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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Zephaniah 2

 

 

Verses 1-15

Zephaniah 2:1. Gather yourselves together, for fasting and prayer, oh nation not desired, whose practices are lothed and abhorred; a nation whom God will not own as his chosen people.

Zephaniah 2:3. It may be ye shall be hid from the general scourge. Jeremiah uses the same words in Jeremiah 36:3. The avenging arm becomes weak, when mortals are truly contrite.

Zephaniah 2:4. Gaza shall be forsaken—Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Gaza was a primitive city, given to Judah. Joshua 15:47, 1Sa_6:17. It was a frontier town leading to Egypt, situate about sixty five miles south-west of Jerusalem, and one of the five cities occupied by the Philistines, the sore and bitter enemies of the Israelites. It stands pleasantly on an eminence. The beach being open, it has no harbour, and boats approach with difficulty. It threw off the Hebrew yoke in the weaker days of Jotham and Ahaz; but was reconquered by Hezekiah. 2 Kings 18:8. Psammiticus, king of Egypt, took all the five cities of the Philistines; and about four years after the fall of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar overran all Phœnicia, and ruined Egypt. So the word of the Lord was fulfilled, as in Jeremiah 25:17; Jeremiah 25:20, when he made all the kings of Philistia and the adjacent nations drink the cup of his wrath. The rest of the Philistines, says the prophet, shall perish. Amos 1:8. Ezekiel 25:15-16.

Zephaniah 2:5. Woe to the inhabitants of the sea coast— the Cherethites. These were colonies of Crete. 1 Samuel 30:14. The guards in David’s court were raised out of those families. 2 Samuel 8:18.

Zephaniah 2:11. The Lord—will famish all the gods of the earth. This is a fine satire on idolatry, and is illustrated by the custom of preparing every night for Bel, a supper, when the priests and their families came into the temple to partake of the feast. It is a most expressive prediction of the utter cessation and ruin of idolatry. Isaiah 2:18.

Zephaniah 2:12. Ye Ethiopians also shall be slain by my sword. This name in the Hebrew scriptures denotes all the coloured population, who are called Cushites. Many of these perished as allies of Egypt, and others from the Persian invasions. Jeremiah 46:2.

Zephaniah 2:13. He will make Nineveh a desolation. This is described by Nahum, and in the reflections on that prophet. The empire being destroyed, the poor had no bread, and birds of ill note inhabited the temples and the palaces. The Turkish city of Mosul is built on the western shore of the Tigris, leaving old Nineveh in ruins.—A word here, oh infidel. How did the Hebrew prophets know this of Nineveh, of Babylon, and of Tyre? How did they know those facts, and facts of variations, that Jerusalem should only be “trodden down of the gentiles,” and that Egypt should only be “the basest of kingdoms?” Did they happen to guess well, to be lucky in conjectures? Aye, but one mishap would have ruined revelation. Take heed and beware: for they may guess well that all unbelievers shall have their portion in the lake “that burneth with fire and brimstone.”

REFLECTIONS.

The guilty nations of Phœnicia were alike idolaters, but idolaters who had the adjacent light of Israel. As they lived for ages in abominations, in wars, and in the effusion of innocent blood, the cup which the Lord had mingled must be given them to drink. The harvest grows ripe, and then the reapers are commanded to thrust in the sickle. The prophet exhorts them to meet for reflection, and for repentance, to ward off the blow by humiliations of heart.

It is remarkable that Judah, joining apostasy with sin, must be the first to drink the bitter cup. Then, as in a feast, the cup goes round. Nineveh falls, and falls to rise no more; the rejoicing city forever mourns. The whole belt of nations from Ammon to Moab, Philistia and Tyre, must drink the dregs of the red wine. How would it have been just to punish the one without the other, when neither fasting nor penitence, as formerly in Nineveh, had intervened. How then can hardened and rebellious men of our own times hope for ever to escape?

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Zephaniah 2:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/zephaniah-2.html. 1835.

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