Zephaniah 1:17
And I will bring distress on men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zephaniah 1:17-18. I will bring distress, &c., that they shall walk as blind men — I will bring them into such straits that they shall no more know whither to turn themselves, or which way to go for safety, than if they were blind: compare Deuteronomy 28:29, and Isaiah 59:10; in both which places the image is heightened by the circumstance of groping, or stumbling, like the blind, even at noon-day. And their blood shall be poured out as dust — That is, as if it were of no value at all; and their flesh as dung — The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be slain in the streets of the city, and their carcasses left there to rot and putrefy. Neither their silver nor gold shall deliver them — This is spoken of the merchants, and other rich citizens. The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy — God’s vengeance is frequently compared to fire: see Nahum 1:6. This, it is here threatened, should consume the land and its inhabitants for their heinous offences, and chiefly for their idolatry; because that sin gives that honour which is only due to the one living and true God, to images, or fictitious gods, and therefore, in a peculiar manner, intrenches on God’s glory; is so contrary in its nature to the truth and fitness of things, and to all that is reasonable, just, and proper; has so great a tendency to corrupt and debase men’s minds, and the practice of it is so unfit in every point of view, that the Scriptures, to give men some idea how odious it is, and what a great provocation to the Most High, represent him as jealous of having that honour which is only due to him, given to another. 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.I will bring distress upon men - I will hem them in, in anguish on all sides. God Himself shall meet them with His terrors, wherever they turn. "I will hem them in, that they may find it so" .

That they shall walk like blind men - Utterly bereft of counsel, seeing no more than the blind which way to turn, grasping blindly and franticly at anything, and going on headlong to their own destruction. So God forewarned them in the law; "Thou shalt grope at noon day, as the blind gropeth in darkness" Jeremiah 10:29; and Job, of the wicked generally, "They meet with the darkness in the day-time, and grope in the noon-day as in the night" Job 5:14; and, "They grope in the dark without light, and He maketh them to stagger like a drunken man" Job 12:25; and Isaiah foretelling of those times, "We grope for the wall, as the blind; and we grope, as if we had no eyes; we stumble in the noon-day as in the night. Because they have sinned against the Lord" Isaiah 59:10, and so He hath turned their wisdom into foolishness, and since they have despised Him, He hath made them objects of contempt. "Their blood shall be poured out like dust" 1 Samuel 2:30, as abundant and as valueless; utterly disregarded by Him, as Asaph complains, "their blood have they shed like water" Psalm 79:3; contemptible and disgusting as what is vilest; "their flesh as the dung," refuse, decayed, putrefied, offensive, enriching by its decay the land, which had been the scene of their luxuries and oppressions. Yet, the most offensive disgusting physical corruption is but a faint image of the defilement of sin. This punishment, in which the carrion remains should be entombed only in the bowels of vultures and dogs, was especially threatened to Jehoiakim; "He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, dragged and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem" Jeremiah 22:19.

17. like blind men—unable to see whither to turn themselves so as to find an escape from existing evils.

flesh—Hebrew, "bread"; so the Arabic term for "bread" is used for "flesh" (Mt 26:26).

I will bring distress; cast them into, and surround or besiege them with distress, calamities which shall greatly trouble and perplex.

Upon men; the chiefest among them, the richest, and who think themselves safest; the mighty men, as Zephaniah 1:10,

like blind men, shall neither know what to do nor where to flee, neither be fit for counsel nor action.

Because they have sinned against the Lord; all this for their great sins against the Lord; these men of note have been as much greater in sin as in state above others, and shall be as much deeper in distress.

Their blood shall be poured out as dust; as freely, abundantly, and as contemptibly, as dust in the highway.

And their flesh as the dung; shall be spread as dung on the face of the earth to fatten and improve it; their life shall be of no more value than dust, their honour no more regarded than dung, and they shall be so used after death.

I will bring distress; cast them into, and surround or besiege them with distress, calamities which shall greatly trouble and perplex.

Upon men; the chiefest among them, the richest, and who think themselves safest; the mighty men, as Zephaniah 1:10,

like blind men, shall neither know what to do nor where to flee, neither be fit for counsel nor action.

Because they have sinned against the Lord; all this for their great sins against the Lord; these men of note have been as much greater in sin as in state above others, and shall be as much deeper in distress.

Their blood shall be poured out as dust; as freely, abundantly, and as contemptibly, as dust in the highway.

And their flesh as the dung; shall be spread as dung on the face of the earth to fatten and improve it; their life shall be of no more value than dust, their honour no more regarded than dung, and they shall be so used after death. And I will bring distress upon men,.... Not upon men in general, but particularly on the men of Judea, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; and especially those that were in the fenced cities and high towers; and who might think themselves safe and secure; but, being besieged, should be distressed with famine and pestilence, and with the enemy; and more especially when stormed, and a breach made, and the enemy just entering:

that they shall walk like blind men; not knowing which way to go, where to turn themselves, what methods to take, or course to steer, no more than a blind man. The phrase is expressive of their being at their wits' ends, void of all thought and consultation:

because they have sinned against the Lord; and therefore he gives them up, not only into the hand of the enemy, but unto an infatuation of spirit, and a judicial blindness of mind:

and their blood shall be poured out as dust; in great quantities, like that, without any regard to it, without showing any mercy, and as if it was of no more value than the dust of the earth. The Targum is,

"their blood shall be poured out into the dust;''

or on it, and be drunk up by it:

and their flesh as the dung; or their carcasses, as the same paraphrase; that is, their dead bodies shall lie unburied, and rot, and putrefy, and shall be cast upon fields like dung, to fatten them. The word for "flesh", in the Hebrew language, signifies bread or food; because dead bodies are food for worms; but in the Arabic language, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi observe, it signifies "flesh".

And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. The distress, though at first outward, leads to inward perplexity, when men can find no outlet or way, and grope like the blind. The comparison is a frequent one to express perplexity and helplessness: Deuteronomy 28:29 “thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness;” Isaiah 59:10. Here the perplexity is secondary, due to the paralysing calamities of the judgment; but in other cases by moral laws that operate invisibly moral confusion and perplexity invade the mind through sin. On the last part of the verse comp. Psalm 79:3; Psalm 83:10; Jeremiah 9:22; Jeremiah 16:4. The word translated flesh (again only Job 20:23) has been rendered by others, inwards, bowels (Frd. Delitzsch, Prolegomena, p. 193), but this sense is less probable.Verse 17. - In this storming of cities and universal ruin, sinners shall perish without hope. I will bring distress upon men. I will drive them into the utmost straits (comp. Deuteronomy 28:52, 53). They shall walk like blind men. Not knowing where they go in their terror and confusion, seeking a way of escape and finding none (see Deuteronomy 28:29, on which this passage is founded; comp. Job 5:14; Isaiah 59:10). Because they have sinned, as shown in vers. 4-12. Their blood shall be poured out as dust. The point of comparison is rather in the worthlessness than in the abundance of dust. Bloodshed is as little regarded as dust that is trodden under foot (comp. 2 Kings 13:7). The comparison with water is found elsewhere (cf. Psalm 79:3). Their flesh as the dung. The verb from the preceding clause may be taken by zeuguna with this clause; then the meaning is that their dead bodies are left unburied to rot on the ground (Jeremiah 9:22). Or the substantive verb may be supplied (comp. Job 20:7). 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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