I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah
Under whom the tribe of Benjamin is comprehended, which are only designed; the ten tribes having been carried captive in Hezekiah's time many years before this: not "to Judah", as beckoning to come and hearken to him, as calling to repentance and reformation; this he had done, but was rejected, and therefore determines to stretch out his hand "upon" them; nor "over Judah", to protect and defend them; but "upon Judah", exerting his power, stirring up his wrath, and executing his vengeance; and this is dreadful and intolerable to bear! and when his hand is stretched out, it cannot be turned back; and when laid on, can never be removed, till he pleases: and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
the metropolis of Judea, the royal seat of the kings of the house of David; where were the temple of the Lord; the ark, the symbol of his presence; the altar, where his priests sacrificed, and the place where his people worshipped; and yet these inhabitants should not escape the hand of the Lord, having sinned against him; nor should these things be any security to them: and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place;
either what of the idolatry of Baal, or belonging to it, remained among the Jews after the ten tribes were carried captive; which must be the sense, if this prophecy was before the reformation was begun by Josiah; or, if after, the meaning is, what was left unremoved by him, as any of the images of Baal, or altars erected for his worship, or vessels consecrated to his service, or groves that were for his use; all which would be cut off and destroyed by the Chaldeans, as well as the worshippers of him that remained: [and] the name of the Chemarims with the priests;
that is, the priests of Baal, with the priests of the tribe of Levi, who sometimes tampered and officiated with them in idolatrous service; for the word "Chemarim" is translated "idolatrous priests", ( 2 Kings 23:5 ) said to be put down by Josiah, in whose days Zephaniah prophesied; and must be the same with these, and it is used for such in ( Hosea 10:5 ) so called, either from the black garments they wore, as some think; or from the colour of their faces, smutted with the smoke of the incense they frequently offered; or of the fires in which they sacrificed, or made the children to pass through to Molech. Hillerus F11 thinks they are the same with those heathen priests called "Phallophori"; deriving the word from one in the Arabic language, which has the signification of the "Phalli"; which were obscene images, carried about in an impudent manner by the priests of Bacchus, in the performance of his sacred rites: the carrying of them was first instituted by Isis, as Plutarch
F12 says; and if this was the case here, it is no wonder they should be so severely threatened. Some take them to be a sort of servants or ministers to the priests of Baal, who waited on them at the time of service; and so are distinguished from them in this clause, taking the word "priests" in it to design the priests of Baal; and the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "the name of sextons with the priests". The word is used now by the Jews for Popish monks that live in cloisters; and Elias Levita F13 thinks these here are so called from their living in such like recluse places. The Targum is,
``and the name of their worshippers with their priests;''one and the other; priests of Baal, and apostate priests of the Lord; the worshippers of Baal, and those that attend upon his priests, shall all feel the weight of Jehovah's hand, and the lighting down of his arm with indignation.
F11 Onomastic. Sacr. p. 113.
F12 De Iside & Osiride.
F13 Tishbi, p. 163. Vid. Buxtorf. Lex. Talmud. in voce (rmk) .