Zechariah 7:6
And when you did eat, and when you did drink, did not you eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
7:1-7 If we truly desire to know the will of God in doubtful matters, we must not only consult his word and ministers, but seek his direction by fervent prayer. Those who would know God's mind should consult God's ministers; and, in doubtful cases, ask advice of those whose special business it is to search the Scriptures. The Jews seemed to question whether they ought to continue their fasts, seeing that the city and temple were likely to be finished. The first answer to their inquiry is a sharp reproof of hypocrisy. These fasts were not acceptable to God, unless observed in a better manner, and to better purpose. There was the form of duty, but no life, or soul, or power in it. Holy exercises are to be done to God, looking to his word as our rule, and his glory as our end, seeking to please him and obtain his favour; but self was the centre of all their actions. And it was not enough to weep on fast days; they should have searched the Scriptures of the prophets, that they might have seen what was the ground of God's controversy with their fathers. Whether people are in prosperity or adversity, they must be called upon to leave their sins, and to do their duty.And when ye eat and when ye drink, is it not ye who eat and ye who drink? - Conversely now that, after your return, ye feast for joy, this is no religious act; ye have all the good of it, there is no thanksgiving to God. Contrary to the apostle's saying, "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glow of God" 1 Corinthians 10:31. "He eateth and drinketh to himself, who receiveth the nourishments of the body, which are the common gifts of the Creator, without the needy. And anyone fasts to himself, if he doth not give to the poor what for the time he withdraweth from himself, but keepeth it to be thereafter offered to his appetite. Hence, it is said by Joel, sanctify a fast. For to 'sanctify a fast' is to show an abstinence worthy of God through other good deeds. Let anger cease, quarrels be hushed. For in vain is the flesh worn, if the mind is not refrained from evil pleasures, since the Lord says by the prophet, "Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate ..." Isaiah 57:3-4. 6. did not ye eat for yourselves?—literally, "Is it not ye who eat?" that is, it is not unto Me and My glory. It tends no more to My glory, your feasting than your fasting. I was as little minded by you in your fasts as in your feasts, and I was as little pleased with your fasts as feasts; self was all in both, you looked no higher. Such fasting commends none to God; you had not been the worse if you had forborne such fasts, nor are you the better for such ill-managed abstinence. And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink,.... Either at common meals, or at their festivals:

did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? merely and only for their own refreshment and pleasure, and not for the glory of God; though that ought to be the principal end in eating and drinking, 1 Corinthians 10:31.

And when ye ate, and when ye drank, did ye not eat {h} for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

(h) Did you not eat and drink for your own benefit and necessity, and so likewise you abstained according to your own imaginings, and not after the command and direction of my Law.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. did eat and … did drink] Rather, eat and drink, as R. V.

did not ye eat for yourselves, &c.?] Lit. is it not you who are eating, and you who are drinking? i.e. is it not simply an act terminating upon yourselves, which in no way affects Me? Comp. 1 Corinthians 8:8.Verse 6. - When ye did eat, etc.; better, when ye eat and when ye drink. As in your fasts, so in your rejoicings and your daily life. Did not ye eat for yourselves, etc.? literally, Is it not ye who are eating and ye who are drinking? There the matter ends; it is self that is concerned, and there is no reference to God (comp. 1 Corinthians 8:8; 1 Corinthians 10:31). After this statement of the aim of the judgments of God, Zephaniah mentions two other powerful heathen nations as examples, to prove that the whole of the heathen world will succumb to the judgment. Zephaniah 2:12. "Ye Cushites also, slain of my sword are they. Zephaniah 2:13. And let him stretch out his hand toward the south, and destroy Asshur; and make Nineveh a barren waste, a dry place, like the desert. Zephaniah 2:14. And herds lie down in the midst of it, all kinds of beasts in crowds: pelicans also and hedgehogs will lodge on their knobs; the voice of the singer in the window; heaps upon the threshold: for their cedar-work hath He made bare. Zephaniah 2:15. This the city, the exulting one, the safely dwelling one, which said in her heart, I, and no more: how has she become a desolation, a lair of beasts! Every one that passeth by it will hiss, swing his hand." As a representative of the heathen dwelling in the south, Zephaniah does not mention Edom, which bordered upon Judah, or the neighbouring land of Egypt, but the remote Ethiopia, the furthest kingdom or people in the south that was known to the Hebrews. The Ethiopians will be slain of the sword of Jehovah. המּה does not take the place of the copula between the subject and predicate, any more than הוּא in Isaiah 37:16 and Ezra 5:11 (to which Hitzig appeals in support of this usage: see Delitzsch, on the other hand, in his Comm. on Isaiah, l.c.), but is a predicate. The prophecy passes suddenly from the form of address (in the second person) adopted in the opening clause, to a statement concerning the Cushites (in the third person). For similar instances of sudden transition, see Zephaniah 3:18; Zechariah 3:8; Ezekiel 28:22.

(Note: Calvin correctly says: "The prophet commences by driving them, in the second person, to the tribunal of God, and then adds in the third person, 'They will be,' etc.")

חללי חרבּי is a reminiscence from Isaiah 66:16 : slain by Jehovah with the sword. Zephaniah says nothing further concerning this distant nation, which had not come into any hostile collision with Judah in his day; and only mentions it to exemplify the thought that all the heathen will come under the judgment. The fulfilment commenced with the judgment upon Egypt through the Chaldaeans, as is evident from Ezekiel 30:4, Ezekiel 30:9, as compared with Josephus, Ant. x. 11, and continues till the conversion of that people to the Lord, the commencement of which is recorded in Acts 8:27-38. The prophet dwells longer upon the heathen power of the north, the Assyrian kingdom with its capital Nineveh, because Assyria was then the imperial power, which was seeking to destroy the kingdom of God in Judah. This explains the fact that the prophet expresses the announcement of the destruction of this power in the form of a wish, as the use of the contracted forms yēt and yâsēm clearly shows. For it is evident that Ewald is wrong in supposing that ויט stands for ויּט, or should be so pointed, inasmuch as the historical tense, "there He stretched out His hand," would be perfectly out of place. נטה יד (to stretch out a hand), as in Zephaniah 1:4. ‛al tsâphōn, over (or against) the north. The reference is to Assyria with the capital Nineveh. It is true that this kingdom was not to the north, but to the north-east, of Judah; but inasmuch as the Assyrian armies invaded Palestine from the north, it is regarded by the prophets as situated in the north. On Nineveh itself, see at Jonah 1:2 (p. 263); and on the destruction of this city and the fall of the Assyrian empire, at Nahum 3:19 (p. 379). Lishmâmâh is strengthened by the apposition tsiyyâh kammidbâr.

Nineveh is not only to become a steppe, in which herds feed (Isaiah 27:10), but a dry, desolate waste, where only desert animals will make their home. Tsiyyâh, the dry, arid land - the barren, sandy desert (cf. Isaiah 35:1). בּתוכהּ, in the midst of the city which has become a desert, there lie flocks, not of sheep and goats (צאן, Zephaniah 2:6; cf. Isaiah 13:20), but כּל־חיתו־גוי , literally of all the animals of the (or a) nation. The meaning can only be, "all kinds of animals in crowds or in a mass." גּוי is used here for the mass of animals, just as it is in Joel 1:6 for the multitude of locusts, and as עם is in Proverbs 30:35-36 for the ant-people; and the genitive is to be taken as in apposition. Every other explanation is exposed to much greater objections and difficulties. For the form חיתו, see at Genesis 1:24. Pelicans and hedgehogs will make their homes in the remains of the ruined buildings (see at Isaiah 34:11, on which passage Zephaniah rests his description). בּכפתּריה, upon the knobs of the pillars left standing when the palaces were destroyed (kaphtōr; see at Amos 9:1). The reference to the pelican, a marsh bird, is not opposed to the tsiyyâh of Zephaniah 2:13, since Nineveh stood by the side of streams, the waters of which formed marshes after the destruction of the city. קול ישׁורר cannot be rendered "a voice sings," for shōrēr, to sing, is not used for tuning or resounding; but yeshōrēr is to be taken relatively, and as subordinate to קול, the voice of him that sings will be heard in the window. Jerome gives it correctly: vox canentis in fenestra. There is no necessity to think of the cry of the owl or hawk in particular, but simply of birds generally, which make their singing heard in the windows of the ruins. The sketching of the picture of the destruction passes from the general appearance of the city to the separate ruins, coming down from the lofty knobs of the pillars to the windows, and from these to the thresholds of the ruins of the houses. Upon the thresholds there is chōrebh, devastation ( equals rubbish), and no longer a living being. This is perfectly appropriate, so that there is no necessity to give the word an arbitrary interpretation, or to alter the text, so as to get the meaning a raven or a crow. The description closes with the explanatory sentence: "for He has laid bare the cedar-work," i.e., has so destroyed the palaces and state buildings, that the costly panelling of the walls is exposed. 'Arzâh is a collective, from 'erez, the cedar-work, and there is no ground for any such alteration of the text as Ewald and Hitzig suggest, in order to obtain the trivial meaning "hews or hacks in pieces," or the cold expression, "He destroys, lays bare." In Zephaniah 2:15 the picture is rounded off. "This is the city," i.e., this is what happens to the exulting city. עלּיזה, exulting, applied to the joyful tumult caused by the men - a favourite word with Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 22:2; Isaiah 23:7; Isaiah 24:8; Isaiah 32:13). The following predicates from היּושׁבת to עוד are borrowed from the description of Babel in Isaiah 47:8, and express the security and self-deification of the mighty imperial city. The Yod in 'aphsı̄ is not paragogical, but a pronoun in the first person; at the same time, 'ephes is not a preposition, "beside me," since in that case the negation "not one" could not be omitted, but "the non-existence," so that אפסי equals איני, I am absolutely no further (see at Isaiah 47:8). But how has this self-deifying pride been put to shame! איך, an expression of amazement at the tragical turn in her fate. The city filled with the joyful exulting of human beings has become the lair of wild beasts, and every one that passes by expresses his malicious delight in its ruin. Shâraq, to hiss, a common manifestation of scorn (cf. Micah 6:16; Jeremiah 19:8). היניע יד, to swing the hand, embodying the thought, "Away with her, she has richly deserved her fate."

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