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Zephaniah 2:4, 5

4. For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.

4. Quia Aza derelicta erit, et Aksalon in vastiationem; Asdod in meridie expellent, et Ekron dissipabitur.

5. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

5. Heus habitatores funiculi maris (vel, regionis) gens Cretim; sermo Iehovae contra vos Canaan, terra Philistim; et exterminabo te, ne sit habitator.

 

The Prophet begins here to console the elect; for when God’s vengeance had passed away, which would only be for a time against them, the heathens and foreigners would find God in their turn to be their judge to punish them for the wrongs done to his people; though some think that God’s judgment on the Jews is here described, while yet the Prophet expressly mentions their neighbors: but the former view seems to me more suitable,—that the Prophet reminds the faithful of a future change of things, for God would not perpetually afflict his chosen people, but would transfer his vengeance to other nations. The meaning then is—that God, who has hitherto threatened the Jews, would nevertheless be propitious to them, not indeed to all the people, for a great part was doomed to destruction, but to the remnant, whom the Lord had chosen as a seed to himself, that there might be some church remaining. For we know, that God had always so moderated the punishment he inflicted on his people, as not to render void his covenant, nor abolish the memory of Abraham’s race: for this reason he was to come forth as their Redeemer.

Since then the Prophet speaks here against Gaza, and Ashkelon, and Ashdod, and Akron, and the Philistine, and the Cretians and others, he intended no doubt to add courage to the faithful, that they might not despair of God’s mercy, though they might find themselves very grievously oppressed; for he could at length put an end to his wrath, after having purged his Church of its dregs. And this admonition the faithful also need, that they may not envy the wicked and the despisers of God, as though their condition were better or more desirable. For when the Lord spares the wicked and chastens us, we are tempted to think that nothing is better than to shake off every yoke. Lest then this temptation should have assailed the faithful, the Prophet reminded them in time, that there was no reason why the heathens should flatter or congratulate themselves, when God did not immediately punish them; for their portion was prepared for them.

He mentions Gaza first, a name which often occurs in scripture. The Hebrews called it Aza; but as ע, oin, is the first letter, the Greeks have rendered it Gaza, and heathen authors have thought it to be a Persia word, and it means in that language a treasure. But this is a vain notion, for it is no doubt a Hebrew word. He then adds Ashkelon, a city nigh to Gaza. In the third place he mentions Ashdod, which the Greeks have translated Azotus, and the Latins have followed the Greeks. He names Ekron in the last place. All these cities were near to the Jews, and were not far from one another towards the Moabites and the Idumeans. 9595     This verse, literally rendered, retains more of its poetic character,—
   4. For Gaza, forsaken shall she be,
And Ashkelon shall be a desolation;
Ashdod, at mid-day shall they drive it out,
And Ekron shall be rooted up.

   In the first and the last line there is a correspondence in the sound of the words.

   The following presents another instance of the nominative case absolute,—

   5. Woe to the dwellers of the line of the sea,
The nation of the Kerethites!
The word of Jehovah is against you:
Canaan, the land of the Philistines,
I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

   The line of the sea, meaning the coast along the shore, is so called, says Henderson, “from the custom of using a cord or line in measuring off or dividing a territory.”

   Some derive “Kerethites” from [כרת], to cut off, to destroy; and so they were cutters off or destroyers. They were celebrated men of war in the time of David, 2 Samuel 8:18. “Philistines” mean emigrants, says Henderson; the word being derived from a verb, which signifies, in the Ethiopic language, to rove, to migrate.—Ed.

He then adds, Ho! (or, woe to, הו) the inhabitants of the line of the sea. The region of the sea he calls Galilee; and he joins the Kerethites and the Philistine. Some think that he alludes to the troops, who carried on war under David; for he had chosen his garrison soldiers from that nation, that is, from the people of Galilee, and had called them Kerethites and Philistine. But I know not whether the Prophet spoke so refinedly. I rather think, that he refers here to those heathen nations, which had been hostile to the Jews, though vicinity ought to have been a bond of kindness. Hence he includes them all in the name of Canaan: for I do not take it here, as some do, as signifying merchants; for the Prophet evidently means, that however called, they were all Canaanites, who had been long ago doomed to destruction. Since then those regions had been enemies to the Jews, the Prophet intimates that God would become the defender of his chosen people.

The word of Jehovah is against you. God, who has hitherto threatened his own people, summons you to judgment. Think not that you will escape unpunished for having vexed his Church. For though God designed to prove the patience of his people, yet neither the Moabites, nor the rest, were excusable when they cruelly oppressed the Jews; yea, when they purposed through them to fight with God himself, the creator of heaven and earth. He afterwards adds, There shall be no inhabitant, for God would destroy them all. We now see that the Prophet had no other design but to alleviate the bitter grief of the faithful by this consolation,—that their miseries would be only for a time, and that God would ere long punish their enemies. It follows—


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