|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-3 The prophet calls to national repentance, as the only way to prevent national ruin. A nation not desiring, that has not desires toward God, is not desirous of his favour and grace, has no mind to repent and reform. Or, not desirable, not having any thing to recommend them to God; to whom God might justly say, Depart from me; but he says, Gather together to me that you may seek my face. We know what God's decree will bring against impenitent sinners, therefore it highly concerns all to repent in the accepted time. How careful should we all be to seek peace with God, before the Holy Spirit withdraws from us, or ceases to strive with us; before the day of grace is over, or the day of life; before our everlasting state is determined! Let the poor, despised, and afflicted, seek the Lord, and seek to understand and keep his commandments better, that they may be more humbled for their sins. The chief hope of deliverance from national judgments rests upon prayer.
Verse 2. - Before the decree bring forth. Before the result follows the fiat. The Divine purpose is represented as a woman labouring with child, travailing before it comes to execution. This is thrice repeated in substance, to show the certainty and speed of its arrival. Before the day pass as the chaff. "Before" is not in the Hebrew, and the clause is parenthetical, "Like chaff the day passeth." "The day" must be still the day of the Lord, not the day of life or the day of repentance. God brings on the judgment as easily and as quickly as the wind carries the chaff before it. The Septuagint and Syriac join the two clauses together; thus the LXX., Πρὸ τοῦ γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς ὡς ἄνθος παραπορευόμενον, "Before ye become as a flower that passeth away." And Jerome gives, "Priusquam pariat jussio quasi pulverem transeuntem diem," "Before the decree beget the day which passeth by like the dust." The present Hebrew text does not confirm these versions. The figure of the chaff is common (see Job 21:18; Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 29:5).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff,.... Which was like a woman big with child, ready to be delivered. The decree of God concerning the people of the Jews was pregnant with wrath and ruin for their sins, and just ripe for execution; and therefore, before it was actually executed, they are exhorted as above; not that the decree of God which was gone forth could be frustrated and made void by anything done by them; only that, when it was put into execution, such as repented of their sins might be saved from the general calamity; which they are called upon to do before the day come appointed by the Lord for the execution of this decree; which lingered not, and was not delayed, but slid on as swiftly as chaff before the driving wind. There is some difficulty in the rendering and sense of these words; some thus, "before the day, which passes as chaff, brings forth the decree" (e); that is, before the time, which moves swiftly, brings on the execution of the decree, or of the thing decreed in it, it is big with: others, "before the decree brings forth the day that passeth as chaff" (f); or in which the chaff shall be separated from the wheat, pass away, be dispersed here and there; that is, before they were scattered about by it as chaff: and to this sense the Septuagint and Arabic versions, "before ye are as a flower"; or, as the Syriac, "as chaff that passeth away"; and so the Targum more fully,
"before the decree of the house of judgment come out upon you, and ye be like chaff which the wind blows away, and like a shadow which passes from before the day.'' See Psalm 1:4.
Before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you; these phrases explain the former, and show what the decree was big with, and ready to bring forth, even the judgments of God, in wrath and fierce anger; and what the day is, said to pass as the chaff; the day of God's vengeance fixed by him, which should come upon them, and scatter them like chaff among the nations of the world: or rather the words may be rendered thus, as by Gussetius (g), "whilst as yet the decree hath not brought forth, the day passeth away like chaff"; being neglected and spent in an useless and unprofitable manner; for which they are reproved; and therefore are exhorted to be wiser for the future, and redeem precious time; and, before the Lord's anger comes upon them, do what is before exhorted to, and particularly what follows:
(e) "antequam dies, quae transit ut palea, pariat decretum", Drusius; so Ben Melech. (f) "Priusquam decretum Dei pariat deim veluti glumae transeuntis", Grotius. (g) Ebr. Comment. p. 305.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. Before the decree bring forth—that is, Before God's decree against you announced by me (Zep 1:1-18) have its fulfilment. As the embryo lies hid in the womb, and then emerges to light in its own due time, so though God for a time hides His vengeance, yet He brings it forth at the proper season.
before the day pass as the chaff—that is, before the day for repentance pass, and with it you, the ungodly, pass away as the chaff (Job 21:18; Ps 1:4). Maurer puts it parenthetically, "the day (that is, time) passes as the chaff (that is, most quickly)." Calvin, "before the decree bring forth" (the predicted vengeance), (then) the chaff (the Jews) shall pass in a day, that is, in a moment, though they thought that it would be long before they could be overthrown. English Version is best; the latter clause being explanatory of the former, and so the before being understood, not expressed.
Zephaniah 2:2 Parallel Commentaries
Zephaniah 2:2 NIV
Zephaniah 2:2 NLT
Zephaniah 2:2 ESV
Zephaniah 2:2 NASB
Zephaniah 2:2 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible