come and dwell here. Instead of kings and princes, nobles, merchants, and the great men thereof, who once here inhabited, now there should be beasts of prey, terrible to come nigh unto.


For these are to be understood properly and literally, and not figuratively; of men for their savageness and cruelty; comparable to beasts.


"Both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it": Of the doors of the houses in Nineveh: or, "on its pomegranates". The figures of these being often put on the upper part of a column, turrets, pinnacles, pillars, and posts in buildings, and over porches of doors. And on these those melancholy and doleful creatures here mentioned, which delight in solitary places, should take up their abode.


"Their voice shall sing in the windows": Of desolate houses, the inhabitants being gone who used to be seen looking out of them. But now these creatures before named should dwell here, and utter their doleful sounds, who otherwise would not have come near them.


"Desolation shall be in the thresholds": There being none to go in and out over them. The Septuagint version, and which is followed by the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, renders it, "the ravens shall be in its gates". Mistaking "desolation", for "a raven".


"For he shall uncover the cedar work": The enemy Nebuchadnezzar, or Nabopolassar, when he should take the city, would unroof the houses paneled with cedar, and expose all the fine cedar work within to the inclemency of the air, which would soon come to ruin.


All these expressions are designed to set forth the utter ruin and destruction of this vast and populous city; and which was so utterly destroyed. As Lucian says, that there is no trace of it to be found; and, according to modern travelers, there are only heaps of rubbish to be seen, which are conjectured to be the ruins of this city (See Nahum 1:8).


This speaks of the absence of habitation. A "cormorant" is a pelican. A "bittern" is a wild bird. These two birds show the desolation of this area. The wild beasts and wild birds have taken up homestead here. The lintels are speaking of places where the birds nest on top of posts that are left from the destruction.


It appears, the destroyed buildings still had windows, and they perched in there and sang. The palaces had cedar paneling, as we read in another of the prophetic books. Some of this cedar paneling seems to have not been destroyed, when the destruction came. Now, the only ones enjoying all this broken down splendor are the wild birds and animals.


Zephaniah 2:15 "This [is] the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I [am], and [there is] none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, [and] wag his hand."


In language similar to that of the king of Babylon (Isa. 14:13-14; 47:8), and the price of Tyre (Ezek. 28:2), Assyria had claimed for herself divine attributes. For this she would be brought to ruin.


These had been a very proud people. They thought they were above everyone else. They had no fear of others, because they thought they were the greatest. Nineveh made a bad mistake, when she elevated herself up to say "I am and there is none beside me". She was really defying God.


In more recent years, a ship maker put a statement on his ship that not even God could sink her. The ship was the Titanic, and it sunk on its maiden voyage. It is a dangerous thing for a city, or a ship, to proclaim power over God. That is what Nineveh had done. There will be no pleasant memory of Nineveh. The city will be ridiculed forever. Wag his hand is an expression of disgust.


Zephaniah Chapter 2 Questions


1. What is verse 1 calling them together for?


2. What things were mentioned that they should repent of, before this happened?


3. Who, in the New Testament, cried, "Repent for the Lord is coming"?


4. Who is verse 3 directed to?


5. What is it telling them to do?


6. Why did God save Noah and his family in the flood?


7. What great comfort is there for all of us who live for Jesus in verse 3?


8. When will Gaza be populated again?


9. What unusual time does Ashdod's destruction come?


10. "Cherethites" means ___________ _____.


11. Philistia is, in a sense, like ___________.


12. What happens to Ashkelon later?


13. God always has a remnant of __________.


14. The ____________ and ___________ were descendent of Lot and his two daughters.


15. Moab shall be as ___________.


16. The children of Ammon as _____________.


17. What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah?


18. What happens to Moab and Ammon?


19. Why will God do this to them?


20. Those, who oppose God's people, are opposed to ______.


21. God is a __________ God.


22. "Ethiopians" are the same as the ____________.


23. What is the Sword of Jesus?


24. What happens to Nineveh?


25. What will inhabit Nineveh?


26. What is a "cormorant"?


27. What is a "bittern"?


28. Why was Nineveh destroyed?





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Zephaniah 3



Zephaniah Chapter 3

Verses 1-7: After pronouncing judgment on the nations, the prophet returned to again pronounce woe upon Jerusalem. Because of that city's favored position among the nations (Exodus 19:5), more was expected.


Zephaniah 3:1 "Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!"


"Woe to her that is filthy, and polluted": Meaning the city of Jerusalem, and its inhabitants. Not as before the Babylonish captivity, but after their return from it, under the second temple, as Abarbinel owns. And even as in the times before and at the coming of Christ, and the preaching of his apostles among them.


As the whole series of the prophecy, and the connection of the several parts of it show. And there are such plain intimations of the conversion of the Gentiles, and of such a happy state of the Jews, in which they shall see evil no more. As can agree with no other times than the times of the Gospel, both the beginning and latter part of them.


The character of this city, and its inhabitants, is, that it was "filthy". And polluted with murders, adulteries, oppression, violent seizure of someone's property, and other sins. Our Lord often calls them a wicked and an adulterous generation. And yet they pretended to great purity of life and manners. And they were pure in their own eyes, though not washed from their filthiness.


They took much pains to make clean the outside of the cup, but within were full of impurity (Matthew 23:25). In the margin it is, "woe to her that is gluttonous". The word is used for the craw or crop of a fowl (Lev. 1:16), hence some render it "woe to the craw". To the city that is all craw, to which Jerusalem is compared for its devouring the wealth and substance of others.


The Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time are said to devour widows' houses (Matt. 23:14), and this seems to be the sin with which they were defiled, and here charged with. Some think the word signifies one that is publicly, infamous; either made a public example of, or openly exposed, as sometimes filthy harlots are. Or rather one "that has made herself infamous"; by her sins and vices.


"To the oppressing city!" That oppressed the poor, the widow, and the fatherless. This may have respect to the inhabitants of Jerusalem stoning the prophets of the Lord sent unto them. To the discouragements they laid the followers of Christ under, by not suffering such to come to hear him that were inclined.


Threatening to cast them out of their synagogues if they professed him, which passed into a law. And to their killing the Lord of life and glory; and the persecution of his apostles, ministers, and people (see Matt. 23:13).


Some render it, "to the city a dove"; being like a silly dove without heart (as in Hosea 7:11). R. Azariah thinks Jerusalem is so called because in its works it was like Babylon. Which had for its military sign on its standard, a dove (see Jer. 25:38; Jer. 46:16; Hosea 11:11). But the former sense is best.


This is speaking of Jerusalem. God will destroy Jerusalem's enemies, but He will also, punish Jerusalem for the evil within her. They are polluted with false gods and idols. They have rebelled against their God, and committed spiritual adultery.


They thought themselves to be above others, and they oppressed those around them, because of their arrogance. They thought they would never be destroyed, because of their relationship with God.


Zephaniah 3:2 "She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God."


"She received not correction": Jerusalem was soon to learn that to reject God's correction leads to destruction (Prov. 5:23).


She drew not near to her God": The Lord had taken up residence in that city, making Him easily accessible (Deut. 4:7). Yet they had refused to draw near to Him in proper worship.


This speaks of rebellion toward God. God had sent judges, teachers, and prophets to warn them, and they still did not live the faithful life. God loved them dearly. He wanted to bless them. He sent prophet after prophet, warning them of the consequences of unfaithfulness.


It seemed the more prophets He sent to warn them, the further they wandered away from God. They did not repent of their sins. He drew nigh to her, but she did not draw nigh to God. She put her trust in the heathen nations around her, and not in God.



Verses 3-5: Four classes of leadership were singled out for condemnation: The political leaders, i.e., the:


(1) Princes; and


(2) Judges; who are both likened to ravenous wolves, endlessly searching for more prey (1:8-9). The spiritual leaders, i.e.; the


(3) Prophets; and


(4) Priests were unfaithful to the Lord whom they claimed to represent.


By contrast, the Lord never failed to manifest a faithful standard of justice and righteousness.


Zephaniah 3:3 "Her princes within her [are] roaring lions; her judges [are] evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow."


"Her princes within her are roaring lions": Or, "as roaring lions". There being a defect of the note of similitude; which is supplied by the Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions. This is to be understood, not of the princes of the blood; but of civil magistrates in common.


The members of the grand Sanhedrim; the princes of the Jewish world, that crucified the Lord of glory; and who gaped upon him with their mouths like ravening and roaring lions. As is foretold they should (Psalm 22:12).


And who breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ. And by their menaces endeavored to frighten and deter them from preaching in his name, and from a profession of him (see 1 Cor. 2:8).


"Her judges are evening wolves": Or, like them, cruel, voracious, never satisfied. Especially are very ravenous in the evening, having had no food all day. Not daring to go abroad in the daytime to seek their prey (see Jer. 5:6). The Septuagint and Arabic versions read "wolves of Arabia"; but wrongly (See Hab. 1:8).


Such rapacious covetous judges were there in Christ's time. Who gives us an instance in one, by which we may judge of the rest. Who feared not God, nor regarded men (Luke 18:2). Such as these were hungry and greedy after gifts and bribes to pervert judgment, and to devour the poor, the widow, and the fatherless, on which they had no mercy.


"They gnaw not the bones till the morrow": Or rather, "in the morning". That is, either they leave not the bones till the morning, as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it. They are so hungry, that they eat up bones and all at once, and reserve nothing for the next day. Which expresses both the greediness of these judges, and the total consumption of the estates of men made by them.


Or else the sense is, that not having gnawn any bones in the morning, or eaten anything that day, hence they are so greedy in the evening. And so this last clause gives a reason why evening wolves are so voracious; for which such cruel judges are compared to them.


We have spoken, in these lessons before, that being a prince of the people, carries with it a great responsibility to take care of the people. It seems, the princes did not want any responsibility for the people. They just wanted to rule, and take what they could from the people. The judges were greedy and ferocious. They too, took more than they needed, and left the people ravaged.


Zephaniah 3:4 "Her prophets [are] light [and] treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law."


"Her prophets are light and treacherous persons": The false prophets, as the Targum and Kimchi explain it. These seem to design the lawyers spoken of in the New Testament, whose business it was to interpret the law to the people.


These were "light" men, good for nothing, of no worth and value. Light in knowledge, as Kimchi gives the sense of the word. Men of no brains; empty headed men, that had no substantial knowledge. Giddy, unstable, and inconstant, and compliant with the state of mind and vices of the people. Men of no gravity in their countenance, speech, and conversation.


Schultens, from the use of the word in the Arabic language, renders it "proud", as these men were, proud boasters. For, though they had but a superficial knowledge of things, they boasted of much, and carried it with a haughty and insolent air to the common people.


And they were "treacherous" to God, and to his truths, and to the souls of men, and took away the key of knowledge from them. And particularly were so to Christ, of whom they were the betrayers and murderers. Delivering him up into the hands of the Gentiles to be scourged and crucified (Matt. 20:18).


"Her priests have polluted the sanctuary": The temple; by selling, or suffering to be sold in it, various things, whereby it became a den of thieves, which once was called a house of prayer (Matt. 21:12). And also our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the sanctuary or temple was a type, by denying, blaspheming, and reproaching him, and by shedding his blood.


"They have done violence to the law": By not teaching it as they should; and by their false glosses, senses, and interpretations of it. And by the traditions of the elders they preferred unto it, and whereby they made it void (see Matt. 5:1; 15:1).


This is a terrible state of affairs, when the spiritual leaders have gone bad.


Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."


The very leaders, who were to uphold the law, have destroyed it. They not only forgot to teach the law, but they polluted the sanctuary with false gods. They are the blind leading the blind.


Matthew 15:14 "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."


The prophets of that day had power to influence others. The problem is, some of the prophets were false prophets. Their messages were not from God. Their messages were something they dreamed up themselves, for their own advantage.


Zephaniah 3:5 "The just LORD [is] in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame."


"The just Lord is in the midst thereof": In the midst of the city of Jerusalem, where those princes, judges, prophets and priests, were, that behaved so ill, and saw and observed all their evil actions. And yet they were not deterred from them by his presence, even though he is the "just" and Holy One, who loves righteousness, and hates iniquity, and will punish for it.


Nor were they directed and allured to do what is righteous and good by his example. This character of the just Lord well agrees with Christ, who is perfectly righteous in both his natures, and in the execution of his offices. And is the author of righteousness to his people.


And this is to be understood of his incarnation and personal presence in human nature in Jerusalem, and in the temple, where he taught his doctrine, and wrought his miracles.


"He will not do iniquity": Christ was holy in his nature, harmless in his life. He knew no sin; he did not commit any; no violence was done by him, or guile found in him. He was not guilty of sin against God, or of doing any injury to men. And should have been imitated by the men of the age in which he lived, as well as by others. And should have been valued and esteemed, and not slandered and vilified as he was, as if he had been the worst of men.


"Every morning doth he bring his judgment to light": The doctrine of the Gospel, which he set in the clearest light, and preached with the greatest constancy, day after day, morning by morning. And very early in the morning, when the people came to hear him in the temple.


And he continued in it all the day. His waking morning by morning to this service, as was predicted of him (Isa. 1:4; see Luke 21:37).


"He faileth not": In this work of preaching the word, with the greatest evidence and persistent personal attention.


"But the unjust knoweth no shame": Those unjust persons, who attacked the character of Christ, and spoke badly about his doctrine and miracles. Though there was nothing in his life, nor in his ministry, that could be justly blamed, yet they blushed not at their sin and wickedness.


And though they were sharply reproved by him, and their errors in principle, and sins in practice, were exposed by him, yet they were not ashamed. Such were the hardness and unyielding of their hearts.


God dwelt in the midst of His people. The LORD was the only holy One upon the earth. His law was perfect. The people's inability to keep the law was where the problem came from. They had walked away from the Light of God, and made a habit of sinning. They know no shame; because they have committed so many sins their consciences have become dull.


God still shines His Light where the people are caught up in sin, but He will not always remain there. He left the temple in Jerusalem, before the destruction by Babylon.



Verses 6-7: The desolations brought by the Lord on surrounding nations were to serve as warnings to Judah, meant to turn His people back to Him. But instead, enticed by the fruits of corruption, the people rose early to zealously and deliberately pursue the way of sin.


Zephaniah 3:6 "I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant."


"I have cut off the nations": Utterly destroyed them, as the Philistines, Moabites, Ethiopians, and Assyrians, as in the preceding chapters. All which were done before the coming of Christ in the flesh; and by which instances the Jews should have took warning. Lest by their sins they should provoke the Lord to destroy their nation, city, and temple.


"Their towers are desolate": Built on their frontiers, or on the walls of their cities, to defend them; these were demolished, and laid waste, and of no use. Or, "their corners"; towers being usually built on the angles or corners of walls. Some interpret this of their princes, nobles, and great men, who were destroyed (see Zech. 10:4).


"I made their streets waste, that none passeth by": The streets of their cities, the houses being pulled down by the enemy, the rubbish of them lay in the streets, so that there was no passing for any. And indeed, the houses being demolished, the streets were no more in form.


"Their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant": The houses being burnt with fire, or pulled down, and plundered of the goods and substance in them, and the people cut off by famine, pestilence, or sword. And the rest carried captive, there was scarce a man or inhabitant left; so general was the destruction.


The nations here are probably, speaking of the nations around them, but it is true of Israel, as well. God sent His judgments to cause them to repent, and turn back to God. Israel had trusted in their military strength to save them from the enemy.


They had even made agreements with worldly countries to help them in their wars. The truth is their strength lay in God's protection of them. When they stopped trusting in God, their strength was gone.


In their journey to the Promised Land, they had won every battle when the Ark of the Covenant went before them. When they did not have it going before them, they lost. This in itself, should have told them of their inability to do anything without God.


Zephaniah 3:7 "I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, [and] corrupted all their doings."


"I said, Surely thou wilt fear me": This is spoken after the manner of men; as if God should say within himself, and reason in his own mind, upon a view of things, surely the people of the Jews will take notice of my judgments executed on other nations, and will stand in awe of me on account of them. And fear to offend me, lest the same calamities should come upon them. This, humanly speaking, might be reasonably thought would be the case.


"Thou wilt receive instruction": By these judgments, taking warning by them; repent, reform, and amend, and thereby escape the like.


"So their dwelling should not be cut off": Or, "its dwelling"; the dwelling of the city of Jerusalem. The houses in it; the dwelling places of the inhabitants of it; the singular being put for the plural. Unless the temple should be meant, as Abendana interprets it; and so it may be rendered "his dwelling".


Their house, which was left desolate to them because they feared not the Lord. Nor received instruction by the example of others. Nor repented of their sins, and altered their course of life; which, if done, their dwelling would have been preserved (Matt. 23:38).


"Howsoever I punished them": Or "visited" them. Chastised them in a gentle manner, in order to reform them, but in vain. Some render it, "all which I committed to them"; the oracles of God, his word and ordinances, his promises, and the blessings of his goodness, which he deposited with them, in order to do them good, and bring them to repentance.


The Targum is, "all the good things which I have said unto them (or promised them), I will bring unto them. And to the same sense Jarchi. The goodness of God should have brought them to repentance, yet it did not.


"But they rose early, and corrupted all their doings": They were diligent and industrious eager and early, in the commission of sins. In doing corrupt and abominable works; receiving and tenaciously adhering to the traditions of the elders. Seeking to establish their own righteousness, not submitting to Christ's.


Rejecting him the true Messiah; blaspheming his doctrines, despising his ordinances, and persecuting his people. Besides other vices, which abounded among them; for which the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost, as expressed in the following verse.


God used examples of other countries He had judged, to show Israel and Judah that they must repent. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The fear in this, is speaking of reverence. God wanted their love and respect. God wanted to instruct them in His ways, but they were not interested in doing what He wanted. They did what was right in their own sight.


God had told them, over and over, of the punishment, if they did not repent of their sins and walk in His ways. They did not heed His warnings. The chastisement God sent was to punish them for their sins and cause them to reach out to Him for help. All of the warnings, and chastisement, were to cause them to repent, instead they just went deeper and deeper into sin.


Zephaniah 3:8 "Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination [is] to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, [even] all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy."


The prophet transitions from the historical invasion of Judah by Babylon to the future day of the Lord. He speaks of the Great Tribulation, when the Lord will gather all the nations for judgment (Joel 3:1-2; 12-17; Zech. 12:2-3; 14:2; Matt. 24:21).


Those, who are to wait, are the saved. They are admonished to wait for this day. The nations gathered, here, are speaking of that time of the great battle of Armageddon. There has never really been a time in past history, when all of mankind was caught up in battle like this.


The earth will be destroyed by God's fire, and a new heaven and a new earth will come forth from God.


Revelation 16:16 "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."



Verses 9-20: The final sections unveil the blessings of restoration for God's people and the nations.


Zephaniah 3:9 "For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent."


"Serve him with one consent" (Hebrew shekem, "shoulder"), is a figure drawn from the use of a yoke whereby two animals could be linked together and serve as one. From this verse until the end of the prophecy, Zephaniah foresees the blessings of the millennial kingdom.


"A pure language": A remnant of the nations, converted to the Lord, will worship Him in righteousness and truth (Zech. 8:20-23; 14:16). Pure speech will come from purified hearts. (Luke 6:45).


At the tower of Babel, God punished the sinful people by changing their language, so they could not understand each other. This has always been a problem in understanding people of other nations. This is a reversal of that. God will now, return them all to the same language so they might understand each other.


This speaks of a time of total agreement of people of many nations. This will be that peace that Jesus Christ brings. People of all nations will be converted to the Lord.


Zephaniah 3:10 "From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, [even] the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering."


"From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia": Either the African Ethiopia, or Arabia Chusea, which lay between Judea and Egypt. Here some particular places and people are mentioned, in whom the preceding prophecy would be fulfilled.


If these rivers of Ethiopia are such as ran in the midst of the country, and so point at some parts of it, though on the other side of them, then this prophecy might have its accomplishment.


At least when the Evangelist Matthew went there, and preached the Gospel, and very likely the Apostle Paul. As also when the Ethiopian eunuch was converted, who doubtless did what in him lay to promote the interest of Christ in those parts.


"My suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed": Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Abarbinel, and Ben Melech, take the words "Atharai Bathpusai" to be the proper name of a nation or family beyond the rivers of Ethiopia; whereas they are characters which describe persons there, who should have the pure language turned to them, and call on the name of the Lord.


Even such, who, being made sensible of sin, and of their danger, would be humble supplicants at the throne of grace, and pray to the Lord for the discovery and application of pardoning grace and mercy to them, agreeably to the prophecy (in Psalm 68:31), "princes shall come out of Egypt.


Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God"; that is, in prayer. And these are the sons and daughters of the Almighty, who are scattered abroad in the several parts of the world, and among the rest here. But as they are gathered together by Christ in redemption, so they are found out and reached by efficacious grace in calling, whether Jews or Gentiles.


Some think the Jews are here meant, even the elect of God among them, who were dispersed in several nations, and particularly in Egypt and Ethiopia. Who were met with by the Gospel, and converted in the first times of it. To these Peter and James direct their epistles: and of whom, being called by grace, it is said, they:


"Shall bring mine offering": Themselves as an offering to the Lord, souls and bodies, with all other spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praise, and well doing. And likewise such persons they may be the instruments of the conversion of, called the offering of the Gentiles (Rom. 15:16).


They will return from distant places (Isa. 11:11, 15-16; 27:13).


Revelation 15:4 "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for [thou] only [art] holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest."



Verses 11-13: The Lord will purge the proud and ungodly from among them (Zech. 13:1-6). Leaving a meek and humble people. Material prosperity and peace will accompany them as well, allowing them to enjoy the rich blessings of God undisturbed (Joel 3:18-20; Mica 4:4).


Zephaniah 3:11 "In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain."


"In that day shall thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me": Because these shall not be continued in, but repented of, and forsaken. And besides, shall be forgiven, blotted out, covered, and remembered no more.


So that they shall not be charged with them, condemned for them, or be confounded before God, angels, and men, on account of them. Not but that shame always arises from a true sense of sin; and the more, as it is beheld in the glass of pardoning love, which is a branch of true evangelical repentance. At least a fruit and evidence of it (Ezek. 16:63).


But then such are not ashamed to appear before God; but can with a holy confidence stand in his sight, their sins being pardoned, and their persons justified. This respects the Christian church or churches in Judea, the few that believed in Christ, called in a following verse the remnant of Israel (Zeph. 3:13).


At the time when the generality of the people of the Jews rejected the Messiah, and their city and temple were destroyed, and the Lord turned the pure language of the Gospel to the Gentiles.


"For then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride": The Scribes and Pharisees, and those that adhered to them of the Jewish nation, who rejoiced in those things which that people generally prided themselves in and boasted of. Their descent from Abraham, and their observance of the rites and ceremonies of the law.


And the traditions of their elders, and their external legal righteousness. And they rejoiced in their boastings of these things, which rejoicing was evil.


And they, in the pride of their hearts, despised Christ and his righteousness, his Gospel, ordinances, and people. Which were the things in which they transgressed against the Lord, and for which they were taken away by the sword, famine, and pestilence, at the destruction of Jerusalem.


"And thou shall no more be haughty because of mine holy mountain": The temple; or, "in" it; since it should now be destroyed. The Jews gloried in the temple, and behaved proudly and haughtily on the account of it. Reckoned themselves secure, because of that. And trusted and gloried in the sacrifices there offered up, and the services there performed (see Jer. 7:4).


All Israel shall be turned to the Lord, and they will no longer be a haughty people, believing they are the only children of God. They had thought themselves better than the rest of the world, because they alone, had the law of God. This was all removed in the coming of their Messiah who brought salvation to all the world.


Matthew 3:9 "And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."


Romans 3:27 "Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith."


Zephaniah 3:12 "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD."


"I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people": Of a character just the reverse of the proud and haughty that should be removed from Jerusalem and Judea by death or captivity. These are they that should be preserved from the general calamity, as the Christians were, and were left in the church of God.


These were an "afflicted" people, as the Lord's people in all ages are afflicted with a body of sin. With the temptations of Satan; with the hidings of God's face; with bodily infirmities, and with the reproaches and persecutions of men.


The first Christians, both among Jews and Gentiles, justly bore this character, especially with respect to the last article. And they were also "poor", for the most part the poor of this world, being stripped of their worldly enjoyments for the sake of Christ.


But especially poor in spirit, broken hearted, contrite, lowly ones. That had a mean opinion of themselves, modest, meek, and humble. Sensible of their spiritual poverty, and seeking after the true riches of grace and glory.


The Targum renders it, "a meek people, and receiving injuries; quietly and patiently.


"And they shall trust in the name of the Lord": Not in men, but in the Lord. Not in descent from men, from the patriarchs, as the Jews were wont to do. Not in Moses, as they, in his law, and obedience to it. Not in any creature or creature enjoyment. Not in wealth and riches. Not in their own hearts, or in their own righteousness but in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.


In his person for acceptance with God; in his righteousness for justification; in his blood for pardon and cleansing. In his sacrifice for atonement; in his fullness for supplies of grace; in his power and strength for protection and preservation. And in his obedience, sufferings, and death, for salvation and eternal life.


This trust signifies, according to the sense of the word, a betaking of themselves to Christ as a refuge. A hiding themselves under the shadow of his wings; under his person, blood, and righteousness, where they are covered and sheltered from the avenging justice of God.


From the curses of the law, and wrath to come. It is a committing themselves into the hands of Christ; a leaning and staying upon him, expecting grace and glory from him. Trusting him with all they have, and for all they want in time and eternity.


And this the chosen, redeemed, and called ones, "shall do". For, through the efficacious grace of God, faith is given to them, and wrought in them. And this is drawn forth into act and exercise by the same grace, and is continued in them, and shall never fail, through the powerful intercession of Christ for them. They shall believe, and go on believing, to the saving of their souls.


The followers of Jesus Christ are the humble people of the world. They have to give up all their conceit and arrogance to come to Christ. The power to live the Christian life lies in the ability to trust in the name of Jesus.


Matthew 5:3 "Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."


Luke 6:20 "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed [be ye] poor: for yours is the kingdom of God."


Philippians 2:10-11 "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;" "And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father."



Verses 13-15: For the fall of Assyria (see the notes on 2 kings 23:28-29; Nahum 3:7-10).


Zephaniah 3:13 "The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid."


"The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity": This is the remnant, according to the election of grace, the few the Lord reserved for himself, left in the land, and in his church, for his own glory. Who, being truly convinced of sin, and brought to believe in Christ, should leave and forsake their former course of sinning.


Not that they should be without sin, or none be committed by them. But should not live in it, and be workers of it. Make a trade of sinning, and continue therein. Or should not commit the sin against the Holy Ghost, as great numbers of the Jews did, in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, against clear evidence, and the light of their own consciences.


"Nor speak lies": In common talk and conversation; which a child of God, a true believer in Christ, a real Christian, should not and dare not do (Isa. 63:8). Or doctrinal lies, lies in hypocrisy; such doctrines as are not of the truth of the Gospel, but contrary to it.


Such as the doctrine of justification by works. Atonement by ceremonial sacrifices. Acceptance with God, through the merits of their fathers. And keeping the traditions of the elders; and other Jewish lies and fables of the same stamp. But rejected by those who have embraced the truth, as it is in Jesus.


"Neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth": Having clean hearts created and right spirits renewed in them. Being Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile, and true followers of Jesus, in whom nothing of this kind could be found.


"For they shall feed": Like a flock of sheep, to which they may be compared for their innocence and harmlessness, meekness and patience. Feed in the fat pastures of the word and ordinances of Christ, under the care and guidance of him the good Shepherd.


And so go in and out, and find pasture, food, and fullness of it, in him. His flesh, and blood; in his precious truths, and Gospel provisions made in his house.


"And lie down": In green pastures of ordinances, beside the still waters of everlasting love and divine grace, and in the good fold of the church. All which is a reason why they do not and cannot sin as others do. Nor tell lies, and be guilty of deceit and falsehood; for they are better taught.


And the grace of God, in giving them spiritual food and rest, influences and engages them to such a conduct and behavior. Or, "therefore they shall feed", etc. being truly gracious and sincere souls, who cannot indulge themselves in sin, or act a false and deceitful part.


"And none shall make them afraid": Of feeding in those pastures, and lying down in those folds. Or shall deter them from an attendance on the word and ordinances. Or joining in fellowship with the churches of Christ therein.


Neither Satan, the roaring lion, nor false teachers, and persecuting tyrants, those grievous wolves, and cruel bears. Or so frighten them, that in their fright they shall tell lies, and use deceit.


The remnant of Israel, throughout the Bible, is the group who has never bowed their knee to Baal. This just means they have never worshipped false gods. They have always remained faithful to God. These are those people who are holy, because He is holy. They are not interested in sin. They are interested in pleasing God.


They have all the good habits of Christ, because Christ lives in them. These are speaking of those who have made Christ their Lord.


1 John 3:9 "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."



Verses 14-20: The messianic era of millennial blessing and restoration is described.


Zephaniah 3:14 "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem."


"Sing, O daughter of Zion": The congregation of Zion, as the Targum. The church of Christ in Gospel times, which has great reason to sing and rejoice, because of the coming of Christ. Redemption by him, and all other benefits and blessings of grace.


Because of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, and the numbers of souls converted, both among Jews and Gentiles. Especially the church in the latter day is here called upon to sing for joy, when the Jews will be converted. To which these words and what follow relate.


"Shout, O Israel": The ten tribes, as Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it. Which shall now return and all Israel shall be saved (Rom. 11:26). And therefore just cause of shouting, and of keeping a jubilee on that account.


"Be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem": The metropolis of the two tribes. For now the children of Israel and of Judah shall be together, and seek the Lord their God, and the true Messiah, and find him. And shall embrace him, profess and serve him; which will be matter of great joy.


And this will be sincere and hearty, and devoid of all hypocrisy. Several terms are used, describing the people of the Jews, to comprehend them all. And several words to express their joy, in order to set forth the greatness of it, as their happy case would require.


The joy of the daughters of Jerusalem is the fact that they have been restored. People from all over the world will come to worship there. This promise of the coming greatness of Jerusalem is spoken just after the prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction. The victory of the Lord over sin, and the promise of the restoration of Jerusalem, should make them rejoice in their hearts.



Verses 15-17: The basis for rejoicing in verse 14 is that Israel's day of judgment is past and her King is residing in her midst. His departure just prior to Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of the temple is graphically depicted (in Ezek. chapters 8 to 11). But He will return as Lord and Messiah, a fact so glorious that it is repeated (in verse 17).


Zephaniah 3:15 "The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, [even] the LORD, [is] in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more."


"The Lord hath taken away thy judgments": Both outward and inward. Not only exile, poverty, contempt and reproach among the nations of the earth. But hardness of heart, blindness of mind, impenitence and unbelief, to which the Jews are now given up, in a judicial way.


But at this time these shall be removed, through the goodness of God unto them, and the power of divine grace upon them.


They will be brought to a sense of sin, and an acknowledgment of it; their iniquities will be pardoned; and, the cause being removed, the effects will cease. And all calamities, corrections and punishment, will end. And they will be put into the possession of their own land, and enjoy all the privileges of the church of God. And so, will have just reason to sing, shout, and rejoice.


"He hath cast out thine enemy": That is, the Lord has removed the enemy that was in possession of their land, and so made way, and prepared it for them. He has swept him away, as the word signifies, with great force, with much ease, and like so much dirt and filth.


He stood in their way, nor could they have easily removed him; but the Lord did it, or will do it. Though it may be by instruments, by means of the Christian princes. This is to be understood of the eastern antichrist, the Turk, now in possession of the land of Israel; but shall be obliged to depart from it, when this prophecy shall take place, for a reason following.


"The King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee": That is, the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Messiah. One of whose titles is the King of Israel, of the spiritual Israel, King of saints, both Jews and Gentiles.


In whose hearts he rules by his Spirit and grace. And to this passage the Jews in Christ's time seem to have respect, allowing this to be the character of the Messiah (Matt. 27:42; and also Nathanael; John 1:49).


Now at this time Christ will be in the midst of the converted Jews, by his spiritual and gracious presence, as their King, to reign over them, to whom they will be subject. And to protect and defend them, and deliver them out of the hands of all their enemies. And so he is in all his churches, and will be to the end of the world.


"Thou shalt not see evil any more": The evil of affliction or punishment; the evil of captivity, disgrace, and contempt. This shows that this prophecy does not respect the Babylonish captivity, and deliverance from that. For since that time, they have seen evil by Antiochus Epiphanies, in the times of the Maccabees; and by the Romans.


And have had a large and long experience of it; but when they are converted, and returned to their own land in the latter day, all their afflictions and troubles will be at an end, they will know them no more. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "thou shalt not fear evil any more". So, the Targum, "thou shalt not be afraid from before evil any more.


The following Scripture is about the very same thing.


Hebrews 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."


They are forgiven and restored.


Revelation 12:10 "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."


Zephaniah 3:16 "In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: [and to] Zion, Let not thine hands be slack."


"In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, fear thou not": Do not be afraid of any enemies; neither outward ones, the armies of Gog and Magog, or the Turk, who will threaten, and will attempt to dispossess them of their land, now returned to it.


Nor inward and spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, death, and hell, being all vanquished and subdued by Christ. This will be said, not by the enemies themselves, who will confess they have no power to stand before the mighty God, as Aben Ezra; but either by the prophets of the Lord, or by the people themselves.


Encouraging one another, every man his neighbor, as Kimchi. Or rather by the Lord himself, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions supply it, "the Lord shall say to Jerusalem". This will be said at the time of the Jews' conversion, when reinstated in their own land, and shall be threatened with another remove from it, which they will have no reason to fear.


"And to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack": Weak, remiss, hang down through fear of mind, and fainting of spirit. And so unfit to meet the enemy, or perform duty. But, on the contrary, pluck up a good heart, be of good courage, fear not the enemy, be vigorous, active, and diligent, in the performance of the service of the Lord.


This is said about the natural Israelite, and to the church (Zion), spiritual Israel. There will be nothing to fear, because the Lord will be with His own.


Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee [is] mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."


As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride (Isa. 62:4), the Lord will exult over His people with gladness and song, resting in quiet ecstasy over His people in whom is all His delight (Deut. 30:9; Isaiah chapter 54).


The might of man cannot be compared to that of God. God created the world, and all that is in it. He controls everything.


Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."


Revelation 21:3 "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God."


The love that God has for man is agape love. It is love that is so great, that God sent His Son to die on the cross to save our souls. There is joy in heaven over one sinner who receives Christ as his Savior.


Zephaniah 3:18 "I will gather [them that are] sorrowful for the solemn assembly, [who] are of thee, [to whom] the reproach of it [was] a burden."


"Them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly": Unable to celebrate the appointed feasts (Exodus 23:14-17), while in exile, the godly remnant sorrowed. But the Lord will remove their sorrow, giving them praise and fame (verse 19).


Those who were sorrowful of losing daily fellowship with God at the temple will be brought again and restored.



Verses 19-20: "At that time": The time of the return of the King, Messiah, when the Jews will be re-gathered and become a source of blessing to the world, fulfilling Israel's original destiny (Deut. 26:18-19; Isa. 62:7).


Zephaniah 3:19 "Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame."


"Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee": Or, "I will do"; their business for them. "Slay" them, as the Vulgate Latin version. And make an entire destruction of them, as the Targum; bring them to utter ruin. Thias must be understood of antichrist, both eastern and western, the Turk and Pope.


And all the antichristian states that have afflicted the Jews, or shall attempt to distress them at the time of their conversion. And will be fulfilled at the time of the pouring out of the seven vials of God's wrath upon them, which will issue in the entire undoing and ruin of them.


Especially the seventh and last of them. Which, when poured out, will clear the world of all the enemies of Christ, his church and people.


And because this will be a wonderful event, and of great moment and importance. Hence the word "behold" is prefixed to it, as exciting attention, as well as a note of admiration and emphatic declaration or statement.


"And I will save her that halteth": That has sinned, and is weak in faith, and cannot walk, at least but haltingly. Which is like a lame and maimed sheep, of which there is danger of its being left behind and lost.


But the Lord here promises he will take care of such, and save them from all their sins, and out of the hands of all their enemies. And bring them through all difficulties and discouragements into his church, and to their own land. They shall none of them be lost, even the meanest and weakest of them, any more than the healthful and strong.


"And gather her that was driven out": Even everyone that was scattered abroad in each of the nations of the world (See Micah 4:6-7).


"And I will get them praise and fame in every land, where they have been put to shame": Being converted, they shall be spoke well of everywhere. They shall be praised for their ingenuous acknowledgment of their sins. For their sincere repentance of them; and for their faith in Christ.


And for their ready submission to his Gospel and ordinances. And the fame of their conversion shall be spread everywhere; and they shall be in great credit and esteem in all Christian countries, where their name has been used for a taunt and a proverb. And so, "instead of their shame", as R. Moses interprets it, they shall have glory and honor in all places.


This is speaking of Israel's restoration to their land. It also, speaks of restoring her reputation as God's people in all the world. God will destroy the enemies of Israel, and all of God's people, including the church. This last destruction of the enemies of God, and His people, occurs just before Jerusalem is totally restored.


Zephaniah 3:20 "At that time will I bring you [again], even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD."


"At that time I will bring you again, even in the time that I gather you": That is, at the time that the Lord will gather them in the effectual calling to himself and to his church, he will return them to their own land. And, as soon as the Jews are converted, they will not only be gathered into Christian churches, but will be gathered together in one body, and appoint themselves one head.


And will go up out of each of the lands wherein they have been dispersed, and enter into their own land, and possess it. At the same time they are made partakers of the grace of God, they will enjoy all their civil privileges and liberties (see Hosea 1:11).


"For I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth": This is repeated from the preceding verse (Zeph. 3:19), for the confirmation of it. And in connection with the following clause, to show when it will be.


"When I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord": Or "captivities"; meaning not the several captivities of the kings of Judah in Babylon, as of Manasseh, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah. But the two fold captivity of this people, literal and spiritual.


Their present outward exile from their own land, captivity and dispersion among the nations. And their spiritual captivity or bondage, to sin, Satan, the law; and the traditions of their elders. From both which they will be delivered at one and the same time; and which will be notorious and manifest.


What their eyes will see with pleasure and admiration; and which may be depended upon will be done, since the Lord has said it. Whose purposes, promises, and prophecies, never fail of their accomplishment. He is God omniscient and knows with certainty what will be done. He is God omnipotent and can and will do whatever he has determined, promised, or said should be done.


God will gather His people from all over the world, and bring them to Jerusalem. This is speaking of that great gathering in the end times, when all of God's people come home.


In the spiritual realm, this is speaking of all the believers in Christ. In the physical, this speaks of all the true Jews from all over the world coming home to Israel. God keeps His promises. "Saith the LORD" means there is no question about this happening. God said it, it will be.


Zephaniah Chapter 3 Questions


1. Woe to her that is _________ and ___________.


2. This is speaking of ____________.


3. What are they polluted with?


4. How were they oppressive to others?


5. Verse 2 speaks of __________ toward God.


6. Who had God sent to warn them?


7. God drew nigh to Judah, but Judah did what in return?


8. Who did she put her trust in?


9. Being a prince to the people, carries with it great ________________.


10. Describe the judges in verse 3.


11. Even the _____________ leaders have gone bad.


12. The people's ______________ to keep the law was where the problem came from.


13. Why did they know no shame?


14. Who are the nations in verse 6?


15. What had been proof to them on their journey to the promised land, that God was their strength?


16. The _______ of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.


17. They were interested in walking in their ______ _______.


18. What was the chastisement of God for?


19. Who are those that are to wait upon the Lord?


20. Verse 8 is about what battle?


21. When had God confused the language?


22. What nations will come and worship God?


23. Why had Israel been haughty in the past?


24. Who does verse 12 say will trust in the Lord?


25. Who are the remnant of Israel?


26. Why will there be nothing to fear?


27. The tabernacle of God is with ________.


28. What is one word for God's kind of love?


29. Whose reputation does God restore?


30. Where will God bring His people to?





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