Zephaniah 2:9
Verse 9. - As I live. This is a common formulary to express certainty, God, as it were, pledging his existence to the truth of his declaration (Deuteronomy 32:40; Isaiah 49:18, etc.).. God calls himself, The Lord of hosts, therefore able to fulfil his threats; and the God of Israel, and therefore ready to punish wrongs done to his chosen people. As Sodom. This threat came home with particular force to the Moabites and Am. monites who dwelt in the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea, and had before their eyes this awful proof of the chastisement with which sin meets, and which had happened in the time of their forefather Lot. "There are no settled inhabitants," says Dr. Porter, writing of Moab, "but the hillsides and glens are studded with the ruins of ancient towns and villages. We at length pitched our tents by the lonely fountain of Heshbon. The site of this royal city is commanding - a rounded hilt on the edge of avast plateau, which extends on the south and east to the horizon, and on the west breaks down in steep slopes, jagged cliffs, and wild ravines, to the Dead Sea and Jordan valley, nearly four thousand feet below. The hill was the nucleus of the city. Its sides are covered with ruins, and remains of houses, temples, and other buildings are strewn over a considerable section of the adjoining plain. All is desolate. Not a building, and scarcely a fragment of a wall, is standing; yet, though deserted for centuries, it bears its ancient name. I looked from Heshbon far and wide over the ancient territory of the Moabites, and saw desolation everywhere. The old towns and villages are all deserted and in ruins. In fact, there is not at this moment a single inhabited town or village in Moab, except Kerak, which stands on the extreme southern border. The sites of many were visible - grey mounds dotting the plain" ('Illust. of Bible Proph.,' pp. 24, 25). "The cities, towns, villages, are all in ruins. ... And no attempt is ever made to rebuild or repair; no man ventures to seek even a temporary abode among the ruined cities of Moab. The local Arab avoids the old sites, and seeks rest and security amid rocks and ravines; the powerful desert tribes sweep over the country periodically, and devour and destroy all in their track" (ibid., p. 28). Even the breeding of nettles; rather, a possession of nettles; a place where nettles only grow. Vulgate, siccitas spinarum. The identification of the plant kharul is uncertain. In Job (Job 30:7) it is represented as of sufficient growth to conceal fugitives; hence some think it is the wild mustard. Dr. Pusey, relying on a notice of Professor Palmer, considers it to be the mallow, which grows in rank luxuriance in Moab. The LXX., reading daleth instead of mem in the ἅπαξ λεγόμενον mimshaq, rendered "breeding," has Δαμασκὸς ἐκλελειμμένη, "Damascus shall be left." Salt pits. All travellers note the abundance of rock salt in the vicinity of the Dead Sea (see Deuteronomy 29:23; and comp. Psalm 107:34; Jeremiah 17:6). A perpetual desolation. The prophecy intimates that this country should never recover its prosperity (comp. Ezekiel 25.). The residue of my people shall spoil them. A partial fulfilment of this prophecy occurred when Judas Maccabaeus smote Ammon (1 Macc. 5:6, etc.), and Alexander Jannaeus subdued the Moabites (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 13:13. 5); but the prophet looks forward to a spiritual fulfilment under the Messiah, as we see from ver. 11 (comp. Isaiah 14:1, 2; Isaiah 49:23, etc.). The faithful remnant shall win possession of the heathen strongholds, and convert the nations to Christ, and incorporate them in the Church.

2:4-15 Those are really in a woful condition who have the word of the Lord against them, for no word of his shall fall to the ground. God will restore his people to their rights, though long kept from them. It has been the common lot of God's people, in all ages, to be reproached and reviled. God shall be worshipped, not only by all Israel, and the strangers who join them, but by the heathen. Remote nations must be reckoned with for the wrongs done to God's people. The sufferings of the insolent and haughty in prosperity, are unpitied and unlamented. But all the desolations of flourishing nations will make way for the overturning Satan's kingdom. Let us improve our advantages, and expect the performance of every promise, praying that our Father's name may be hallowed every where, over all the earth.Therefore as I live, saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,.... The Lord here swears by himself, by his life; partly to show how provoked he was at, and how grievously he resented, the injuries done to his people; and partly to observe the certain fulfilment of what is after declared; and it might be depended upon it would surely be done, not only because of his word and oath, which are immutable; but because of his ability to do it, as "the Lord of hosts", of armies above and below; and because of the covenant relation that subsisted between him and Israel, being their God; and therefore would avenge the insults and injuries done them:

surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah; that is, should be utterly destroyed, as these cities were; whose destruction is often made use of to express the utter ruin and destruction of any other people; otherwise it is not to be supposed that these countries were to be destroyed, or were destroyed, in like manner, by fire from heaven; the similitude lies in other things after expressed:

even the breeding of nettles; or "left to nettles" (q); or rather to "thorns", as the Targum: and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it "the dryness of thorns", though to a very poor sense. In general the meaning of the phrase is, that those countries should be very barren and desolate, like such places as are overrun with nettles, thorns, briers, and brambles; and these so thick, that there is no passing through them without a man's tearing his garments and his flesh: for Schultens (r), from the use of the word (s) in the Arabic language, shows that the words are to be rendered a "thicket of thorns which tear"; and cut the feet of those that pass through them; and even their whole body, as well as their clothes; and, wherever these grow in such plenty, it is a plain sign of a barren land, as well as what follow:

and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation; signifying that the countries of Moab and Ammon should be waste, barren, and uncultivated, as the above places were, where nothing but nettles grew, as do in great abundance in desolate places; and where saltpits should be, or heaps of salt, as Kimchi interprets it; and wherever salt is found, as Pliny (t) says, it is a barren place, and produces nothing; though Herodotus (u) speaks of places where were hillocks of salt, and very fruitful; and where the people used salt in manuring and improving their ground; which must be accounted for by the difference of climate and soil: this passage is produced by Reland (w) to prove that the lake Asphaltites is not the place, as is commonly believed, where Sodom and Gomorrah stood; since those cities were not overflown, or immersed in and covered with water, but were destroyed by fire and brimstone, and so became desolate; and had no herbs and plants, but nettles, and such like things; and such these countries of Moab and Ammon should be, and ever remain so, at least for a long time; and especially should be desolate and uninhabited by the former possessors of it; see Deuteronomy 29:23 this was fulfilled about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, when Nebuchadnezzar, as Josephus (x) relates, led his army into Coelesyria, and made war upon the Ammonites and Moabites, and subjected them to him, who were the inhabitant of it, as the same writer says (y):

the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them; that is, the Jews, the remnant of them that returned from Babylon: now these, in the times of the Maccabees, and those that descended from them, seized on several places in these countries, and possessed them; for, after these countries had been subdued and made desolate by Nebuchadnezzar, they became considerable nations again. Josephus (z) says the Moabites in his time were a great nation; though in the third century, as Origen (a) relates, they went under the common name of Arabians; and, even long before the times of Josephus, they were called Arabian Moabites, as he himself observes; when he tells us that Alexander Jannaeus subdued them, and imposed a tribute on them; and who also gives us an account of the cities of the Moabites, which were taken and demolished by them, as Essebon, Medaba, Lemba, Oronas, Telithon, Zara, the valley of the Cilicians, and Pella; these he destroyed, because the inhabitants would not promise to conform to the rites and customs of the Jews (b); though Josephus ben Gorion, who also makes mention of these cities as taken by the same prince, says (c) he did not demolish them, because they entered into a covenant and were circumcised; and he speaks of ten fortified cities of the king of Syria, added at the same time to the kingdom of Israel, not destroyed: likewise the children of Ammon, after their captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, became a powerful people: we read of the country of the Ammonites in

"Then Jason, who had undermined his own brother, being undermined by another, was compelled to flee into the country of the Ammonites.'' (2 Maccabees 4:26)

and, in the times of Judas Maccabeus, Timotheus, their general, got together a strong and numerous army, which being worsted by Judas, he took their city Jasoron, or Jaser,

"Afterward he passed over to the children of Ammon, where he found a mighty power, and much people, with Timotheus their captain.'' (1 Maccabees 5:6)

carried their wives and children captive, and burnt their city (d); and this people, as well as the Moabites in the third century, as before observed, were swallowed up under the general name of Arabians; and neither of them are any more; all which has fulfilled this prophecy, and those of Jeremiah and Amos concerning them: this, likewise, in a spiritual sense, might have a further accomplishment in the first times of the Gospel, when it was preached in these countries by the apostles, and churches were formed in them; and may be still further accomplished in the latter day, when those parts of the world shall be possessed by converted Jews and by Gentile Christians. Kimchi owns it may be interpreted as future, of what shall be in the times of the Messiah.

(q) "locus urticae derelictus", Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. col. 872. Stockius, p. 629.; "derelictio urticae", Burkius. So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 68. 2.((r) De Defect. Hodiern. Ling. Heb. p. 32. (s) "laceravit, laceratus est", Golius, col. 2231. Castel. col. 2165. (t) Nat. Hist. l. 31. c. 7. "Salsa autem tellus----frugibus infelix." Virgil. Georgic. l. 2.((u) Melpomene, sive l. 4. c. 182, 183. (w) Palestina Illustrata, l. 1. c. 38. p. 254, 255. (x) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 9. sect. 7. (y) Ibid. l. 1. c. 11. sect. 5. (z) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 11. sect. 5. (a) Comment. in Job, fol. 2. 1. A. (b) Antiqu. l. 13. c. 13. sect. 5. c. 15. sect. 4. De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 4. sect. 2.((c) Hist. Heb. l. 4. c. 12. p. 297. (d) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 12. c. 8. sect. 1. 1 Maccab. v. 6.

Zephaniah 2:8
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