Popular Cyclopedia Biblical Lit Kitto
Zephani´ah, the ninth in order of the Minor Prophets. The name seems to have been a common one among the Jews. Contrary to usual custom, the pedigree of the prophet is traced back for four generations—’the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah,’ As there was at least another Zephaniah, a conspicuous personage at the time of the captivity, the parentage of the prophet may have been recounted so minutely to prevent any reader from confounding the two individuals. The so-called Epiphanius asserts that Zephaniah was of the tribe of Simeon, of the hill Sarabatha. The existence of the prophet is known only from his oracles, and these have no biographical sketches; so that our knowledge of this man of God comprises only the fact and the results of his inspiration. It may be safely inferred, however, that he labored with Josiah in the pious work of reestablishing the worship of Jehovah in the land.
It is recorded (Zephaniah 1) that the word of the Lord came to him ‘in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, King of Judah.’ We have reason for supposing that he flourished during the earlier portion of Josiah’s reign. In the second chapter (Zep_2:13-15) he foretells the doom of Nineveh, and the fall of that ancient city happened about the eighteenth year of Josiah. In the commencement of his oracles also, he denounces various forms of idolatry, and specially the remnant of Baal. The reformation of Josiah began in the twelfth, and was completed in the eighteenth year of his reign. So thorough was his extirpation of the idolatrous rites and hierarchy which defiled his kingdom, that he burnt down the groves, dismissed the priesthood, threw down the altars, and made dust of the images of Baalim. Zephaniah must have prophesied prior to this religious revolution, while some remains of Baal were yet secreted in the land, or between the twelfth and eighteenth years of the royal reformer. So Hitzig and Movers place him; while Eichhorn, Bertholdt, and Jaeger incline to give him a somewhat later date. At all events, he flourished between the years B.C. 642and B.C. 611; and the portion of his prophecy which refers to the destruction of the Assyrian Empire must have been delivered prior to the year B.C. 625, the year in which Nineveh fell. The publication of these oracles was, therefore, contemporary with a portion of those of Jeremiah, for the word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah. Indeed, the Jewish tradition is, that Zephaniah had for his colleagues Jeremiah and the prophetess Huldah, the former fixing his sphere of labor in the thoroughfares and marketplaces, the latter exercising her honorable vocation in the college in Jerusalem.
The book consists of only three chapters. In Zephaniah 1, the sins of the nation are severely reprimanded, and a day of fearful retribution is menaced. The circuit of reference is wider in Zephaniah 2, and the ungodly and persecuting states in the neighborhood of Judaea are also doomed; but in Zephaniah 3, while the prophet inveighs bitterly against Jerusalem and her magnates, he concludes with the cheering prospect of her ultimate settlement and blissful theocratic enjoyment.
Chap. 1 The Title
1. The word … unto Zephaniah] The name Zephaniah means, He whom Jehovah has hid, that is, treasures, or protects. The name is not uncommon, Jer_21:1; Jer_52:24; Zec_6:10.
the son of Hizkiah] Hizkiah or Hezekiah may be the king of that name. It is unusual to carry the genealogy of a prophet further up than his father, and the exception in the present case suggests that Hezekiah, the last link in the chain, was a person of distinction. See Introduction, § 1.
in the days of Josiah … king of Judah] The words “king of Judah” refer to Josiah, not to his father Amon. Josiah reigned b.c. 639–608.
Ch. Zep_1:2-7. The Universal Judgment of the Day of the Lord
2. from off the land] from off the face of the ground, i.e. the earth, cf. Zep_1:3. The judgment is indiscriminate, all that lives shall be swept away. Though it is men against whom God’s anger burns, the anger once kindled devours round about and consumes all created things. The sphere of man’s life, the realm of his rule (Psa_8:6-8), is involved with himself in a common destruction.
Zep_1:3 particularises the “all things” of Zep_1:2, cattle and fowl and fishes of the sea, and man. Hos_4:3, “Therefore shall the land mourn, and everyone that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven; yea the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.” Similarly Eze_38:19, “Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; so that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence”; cf. Isa_2:19-21.
the stumblingblocks … wicked] The words are rather obscure, and seem to disturb the connexion. The term rendered “stumblingblock” occurs again Isa_3:6, “let this ruin (the country in anarchy) be under thy hand,” and Hitzig would understand it here in a somewhat similar sense, the houses, &c. “destined to become heaps” (Job_15:28). The somewhat similar word usually rendered “stumblingblock” is used in the sense of idol, or any object or practice of false worship (Eze_14:3-4; Eze_14:7), and this sense is more probable here. But the clause introduces an idea not in harmony with the rest of the verse.
The prophet turns to Judah and Jerusalem. Though the Day of the Lord was the revelation of Jehovah to the world, and therefore a thing universal, the centre of the judgment in the view of the pre-exile prophets was Israel (Amos 1, 2; Isaiah 2, 3), for judgment began at the house of God (Amo_3:2). With the exile the judgment on Israel seemed to have been fulfilled, and during the exile and later the judgment of the Day of the Lord is represented as falling on the heathen world (Isaiah 13; Zechariah 1-6), and its issue is Israel’s redemption. But after the Restoration, when Israel was again a people and far from answering to its ideal, prophets have to threaten it anew with the refiner’s fire of the Day of the Lord (Mal_3:2 ff.).
I will also stretch] And I will stretch out my hand, i.e. in order to smite, Isa_5:25; Isa_9:12; Isa_14:26-27. As in Amos 1, 2 the cloud laden with judgment trails round the horizon, discharging itself on one nation after another, and finally settles over Israel, so here Jehovah’s wrath against all created things concentrates itself on Judah and Jerusalem.
the remnant of Baal from this place] The words “from this place” imply that Zephaniah lived in Jerusalem. The term Baal appears to he used, particularly in later writers, not only of Baal proper, but also of the images of Jehovah, and even in a wider way of Jehovah under any false conception of His being. Worship rendered nominally to Jehovah, but unworthy of Him, and implying an inadequate conception of His nature, was stigmatised as Baal-worship. The expression the remnant, besides its natural sense of “that which is left,” may mean “the whole,” so that “remnant of Baal” may have the sense of “false worship wholly” (Isa_14:22), and this is probably the meaning here. For “remnant” Sept. gives names of Baal, a rendering which may be due to the influence of Hos_2:17, “I will take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth.” Cf. Zec_13:2.
the name of the Chemarims] The A.V. plur. Chemarims is of the same sort as Cherubims (Gen_3:24) and Seraphims (Isa_6:2); in Heb. the word Chemarim (pronounced Kemârim) is itself a plural. The term is derived from an Aramaic root, meaning “to be black,” but whether the priests were so named as “black-robed” or for some other reason is not certain. In addition to the present passage the word is used in Hos_10:5 of the priests of the calves in the northern kingdom, and in 2Ki_23:5 of the priests of the high places in the cities of Judah and outside Jerusalem (A.V. idolatrous priests). In the latter passage the construction leaves it somewhat uncertain whether the strictly idolatrous priests who offered sacrifice to Baal, the sun and the moon, be also included among the Chemarim. In Hos_10:5 the Sept. does not read the word, and in 2Ki_23:5 it merely transcribes the name in Greek letters.
with the priests] The clause is wanting in Sept., and may be a later addition. The view of Keil that “the priests” are the strictly idolatrous priests who sacrificed to Baal and other deities, while the Chemarim are the priests of the high places, has little probability; in such a case the term “priests” would have been more fully defined. Whether the clause be a gloss or not, the “priests” are probably the degenerate regular priests of Jehovah, such as are described in ch. Zep_3:4.
And them that worship the best of heaven upon the – (flat) housetops This was fulfilled by Josiah who destroyed “the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz” 2Ki_23:12. Jeremiah speaks as if this worship was almost universal, as though well-near every roof had been profaned by this idolatry. “The houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink-offerings unto other gods” Jer_19:13. “The Chaldaeans that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink-offerings to other gods, to provoke Me to anger” Jer_32:29. They worshiped on the house-tops, probably to have a clearer view of that magnificent expanse of sky, “the moon and stars which” God had “ordained” Psa_8:3; the “queen of heaven,” which they worshiped instead of Himself. There is something so mysterious in that calm face of the moon, as it “walketh in beauty” Job_31:26; God seems to have invested it with such delegated influence over the seasons and the produce of the earth, that they stopped short in it, and worshiped the creature rather than the Creator. Much as men now talk of “Nature,” admire “Nature,” speak of its “laws,” not as laws imposed upon it, but inherent in it, laws affecting us and our well-being; only not in their ever-varying vicissitudes, “doing whatsoever God commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth, whether for correction, or for His land or for mercy!” Job_37:12-13. The idolaters “worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, Who is blessed forever” Rom_1:25; moderns equally make this world their object, only they idolize themselves and their discoveries, and worship their own intellect.
This worship on the house-tops individualized the public idolatry; it was a rebellion against God, family by family; a sort of family-prayer of idolatry. “Did we,” say the mingled multitude to Jeremiah, “make our cakes to worship her, and pour out our drink-offerings unto her, without our men?” Jer_44:19. Its family character is described in Jeremiah. “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods” Jer_7:18. The idolatry spread to other cities. “We will certainly do,” they say, “as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem” Jer_44:17. The incense went up continually “as a memorial to God” from the altar of incense in the temple: the “roofs of the houses” were so many altars, from which, street by street and house by house the incense went up to her, for whom they dethroned God, “the queen of heaven.” It was an idolatry, with which Judah was especially besotted, believing that they received all goods of this world from them and not from God. When punished for their sin, they repented of their partial repentance and maintained to Jeremiah that they were punished for “leaving off to burn incense to the queen of heaven” Jer_44:2, Jer_44:15, Jer_44:18.
And them that worship … the Lord – but with a divided heart and service; “that swear by (rather to) the Lord,” swear fealty and loyal allegiance to Him, while they do acts which deny it, in that “they swear by Malcham,” better (it is no appellative although allied to one) “their king” , most probably, I think, “Moloch.”
This idolatry had been their enduring idolatry in the wilderness, after the calves had been annihilated; it is “the” worship, against which Israel is warned by name in the law Lev_18:21; Lev_20:2-4; then, throughout the history of the Judges, we hear of the kindred idolatry of Baal , “the” Lord (who was called also “eternal king” and from whom individuals named themselves “son of (the) king,” “servant of (the) king” ), or the manifold Baals and Ashtaroth or Astarte. But after these had been removed on the preaching of Samuel 1Sa_7:6; 1Sa_12:10, this idolatry does not reappear in Judah until the intermarriage of Jehoram with the house of Ahab 2Ki_8:16-18, 2Ki_8:26-27; 2Ch_21:6, 2Ch_21:12-13; 2Ch_22:2-4.
The kindred and equally horrible worship of “Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon” 1Ki_11:7, was brought in by Solomon in his decay, and endured until his high place was defiled by Josiah 2Ki_23:13-14. It is probable then that this was “their king” , of whom Zephaniah speaks, whom Amos and after him Jeremiah, called “their king;” but speaking of Ammon. Him, the king of Ammon, Judah adopted as “their king.” They owned God as their king in words; Molech they owned by their deeds; “they worshiped and sware fealty to the Lord” and they “sware by their king;” his name was familiarly in their mouths; to him they appealed as the Judge and witness of the truth of their words, his displeasure they invoked on themselves, if they swore falsely. Cyril: “Those in error were wont to swear by heaven, and, as matter of reverence to call out, ‘By the king and lord Sun.’ Those who do so must of set purpose and willfully depart from the love of God, since the law expressly says, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and serve Him alone, and swear by His Name” Deu_6:13.
The former class who “worshipped on the roofs” were mere idolaters. These “worshiped,” as they thought, “the Lord,” bound themselves solemnly by oath to Him, but with a reserve, joining a hateful idol to Him, in that they, by a religious act, owned it too as god. The act which they did was in direct words, or by implication, forbidden by God. The command to “swear by the Lord” implied that they were to swear by none else. It was followed by the prohibition to go after other gods. (Deu_6:13-14; 10:30, compare Isa_65:16; Jer_4:2). Contrariwise, to swear by other gods was forbidden as a part of their service. “Be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the Law of Moses, neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, but cleave unto the Lord your God” (Jos_23:6-8; compare Amo_8:14). “How shall I pardon thee for this? Thy children have forsaken Me, and have sworn by those who are no gods” Jer_5:7. “They taught My people to swear by Baal” Jer_12:16. They thought perhaps that in that they professed to serve God, did the greater homage to Him, professed and bound themselves to be His, (such is the meaning of “swear to the Lord”) they might, without renouncing His service, do certain things, “swear by their king,” although in effect they thereby owned hint also as god. To such Elijah said, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him” 1Ki_18:21; and God by Jeremiah rejects with abhorrence such divided service. “Ye trust in lying words, which will not profit. Will ye steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods, and come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, saying, We are delivered to do all these abominations” Jer_7:8-10. And Hosea, “Neither go ye to Beth-aven, and swear there, The Lord liveth” Hos_4:15.
And them that are turned back from – (Literally, have turned themselves back from following after) the Lord From this half-service, the prophet goes on to the avowed neglect of God, by such as wholly fall away from Him, not setting His will or law before them, “but turning away from” Him. It is their misery that they were set in the right way once, but themselves “turned themselves back,” now no longer “following” God, but “their own lusts, drawn away and enticed” Jam_1:14 by them. How much more Christians, before whose eyes Christ Jesus is set forth, not as a Redeemer only but as an Example that they should “follow His steps!” 1Pe_2:21.
And those that have not sought the Lord, nor inquired for Him – This is marked to be a distinct class. “And those who.” These did not openly break with God, or turn away overtly from Him; they kept (as men think) on good terms with Him, but, like “the slothful servant,” rendered Him a listless heartless service. Both words express diligent search. God is not found then in a careless way. They who “seek” Him not “diligently” Mat_2:8, do not find Him. “Strive,” our Lord says, “to enter in at the strait gate, for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able” Luk_13:24. She who had lost the one piece of silver, “sought” “diligently” Luk_15:8, until she had found it.
Thus, he has gone through the whole cycle. First, that most horrible and cruel worship of Baal, the idolatrous priests and those who had the name of priests only, mingled with them, yet not openly apostatizing; then the milder form of idolatry, the star-worshipers; then those who would unite the worship of God with idols, who held themselves to be worshipers of God, but whose real king was their idol; then those who openly abandoned God; and lastly those who held with Him, just to satisfy their conscience-qualms, but with no heart-service. And so, in words of Habakkuk and in reminiscence of his awful summons of the whole world before God, he sums up;
Hold thy peace … Lord God] lit. the Lord Jehovah. The divine name Jehovah was not pronounced in the synagogue reading, the word Lord (A.V. in that case Lord) being substituted for it; but when the actual word Lord (Adonai) stood beside Jehovah then the reader substituted God (A.V. God) for Jehovah. The prophet vividly realises the presence of Jehovah. He is present in the Day of the Lord which is at hand. And before His presence the prophet exclaims to men, Hush! Hab_2:20, Zec_2:13. The “day of the Lord” is not merely some great calamity or judgment which the prophet feels to be impending, it is always Jehovah’s manifestation of Himself in fulness, and the judgment is the final and universal one. The coming of “the day of the Lord” was an ancient idea of the prophets (Hos_4:3; Isa_2:12 ff.) and even of the people (Amo_5:18); it was a belief older than any written prophecy, as the passage in Amos shews, and later prophets (Isa_13:6 ff.; Zep_1:7 ff.; Joe_1:15; Joe_2:1) only amplify the details of the idea. The presentiment of its nearness, however, was often awakened in the prophet’s mind by severe visitations of providence (Joel), or by great convulsions among the nations (Isaiah 13; Zephaniah 1). Jehovah was so visibly present in these events that the presentiment could not be repressed that they were the tokens and heralds of His final manifestation of Himself, when His glory would be revealed and all flesh should see it together. Of course the prophet’s presentiment was not realised, the impending judgment passed over, and the day of the Lord was delayed. But this fact should not lead us to suppose that the prophets call any great visitation of God by the name of “the day of the Lord.”
prepared a sacrifice] The sacrifice, which is Israel, is slain, and the guests who are to eat of the sacrificial meal are invited. The destruction of Israel is so certain that it is conceived as already accomplished.
He hath bid his guests] lit. he hath consecrated (sanctified) them that are bidden (1Sa_9:13). Those bidden are the foes who shall devour Israel. In ancient times slaughter of animals even for food was a kind of sacrificial act, as the blood and part of the flesh were offered to God, and only those who were clean could partake of the sacrificial meal (1Sa_20:26); hence some consecration or preparation on the part of the guests was necessary, such as washing the clothes, in order to “sanctify” themselves. The Lord has sanctified His guests who are to eat His sacrifice (Isa_13:3). Comp. the same idea Isa_34:6; Jer_46:10; Eze_39:17, though in Ezek. the guests bidden to the Lord’s sacrifice are the birds of every sort and the beasts of the field. There is a certain inconsistency in the figure: of course the foes are those who slay Israel, the sacrifice, but the figure represents Jehovah as slaying and preparing the sacrifice, which the guests consume. The metaphor shews that some particular assailant of Israel is in the prophet’s view, just as in Isa_13:3. See Introduction, § 1.
I will punish – (Literally, visit upon). God seems oftentimes to be away from His own world. People plot, design, say, in word or in deed, “who is Lord over us?” God is, as it were, a stranger in it, or as a man, who hath “taken a journey into afar country.” God uses our own language to us. “I will visit,” inspecting (so to say), examining, sifting, reviewing, and when man’s sins require it, allowing the weight of His displeasure to fall upon them.
The princes – The prophet again, in vivid detail (as his characteristic is), sets forth together sin and punishment. Amid the general chastisement of all, when all should become one sacrifice, they who sinned most should be punished most. The evil priests had received their doom. Here he begins anew with the mighty of the people and so goes down, first to special spots of the city, then to the whole, man by man. Josiah being a godly king, no mention is made of him. Thirteen years before his death, he received the promise of God, “because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord – I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered unto thy grave in peace, and thou shalt not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place” 2Ki_22:19-20. In remarkable contrast to Jeremiah, who had to be, in detail and continual pleading with his people, a prophet of judgment to come, until these judgments broke upon them, and so was the reprover of the evil sovereigns who succeeded Josiah, Zephaniah has to pronounce God’s judgments only on the “princes” and “the king’s children.”
Jeremiah, in his inaugural vision, was forewarned, that “the kings Judah, its princes, priests, and the people of the land” Jer_1:18 should war against him, because he should speak unto them all which God should command him. And thenceforth, Jeremiah impleads or threatens kings and the princes together Jer_2:26; Jer_4:9; Jer_8:1; Jer_24:8; Jer_32:37; Jer_34:21. Zephaniah contrariwise, his office lying wholly within the reign of Josiah, describes the princes again as “roaring lions” Zep_3:3, but says nothing of the king, as neither does Micah Mic_3:1, Mic_3:9, in the reign, it may be, of Jotham or Hezekiah. Isaiah speaks of princes, as “rebellious and companions of thieves” Isa_1:23. Jeremiah speaks of them as idolaters Jer_31:32-34; Jer_44:21. They appear to have had considerable influence, which on one occasion they employed in defense of Jeremiah Jer_26:16, but mostly for evil Jer_37:15; Jer_38:4, Jer_38:16. Zedekiah inquired of Jeremiah secretly for fear of them Jer_37:17; Jer_38:14-27. They brought destruction upon themselves by what men praise, their resistance to Nebuchadnezzar, but against the declared mind of God. Nebuchadnezzar unwittingly fulfilled the prophets’ word, when he “slew all the nobles of Judah, the eunuch who was over the war, and seven men of them that were near the king’s person, and the principal scribe of the host” Jer_39:6; Jer_52:25-27.
And the king’s children – Holy Scripture mentions chief persons only by name. Isaiah had prophesied the isolated lonely loveless lot of descendants of Hezekiah who should be “eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” Isa_39:7, associated only with those intriguing pests of Eastern courts, a lot in itself worse than the sword (although to Daniel God overruled it to good) and Zedekiah’s sons were slain before his eyes and his race extinct. Jehoiakim died a disgraced death, and Jehoiachin was imprisoned more than half the life of man.
And all such as are clothed with strange apparel – Israel was reminded by its dress, that it belonged to God. It was no great thing in itself; “a band of dark blue Num_15:38; Deu_22:12 upon the fringes at the four corners of their garments.” But “the band of dark blue” was upon the high priest’s mitre, with the plate engraved, “Holiness to the Lord” Exo_28:36, fastened upon it; “with a band of dark blue” also was the breastplate Exo_39:21 bound to the ephod of the high priest. So then, simple as it was, it seems to have designated the whole nation, as “a kingdom of priests, an holy nation” Exo_19:6. It was appointed to them, “that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring; that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God” Num_15:39-40. They might say, “it is but “a band of blue;”” but the “band of blue” was the soldier’s badge, which marked them as devoted to the service of their God; indifference to or shame of it involved indifference to or shame of the charge given them therewith, and to their calling as a peculiar people. The choice of the strange apparel involved the choice to be as the nations of the world; “we will be as the pagan, as the families of the countries” Eze_20:33.
All luxurious times copy foreign dress, and with it, foreign manners and luxuries; from where even the pagan Romans were zealous against its use. It is very probable that with the foreign dress foreign idolatry was imported . The Babylonian dress was very gorgeous, such as was the admiration of the simpler Jews. “Her captains and rulers clothed in perfection, girded with girdles upon their loins, with flowing dyed attire upon their heads” Eze_23:12, Eze_23:15. Ezekiel had to frame words to express the Hebrew idea of their beauty. Jehoiakim is reproved among other things for his luxury Jer_22:14-15. Outward dress always betokens the inward mind, and in its turn acts upon it. An estranged dress betokened an estranged heart, from where it is used as an image of the whole spiritual mind Rom_13:14; Col_3:12; Eph_4:24. Jerome: “The garment of the sons of the king and the apparel of princes which we receive in Baptism, is Christ, according to that, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” and “Put ye on bowels of mercy, goodness, humililty, patience,” and the rest. Wherein, we are commanded to be clothed with the new man from heaven according to our Creator, and to “lay aside” the clothing of “the old man with his deeds” Eph_4:22. Whereas, then we ought to be clothed in such raiment, for mercy we put on cruelty, for patience, impatience, for righteousness, iniquity; in a word, for virtues, vices, for Christ, antichrist. Whence it is said of such an one, “He is clothed with cursing as with a garment” Psa_109:17. These the Lord will visit most manifestly at His Coming.” Rup.: “Thinkest thou that hypocrisy is “strange apparel?” Of a truth. For what stranger apparel than sheeps’ clothing to ravening wolves? What stranger than for him who “within is full of iniquity, to appear outwardly righteous before men?” Mat_23:28.
those that leap on the threshold] Rather: leap (or, spring) over the threshold. The priests of Dagon avoided treading on the threshold of his temple because the idol had fallen upon it (1Sa_5:5). The connexion here, however, implies that leaping over the threshold is rather an act of violence, suggesting forcible invasion of the house, for the next clause, “that fill their master’s house with violence,” is a further description of those that leap over the threshold.
fill their masters’ houses] More probably: their master’s house, reference being to the king. Zep_1:8-9 seem to have a common subject, the princes and king’s children, that is, the officers of the king and the members of the royal family. Probably persons belonging to the collateral branches of the royal house filled judicial and other offices in the government.
with violence and deceit] Or, wrong and fraud. The words do not mean that wrong and fraud are committed in the house of the king, but that his house is filled with the proceeds of such things, cf. Isa_3:14-15. What is alluded to is the perversion of justice practised by the princes and the royal family for purposes of gain. At a later time Ezek. makes a similar complaint against the princes and royal house (ch. Eze_22:25-29. In Eze_22:25 read princes).
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.
There shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate – (2Ch_33:14; Neh_3:3. At the restoration of the city after the return from Babylon “the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof;” Neh_12:31; Neh_12:39, where the order of the gates is, “the gate of Ephraim … the old gate … the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate, and … the prison gate;” the opposite quarter to “the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate”). Situated on the east of the lower city, north of the sheep gate (Maurer); near the stronghold of David in Millo, between Zion and the lower city toward the west (Jerome). This verse describes the state of the city while besieged by Nebuchadnezzar. It was through the fish gate that he entered the city. It received its name from the fish market, which was near it. Through it passed those who used to bring fish from the lake of Tiberias and Jordan. It answers to what is now called the Damascus gate (Henderson).
And an howling from the second – namely, the gate which was second in dignity (Calvin). Or, the second, or lower part of the city. Appropriately, the fish gate, or extreme end of the lower part of the city, first resounds with the cries of the citizens as the foe approaches; then, as he advances further, that part of the city itself-namely, its inner part; lastly, when the foe is actually come, and has burst in, the hills, the higher ones especially, Zion and Moriah, on which the upper city and temple were founded (Maurer). The second, or lower city, answers to Akra, north of Zion, and separated from it by the valley of Tyropoeon, running down to the pool of Siloam (Henderson). The Hebrew [ hamishneh (H4932)] also, 2Ch_34:22, “in the college,” margin, in the school or second part, is translated “college” (2Ki_22:14, “Huldah the prophetess … dwelt in Jerusalem in the college,” margin, in the second part); so Vatablus would translate here. The root [ shaanah (H8138)] means to repeat or double. The Rabbis use the word for doctrine or learning, whether from the repeating of the lessons over and over again, or from [ shaanan (H8150)], ‘to make sharp’ or ‘acute.’ At all events, the second or interior part of the city, near the king’s palace, was where the college of the sons of the prophets probably was: at least, Huldah lived there. Not even the quarter where the Jews’ prophets were was to escape from the violence of the enemy.
And a great crashing from the hills – not here those outside, but those within the walls, Zion, Moriah, and Ophel.
ye inhabitants of Maktesh] The term Maktesh is rendered “hollow-place,” Jdg_15:19, and mortar, Pro_27:22. Some depression or valley in the city is referred to: Hitzig thinks of that between Acra and the Temple area, and others of the valley of the Tyropœon or cheese-makers, a depression, now filled up with the rubbish of many centuries, which ran from north to south, dividing the city into two parts. The probability is that the Maktesh lay in the northern part of the city. It was on this side that Jerusalem was most liable to attack, and the prophet has in view throughout an invasion by a foe from the north.
all the merchant people] lit. the people of Canaan. The Canaanites or Phenicians were the chief traders in Palestine, and the name Canaan came to be used for merchant. It is scarcely actual Canaanites that are referred to here; already in Hos_12:7 the term Canaan is applied figuratively to Ephraim, and in Eze_16:29; Eze_17:4, Chaldea is called the “land of Canaan,” i.e. the merchant land. In Isa_23:8 the word Canaan seems to be used in the plur., and certainly in a figurative sense: “her (Tyre’s) traffickers are the honourable of the earth.” In Pro_31:24 the form Canaanite is used for merchant, and so perhaps Job_41:6 (Heb. 40:30).
are cut down] R.V. are undone, as Isa_6:5; the word is usually rendered cut off, Hos_10:7; Hos_10:15.
All they that bear silver] Or, money. The reference is not to the trade of silversmiths, but rather to merchants in general.