Zephaniah 2:9

Zephaniah 2:9

Therefore [as] I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God of
Israel
The Lord here swears by himself, by his life; partly to show how provoked he was at, and how grievously he resented, the injuries done to his people; and partly to observe the certain fulfilment of what is after declared; and it might be depended upon it would surely be done, not only because of his word and oath, which are immutable; but because of his ability to do it, as "the Lord of hosts", of armies above and below; and because of the covenant relation that subsisted between him and Israel, being their God; and therefore would avenge the insults and injuries done them: surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as
Gomorrah;
that is, should be utterly destroyed, as these cities were; whose destruction is often made use of to express the utter ruin and destruction of any other people; otherwise it is not to be supposed that these countries were to be destroyed, or were destroyed, in like manner, by fire from heaven; the similitude lies in other things after expressed: [even] the breeding of nettles;
or "left to nettles" F17; or rather to "thorns", as the Targum: and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it "the dryness of thorns", though to a very poor sense. In general the meaning of the phrase is, that those countries should be very barren and desolate, like such places as are overrun with nettles, thorns, briers, and brambles; and these so thick, that there is no passing through them without a man's tearing his garments and his flesh: for Schultens F18, from the use of the word F19 in the Arabic language, shows that the words are to be rendered a "thicket of thorns which tear"; and cut the feet of those that pass through them; and even their whole body, as well as their clothes; and, wherever these grow in such plenty, it is a plain sign of a barren land, as well as what follow: and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation;
signifying that the countries of Moab and Ammon should be waste, barren, and uncultivated, as the above places were, where nothing but nettles grew, as do in great abundance in desolate places; and where saltpits should be, or heaps of salt, as Kimchi interprets it; and wherever salt is found, as Pliny F20 says, it is a barren place, and produces nothing; though Herodotus F21 speaks of places where were hillocks of salt, and very fruitful; and where the people used salt in manuring and improving their ground; which must be accounted for by the difference of climate and soil: this passage is produced by Reland F23 to prove that the lake Asphaltites is not the place, as is commonly believed, where Sodom and Gomorrah stood; since those cities were not overflown, or immersed in and covered with water, but were destroyed by fire and brimstone, and so became desolate; and had no herbs and plants, but nettles, and such like things; and such these countries of Moab and Ammon should be, and ever remain so, at least for a long time; and especially should be desolate and uninhabited by the former possessors of it; see ( Deuteronomy 29:23 ) this was fulfilled about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, when Nebuchadnezzar, as Josephus F24 relates, led his army into Coelesyria, and made war upon the Ammonites and Moabites, and subjected them to him, who were the inhabitant of it, as the same writer says F25: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my
people shall possess them;
that is, the Jews, the remnant of them that returned from Babylon: now these, in the times of the Maccabees, and those that descended from them, seized on several places in these countries, and possessed them; for, after these countries had been subdued and made desolate by Nebuchadnezzar, they became considerable nations again. Josephus F26 says the Moabites in his time were a great nation; though in the third century, as Origen F1 relates, they went under the common name of Arabians; and, even long before the times of Josephus, they were called Arabian Moabites, as he himself observes; when he tells us that Alexander Jannaeus subdued them, and imposed a tribute on them; and who also gives us an account of the cities of the Moabites, which were taken and demolished by them, as Essebon, Medaba, Lemba, Oronas, Telithon, Zara, the valley of the Cilicians, and Pella; these he destroyed, because the inhabitants would not promise to conform to the rites and customs of the Jews F2; though Josephus ben Gorion, who also makes mention of these cities as taken by the same prince, says F3 he did not demolish them, because they entered into a covenant and were circumcised; and he speaks of ten fortified cities of the king of Syria, added at the same time to the kingdom of Israel, not destroyed: likewise the children of Ammon, after their captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, became a powerful people: we read of the country of the Ammonites in

``Then Jason, who had undermined his own brother, being undermined by another, was compelled to flee into the country of the Ammonites.'' (2 Maccabees 4:26)
and, in the times of Judas Maccabeus, Timotheus, their general, got together a strong and numerous army, which being worsted by Judas, he took their city Jasoron, or Jaser,
``Afterward he passed over to the children of Ammon, where he found a mighty power, and much people, with Timotheus their captain.'' (1 Maccabees 5:6)
carried their wives and children captive, and burnt their city F4; and this people, as well as the Moabites in the third century, as before observed, were swallowed up under the general name of Arabians; and neither of them are any more; all which has fulfilled this prophecy, and those of Jeremiah and Amos concerning them: this, likewise, in a spiritual sense, might have a further accomplishment in the first times of the Gospel, when it was preached in these countries by the apostles, and churches were formed in them; and may be still further accomplished in the latter day, when those parts of the world shall be possessed by converted Jews and by Gentile Christians. Kimchi owns it may be interpreted as future, of what shall be in the times of the Messiah.
FOOTNOTES:

F17 (lwrx qvmm) "locus urticae derelictus", Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. col. 872. Stockius, p. 629.; "derelictio urticae", Burkius. So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 68. 2.
F18 De Defect. Hodiern. Ling. Heb. p. 32.
F19 "laceravit, laceratus est", Golius, col. 2231. Castel. col. 2165.
F20 Nat. Hist. l. 31. c. 7. "Salsa autem tellus----frugibus infelix." Virgil. Georgic. l. 2.
F21 Melpomene, sive l. 4. c. 182, 183.
F23 Palestina Illustrata, l. 1. c. 38. p. 254, 255.
F24 Antiqu. l. 10. c. 9. sect. 7.
F25 Ibid. l. 1. c. 11. sect. 5.
F26 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 11. sect. 5.
F1 Comment. in Job, fol. 2. 1. A.
F2 Antiqu. l. 13. c. 13. sect. 5. c. 15. sect. 4. De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 4. sect. 2.
F3 Hist. Heb. l. 4. c. 12. p. 297.
F4 Joseph. Antiqu. l. 12. c. 8. sect. 1. 1 Maccab. v. 6.
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