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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Zephaniah 1

 

 

Verse 1

Zephaniah 1:1. Title.—The most extended of prophetic genealogies, probably because Zephaniah was of royal descent (cf. Intro.).


Verses 2-18

Zephaniah 1:2-18. The Doom of Judah and Jerusalem.

Zephaniah 1:2-6. Riding as it were on the crest of a tidal wave of destruction, which sweeps off man and beast from the face of the ground, Yahweh stretches His hand against Judah and Jerusalem, the centre of the world's offence, to cut off the priests and worshippers of Baal, together with all such as prostrate themselves before the host of heaven, mingle the worship of Yahweh with that of Molech, or otherwise prove traitor to the God of their fathers, withdrawing from His allegiance and ceasing to inquire after Him.

Zephaniah 1:2. ground: the cultivated, inhabited, civilised world.

Zephaniah 1:3. For "the stumbling-blocks with" (a rendering as dubious as it is meaningless) read the corresponding verb," I will bring down."

Zephaniah 1:4. the remnant of Baal: i.e. the last vestige of Baalism.—Chemarim: a common Semitic word for priests, used in the OT only as a term of contempt for idolatrous priests (cf. 2 Kings 23:5, Hosea 10:5). "With the priests" is probably an explanatory gloss.

Zephaniah 1:5. The worship of the heavenly bodies, so prominent a feature of Assyrian religion, began to affect Judah in the reign of Ahaz, and rose to its height under Manasseh and Amon (2 Kings 21:3 ff.). The influence of the barbarous cult of Malcam—the Molech or Milk of Phœnician worship—was equally prevalent during this period of national apostasy (2 Kings 23:10, Jeremiah 7:31).

Zephaniah 1:6. In addition to such outward profanation of Yahweh's name there flourished a species of practical infidelity, which deliberately thrust away the thought of Yahweh as Ruler of heart and conscience (cf. Psalms 14:1 ff.).

Zephaniah 1:7-13. With reverential silence the people of Jerusalem are bidden await the coming of the great Day of Yahweh's sacrifice, to which He has already invited and consecrated His guests, when He will offer up as victims the princes of the royal house, who have set their people so flagrant an example of violence and fraud, with all who have defiled themselves by foreign customs and superstitions, and the morally indifferent who are settled on their lees and say in their hearts, "Yahweh doth neither good nor evil." No one shall escape the judgment of that Day; for Yahweh will search Jerusalem with a lamp, and will track the sinners to their remotest hiding-places. And so awful will be the ruin and desolation of the Day that Jerusalem will resound from north to south with the crash of falling houses and the cries of the doomed and panic-stricken.

Zephaniah 1:7. On the silence that accompanied Yahweh's approach to the sacrificial table cf. Habakkuk 2:20.—The sacrifice is of Yahweh's own people, the guests being the heathen nations, specifically the Scythians, the instruments of the Divine wrath

Zephaniah 1:8. For "sons" read probably "house" (LXX), Josiah's sons being still mere boys.—Clothing with foreign apparel was regarded as treason against Yahweh Himself, dress having a real religious significance.

Zephaniah 1:9. Leaping over the threshold was a world-wide superstitious practice, due to fear of the spirits of the threshold (Exodus 12:22*, 1 Samuel 5:5).

Zephaniah 1:10 f. The Fish-gate, on the north (Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 12:39), probably the present Damascus Gate; the Mishneh (mg.), or New Town, the northern suburb of Jerusalem (2 Kings 22:14), just inside the Wall of Manasseh; the Hills, or Heights, a residential quarter of the city, evidently towards the north, though its exact situation is unknown; the Maktesh, or Mortar, probably the trough of the Tyropœon Valley, the chief resort of "the merchant people" (mg.), and centre of trade and industry (cf. G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, i. 200ff.).

Zephaniah 1:12. lamps (mg.), or "a lamp" (LXX): such as the watchman employed to search the city, or the housewife to look for lost coins (Luke 15:8).—settled, thickened (mg.), or coagulated, on their lees: not passed from vessel to vessel to be strained and purified (p. 111, cf. Jeremiah 48:11 ff.).

Zephaniah 1:14-18. This great Day of Yahweh is near at hand, near and speeding fast, a Day of bitterness and wrath, of stress and straitness, a Day of waste and desolation, murk, and gloom, a Day of cloud and thunder, trumpet, and alarum, when Yahweh will press hard upon His people, and will pour out their blood like dust and their flesh like dung, and no silver or gold shall be able to deliver them from the flame of His jealousy.

Zephaniah 1:14. On the prophetic conception of "the Day of Yahweh" cf. Amos 5:18, Isaiah 2:5-22.—For qol, "voice," read qarob, "near," and for tsoreaḥ sham gibbor, "crieth there the warrior," probably has miggibbor: thus, "Near is Yahweh's bitter day, speeding faster than a warrior."

Zephaniah 1:15 ff. From the terrible description of the Day of Yahweh is drawn the famous mediaeval Dies irœ, dies ilia.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Zephaniah 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/zephaniah-1.html. 1919.

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