Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Zephaniah 2

Verse 1

ZEPHANIAH CHAPTER 2

An exhortation to repentance, Zephaniah 2:1-3. The judgment of the Philistines, Zephaniah 2:4-7 of Moab and Ammon, Zephaniah 2:8-11, of Ethiopia, Zephaniah 2:12, and Assyria, Zephaniah 2:13-15.

Gather yourselves together; call a solemn assembly, as Joel 1:14, proclaim a fast. Let all have notice given to meet on this work, and, being gathered together, search yourselves, your hearts and ways, and repent.

Gather together; repeated to affect them the more, and to hasten them to it, and make them serious in it.

O nation of the Jews, yet a people, yet my people, though next door almost to being no people.

Not desired; neither desirous to return, nor desirable in your return; foolishly unwilling to return, and utterly unworthy to be received on your return: yet gather together, search your ways, and try what you may do for your safety.

Verse 2

Before the decree, the Word of the prophet which declares the purpose of God against this sinful people, bring forth: the degree is pregnant, nay, hath gone a great while, but is now like a woman near her full time, ready to bring forth: be you speedy in your repentance, lest your miseries break forth of the womb of Divine vengeance and destroy you. Before the day, the day of your calamities, Babylon’s rage, and God’s just displeasure,

pass as the chaff; carry you away as the wind carrieth chaff away for the fire, while the good grain is gathered and preserved.

The fierce anger; the heat of anger. It was jealousy like fire, Zephaniah 1:18, and here it is the heat of that fire, intimating the greatness of the anger. Come upon you; as a storm from on high, with violence irresistible and destructive; and the warning is doubled to make them take it.

Verse 3

Seek ye the Lord; turn to him with sound and true repentance, pray for pardon, engage in new obedience, inquire in the law what is your duty, and do it; fear, worship, depend on the Lord alone.

All ye meek; ye humble ones, who have not hardened yourselves with the stubborn, proud, idolatrous hypocrites, but have trembled at the word of the Lord.

Of the earth; of Judea, which is here spoken of, as Zephaniah 1:2.

Which have wrought his judgment; obeyed his precepts; so doth the Scripture express obedience to the law of God by doing judgment, Deuteronomy 4:5 Psalms 119:121.

Seek righteousness; inquire and know the righteousness which God commandeth, which you ought to persist in, and continue ye in it.

Seek meekness; carry it humbly towards God, and patiently under his corrections; so wait on the just and merciful God.

It may be: this is sufficient to raise hope; if it be not sure, if it be hard, yet it is not impossible.

Ye shall be hid; under the wing of Divine protecting Providence kept safe from, or in, these troubles they shall be either averted or abated.

Verse 4

For; it is time to seek some refuge, high time to seek it in God, for your neighbours, as well as you, shall be destroyed, there shall he no refuge for you among your neighbours.

Gaza; a chief city of the Philistines, very strong by its situation, and by art fortified; a frontier toward Egypt, and not full three miles from the sea.

Shall be forsaken; when the conquering army of the Chaldeans shall come against it, shall be forsaken either by the flight or captivity of the inhabitants.

Ashkelon; another of the strong cities of the Philistines, which fell to the tribe of Dan, and was a maritime town.

A desolation; utterly wasted, so the abstract doth imply.

They; Babylonians: see Ezekiel 25:15-17.

Shall drive into captivity, cast them out of their own and force them into a strange land. Ashdod; a strong fortified city of Palestina, called in aftertimes Azotus.

At the noon-day; it shall be taken by force at noon, or the citizens led away captive in the heat of the day, and under parching heats.

Ekron; famous for its infamous idolatry, where Baalzebub was worshipped, the chief seat of devil-worship.

Shall be rooted up; utterly extirpated, no more to spring up: see

Jeremiah 47:4,5: it shall be as a tree pulled up by the roots; or maimed, as horses that are houghed, as Joshua 11:9.

Verse 5

Woe unto the inhabitants! now all the Philistines are threatened, whereas before he named only those four cities.

Of the sea-coasts; the coasts of the great or western sea, now the Mediterranean, on which the Philistines of old did dwell.

The Cherethites, or destroyers, men that were stout, but fierce, and perhaps terrible to neighbours and foreigners that had the hard hap to be forced on their coasts by violence of sea. They were great soldiers, and lived Switzerlike, guards to David, it may be to other kings also.

The word of the Lord; his purpose, his threats too by his prophet.

Canaan; that part that the Philistines did by three keep from the Jews.

I will even destroy thee: though the Chaldeans be the men that shall destroy, yet the Lord will do it also; they his servants, he chief, in doing it.

There shall be no inhabitant; no more cities, nor citizens to dwell therein.

Verse 6

This confirms the former, tells us what shall be in those parts; instead of cities full of rich citizens, there shall be cottages for shepherds watching over their flocks.

Verse 7

The coast, the sea-coast, the land of the Philistines,

shall be for the remnant, either that escaped, as some did, or else survived the captivity;

of the house of Judah; the two tribes, one named, both included.

They shall feed thereupon; their Rocks.

In the houses of Ashkelon, in places where houses of Ashkelon formerly stood,

shall they lie down in the evening; both shepherds and flocks too.

The Lord, the everlasting Jehovah,

their God, from their fathers by covenant,

shall visit them, in mercy remembering his covenant with them,

and turn away their captivity, or shall send to receive their prisoners or captives; or return their captivity, and by the command of Cyrus give them liberty of returning into their own country.

Verse 8

I have heard: either the prophet for himself, or for the people, speaks this; or else, more likely, in the name of God, assures the Jews that God had heard, observed, resented, and was highly displeased with that he heard.

The reproach of Moab; a people of near kin to the Jews, born of Lot’s daughter, seated eastward of Canaan, upon the Dead Sea and Jordan, a powerful people, and as proud; whose pride broke out on all occasions against the Jews, as appears from first to last: Isaiah 16:6, and Jeremiah 48:29,30, brand them as very proud.

The revilings of the children of Ammon; a people as near as Moab to Jewish blood, and as bitter against them, Nehemiah 4:2,3, bitter scoffers and jeerers.

Whereby they have reproached my people; either in the war, or at the taking of Jerusalem, or when the captive Jews were led by their borders into captivity: Ezekiel 25:3 puts these all together.

Magnified themselves; either boasting what they themselves were, or what they would have done, or what they will do against Israel, recovering their old pretended right and estate.

Against their border; invading their frontiers, and spoiling them with insolence.

I have heard: either the prophet for himself, or for the people, speaks this; or else, more likely, in the name of God, assures the Jews that God had heard, observed, resented, and was highly displeased with that he heard.

The reproach of Moab; a people of near kin to the Jews, born of Lot’s daughter, seated eastward of Canaan, upon the Dead Sea and Jordan, a powerful people, and as proud; whose pride broke out on all occasions against the Jews, as appears from first to last: Isaiah 16:6, and Jeremiah 48:29,30, brand them as very proud.

The revilings of the children of Ammon; a people as near as Moab to Jewish blood, and as bitter against them, Nehemiah 4:2,3, bitter scoffers and jeerers.

Whereby they have reproached my people; either in the war, or at the taking of Jerusalem, or when the captive Jews were led by their borders into captivity: Ezekiel 25:3 puts these all together.

Magnified themselves; either boasting what they themselves were, or what they would have done, or what they will do against Israel, recovering their old pretended right and estate.

Against their border; invading their frontiers, and spoiling them with insolence.

I have heard: either the prophet for himself, or for the people, speaks this; or else, more likely, in the name of God, assures the Jews that God had heard, observed, resented, and was highly displeased with that he heard.

The reproach of Moab; a people of near kin to the Jews, born of Lot’s daughter, seated eastward of Canaan, upon the Dead Sea and Jordan, a powerful people, and as proud; whose pride broke out on all occasions against the Jews, as appears from first to last: Isaiah 16:6, and Jeremiah 48:29,30, brand them as very proud.

The revilings of the children of Ammon; a people as near as Moab to Jewish blood, and as bitter against them, Nehemiah 4:2,3, bitter scoffers and jeerers.

Whereby they have reproached my people; either in the war, or at the taking of Jerusalem, or when the captive Jews were led by their borders into captivity: Ezekiel 25:3 puts these all together.

Magnified themselves; either boasting what they themselves were, or what they would have done, or what they will do against Israel, recovering their old pretended right and estate.

Against their border; invading their frontiers, and spoiling them with insolence.

I have heard: either the prophet for himself, or for the people, speaks this; or else, more likely, in the name of God, assures the Jews that God had heard, observed, resented, and was highly displeased with that he heard.

The reproach of Moab; a people of near kin to the Jews, born of Lot’s daughter, seated eastward of Canaan, upon the Dead Sea and Jordan, a powerful people, and as proud; whose pride broke out on all occasions against the Jews, as appears from first to last: Isaiah 16:6, and Jeremiah 48:29,30, brand them as very proud.

The revilings of the children of Ammon; a people as near as Moab to Jewish blood, and as bitter against them, Nehemiah 4:2,3, bitter scoffers and jeerers.

Whereby they have reproached my people; either in the war, or at the taking of Jerusalem, or when the captive Jews were led by their borders into captivity: Ezekiel 25:3 puts these all together.

Magnified themselves; either boasting what they themselves were, or what they would have done, or what they will do against Israel, recovering their old pretended right and estate.

Against their border; invading their frontiers, and spoiling them with insolence.

Verse 9

As I live; the most solemn oath, fit for none but God himself to use: see Ezekiel 14:16.

Saith the Lord of hosts, who have all things at my disposal, and can arm all creatures against these proud revilers.

The God of Israel, who by covenant am Israel’s God, and Israel is my people, in whose reproaches I am reproached.

Shall be as Sodom: this is a proverbial speech in Scripture phrase to speak great destruction, as Isaiah 1:9. Moab and Ammon were not destroyed by fire, as Sodom and Gomorrah; but the next words are an explication of these.

The breeding of nettles; not cultivated, but run over with nettles, as if it were only to breed them.

And salt-pits; a salt, dry, barren earth, fit only to dig salt out of.

A perpetual desolation; never more to be manured and inhabited, or not for a long, a very long time.

The residue; either the few left with Gedaliah, or the remnant that returned out of Babylon.

Shall spoil them; provoked by the injuries of Moab and Ammon, shall take arms, overcome, and spoil them.

Shall possess them; settle upon their lands, and dwell in those parts that are fit for habitation.

Verse 10

This shall they have; this grievous ruin like Sodom’s, this just retaliation; they insulted over Israel, Israel shall tread on them.

For their pride; haughty mind and carriage: see Zephaniah 2:8.

Reproached; defamed, spoken lies and scandals against the Jews, lessening them.

Magnified themselves; their persons and exploits.

Against the people of the Lord of hosts; against the only people of the Lord of hosts, who suffered reproach with his people and in them, for Moabites and Ammonites, as others, boasted of their gods above the true God:

Verse 11

The Lord will be terrible; or, the Lord, who is to be feared, is against or above them, and will make it appear that he is terrible in his doings.

Unto them; Moabites and Ammonites, and their gods, of whom they gloried.

He will famish; starve; though now their altars are filled with sacrifices, and their bowls run over, as if they designed to make their gods fat; but they shall want their sacrifices and drink offerings, these shall be few or quite cease, and their priests grow lean. There shall be a consumption among them all.

All the gods, idols, heathen gods,

of the earth; of those lands, Dagon, Chemosh, Molech, &c., that are gods no where else but on earth, and among the deceived; or gods of the earth., as sons of the earth, vile, spurious gods.

Men shall worship him; men of that country whose gods are undone, or all men, shall know, own, and worship the God of Israel.

Every one from his place, where he dwelleth, not only at Jerusalem, or in this mount, but every where.

All the isles; either literally, as we now see it fulfilled, or as the Jews interpret isles to be transmarine places. So they wait for his law, as foretold Isaiah 42:4.

Of the heathen; of all nations in all parts of the world. This is eminently fulfilled by the prevailing of the gospel.

Verse 12

The prophet doth not speak of the African Ethiopians, south of Egypt, but of the Arabian Ethiopians, much nearer to Canaan, whose country was called Cusaea, with the addition Ethiopia Cusaea. See Habakkuk 3:7.

Ye shall be slain, punished by war, and your people cut off,

by my sword; Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldeans, called here God’s sword, for God employed and prospered them.

Verse 13

And he, the Lord God of Israel, or the Chaldean monarch as God’s servant herein,

will stretch out his hand, engage all his power, and use it to the utmost, against the north, i.e. as follows, Assyria, which lay northward of Judea, but more due north from Babylon, if I mistake not.

Destroy Assyria; overthrow that great and ancient kingdom of Assyria. of which more at large in Nahum. Nineveh; chief city of that kingdom. See Nahum 1:1. A desolation; most desolate, Nahum 3:10-12.

And dry like a wilderness; will turn those well-watered places into dry, thirsty, and barren land, as a wilderness.

Verse 14

Nineveh shall be so razed that flocks of cattle shall lie down in the midst of it, as before of the Philistines, Zephaniah 2:6.

All the beasts of the nations; all sorts of beasts which are found in those countries, the tame under the girard of watching shepherds, and wild ones seeking their prey, will attend about those places.

The cormorant and the bittern; birds that are solitary, and delight in desolate places, in reedy fens, where they seek their food, and are looked on as unlucky birds.

Shall lodge in the upper lintels; shall either make their nests there, or seek and choose their lodging there; they shall roost there in the night upon the pillars, or turrets, or pinnacles.

Their voice shall sing in the windows; these doleful creatures shall make a more doleful noise, that shall be all the music to be heard in their desolate windows.

Desolation shall be in the thresholds, the lowest part of their houses; from top to bottom nothing but wastes and ruin; instead of beautiful ladies looking out at windows and doors and singing, now cormorants and bitterns, and their doleful notes.

For he shall uncover the cedar work; or, when the Babylonian hath burnt the houses, or beat down the curious roofs and coverings of cedar, the beauty and the defence of their houses.

Verse 15

This is the rejoicing city: we may suppose the prophet, or the Jews, or all passengers, standing still and wondering, nay, upbraiding Nineveh, all mirth and jollity once, but now all sorrow and grief.

That dwelt carelessly; in so great confidence and security, as if it had been impossible she should ever have fallen from her glory.

That said in her heart; persuaded herself into an opinion very ill becoming any but God himself.

There is none beside me; none that can contend with me, that will be so hardy as to attempt against me, none able to overthrow me. Somewhat like Tyre, Ezekiel 28:12, &o.

How is she become a desolation! she thought none was like her in glory, power, and wealth. now there is none like her indeed, but it is for misery and desolations. It may be either the speech of one that laments and wonders at it, or of one that rejoiceth at it.

A place for beasts to lie down in: where palaces for princes stood, now are places for beasts; where nobles dwelt, now do ignoble cattle couch.

Shall hiss and wag his hand; deride their arrogancy, and condemn their ungodly pride and security, yet with some pity toward this desolate city.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Zephaniah 2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/zephaniah-2.html. 1685.