Zephaniah 1

Verse 20. The Lord is in his holy temple] Jehovah has his

temple, the place where he is to be worshipped; but there

there is no image. Oracles, however, are given forth; and every

word of them is truth, and is fulfilled in its season. And this

temple and its worship are holy; no abomination can be practiced

there, and every thing in it leads to holiness of heart and life.

Let all the earth keep silence before him.] Let all be dumb. Let

none of them dare to open their mouths in the presence of Jehovah.

He alone is Sovereign. He alone is the arbiter of life and death.

Let all hear his commands with the deepest respect, obey them with

the promptest diligence, and worship him with the most profound

reverence. When an Asiatic sovereign goes to the mosque on any of

the eastern festivals, such as the Bairham, the deepest silence

reigns among all his retinue, viziers, foreign ambassadors, &c.

They all bow respectfully before him; but no word is spoken, no

sound uttered. It is to this species of reverence that the prophet

alludes, and with this he concludes the prophetic part of this

book. What God has threatened or promised, that he will fulfil.

Let every soul bow before him, and submit to his authority.




Chronological Notes relative to this Book, upon the

supposition that it was written in the twelfth year

of the reign of Josiah, king of Judah

-Year from the Creation, according to Archbishop Usher, 3374.

-Year of the Julian Period, 4084.

-Year since the Flood, 1718.

-Year from the vocation of Abram, 1291.

-Year from the foundation of Solomon's temple, 382.

-Year since the division of Solomon's monarchy into the kingdoms

of Israel and Judah, 346.

-Year since the conquest of Coroebus at Olympia, usually called

the first Olympiad, 147.

-Third year of the thirty-seventh Olympiad.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to the Varronian

computation, 124.

-Year of the era of Nabonassar, 118.

-Year since the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by

Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 92.

-Year before the birth of Christ, 626.

-Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 630.

-Cycle of the Sun, 24.

-Cycle of the Moon, 18.

-Eighteenth year of Phraortes, king of Media. This monarch is

supposed by some to have been the same with the Arphaxad of

the Apocrypha.

-Eleventh year of Philip I., king of Macedon.

-Twenty-second year of Archidamus, king of Lacedaemon, of the

family of the Proclidae.

-Fifteenth year of Eurycrates II., king of Lacedaemon, of the

family of the Eurysthenidae.

-Twenty-ninth year of Cypselus, who had seized upon the

government of Corinth.

-Forty-second year of Psammitichus, king of Egypt, according to


-Tenth year of Kiniladachus, king of Babylon, according to the

same chronologer. This monarch was the immediate predecessor

of Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar.

-Second year of Sadyattes, king of Lydia.

-Eleventh year of Ancus Martius, the fifth king of the Romans.

-Twelfth year of Josiah, king of Judah.


This chapter begins with denouncing God's judgments against

Judah and Jerusalem, 1-3.

Idolaters, and sinners of several other denominations, are then

particularly threatened; and their approaching visitation

enlarged on, by the enumeration of several circumstances which

tend greatly to heighten its terrors, 4-18.


Verse 1. The word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah] Though

this prophet has given us so large a list of his ancestors, yet

little concerning him is known, because we know nothing certain

relative to the persons of the family whose names are here

introduced. We have one chronological note which is of more value

for the correct understanding of his prophecy than the other could

have been, how circumstantially soever it had been delivered;

viz., that he prophesied in the days of Josiah, son of Amon, king

of Judah; and from the description which he gives of the disorders

which prevailed in Judea in his time, it is evident that he must

have prophesied before the reformation made by Josiah, which was

in the eighteenth year of his reign. And as he predicts the

destruction of Nineveh, Zep 2:13, which, as

Calmet remarks, could not have taken place before the sixteenth

of Josiah, allowing with Berosus twenty-one years for the reign of

Nabopolassar over the Chaldeans; we must, therefore, place this

prophecy about the beginning of the reign of Josiah, or from B.C.

640 to B.C. 609. But see the chronological notes.

Verse 2. I will utterly consume all things] All being now ripe

for destruction, I will shortly bring a universal scourge upon the

land. He speaks particularly of the idolaters.

Verse 3. I will consume man and beast] By war, and by

pestilence. Even the waters shall he infected, and the fish

destroyed; the air become contaminated, and the fowls die.

Verse 4. I will cut off the remnant of Baal] I think he refers

here, partly at least, to the reformation which Josiah was to

bring about. See the account, 2Ki 23:5.

The Chemarims] The black-robed priests of different idols.

See Clarke on 2Ki 23:5. These were put down by Josiah.

Verse 5. The host of heaven] Sun, moon, planets, and stars. This

worship was one of the most ancient and the most common of all

species of idolatry; and it had a greater semblance of reason to

recommend it. See 2Ki 23:5, 12; Jer 19:13; 32:29.

That swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham] Associating

the name of an idol with that of the Most High. For Malcham, see

on Ho 4:15, and Am 5:26.

Verse 6. Them that are turned back] Who have forsaken the true

God, and become idolaters.

Nor inquired for him] Have not desired to know his will.

Verse 7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lords God]

has, the same as hush, hist, among us. Remonstrances are now

useless. You had time to acquaint yourselves with God; you would

not: you cry now in vain; destruction is at the door.

The Lord hath prepared a sacrifice] A slaughter of the people.

He hath bid his guests] The Babylonians, to whom he has given a

commission to destroy you. In all festivals sacrifices, 1. The

victims were offered to God, and their blood poured out before the

altar. 2. The people who were invited feasted upon the sacrifice.

See on Isa 34:6.

Verse 8. I will punish the princes, and the king's children]

After the death of Josiah the kingdom of Judah saw no prosperity,

and every reign terminated miserably; until at last King Zedekiah

and the king's children were cruelly massacred at Riblah, when

Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem.

Strange apparel] I really think this refers more to their

embracing idolatrous customs and heathen usages, than to their

changing their dress. They acquired new habits, as we would say;

customs, that they used as they did their clothing-at all times,

and in every thing.

Verse 9. That leap on the threshold] Or, that leap over the

threshold. It is most probable that the Philistines are here

meant. After the time that Dagon fell before the ark, and his

hands were broken off on the threshold of his temple, his

worshippers would no more set a foot upon the threshold, but

stepped or leaped over it, when they entered into his temple. The

Chaldee understands this of the Philistines, without giving this

reason for it. Some understand it of haughtiness and pride: others

think that leaping on the threshold refers to the customs of the

Arabs, who used to ride into people's houses and take away

whatever they could carry; and that this is the reason why, in

several parts of the East, they have their doors made very low, to

prevent those depredators from entering. In this manner, we learn

the Persians have frequently oppressed the poor Armenians, going

on horseback into their houses, and taking whatever they thought

proper. Mr. Harmer understands it in this way.

Verse 10. A cry from the fish-gate] This gate, which is

mentioned Ne 3:3, was opposite to Joppa; and perhaps the way in

which the news came of the irruption of the Chaldean army, the

great crashing from the hills.

The second] Or second city, may here mean a part of Jerusalem,

mentioned 2Ki 22:14; 2Ch 34:22.

Verse 11. Maktesh] Calmet says this signifies a mortar, or a

rock in form of a mortar, and was the name of a quarter of

Jerusalem where they hulled rice, corn, &c., according to St.

Jerome. Some think the city of Jerusalem is meant, where the

inhabitants should be beat and pounded to death as grain is

pounded in a mortar.

Newcome translates it, the lower city, and considers it the

valley in Jerusalem, which divided the upper from the lower


They that bear silver] The merchants, moneychangers, usurers,

rich men.

Verse 12. I will search Jerusalem with candles] I will make a

universal and thorough search.

That are settled on their lees] Those who are careless,

satisfied with the goods of this life; who trust in their riches,

and are completely irreligious; who, while they acknowledge that

there is a God, think, like the Aristotelians, that he is so

supremely happy in the contemplation of his own excellences, that

he feels it beneath his dignity to concern himself with the

affairs of mortals.

Verse 13. Their goods (in which they trust) shall become a

booty] To the Chaldeans. They shall have no profit of all their

labours. The houses they have built they shall not inhabit; of the

wine of the vineyards they have planted, they shall not drink. See

Am 5:11, where we find the same evils threatened.

Verse 14. The great day of the Lord is near] It commenced with

the death of the good king Josiah, who was slain by Pharaoh-necho

at Megiddo, and continued to the destruction of Jerusalem by


Verse 15. That day is a day of wrath] See the parallel passages

in the margin, and the notes there. From the fourteenth to the

sixteenth verse inclusive there is a most beautiful

amplification of the disasters that were coming on Jerusalem; the

invasion, incursion, attack, carnage, confusion, horrible din

occasioned by the sound of the trumpet, the cries of the people,

and the shrieks and groans of the dying, are pointed out with

great force and mighty effect.

Verse 17. They shall walk like blind men] Be in the most

perplexing doubt and uncertainty; and while in this state, have

their blood poured out by the sword of their enemies, and their

flesh trodden under foot.

Verse 18. Their silver nor their gold] In which they trusted,

and from which they expected happiness; these shall not profit

them in this awful day. And God will bring this about speedily;

and a speedy riddance-a universal desolation, shall in a short

time take place in every part of the land.

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