Zephaniah 1:16
A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
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1:14-18 This warning of approaching destruction, is enough to make the sinners in Zion tremble; it refers to the great day of the Lord, the day in which he will show himself by taking vengeance on them. This day of the Lord is very near; it is a day of God's wrath, wrath to the utmost. It will be a day of trouble and distress to sinners. Let them not be laid asleep by the patience of God. What is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? And what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Let us flee from the wrath to come, and choose the good part that shall never be taken from us; then we shall be prepared for every event; nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.A day of the trumpet and alarm - o that is, of the loud blast of the trumpet, which sounds alarm and causes it. The word is especially the shrill loud noise of the trumpet (for sacred purposes in Israel itself, as ruling all the movements of the tabernacle and accompanying their feasts); then also of the "battle cry." They had not listened to the voice of the trumpet, as it called them to holy service; now they shall hear "the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God" 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

Against the high towers - Literally, "corners" , and so "corner-towers." This peculiarity describes Jerusalem, whose walls "were made artificially standing in a line curved inwards, so that the flanks of assailants might be exposed." By this same name Judges 20:2; 1 Samuel 14:38; Isaiah 19:13; Zechariah 10:4 are called the mighty men and chiefs of the people, who, humanly speaking, hold it together and support it; on these chiefs in rebellion against God, whether devils or evil men, shall punishment greatly fall.

16. the trumpet—namely, of the besieging enemy (Am 2:2).

alarm—the war shout [Maurer].

towers—literally, "angles"; for city walls used not to be built in a direct line, but with sinuous curves and angles, so that besiegers advancing might be assailed not only in front, but on both sides, caught as it were in a cul-de-sac; towers were built especially at the angles. So Tacitus describes the walls of Jerusalem [Histories, 5.11.7].

The trumpet; God’s trumpet calling the Chaldeans, the Chaldeans’ trumpet also gathering together their troops.

Alarm, threatening and affrighting, against the fenced cities of Judah.

The high towers; stately palaces and strong munitions, fortified with high towers, built at the angles of walls, and therefore the Hebrew calls them high corners; it may mean also the great men, which, as corners well built are the strength and beauty of a wall, so they of a state, Judges 20:2 Zechariah 10:4. A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities,.... The trumpet of the enemy, sounding the alarm of war against the fenced cities of Judea, which were taken before Jerusalem; calling and gathering the soldiers together, and animating them to the assault of them; and blowing them in a way of triumph; and as expressive of victory, having got possession of them:

and against the high towers; or "corners" (x); towers being usually built corner-wise, and full of corners, and on the corners of walls of cities; sometimes these signify princes, magistrates, and great men, Zechariah 10:4.

(x) "pinnas", Montanus, Castalio; "angulos", Junius & Tremellius, Burkius.

A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
16. Besides the supernatural terrors of the judgment there is the hostile assault which the supernatural terrors accompany.

A day of the trumpet and alarm] The “trumpet” was blown amidst the attack (Jdg 7:19), as now martial music accompanies the advance. Amos 2:2, “Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.” The word “alarm” here is that rendered “shouting,” Amos 1:14; Amos 2:2, in accordance with its literal sense “to arms!” (Ital. all’ arme). The “shouting” (terû‘ah), originally that of battle (Jeremiah 4:19), became in later and more peaceful times the shout of the glad worshippers on the feast days (Ezra 3:11-13).Verse 16. - A day of the trumpet and alarm. "Alarm" means "the sound of alarm." Among the Jews trumpets were used to announce the festivals (Numbers 29:1), and to give the signal for battle or of the approach of an enemy (Jeremiah 4:5, 19; Ezekiel 33:4). Here it is the signal of destruction (Amos 2:2). The fenced cities. The strongest fortresses shall feel the irresistible attack (Micah 5:11). The high towers. These are the turrets built at the angles of the walls for the better defence of the city, and to annoy the besiegers (Zephaniah 3:6). LXX., ἐπὶ τὰς γωνίας τὰς ὑψηλάς, "upon the lofty angles;" Vulgate, super angulos excelsos. Others take the words to mean "the battlements" on the walls. Henderson quotes Taeitus's description of the later walls of Jerusalem, "Duos colles immensum editos claudebant muri per artem obliqui aut introrsus sinuati, ut latera oppugnantium ad ictus patescerent" ('Hist.,' 5:11). Israel cannot deny these gracious acts of its God. The remembrance of them calls to mind the base ingratitude with which it has repaid its God by rebelling against Him; so that it inquires, in Micah 6:6, Micah 6:7, with what it can appease the Lord, i.e., appease His wrath. Micah 6:6. "Wherewith shall I come to meet Jehovah, bow myself before the God of the high place? Shall I come to meet Him with burnt-offerings, with yearling calves? Micah 6:7. Will Jehovah take pleasure in thousands of rams, in ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give up my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" As Micah has spoken in Micah 6:3-5 in the name of Jehovah, he now proceeds, in Micah 6:6, Micah 6:7, to let the congregation speak; not, however, by turning directly to God, since it recognises itself as guilty before Him, but by asking the prophet, as the interpreter of the divine will, what it is to do to repair the bond of fellowship which has been rent in pieces by its guilt. קדּם does not here mean to anticipate, or come before, but to come to meet, as in Deuteronomy 23:5. Coming to meet, however, can only signify humble prostration (kâphaph) before the divine majesty. The God of the high place is the God dwelling in the high place (Isaiah 33:5; Isaiah 57:15), or enthroned in heaven (Psalm 115:3). It is only with sacrifices, the means appointed by God Himself for the maintenance of fellowship with Him, that any man can come to meet Him. These the people offer to bring; and, indeed, burnt-offerings. There is no reference here to sin-offerings, through which disturbed or interrupted fellowship could be restored, by means of the expiation of their sins; because the people had as yet no true knowledge of sin, but were still living under the delusion that they were standing firmly in the covenant with the Lord, which they themselves had practically dissolved. As burnt-offerings, they would bring calves and rams, not because they formed the only material, but because they were the material most usually employed; and, indeed, calves of a year old, because they were regarded as the best, not because no others were allowed to be offered, as Hitzig erroneously maintains; for, according to the law, calves and lambs could be offered in sacrifice even when they were eight days old (Leviticus 22:27; Exodus 22:29). In the case of the calves the value is heightened by the quality, in that of the rams by the quantity: thousands of rams; and also myriads of rivers of oil (for this expression, compare Job 20:17). Oil not only formed part of the daily minchah, but of the minchah generally, which could not be omitted from any burnt-offerings (compare Numbers 15:1-16 with ch. 28 and 29), so that it was offered in very large quantities. Nevertheless, in the consciousness that these sacrifices might not be sufficient, the people would offer the dearest thing of all, viz., the first-born son, as an expiation for their sin. This offer is founded, no doubt, upon the true idea that sacrifice shadows forth the self-surrender of man to God, and that an animal is not a sufficient substitute for a man; but this true idea was not realized by literal (bodily) human sacrifices: on the contrary, it was turned into an ungodly abomination, because the surrender which God desires is that of the spirit, not of the flesh. Israel could and should have learned this, not only from the sacrifice of Isaac required by God (Genesis 22), but also from the law concerning the consecration or sanctification of the first-born (Exodus 13:12-13). Hence this offer of the nation shows that it has no true knowledge of the will of its God, that it is still entangled in the heathen delusion, that the wrath of God can be expiated by human sacrifices (cf. 2 Kings 3:27; 2 Kings 16:3).
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