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Zephaniah 3:18

18. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.

18. Afflictos a tempore (vel, pro tempore, vel, ad tempus, ut alii vertunt) congregabo qui ex te erunt: onus (vertunt quidam, sed active accipere Propheta potius, qui sistinuerunt ergo) super eam opprobrium.

 

He proceeds here with the same subject, but in different words; for except some consolation had been introduced, what the Prophet has hitherto said would have been frigid; for he had promised them joy, he had exhorted the chosen of God to offer praise and thanksgiving; but they were at the same time in a most miserable state. It was hence necessary to add this declaration respecting the exiles being gathered.

But he says at the time. Some read, in respect to time; but this is obscure and strained. Others render it, at the time; but it means strictly from the time; though מ, mem, may sometimes be rendered as a particle of comparison. Interpreters do not seem to me rightly to understand the Prophet’s meaning: for I do not doubt but that he points out here the fixed time of deliverance, as though he had said, I will again gather thine afflicted, and those who have endured thy reproach. When? at the time, ממועד, memuod; that is, at the determined or fixed time: for מועד, muod, is not taken in Hebrew for time simply, but for a predetermined time, as we say in French, Un terme prefix I will then gather thine afflicted, but not soon. Our Prophet then holds the faithful here somewhat in suspense, that they might continue in their watch tower, and patiently wait for God’s help; for we know how great is our haste, and how we run headlong when we hope for anything; but this celerity, according to the old proverb, is often delay to us. Since, then, men are always carried away by a certain heat, or by too much impetuosity, to lay hold on what may happen, the Prophet here lays a restraint, and intimates that God has his own seasons to fulfill what he has promised, that he will not do so soon, nor according to the will of men, but when the suitable time shall come. And this time is that which he has appointed, not what we desire.

He then adds, Who have sustained reproach for her. In this second clause the Prophet no doubt repeats the same thing; but at the same time he points out, not without reason, their condition—that the Jews suffered reproach and contumely at the time of their exile, and that on account of being the Church; that is, because they professed to worship their own God; for on account of his name the Jews were hated by all nations, inasmuch as their religion was different from the superstitions of all heathens. It could not hence be, but that the unbelieving should vex them with many reproaches, when they were carried away into exile, and scattered in all directions. 123123     This verse presents considerable difficulties, and has been variously rendered. The Septuagint and the Targum differ as much from one another, as they do from the Hebrew. None regard the former as at all suitable; but some, as Grotius and Dathius, take the meaning of the latter, though to reconcile it with the Hebrew is difficult. Marckius seems to have given the most probable meaning—
   Remotos a festivitate collegi,
Ex to sunt, onus super eam opprobrium
.

   Those driven away from festivity have I gathered,
From thee they are
a burden on her is reproach.

   The word [נוגי], he derives from [הגה]. In this case it is literally, “my driven away,” or, “my removed” ones. [מועד] is assembling or meeting, as well as a fixed time or season; and the assembling was that on festal days: it may therefore be rendered, “festivals.” “From thee” is “Sion” in verse 16. Instead of “on her,” more than ten copies, as well as the Targum, have “on thee,” [עליך]; but an abrupt change of person is of frequent occurrence in the Prophets.

   Following the sense of the Targum, we may, perhaps, give the following version—

   The grieved for the festivals have I gathered from thee;
They were a burden on thee, a reproach.

   The paraphrase of the Targum, as given by Dathius, is the following—

   Those who among thee have impeded the seasons of thy festivity,
I will expel from thee; woe to them who have carried arms against thee, and loaded thee with reproaches.

   The “grieved for the festivals” were those who disliked them, who grudged the offerings that were to be made. The words are in the past tense, but future as to what is said; for the Prophets declare things as exhibited to them in a vision.—Ed.

He had said before, I will gather the afflicted; but he now adds, I will gather those who have sustained reproach. I have stated that some read, A burden upon her is reproach; but no sense can be elicited from such words. The Prophet does here no doubt obviate a temptation which awaited God’s children, who would have to experience in exile what was most grievous to be borne; for they were to be exposed to the taunts and ridicule of all nations. Hence he seasonably heals their grief by saying, that though for a time they would be laughed at by the ungodly, they would yet return to their own country; for the Lord had resolved to gather them. But we must ever remember what I have said—that God would do this in his own time, when he thought it seasonable. It follows—


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