APPROACH OF THE
JUDGMENT, AND THE
1. days of Josiah--Had their idolatries been under former kings, they
might have said, Our kings have forced us to this and that. But under
Josiah, who did all in his power to reform them, they have no such
son of Amon--the idolater, whose bad practices the Jews clung to,
rather than the good example of Josiah, his son; so incorrigible were
they in sin.
Judah--Israel's ten tribes had gone into captivity before this.
2. utterly consume--from a root to "sweep away," or "scrape off
Margin, and here.
from off the land--of Judah.
3. Enumeration in detail of the "all things"
the stumbling-blocks--idols which cause Judah to offend or stumble
(Eze 14:3, 4, 7).
with the wicked--The idols and their worshippers shall be involved
in a common destruction.
4. stretch out mine hand--indicating some remarkable and unusual work
(Isa 5:25; 9:12, 17, 21).
Judah--including Benjamin. These two tribes are to suffer, which
thought themselves perpetually secure, because they escaped the
captivity in which the ten tribes were involved.
Jerusalem--the fountainhead of the evil. God begins with His
and those who are nigh Him
the remnant of Baal--the remains of Baal worship, which as yet Josiah
was unable utterly to eradicate in remote places. Baal was the
Phœnician tutelary god. From the time of the Judges
Israel had fallen into this idolatry; and Manasseh lately had set up
this idol within Jehovah's temple itself
(2Ki 21:3, 5, 7).
Josiah began his reformation in the twelfth year of his reign
(2Ch 34:4, 8),
and in the eighteenth had as far as possible completed it.
Chemarims--idol priests, who had not reached the age of puberty;
meaning "ministers of the gods" [SERVIUS on
Æneid, 11], the same name as the Tyrian Camilli, r
and l being interchangeable (compare
Margin). Josiah is expressly said
Margin) to have "put down the Chemarim." The Hebrew root
means "black" (from the black garments which they wore or the
marks which they branded on their foreheads); or "zealous," from
their idolatrous fanaticism. The very "name," as well as themselves,
shall be forgotten.
the priests--of Jehovah, of Aaronic descent, who ought to have used
all their power to eradicate, but who secretly abetted, idolatry
Eze 8:1-18; 22:26; 44:10).
From the priests Zephaniah passes to the people.
5. worship the host of heaven--Saba: whence, in contrast to
Sabeanism, Jehovah is called Lord of Sabaoth.
upon the housetops--which were flat
(2Ki 23:5, 6, 12;
Jer 19:13; 32:29).
swear by the Lord--rather, "swear to
solemnly dedicating themselves to Him (compare
and--"and yet (with strange inconsistency,
swear by Malcham," that is, "their king" [MAURER]: the same as Molech (see on
and "Milcom the god of . . . Ammon"
If Satan have half the heart, he will have all; if the Lord have but
half offered to Him, He will have none.
6. This verse describes more comprehensively those guilty of defection
from Jehovah in any way
(Jer 2:13, 17).
7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord--
Let the earth be silent at His approach [MAURER]. Or, "Thou whosoever hast been wont to speak
against God, as if He had no care about earthly affairs, cease thy
murmurs and self-justifications; submit thyself to God, and repent in
Lord . . . prepared a sacrifice--namely, a slaughter
of the guilty Jews, the victims due to His justice
bid his guests--literally, "sanctified His called ones" (compare
It enhances the bitterness of the judgment that the heathen Chaldeans
should be sanctified, or consecrated as it were, by God as His
priests, and be called to eat the flesh of the elect people; as
on feast days the priests used to feast among themselves on the remains
of the sacrifices [CALVIN]. English Version
takes it not of the priests, but the guests bidden, who
also had to "sanctify" or purify themselves before coming to the
(1Sa 9:13, 22; 16:5).
Nebuchadnezzar was bidden to come to take vengeance on guilty
8. the princes--who ought to have been an example of good to others,
but were ringleaders in all evil.
the king's children--fulfilled on Zedekiah's children
and previously, on Jehoahaz and Eliakim, the sons of Josiah
(2Ki 23:31, 36;
2Ki 20:18; 21:13).
Huldah the prophetess
intimated that which Zephaniah now more expressly foretells.
all such as are clothed with strange apparel--the princes
or courtiers who attired themselves in costly garments, imported
from abroad; partly for the sake of luxury, and partly to ingratiate
themselves with foreign great nations whose costume as well as their
idolatries they imitated, [CALVIN]; whereas in
costume, as in other respects, God would have them to be separate from
the nations. GROTIUS refers the "strange apparel"
to garments forbidden by the law, for example, men's garments worn by
women, and vice versa, a heathen usage in the worship of Mars and Venus
9. those that leap on the threshold--the servants of the princes, who,
after having gotten prey (like hounds) for their masters, leap
exultingly on their masters' thresholds; or, on the thresholds of the
houses which they break into [CALVIN].
JEROME explains it of those
who walk up the steps into the sanctuary with haughtiness.
translates, "Leap over the threshold"; namely, in imitation of the
Philistine custom of not treading on the threshold, which arose from the
head and hands of Dragon being broken off on the threshold before the
"thy people . . . are soothsayers like the
Philistines." CALVIN'S view agrees best with
the latter clause of the verse.
fill . . . masters' houses with violence, &c.--that is, with goods
obtained with violence, &c.
10. fish gate--
Ne 3:3; 12:39).
Situated on the east of the lower city, north of the sheep gate [MAURER]: near the stronghold of David in Milo, between
Zion and the lower city, towards the west [JEROME]. This verse describes the state of the city when
it was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar. It was through the fish gate that he
entered the city. It received its name from the fish market which was
near it. Through it passed those who used to bring fish from the lake
of Tiberias and Jordan. It answers to what is now called the Damascus
the second--namely, the gate which was second in dignity
[CALVIN]. Or, the second or lower part of
the city. Appropriately, the fish gate, or extreme end of the lower
part of the city, first resounds with the cries of the citizens as the
foe approaches; then, as he advances further, that part of the city
itself, namely, its inner part; lastly, when the foe is actually come
and has burst in, the hills, the higher ones, especially Zion and
Moriah, on which the upper city and temple were founded [MAURER]. The second, or lower city, answers to
Akra, north of Zion, and separated from it by the valley of Tyropœon
running down to the pool of Siloam [HENDERSON].
The Hebrew is translated "college,"
so VATABLUS would translate here.
hills--not here those outside, but those within the walls: Zion,
Moriah, and Ophel.
11. Maktesh--rather, "the mortar," a name applied to the valley of
Siloam from its hollow shape [JEROME].
The valley between Zion and
Mount Olivet, at the eastern extremity of Mount Moriah, where the
"The Canaanite," namely, merchant [Chaldee Version]. The
Tyropœon (that is, cheese-makers') valley below Mount Akra
[ROSENMULLER]. Better Jerusalem itself, so
called as lying in the midst of hills
and as doomed to be the scene of its people being destroyed as corn or
drugs are pounded in a mortar
[MAURER]. Compare the similar image of a "pot"
(Eze 24:3, 6).
The reason for the destruction is subjoined, namely, its merchant
people's greediness of gain.
all the merchant people--literally, the "Canaanite people": irony: all
the merchant people of Jerusalem are very Canaanites in greed for
gain and in idolatries (see on
all . . . that bear silver--loading themselves with that which will
prove but a burden
12. search . . . with candles--or lamps; so as to leave no dark corner
in it wherein sin can escape the punishment, of which the Chaldeans are
My instruments (compare
settled on their lees--"hardened" or crusted; image from the crust
formed at the bottom of wines long left undisturbed
The effect of wealthy undisturbed ease ("lees") on the ungodly
is hardening: they become stupidly secure (compare
Lord will not do good . . . evil--They deny that God regards human
affairs, or renders good to the good; or evil to the evil, but that all
things go haphazard
13. Therefore their goods shall become a booty, &c.--Fulfilling the
De 28:30, 39
14. voice of . . . day of . . . Lord--that is, Jehovah ushering in that
day with a roar of vengeance against the guilty
They who will not now heed
His voice by His prophets, must heed it when uttered by the avenging
mighty . . . shall cry . . . bitterly--in hopeless despair; the might
on which Jerusalem now prides itself, shall then fail utterly.
15. wasteness . . . desolation--The Hebrew terms by their
similarity of sounds, Shoah, Umeshoah, express the dreary monotony
of desolation (see on
16. the trumpet--namely, of the besieging enemy
alarm--the war shout [MAURER].
towers--literally, "angles"; for city walls used not to be built
in a direct line, but with sinuous curves and angles, so that besiegers
advancing might be assailed not only in front, but on both sides,
caught as it were in a cul-de-sac; towers were built especially at the
angles. So TACITUS describes the walls of
Jerusalem [Histories, 5.11.7].
17. like blind men--unable to see whither to turn themselves so as to
find an escape from existing evils.
flesh--Hebrew, "bread"; so the Arabic term for "bread" is used
18. Neither . . . silver nor . . . gold shall . . .
deliver them, &c.--
fire of his jealousy--
His wrath jealous for His honor consuming the guilty like fire.
make even a sp