Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
REPENT BEFORE THE
1. Gather yourselves--to a religious assembly, to avert the
judgment by prayers
[GROTIUS]. Or, so as not to be dissipated "as
The Hebrew is akin to a root meaning "chaff." Self-confidence
and corrupt desires are the dissipation from which they are exhorted to
gather themselves [CALVIN]. The foe
otherwise, like the wind, will scatter you "as the chaff." Repentance
is the gathering of themselves meant.
nation not desired--(Compare
that is, not desirable; unworthy of the grace or favor of God; and yet
God so magnifies that grace as to be still solicitous for their safety,
though they had destroyed themselves and forfeited all claims on His
grace [CALVIN]. The Margin from Chaldee
Version has, "not desirous," namely of returning to God. MAURER and GESENIUS translate, "Not
waxing pale," that is, dead to shame. English Version is
2. Before the decree bring forth--that is, Before God's decree against
you announced by me
have its fulfilment. As the embryo lies hid in the womb, and
then emerges to light in its own due time, so though God for a time
hides His vengeance, yet He brings it forth at the proper
before the day pass as the chaff--that is, before the day for
repentance pass, and with it you, the ungodly, pass away
as the chaff
MAURER puts it parenthetically, "the day (that is,
time) passes as the chaff (that is, most quickly)." CALVIN, "before the decree bring forth" (the predicted
vengeance), (then) the chaff (the Jews) shall pass in a day, that is,
in a moment, though they thought that it would be long before they
could be overthrown. English Version is best; the latter clause
being explanatory of the former, and so the before being
understood, not expressed.
3. As in
(compare Note, see on
he had warned the hardened among the people to humble themselves, so
now he admonishes "the meek" to proceed in their right course, that so
they may escape the general calamity
The meek bow themselves under God's chastisements to God's will,
whereas the ungodly become only the more hardened by them.
Seek ye the Lord--in contrast to those that "sought not the Lord"
The meek are not to regard what the multitudes do, but seek God
his judgment--that is, law. The true way of "seeking the Lord" is
to "work judgment," not merely to be zealous about outward ordinances.
seek meekness--not perversely murmuring against God's dealings, but
patiently submitting to them, and composedly waiting for deliverance.
it may be ye shall be hid--
This phrase does not imply doubt of the deliverance of the godly, but
expresses the difficulty of it, as well that the ungodly may see the
certainty of their doom, as also that the faithful may value the more
the grace of God in their case
4. For--He makes the punishment awaiting the neighboring states an
argument why the ungodly should repent
and the godly persevere, namely, that so they may escape from the
Gaza shall be forsaken--In the Hebrew there is a play of similar
sounds, Gaza Gazubah; Gaza shall be forsaken, as its name implies.
So the Hebrew of the next clause, Ekron teeakeer.
at the noonday--when on account of the heat Orientals usually sleep,
and military operations are suspended
Hence an attack at noon implies one sudden and unexpected
(Jer 6:4, 5; 15:8).
Ekron--Four cities of the Philistines are mentioned, whereas
five was the normal number of their leading cities. Gath is omitted,
being at this time under the Jews' dominion. David had subjugated it
Under Joram the Philistines almost regained it
having conquered them, it remained under the Jews.
Zec 9:5, 6;
similarly mention only four cities of the Philistines.
5. inhabitants of the seacoast--the Philistines dwelling on the strip
of seacoast southwest of Canaan. Literally, the "cord" or "line" of sea
the Cherethites--the Cretans, a name applied to the Philistines as
sprung from Crete
Philistine means "an emigrant."
Canaan . . . land of the Philistines--They occupied the southwest of
(Jos 13:2, 3);
a name which hints that they are doomed to the same destruction as the
early occupants of the land.
6. dwellings and cottages for shepherds--rather,
"dwellings with cisterns" (that is, water-tanks dug in the
earth) for shepherds. Instead of a thick population and tillage,
the region shall become a pasturage for nomad shepherds' flocks. The
Hebrew for "dug cisterns," Ceroth, seems a play on
sounds, alluding to their name Cherethites
Their land shall become what their national name implies,
a land of cisterns.
MAURER translates, "Feasts for shepherds'
(flocks)," that is, one wide pasturage.
7. remnant of . . . Judah--those of the Jews who shall be left after
the coming calamity, and who shall return from exile.
feed thereupon--namely, in the pastures of that seacoast region
8. I have heard--A seasonable consolation to Judah when wantonly
assailed by Moab and Ammon with impunity: God saith, "I have heard it
all, though I might seem to men not to have observed it because I did
not immediately inflict punishment."
magnified themselves--acted haughtily, invading the territory of
(Jer 48:29; 49:1;
9. the breeding of nettles--or, the overspreading of nettles, that
is, a place overrun with them.
salt pits--found at the south of the Dead Sea. The water overflows in
the spring, and salt is left by the evaporation. Salt land is barren
possess them--that is, their land; in retribution for their having
occupied Judah's land.
their pride--in antithesis to the meek
11. famish--bring low by taking from the idols their former fame; as
beasts are famished by their food being withheld. Also by destroying the
kingdoms under the tutelage of idols
gods of the earth--who have their existence only on earth, not
in heaven as the true God.
every one from his place--each in his own Gentile home, taught
by the Jews in the true religion: not in Jerusalem alone shall men
worship God, but everywhere
(Ps 68:29, 30;
It does not mean, as in
Mic 4:1, 2;
Zec 8:22; 14:16
that they shall come from their several places to
Jerusalem to worship [MAURER].
all . . . isles of . . . heathen--that is, all the maritime regions,
especially the west, now being fulfilled in the gathering in of the
Gentiles to Messiah.
12. Fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar (God's sword,
conquered Egypt, with which Ethiopia was closely connected as its ally
Ye--literally, "They." The third person expresses estrangement; while
doomed before God's tribunal in the second person, they are spoken of in
the third as aliens from God.
13. Here he passes suddenly to the north. Nineveh was destroyed by
Cyaxares and Nabopolassar, 625
B.C. The Scythian hordes, by an inroad
into Media and thence in the southwest of Asia (thought by many to be
the forces described by Zephaniah, as the invaders of Judea, rather than
the Chaldeans), for a while interrupted Cyaxares' operations; but he
finally succeeded. Arbaces and Belesis previously subverted the
Assyrian empire under Sardanapalus (that is, Pul?), 877
14. flocks--of sheep; answering to "beasts" in the parallel clause.
Wide pastures for sheep and haunts for wild beasts shall be where once
there was a teeming population (compare
MAURER, needlessly for the parallelism, makes it
"flocks of savage animals."
beasts of the nations--that is, beasts of the earth
Not as ROSENMULLER, "all kinds of beasts that form
a nation," that is, gregarious beasts
(Pr 30:25, 26).
cormorant--rather, the "pelican" (so
MAURER translates, "the hedgehog"; HENDERSON, "the porcupine."
upper lintels--rather, "the capitals of her columns," namely, in
her temples and palaces [MAURER]. Or, "on the pomegranate-like knops at
the tops of the houses" [GROTIUS].
their voice shall sing in the windows--The desert-frequenting birds'
"voice in the windows" implies desolation reigning in the upper parts of
the palaces, answering to "desolation . . . in the thresholds," that is,
in the lower.
he shall uncover the cedar work--laying the cedar wainscoting on the
walls, and beams of the ceiling, bare to wind and rain, the roof being
torn off, and the windows and doors broken through. All this is designed
as a consolation to the Jews that they may bear their calamities
patiently, knowing that God will avenge them.
15. Nothing then seemed more improbable than that the capital of so
vast an empire, a city sixty miles in compass, with walls one hundred
feet high, and so thick that three chariots could go abreast on them,
and with fifteen hundred towers, should be so totally destroyed that its
site is with difficulty discovered. Yet so it is, as the prophet
there is none beside me--This peculiar phrase, expressing
self-gratulation as if peerless, is plainly adopted from
The later prophets, when the spirit of prophecy was on the verge of
departing, leaned more on the predictions of their predecessors.
hiss--in astonishment at a desolation so great and sudden
also in derision