Zephaniah 1 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Zephaniah 1)

Verse 1

[1] The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

Zephaniah — He is thought to have been the great-grandson of king Hezekiah.

In the days of Josiah — So he was cotemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and foretells what Jeremiah and Ezekiel did.

Verse 4

[4] I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;

The remnant — Whatsoever remains of the idolatry of Baal.

This place — Jerusalem.

The name — Both the persons, and the memory of them.

The Chemarims — Either called so from their black garments they went in, or, from their swarthy colour occasioned by the black smoak of incense: they were door-keepers, and sextons of Baal.

The priests — The priests of Baal.

Verse 5

[5] And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;

House-tops — On the flat roofs of their houses.

And that swear — That mixt idol-worship, and the worship of the true God; that devote themselves to God, and Baal, or Malchim, that is, Moloch.

Verse 7

[7] Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.

Hold thy peace — Thou that murmurest against God, stand in awe.

The day — A day of vengeance from the Lord.

A sacrifice — The wicked Jews, whom he will sacrifice by the sword.

His guests — summoned the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, to eat the flesh, and drink the blood.

Verse 8

[8] And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.

The princes — The great ones, who dreamed of shifting better than others, but fell with the first, 2 Kings 25:19-21.

Children — Sons and grand-children, Josiah: Jehoahaz died a captive in Egypt, 2 Kings 23:34, Jehoakim died in Babylon, and was buried with the burial of an ass, Jeremiah 22:18,19, Jeconiah died a captive: and Zedekiah and his children, fared still worse.

Strange apparel — The garb of foreigners, imitated by the wanton Jews.

Verse 9

[9] In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.

In the same day — At the same time.

Their masters houses — Either the oppressing kings, whose officers these were, or publick officers and judges, whose servants thus spoiled the poor.

Violence — Goods taken by force, by false accusations, or by suborned evidence.

Verse 10

[10] 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.

The noise — The great out-cry and lamentation.

The fish gate — At which gate the Babylonians first entered into the city.

The second — This gate was in the second wall of Jerusalem, which on that side was fortified with three walls.

Crashing — Of things broken into shivers; possibly the noise of doors, windows, closets, and chests broken up.

The hills — On which the city stood.

Verse 11

[11] Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.

Howl — Cry aloud, and bitterly.

Maktesh — The lower town.

Merchant people — Who were wont to lodge in this place.

That bear silver — That brought it with them to pay for what they bought.

Verse 12

[12] And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.

I will search — God speaks after the manner of men, who searches dark places with candles. He will fully discover and punish.

Their lees — In allusion to liquors, which not being poured out from vessel to vessel to refine them, grow thick and foul.

Verse 14

[14] The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

The voice if the day — The day which will come with a great noise.

Verse 15

[15] That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

A day — Of unparalleled calamities.

Verse 17

[17] And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.

Like blind men — Not knowing where to go.

As dust — As abundantly, and as carelessly as dust in the highway.

Verse 18

[18] Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

In the land — Therefore let not sinners be laid asleep by the patience of God; for when the measure of their iniquity is full, his justice will both overtake and overcome them, will make quick and thorough work.