Zephaniah 1

1 God's Message to Zephaniah son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah. It came during the reign of Josiah son of Amon, who was king of Judah:
2 "I'm going to make a clean sweep of the earth, a thorough housecleaning." God's Decree.
3 "Men and women and animals, including birds and fish - Anything and everything that causes sin - will go, but especially people.
4 "I'll start with Judah and everybody who lives in Jerusalem. I'll sweep the place clean of every trace of the sex-and-religion Baal shrines and their priests.
5 I'll get rid of the people who sneak up to their rooftops at night to worship the star gods and goddesses; Also those who continue to worship God but cover their bases by worshiping other king-gods as well;
6 Not to mention those who've dumped God altogether, no longer giving him a thought or offering a prayer.
7 "Quiet now! Reverent silence before me, God, the Master! Time's up. My Judgment Day is near: The Holy Day is all set, the invited guests made holy.
8 On the Holy Day, God's Judgment Day, I will punish the leaders and the royal sons; I will punish those who dress up like foreign priests and priestesses,
9 Who introduce pagan prayers and practices; And I'll punish all who import pagan superstitions that turn holy places into hellholes.
10 Judgment Day!" God's Decree! "Cries of panic from the city's Fish Gate, Cries of terror from the city's Second Quarter, sounds of great crashing from the hills!
11 Wail, you shopkeepers on Market Street! Moneymaking has had its day. The god Money is dead.
12 On Judgment Day, I'll search through every closet and alley in Jerusalem. I'll find and punish those who are sitting it out, fat and lazy, amusing themselves and taking it easy, Who think, 'God doesn't do anything, good or bad. He isn't involved, so neither are we.'
13 But just wait. They'll lose everything they have, money and house and land. They'll build a house and never move in. They'll plant vineyards and never taste the wine. A Day of Darkness at Noon
14 "The Great Judgment Day of God is almost here. It's countdown time: . . . seven, six, five, four . . . Bitter and noisy cries on my Judgment Day, even strong men screaming for help.
15 Judgment Day is payday - my anger paid out: a day of distress and anguish, a day of catastrophic doom, a day of darkness at noon, a day of black storm clouds,
16 a day of bloodcurdling war cries, as forts are assaulted, as defenses are smashed.
17 I'll make things so bad they won't know what hit them. They'll walk around groping like the blind. They've sinned against God! Their blood will be poured out like old dishwater, their guts shoveled into slop buckets.
18 Don't plan on buying your way out. Your money is worthless for this. This is the Day of God's Judgment - my wrath! I care about sin with fiery passion - A fire to burn up the corrupted world, a wildfire finish to the corrupting people."

Zephaniah 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

Zephaniah excites to repentance, foretells the destruction of the enemies of the Jews, and comforts the pious among them with promises of future blessings, the restoration of their nation, and the prosperity of the church in the latter days.

Threatenings against sinners. (1-6) More threatenings. (7-13) Distress from the approaching judgments. (14-18)

Verses 1-6 Ruin is coming, utter ruin; destruction from the Almighty. The servants of God all proclaim, There is no peace for the wicked. The expressions are figurative, speaking every where desolation; the land shall be left without inhabitants. The sinners to be consumed are, the professed idolaters, and those that worship Jehovah and idols, or swear to the Lord, and to Malcham. Those that think to divide their affections and worship between God and idols, will come short of acceptance with God; for what communion can there be between light and darkness? If Satan have half, he will have all; if the Lord have but half, he will have none. Neglect of God shows impiety and contempt. May none of us be among those who draw back unto perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Verses 7-13 God's day is at hand; the punishment of presumptuous sinners is a sacrifice to the justice of God. The Jewish royal family shall be reckoned with for their pride and vanity; and those that leap on the threshold, invading their neighbours' rights, and seizing their possessions. The trading people and the rich merchants are called to account. Secure and careless people are reckoned with. They are secure and easy; they say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; that is, they deny his dispensing rewards and punishments. But in the day of the Lord's judgment, it will clearly appear that those who perish, fall a sacrifice to Divine justice for breaking God's law, and because they have no interest by faith in the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice.

Verses 14-18 This warning of approaching destruction, is enough to make the sinners in Zion tremble; it refers to the great day of the Lord, the day in which he will show himself by taking vengeance on them. This day of the Lord is very near; it is a day of God's wrath, wrath to the utmost. It will be a day of trouble and distress to sinners. Let them not be laid asleep by the patience of God. What is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? And what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Let us flee from the wrath to come, and choose the good part that shall never be taken from us; then we shall be prepared for every event; nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ZEPHANIAH

This book in some Hebrew copies is called "Sepher Zephaniah", the Book of Zephaniah. Its title, in the Vulgate Latin version, is, the Prophecy of Zephaniah; and, in the Syriac version, the Prophecy of the Prophet Zephaniah; and so the Arabic version calls him a prophet; and he is the last of the minor prophets that prophesied before the Babylonish captivity. The time of his prophesying, as well as his, parentage, are expressed Zep 1:1, and therefore need not be inquired into; only the sad mistake of Hobbes {a} may be observed, who makes him to be the most ancient of the prophets, and to be contemporary with Amaziah and Uzziah, kings of Judah, when he is expressly said to prophesy in the days of Josiah. Pseudo-Epiphanius {b} calls him a prophet of Sarabatha, of a mountain of that name, and says he was of the tribe of Simeon; and in this Isidore {c} agrees with him; and both affirm that he died and was buried in his own native place; but the author of the Cippi Hebraici {d} says he was buried at Geba, in Mount Lebanon, in the midst of a cave shut up, where his school continues; and from which place the clouds never depart, and where also are flowing fountains. His name, according to Jerom, signifies either "the Lord's watch tower", or "watchman"; or else "the secret of the Lord"; or, "his hidden one"; deriving his name, either from hpu, which signifies to "look out", as a watchman from his tower; or from Npu, "to hide"; which latter derivation is best; and some interpret it "a revealer of the secrets", or "hidden things, of the Lord"; and take it to be much the same with Zaphnathpaaneah, the name given to Joseph by Pharaoh, Ge 41:45, and is of the same signification: but Hillerus {e} interprets the name of Zephaniah, "the Lord hid himself"; which agrees with the times in which he lived. That this prophecy was wrote by himself, there need be no doubt of; nor of the authenticity of it, being always received by the Jewish synagogue as authentic; and as it appears to be from its style and manner of composition; from the subject matter of it agreeing with other parts of Scripture, especially with Jeremiah and Ezekiel; and from the accomplishment of various prophecies in it. There are indeed some spurious things which have been ascribed to him, as the "analepsis" or assumption of Zephaniah the prophet, and the prophecy of Zephaniah, consisting of six hundred verses; but these are apocryphal, and have no likeness to this prophecy; in which he foretells the destruction of the Jews by the Chaldeans for their sins, which he inveighs against, and calls them to repentance for them, as also the ruin of many other nations, all which came to pass; as well as he prophesies of the calling of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Jews, and of the comfortable state of the church in Gospel times, and especially in the latter day.

{a} Leviathan, c. 33. {b} De Prophet. Vita & Interitu, c. 19. {c} De Vita & Morte Sanct. c. 48. {d} P. 50. Ed. Hottinger. {e} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 471, 952.

\\INTRODUCTION TO ZEPHANIAH 1\\

After the title of the book, Zep 1:1, follows the Lord's threatening of the land of Judea with an utter consumption of it, and of all creatures in it, for the sins of its inhabitants, especially their idolatry and apostasy, Zep 1:2-6, and this is represented under the notion of a sacrifice, to which guests are bid; and which even princes, and those of the blood royal, should not escape, nor ministers of state, or such who filled their masters' houses with violence, Zep 1:7-9. Some particular places are mentioned, where there should be a great noise of crying and howling, and especially Jerusalem, which should be diligently searched, and its goods become a booty, and its houses desolate, Zep 1:10-13. This destruction is spoken of as near at hand, and is described as very terrible and distressing, Zep 1:14-17 and as inevitable; nothing would be able to deliver from it, Zep 1:18.

Zephaniah 1 Commentaries