Zephaniah 2:4

Zephaniah 2:4

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 thither 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; or to alleviate their calamity, seeing their enemies would have no occasion to insult them, and triumph over them, they being, or quickly would be, in the like circumstances. 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 Jeremiah 47:4 Jeremiah 47:5 ) and afterwards taken by Alexander the great; and, having gone through various changes, was in the times of the apostles called Gaza the desert, ( Acts 8:26 ) . There is a beautiful play on words in the words, not to be expressed in an English translation F8. According to Strabo's account F9, the ancient city was about a mile from the haven, for which (he says) it was formerly very illustrious; but was demolished by Alexander, and remained a desert. And so Jerom F11 says, in his time, the place where the ancient city stood scarce afforded any traces of the foundations of it; for that which now is seen (adds he) was built in another place, instead of that which was destroyed: and which, he observes, accounts for the fulfilment of this prophecy: and so Monsieur Thevenot F12 says, the city of Gaza is about two miles from the sea; and was anciently very illustrious, as may be seen by its ruins; and yet, even this must be understood of new Gaza; so a Greek writer F13, of an uncertain age, observes this distinction; and speaks of this and the following places exactly in the order in which they are here,

``after Rhinocorura lies new Gaza, which is the city itself; then "Gaza the desert" (the place here prophesied of); then the city Askelon; after that Azotus (or Ashdod); then the city Accaron'' (or Ekron):
and Ashkelon a desolation;
this was another lordship belonging to the Philistines, that suffered at the same time as Gaza did by Nebuchadnezzar, ( Jeremiah 47:5 Jeremiah 47:7 ) . This place was ten miles from Gaza, as Mr. Sandys F14 says, and who adds, and now of no note; and Strabo F15 speaks of it in his time as a small city; indeed new Ashkelon is said by Benjamin of Tudela F16 to be a very large and beautiful city; but then he distinguishes it from old Ashkelon, here prophesied of; and which (he says) is four "parsoe", or sixteen miles, from the former, and now lies waste and desolate: 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; they shall have no occasion to use any secret stratagems, or to make night work of it; and which would be very incommodious and distressing to the inhabitants, to be turned out at noon day, and be obliged to travel in the heat of the sun, which in those eastern countries at noon day beats very strong. This place was distant from old Ashkelon four "parsae", or twenty four miles, as Benjamin Tudelensis F17 affirms; and with which agrees Diodorus Siculus {r}, who says, that from Gaza to Azotus are two hundred and seventy furlongs, which make thirty four miles, ten from Gaza to Ashkelon, and twenty four from thence to Azotus or Ashdod. This place, according to the above Jewish traveller F19, is now called Palmis, which he says is the Ashdod that belonged to the Philistines, now waste and desolate; by which this prophecy is fulfilled. It was once a very large and famous city, strong and well fortified; and held out a siege of twenty nine years against Psamittichus king of Egypt, as Herodotus F20 relates, but now destroyed; see ( Isaiah 20:1 ) : 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 F21, 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. Jerom F23 observes, that some think that Accaron (or Ekron) is the same with Strato's tower, afterwards called Caesarea; and so the Talmudists say F24, Ekron is Caesarea; which is not at all probable: he further observes, that there is a large village of the Jews, which in his days was called Accaron, and lay between Azotus and Jamnia to the east; but Breidenbachius F25 relates, that, in his time, Accaron was only a small cottage or hut, yet retaining its ancient name; so utterly rooted up is this place, which once was a considerable principality. Gath is not mentioned, which is the other of the five principalities, because it was now, as Kimchi says, in the hands of the kings of Judah.
FOOTNOTES:

F8 (hbwze hze) .
F9 Geograph. l. 16. p. 502.
F11 De locis Hebraicis, fol. 91. K.
F12 Travels, par. 1. B. 2. c. 36. p. 180.
F13 Apud Reland. Palestina Illustrata, l. 2. p. 509.
F14 Travels, p. 151.
F15 Geograph. l. 16. p. 502.
F16 Itinorarium, p. 51.
F17 Ibid.
F18 Bibliothec. l. 19. p. 723.
F19 Itinerarium, p. 51.
F20 Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 157.
F21 (rqet Nwrqe) .
F23 De locis Heb. fol. 88. D.
F24 T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 6. 1.
F25 Apud Adrichom. Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 20.
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