God's Severe Judgment on Judah for Its Idolatry
and Neglect of Him: The Rapid Approach of the Judgment, and the
Impossibility of Escape.
1. days of Josiah—Had their idolatries
been under former kings, they might have said, Our kings have forced us
to this and that. But under Josiah, who did all in his power to reform
them, they have no such excuse.
son of Amon—the idolater, whose bad
practices the Jews clung to, rather than the good example of Josiah,
his son; so incorrigible were they in sin.
Judah—Israel's ten tribes had gone
into captivity before this.
2. utterly consume—from a root to "sweep
away," or "scrape off utterly." See Jer 8:13, Margin, and here.
from off the land—of Judah.
3. Enumeration in detail of the "all things"
1:2; compare Jer 9:10; Ho
the stumbling-blocks—idols which cause
Judah to offend or stumble (Eze 14:3, 4, 7).
with the wicked—The idols and their
worshippers shall be involved in a common destruction.
4. stretch out mine hand—indicating some
remarkable and unusual work of vengeance (Isa 5:25;
9:12, 17, 21).
Judah—including Benjamin. These two
tribes are to suffer, which thought themselves perpetually secure,
because they escaped the captivity in which the ten tribes were
Jerusalem—the fountainhead of the
evil. God begins with His sanctuary (Eze 9:6), and those who are nigh Him (Le 10:3).
the remnant of Baal—the remains of
Baal worship, which as yet Josiah was unable utterly to eradicate in
remote places. Baal was the Phœnician tutelary god. From the time
of the Judges (Jud 2:13),
Israel had fallen into this idolatry; and Manasseh lately had set up
this idol within Jehovah's temple itself (2Ki 21:3, 5, 7). Josiah began his reformation in
the twelfth year of his reign (2Ch 34:4, 8), and in the eighteenth had as far as
possible completed it.
Chemarims—idol priests, who had not
reached the age of puberty; meaning "ministers of the gods" [Servius on Æneid, 11], the same
name as the Tyrian Camilli, r and l being interchangeable
10:5, Margin). Josiah
is expressly said (2Ki 23:5,
Margin) to have "put down the Chemarim." The Hebrew root
means "black" (from the black garments which they wore or the
marks which they branded on their foreheads); or "zealous," from
their idolatrous fanaticism. The very "name," as well as themselves,
shall be forgotten.
the priests—of Jehovah, of Aaronic
descent, who ought to have used all their power to eradicate, but who
secretly abetted, idolatry (compare Zep 3:4; Eze 8:1-18;
22:26; 44:10). From the
priests Zephaniah passes to the people.
5. worship the host of
heaven—Saba: whence, in contrast to Sabeanism, Jehovah
is called Lord of Sabaoth.
upon the housetops—which were flat
(2Ki 23:5, 6, 12; Jer 19:13; 32:29).
swear by the Lord—rather, "swear
to Jehovah" (2Ch 15:14); solemnly dedicating themselves to Him
(compare Isa 48:1; Ho 4:15).
and—"and yet (with strange
inconsistency, 1Ki 18:21; Eze 20:39; Mt 6:24) swear by Malcham," that is, "their
king" [Maurer]: the same as Molech
(see on Am 5:25), and "Milcom the god of …
Ammon" (1Ki 11:33).
If Satan have half the heart, he will have all; if the Lord have but
half offered to Him, He will have none.
6. This verse describes more comprehensively
those guilty of defection from Jehovah in any way (Jer 2:13, 17).
7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the
Let the earth be silent at His approach [Maurer]. Or, "Thou whosoever hast been wont to speak
against God, as if He had no care about earthly affairs, cease thy
murmurs and self-justifications; submit thyself to God, and repent in
Lord … prepared a
sacrifice—namely, a slaughter of the guilty Jews, the victims
due to His justice (Isa 34:6; Jer 46:10; Eze 39:17).
bid his guests—literally, "sanctified
His called ones" (compare Isa 13:3). It
enhances the bitterness of the judgment that the heathen Chaldeans
should be sanctified, or consecrated as it were, by God as His
priests, and be called to eat the flesh of the elect people; as
on feast days the priests used to feast among themselves on the remains
of the sacrifices [Calvin]. English
Version takes it not of the priests, but the guests
bidden, who also had to "sanctify" or purify themselves before
coming to the sacrificial feast (1Sa 9:13, 22; 16:5). Nebuchadnezzar was bidden to
come to take vengeance on guilty Jerusalem (Jer 25:9).
8. the princes—who ought to have been an
example of good to others, but were ringleaders in all evil.
the king's children—fulfilled on
Zedekiah's children (Jer 39:6);
and previously, on Jehoahaz and Eliakim, the sons of Josiah (2Ki
23:31, 36; 2Ch 36:6; compare
also 2Ki 20:18; 21:13). Huldah the prophetess (2Ki 22:20) intimated that which Zephaniah now more
all such as are clothed with strange
apparel—the princes or courtiers who attired
themselves in costly garments, imported from abroad; partly for the
sake of luxury, and partly to ingratiate themselves with foreign great
nations whose costume as well as their idolatries they imitated, [Calvin]; whereas in costume, as in other
respects, God would have them to be separate from the nations. Grotius refers the "strange apparel" to
garments forbidden by the law, for example, men's garments worn by
women, and vice versa, a heathen usage in the worship of Mars and Venus
9. those that leap on the threshold—the
servants of the princes, who, after having gotten prey (like hounds)
for their masters, leap exultingly on their masters' thresholds; or, on
the thresholds of the houses which they break into [Calvin]. Jerome
explains it of those who walk up the steps into the sanctuary with
haughtiness. Rosenmuller translates,
"Leap over the threshold"; namely, in imitation of the
Philistine custom of not treading on the threshold, which arose from
the head and hands of Dragon being broken off on the threshold before
the ark (1Sa
5:5). Compare Isa 2:6, "thy people … are soothsayers
like the Philistines." Calvin's
view agrees best with the latter clause of the verse.
fill … masters' houses with violence,
&c.—that is, with goods obtained with violence,
10. fish gate—(2Ch
33:14; Ne 3:3; 12:39).
Situated on the east of the lower city, north of the sheep gate [Maurer]: near the stronghold of David in Milo,
between Zion and the lower city, towards the west [Jerome]. This verse describes the state of the city
when it was 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].
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 Tyropœon running down to the
pool of Siloam [Henderson]. The
Hebrew is translated "college," 2Ki 22:14; so Vatablus would translate here.
hills—not here those outside, but
those within the walls: Zion, Moriah, and Ophel.
11. Maktesh—rather, "the mortar," a name
applied to the valley of Siloam from its hollow shape [Jerome]. The valley between Zion and Mount Olivet,
at the eastern extremity of Mount Moriah, where the merchants dwelt.
14:21, "The Canaanite,"
namely, merchant [Chaldee Version]. The Tyropœon (that is,
cheese-makers') valley below Mount Akra [Rosenmuller]. Better Jerusalem itself, so
called as lying in the midst of hills (Isa 22:1; Jer 21:13) and as doomed to be the scene of its
people being destroyed as corn or drugs are pounded in a mortar
27:22) [Maurer]. Compare the similar image of a "pot" (Eze 24:3,
6). The reason for the
destruction is subjoined, namely, its merchant people's
greediness of gain.
all the merchant people—literally, the
"Canaanite people": irony: all the merchant people of Jerusalem are
very Canaanites in greed for gain and in idolatries (see on Ho 12:7).
all … that bear silver—loading
themselves with that which will prove but a burden (Hab 2:6).
12. search … with candles—or
lamps; so as to leave no dark corner in it wherein sin can escape the
punishment, of which the Chaldeans are My instruments (compare Zep 1:13;
settled on their lees—"hardened" or
crusted; image from the crust formed at the bottom of wines long left
undisturbed (Jer 48:11).
The effect of wealthy undisturbed ease ("lees") on the ungodly
is hardening: they become stupidly secure (compare Ps 55:19; Am
Lord will not do good …
evil—They deny that God regards human affairs, or renders
good to the good; or evil to the evil, but that all things go haphazard
10:4; Mal 2:17).
13. Therefore their goods shall become a
booty, &c.—Fulfilling the prophecy in De 28:30, 39 (compare Am 5:11).
14. voice of … day of …
Lord—that is, Jehovah ushering in that day with a roar of
vengeance against the guilty (Jer 25:30; Am 1:2). They who will not now heed (Zep 1:12) His voice by His prophets, must
heed it when uttered by the avenging foe.
mighty … shall cry …
bitterly—in hopeless despair; the might on which Jerusalem
now prides itself, shall then fail utterly.
15. wasteness … desolation—The
Hebrew terms by their similarity of sounds, Shoah,
Umeshoah, express the dreary monotony of desolation (see on Na 2:10).
16. the trumpet—namely, of the besieging
alarm—the war shout [Maurer].
towers—literally, "angles"; for city
walls used not to be built in a direct line, but with sinuous curves
and angles, so that besiegers advancing might be assailed not only in
front, but on both sides, caught as it were in a cul-de-sac; towers
were built especially at the angles. So Tacitus describes the walls of Jerusalem
17. like blind men—unable to see whither
to turn themselves so as to find an escape from existing evils.
flesh—Hebrew, "bread"; so the
Arabic term for "bread" is used for "flesh" (Mt 26:26).
18. Neither … silver nor … gold shall
… deliver them, &c.—(Pr 11:4).
fire of his jealousy—(Eze 38:19); His wrath jealous for His honor
consuming the guilty like fire.
make even a speedy riddance of
all—rather, a "consummation" (complete destruction: "full
end," Jer 46:28; Eze 11:13) "altogether sudden" [Maurer]. "A consumption, and that a
sudden one" [Calvin].