Zephaniah 1

Listen to Zephaniah 1
1 The LORD gave this message to Zephaniah when Josiah son of Amon was king of Judah. Zephaniah was the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah.
2 “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” says the LORD .
3 “I will sweep away people and animals alike. I will sweep away the birds of the sky and the fish in the sea. I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble, and I will wipe humanity from the face of the earth,” says the LORD .
4 “I will crush Judah and Jerusalem with my fist and destroy every last trace of their Baal worship. I will put an end to all the idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear.
5 For they go up to their roofs and bow down to the sun, moon, and stars. They claim to follow the LORD, but then they worship Molech, too.
6 And I will destroy those who used to worship me but now no longer do. They no longer ask for the LORD ’s guidance or seek my blessings.”
7 Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD, for the awesome day of the LORD ’s judgment is near. The LORD has prepared his people for a great slaughter and has chosen their executioners.
8 “On that day of judgment,” says the LORD, “I will punish the leaders and princes of Judah and all those following pagan customs.
9 Yes, I will punish those who participate in pagan worship ceremonies, and those who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.
10 “On that day,” says the LORD, “a cry of alarm will come from the Fish Gate and echo throughout the New Quarter of the city. And a great crash will sound from the hills.
11 Wail in sorrow, all you who live in the market area, for all the merchants and traders will be destroyed.
12 “I will search with lanterns in Jerusalem’s darkest corners to punish those who sit complacent in their sins. They think the LORD will do nothing to them, either good or bad.
13 So their property will be plundered, their homes will be ransacked. They will build new homes but never live in them. They will plant vineyards but never drink wine from them.
14 “That terrible day of the LORD is near. Swiftly it comes— a day of bitter tears, a day when even strong men will cry out.
15 It will be a day when the LORD ’s anger is poured out— a day of terrible distress and anguish, a day of ruin and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness,
16 a day of trumpet calls and battle cries. Down go the walled cities and the strongest battlements!
17 “Because you have sinned against the LORD, I will make you grope around like the blind. Your blood will be poured into the dust, and your bodies will lie rotting on the ground.”
18 Your silver and gold will not save you on that day of the LORD ’s anger. For the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy. He will make a terrifying end of all the people on earth.

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.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  • [b]. Hebrew Malcam, a variant spelling of Molech; or it could possibly mean their king.
  • [c]. Hebrew has prepared a sacrifice and sanctified his guests.
  • [d]. Or the Second Quarter, a newer section of Jerusalem. Hebrew reads the Mishneh.
  • [e]. Or in the valley, a lower section of Jerusalem. Hebrew reads the Maktesh.
  • [f]. Or the people living in the land.

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