|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 13. - The north, represented by Assyria, as yet unconquered, and still apparently flourishing. Though this country lay to the northeast of Palestine, its armies attacked from the north, and it is generally represented as a northern power. Its destruction was foretold (Isaiah 10:12; Ezekiel 31:11, etc.; Nahum 1:14, etc.). In this verse the Hebrew verbs are not in the simple future, but in the imperative or optative mood, "Let him stretch out his hand," etc., as though the prophet were praying that the enemies of his people might be overthrown. Nineveh. St. Jerome gives speciosam, rendering the proper name according to his notion of its Hebrew etymology. Its proper meaning, in Accadian, would be "Fish house,". i.e. house consecrated to the god of fish. (For a description of Nineveh, see note on Jonah 1:2. For the destruction of Nineveh, see the Introduction to Nahum, § I.) Dry like a wilderness. The country shall become an and desert. Assyria was greatly indebted for its remarkable fertility to a very successful system of artificial irrigation, and when this was not maintained, great tracts soon relapsed into a wilderness (Layard, 'Nineveh,' 2:68). "Cultivation," says Professor Rawlinson, "is now the exception instead of the rule. 'Instead of the luxuriant fields, the groves and gardens of former times, nothing now meets the eye but an arid waste' (Chesny). Large tracts are covered by unwholesome marshes, producing nothing but enormous reeds; others lie waste and bare, parched up by the fierce heat of the sun, and utterly destitute of water; in some places sand drifts accumulate, and threaten to make the whole region a mere portion of the desert" ('Anc. Men.,' 1:41).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he will stretch out his hand against the north,.... Either the Lord, or Nebuchadnezzar his sword; who, as he would subdue the nations that lay southward, he would lead his army northward against the land of Assyria, which lay to the north of Judea, as next explained:
and destroy Assyria; that famous monarchy, which had ruled over the kingdoms of the earth, now should come to an end, and be reduced to subjection to the king of Babylon:
and will make Nineveh a desolation; which was the capital city, the metropolis of the Assyrian monarchy: Nahum prophesies at large of the destruction of this city:
and dry like a wilderness; which before was a very watery place, situated by rivers, particularly the river Tigris; so that it was formerly like a pool of water, Nahum 2:6 but now should be dry like a heath or desert, Dr. Prideaux places the destruction of Nineveh in the twenty ninth year of Josiah's reign; but Bishop Usher earlier, in the sixteenth year of his reign; and, if so, then Zephaniah, who here prophesies of it, must begin to prophesy in the former part of Josiah's reign.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. Here he passes suddenly to the north. Nineveh was destroyed by Cyaxares and Nabopolassar, 625 B.C. The Scythian hordes, by an inroad into Media and thence in the southwest of Asia (thought by many to be the forces described by Zephaniah, as the invaders of Judea, rather than the Chaldeans), for a while interrupted Cyaxares' operations; but he finally succeeded. Arbaces and Belesis previously subverted the Assyrian empire under Sardanapalus (that is, Pul?), 877 B.C.
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