Zephaniah 1:11
Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.
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1:7-13 God's day is at hand; the punishment of presumptuous sinners is a sacrifice to the justice of God. The Jewish royal family shall be reckoned with for their pride and vanity; and those that leap on the threshold, invading their neighbours' rights, and seizing their possessions. The trading people and the rich merchants are called to account. Secure and careless people are reckoned with. They are secure and easy; they say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; that is, they deny his dispensing rewards and punishments. But in the day of the Lord's judgment, it will clearly appear that those who perish, fall a sacrifice to Divine justice for breaking God's law, and because they have no interest by faith in the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice.Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh - Literally, "Mortar" , "in which," Jerome says, "corn is pounded; a hollow vessel, and fit for the use of medical men, in which properly ptisans are wont to be beaten (or made). Striking is it, that Scripture saith not, 'who dwell in the valley or in the alley,' but who "dwell in the mortar," because as corn, when the pestle striketh, is bruised, so the army of the enemy shall rush down upon you" (Jerome). The place intended is probably so much of the valley of the Tyropoeon, which intersected Jerusalem from north to south, as was enclosed by the second wall, on the north, and the first wall on the south. The valley "extended as far as the fountain of Siloam," and united with the valley of Jehoshaphat a little below Ophel. It was "full of houses," and, from its name as well as from its situation, it was probably the scene of petty merchandise, where the occasions in which men could and did break the law and offend God, were the more continual, because they entered into their daily life, and were a part of it. The sound of the pestle was continually heard there; another sound should thereafter be heard, when they should not bruise, but be themselves bruised. The name "Maktesh" was probably chosen to express how their false hopes, grounded on the presence of God's temple among them while by their sins they profaned it, should be turned into true fears. They had been and thought themselves "Mikdash," "a holy place,. sanctuary;" they should be Maktesh , wherein all should be utterly bruised in pieces.

Jerome: "Whoso considereth the calamities of that siege, and how the city was pressed and hemmed in, will feel how aptly he calls them "the inhabitants of a mortar;" for, as grains of corn are brought together into a mortar, to the end that, when the pestle descendeth, being unable to fly off, they may be bruised, so the people flowing together, out of all the countries of Judaea, was narrowed in by a sudden siege, and through the savage cruelty of the above leaders of the sedition, was unutterably tortured from within, more than by the enemy without."

For all the merchant people are cut down - (Literally, "the people of Canaan") that is Ch.: "they who in deeds are like the people of Canaan," according to that , "Thou art of Canaan and not of Judah," and, "Thy father is an Amorite and thy mother a Hittite" . So our Lord says to the reprobate Jews, "Ye are of your father the devil" John 8:44.

All they that bear silver are cut off - (Literally, "all laden with"). The silver, wherewith they lade themselves, being gotten amiss, is a load upon them, weighing them down until they are destroyed.

11. Maktesh—rather, "the mortar," a name applied to the valley of Siloam from its hollow shape [Jerome]. The valley between Zion and Mount Olivet, at the eastern extremity of Mount Moriah, where the merchants dwelt. Zec 14:21, "The Canaanite," namely, merchant [Chaldee Version]. The Tyropœon (that is, cheese-makers') valley below Mount Akra [Rosenmuller]. Better Jerusalem itself, so called as lying in the midst of hills (Isa 22:1; Jer 21:13) and as doomed to be the scene of its people being destroyed as corn or drugs are pounded in a mortar (Pr 27:22) [Maurer]. Compare the similar image of a "pot" (Eze 24:3, 6). The reason for the destruction is subjoined, namely, its merchant people's greediness of gain.

all the merchant people—literally, the "Canaanite people": irony: all the merchant people of Jerusalem are very Canaanites in greed for gain and in idolatries (see on [1168]Ho 12:7).

all … that bear silver—loading themselves with that which will prove but a burden (Hab 2:6).

Howl, cry aloud, and bitterly,

ye inhabitants of Maktesh: some read it appellatively: the mortar in which of old, before the corn-mill was known and used, they did pound and beat their corn for bread; they also pounded spices. Others say it is the lower town, or valley of Cedron in Jerusalem, a deep valley that surrounded the mountain of the temple, to which, fancied like a deep mortar, they gave the name Maktesh.

All the merchant people; who were wont either to lodge in this place when they came to trade, or, if Jewish merchants, dwelt there, which was much to the advantage of the place; but now, by the invasion of the land, and by the siege, all trade is cut off, and many merchants either slain or made slaves.

All they that bear silver, that brought it with them to pay for what they bought up, and so enriched the inhabitants of this Maktesh, all that traded and paid ready money,

are cut off. Others say the money-changers or bankers are here meant by them that bear silver, persons that furnished all sorts of people with silver for goods laid to pledge or bartered.

Are cut off, i.e. shall be as surely as if it were already done.

Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh,.... The name of a street in Jerusalem, as Aben Ezra; perhaps it lay low in the hollow of the city, and in the form of a mortar, from whence it might have its name, as the word (q) signifies; which is used both for a hollow place and for a mortar, Judges 15:19 unless it might be so called from such persons dwelling in it, that used mortars for spice, and other things. The Targum is,

"howl, all ye that dwell in the valley of Kidron;''

and Jerom thinks the valley of Siloah is intended, which is the same; which, Adrichomius (r) says, was broad, deep, and dark, and surrounded the temple in manner of a foss, or ditch; and was disposed in the form of a mortar, called in Hebrew "machtes"; in Latin, "pila"; in which merchants and tradesmen of all kinds dwelt. It is thought by others to be the same which Josephus (s) calls "the valley of the cheese mongers", which lay between the two hills Zion and Acra. The reason of their howling is,

for all the merchant people are cut down; either cut to pieces by the sword of the enemy, and become silent, as the word (t) sometimes signifies, and the Vulgate Latin version here renders it; become so by death, and laid in the silent grave, and no more concerned in merchandise; or else stripped of all their wealth and goods by the enemy, and so cut down, broke, and become bankrupt, and could trade no more. The word for merchant signifies a Canaanite; and the Targum paraphrases it thus,

"for all the people are broken, whose works are like the works of the people of the land of Canaan:''

all they that bear silver are cut off; that have large quantities of it, and carry it to market to buy goods with it as merchants; these shall be cut off, and so a great loss to trade, and a cause of howling and lamentation; or such that wear it in their garments, embroidered with it; or rather in their purses, who are loaded with this thick clay, abound with it. The Targum is,

"all that are rich in substance shall be destroyed.''

(q) "mortarii", Vatablus, Tigurine version; "cavi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "loci concavi", Calvin. (r) Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 163. (s) De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 4. sect. 1.((t) "conticuit", V. L. "in silentium redactus est", Drusius.

Howl, ye inhabitants of {g} Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.

(g) This is meant of the street of the merchants which was lower than the rest of the place around it.

11. ye inhabitants of Maktesh] The term Maktesh is rendered “hollow-place,” Jdg 15:19, and mortar, Proverbs 27:22. Some depression or valley in the city is referred to: Hitzig thinks of that between Acra and the Temple area, and others of the valley of the Tyropœon or cheese-makers, a depression, now filled up with the rubbish of many centuries, which ran from north to south, dividing the city into two parts. The probability is that the Maktesh lay in the northern part of the city. It was on this side that Jerusalem was most liable to attack, and the prophet has in view throughout an invasion by a foe from the north.

all the merchant people] lit. the people of Canaan. The Canaanites or Phenicians were the chief traders in Palestine, and the name Canaan came to be used for merchant. It is scarcely actual Canaanites that are referred to here; already in Hosea 12:7 the term Canaan is applied figuratively to Ephraim, and in Ezekiel 16:29; Ezekiel 17:4, Chaldea is called the “land of Canaan,” i.e. the merchant land. In Isaiah 23:8 the word Canaan seems to be used in the plur., and certainly in a figurative sense: “her (Tyre’s) traffickers are the honourable of the earth.” In Proverbs 31:24 the form Canaanite is used for merchant, and so perhaps Job 41:6 (Heb. 40:30).

are cut down] R.V. are undone, as Isaiah 6:5; the word is usually rendered cut off, Hosea 10:7; Hosea 10:15.

All they that bear silver] Or, money. The reference is not to the trade of silversmiths, but rather to merchants in general.

Verse 11.p - Maktesh; the Mortar; Septuagint, τὴν κατακεκομμένην, "her that is broken down." The word is found in Judges 15:19 of a hollow place in a rock, and it is here used in the sense of "valley," and probably refers to the Tyropoeum, or part of it, the depression that ran down the city, having Aera and Zion on its west side, and Moriah and Ophel on its east, and extended south as far as the pool of Siloam. It does not seem a very appropriate appellation for a lengthy valley like the Tyropceum, nor is there any trace of such a name being applied to it elsewhere. It may have been a name affixed to a certain locality where a bazaar was situated or certain special industries had their seat; or it may have been invented by Zephaniah to intimate the fate that awaited the evil merchants, that they should be, as it were, brayed in a mortar by their enemies. The merchant people; literally, people of Canaan. So Septuagint and Vulgate (comp. Hosea 12:7; Hist. of Susannah 56; Zechariah 14:21). The iniquitous traders are called "people of Canaan," because they acted like the heathens around them, especially the Phoenicians, who were unscrupulous and dishonest in their transactions. Are cut down; are silenced; Vulgate, conticuit (Isaiah 6:5; Hosea 10:7). They that bear (are laden with) silver. Those who have amassed wealth by trade and usury. The LXX. has, οι  ῾ἐηρμένοι ἀργυρίῳ "those who are elated with silver;" St. Jerome, involuti argento. Zephaniah 1:11Even the usurers will not escape the judgment. Zephaniah 1:10. "And it will come to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah, voice of the cry from the fish-gate, and howling from the lower city, and great destruction from the hills. Zephaniah 1:11. Howl, inhabitants of the mortar, for all the people of Canaan are destroyed; cut off are all that are laden with silver." In order to express the thought that the judgment will not spare any one class of the population, Zephaniah depicts the lamentation which will arise from all parts of the city. קול צעקה, voice of the cry, i.e., a loud cry of anguish will arise or resound. The fish-gate (according to Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 12:39; cf. 2 Chronicles 33:14) was in the eastern portion of the wall which bounded the lower city on the north side (for further details on this point, see at Nehemiah 3:3). המּשׁנה ( equals העיר משׁנה, Nehemiah 11:9), the second part or district of the city, is the lower city upon the hill Acra (see at 2 Kings 22:14). Shebher, fragor, does not mean a cry of murder, but the breaking to pieces of what now exists, not merely the crashing fall of the buildings, like za‛ăqath shebher in Isaiah 15:5, the cry uttered at the threatening danger of utter destruction. In order to heighten the terrors of the judgment, there is added to the crying and howling of the men the tumult caused by the conquest of the city. "From the hills," i.e., "not from Zion and Moriah," but from the ills surrounding the lower city, viz., Bezetha, Gareb (Jeremiah 31:39), and others. For Zion, the citadel of Jerusalem, is evidently thought of as the place where the howling of the men and the noise of the devastation, caused by the enemy pressing in from the north and north-west, are heard. Hammakhtēsh, the mortar (Proverbs 27:22), which is the name given in Judges 15:19 to a hollow place in a rock, is used here to denote a locality in Jerusalem, most probably the depression which ran down between Acra on the west and Bezetha and Moriah on the east, as far as the fountain of Siloah, and is called by Josephus "the cheese-maker's valley," and by the present inhabitants el-Wâd, i.e., the valley, and also the mill-valley. The name "mortar" was probably coined by Zephaniah, to point to the fate of the merchants and men of money who lived there. They who dwell there shall howl, because "all the people of Canaan" are destroyed. These are not Canaanitish or Phoenician merchants, but Judaean merchants, who resembled the Canaanites or Phoenicians in their general business (see at Hosea 12:8), and had grown rich through trade and usury. Netı̄l keseph, laden with silver.
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