Zephaniah 1:2
I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zephaniah 1:2-3. I will utterly consume all things, &c. — That is, I will make the land of Judea quite desolate. I will consume man and beast, &c. — That is, beasts of the tame and domestic kind. I will consume the fowls of the heaven and the fishes of the sea — Or of the waters, as we are wont to speak, for the Jews called every large collection of waters a sea. The meaning is, I will bring a judicial and extraordinary desolation on the land, which shall extend itself even to the birds and fishes: see notes on Hosea 4:3; Jeremiah 4:23-25. Virgil speaks of pestilential disorders affecting both the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the heaven.

“Jam maris immensi prolem, et genus omne natantum Litore in extremo, ceu naufraga corpora, fluctus Proluit.” GEORG. 3. 50:541.

“Ipsis est aër avibus non æquus; et illæ Præcipites altâ vitam sub nube relinquunt.” Ib. 50:546.

“The scaly nations of the sea profound, Like shipwreck’d carcasses, are driven aground: And mighty phocæ, never seen before, In shallow streams, are stranded on the shore. To birds their native heavens contagious prove, From clouds they fall, and leave their souls above.” DRYDEN.

“It is known,” says Bishop Newcome, “that birds are affected by pestilential disorders arising from putrefied carcasses. They fall dead when they alight on bales of cloth infected by the plague.” And St. Jerome upon this place says, that there are sufficient proofs when cities are laid waste, and great slaughter is made of men, that it creates also a scarcity or solitude of beasts, birds, and fishes; and he mentions several places which, in those days, bore witness to this, where he says, there was nothing left but earth and sky, and briers and thick woods. And the stumbling-blocks with the wicked — In the Hebrew it is, The offences with the wicked; that is, the idols with their worshippers. I will cut off man from the land — The land shall be depopulated, either by its inhabitants being slain, or carried away captive.

1:1-6 Ruin is coming, utter ruin; destruction from the Almighty. The servants of God all proclaim, There is no peace for the wicked. The expressions are figurative, speaking every where desolation; the land shall be left without inhabitants. The sinners to be consumed are, the professed idolaters, and those that worship Jehovah and idols, or swear to the Lord, and to Malcham. Those that think to divide their affections and worship between God and idols, will come short of acceptance with God; for what communion can there be between light and darkness? If Satan have half, he will have all; if the Lord have but half, he will have none. Neglect of God shows impiety and contempt. May none of us be among those who draw back unto perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.I will utterly consume all things - Better "all." The word is not limited to "things" "animate" or "inanimate" or "men;" it is used severally of each, according to the context; here, without limitation, of "all." God and all stand over against one another; God and all which is not of God or in God. God, he says, will utterly consume all from off the land (earth). The prophet sums up in few words the subject of the whole chapter, the judgments of God from his own times to the day of Judgment itself. And this Day Itself he brings the more strongly before the mind, in that, with wonderful briefness, in two words which he conforms, in sound also, the one to the other, he expresses the utter final consumption of all things. He expresses at once the intensity of action and blends their separate meanings, "Taking away I will make an end of all;" and with this he unites the words used of the flood, "from off the face of the earth."

Then he goes through the whole creation as it was made, pairing "man and beast," which Moses speaks of as created on the sixth day, and the creation of the fifth day, "the fowls of the heaven and the fishes of the sea;" and before each he sets the solemn word of God, "I will end," as the act of God Himself. The words can have no complete fulfillment, until "the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up" 2 Peter 3:10, as the Psalmist too, having gone through the creation, sums up, "Thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust" Psalm 104:29; and then speaks of the re-creation, "Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the earth" Psalm 104:36, and, "Of old Thou hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands; they shall perish, but Thou shalt endure, yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed" Psalm 103:25.

Local fulfillments there may, in their degree, be. Jerome speaks as if he knew this to have been. Jerome: "Even the brute animals feel the wrath of the Lord, and when cities have been wasted and men slain, there cometh a desolation and scarceness of beasts also and birds and fishes; witness Illyricum, witness Thrace, witness my native soil," (Stridon, a city on the confines of Dalmatia and Pannonia) "where, beside sky and earth and rampant brambles and deep thickets, all has perished." But although this fact, which he alleges, is borne out by natural history, it is distinct from the words of the prophet, who speaks of the fish, not of rivers (as Jerome) but of the sea, which can in no way be influenced by the absence of man, who is only their destroyer. The use of the language of the histories of the creation and of the deluge implies that the prophet has in mind a destruction commensurate with that creation. Then he foretells the final removal of offences, in the same words which our Lord uses of the general Judgment. "The Son of Man shall send forth His Angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity" Matthew 13:41.

2. utterly consume—from a root to "sweep away," or "scrape off utterly." See Jer 8:13, Margin, and here.

from off the land—of Judah.

I will utterly consume, Heb. Gathering up I will gather up, or take up, intimating particularly the manner how all should be consumed, i.e. swept away as a prey to the Babylonians.

From off the land of Judah, the two tribes.

Saith the Lord: this is added to confirm and assure the truth hereof.

I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. That is, from the land of Judah, by means of the Chaldeans or Babylonians: this is a general denunciation of the judgments of God, the particulars follow: or, "in gathering I will gather"; all good things out of the land; all the necessaries of life, and blessings of Providence; all that is for the sustenance and pleasure of man, as well as all creatures, by death or captivity; and so the land should be entirely stripped, and left naked and bare. The phrase denotes the certainty of the thing, as well as the utter, entire, and total consumption that should be made, and the vehemence and earnestness in which it is expressed. I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Zephaniah 1:2-7. The Universal Judgment of the Day of the Lord

2. from off the land] from off the face of the ground, i.e. the earth, cf. Zephaniah 1:3. The judgment is indiscriminate, all that lives shall be swept away. Though it is men against whom God’s anger burns, the anger once kindled devours round about and consumes all created things. The sphere of man’s life, the realm of his rule (Psalm 8:6-8), is involved with himself in a common destruction.

Verses 2, 3. - § 2. The prelude, announcing the judgment upon the whole world. Verse 2. - I will utterly consume; literally, taking away I will make an end. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 8:13)uses the same expression. The prophet begins abruptly with this announcement of universal judgment before he warns Judah in particular of the punishment that awaits her, because his position is that the way to salvation is through chastisement. Vulgate, congregans congregabo, where the verb must be used in the sense of "gathering for destruction." All things. More expressly defined in the following verse. This awful warning recalls the judgment of the Flood and the preliminary monition (Genesis 6:7). From off the land; from the face of the earth, not the land of Judah alone. Saith the Lord; is the saying of Jehovah. The prophet in this is merely the vehicle of the Divine announcement. Zephaniah 1:2Zephaniah 1:1 contains the heading, which has been explained in the introduction. Zephaniah 1:2 and Zephaniah 1:3 form the preface. - Zephaniah 1:2. "I will sweep, sweep away everything from the face of the earth, is the saying of Jehovah. Zephaniah 1:3. I will sweep away man and cattle, sweep away the fowls of heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the offences with the sinners, and I cut off men from the face of the earth, is the saying of Jehovah." The announcement of the judgment upon the whole earth not only serves to sharpen the following threat of judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem in this sense, "Because Jehovah judges the whole world, He will punish the apostasy of Judah all the more;" but the judgment upon the whole world forms an integral part of his prophecy, which treats more fully of the execution of the judgment in and upon Judah, simply because Judah forms the kingdom of God, which is to be purified from its dross by judgment, and led on towards the end of its divine calling. As Zephaniah here opens the judgment awaiting Judah with an announcement of a judgment upon the whole world, so does he assign the reason for his exhortation to repentance in Zephaniah 2:1-15, by showing that all nations will succumb to the judgment; and then announces in Zephaniah 3:9., as the fruit of the judgment, the conversion of the nations to Jehovah, and the glorification of the kingdom of God. The way to salvation leads through judgment, not only for the world with its enmity against God, but for the degenerate theocracy also. It is only through judgment that the sinful world can be renewed and glorified. The verb אסף, the hiphil of sūph, is strengthened by the inf. abs. אסף, which is formed from the verb אסף, a verb of kindred meaning. Sūph and 'âsaph signify to take away, to sweep away, hiph. to put an end, to destroy. Kōl, everything, is specified in Zephaniah 1:3 : men and cattle, the birds of heaven, and the fishes of the sea; the verb 'âsēph being repeated before the two principal members. This specification stands in unmistakeable relation to the threatening of God: to destroy all creatures for the wickedness of men, from man to cattle, and to creeping things, and even to the fowls of the heaven (Genesis 6:7). By playing upon this threat, Zephaniah intimates that the approaching judgment will be as general over the earth, and as terrible, as the judgment of the flood. Through this judgment God will remove or destroy the offences (stumbling-blocks) together with the sinners. את before הרשׁעים cannot be the sign of the accusative, but can only be a preposition, with, together with, since the objects to אסף are all introduced without the sign of the accusative; and, moreover, if את־הרשׁ were intended for an accusative, the copula Vv would not be omitted. Hammakhshēlôth does not mean houses about to fall (Hitzig), which neither suits the context nor can be grammatically sustained, since even in Isaiah 3:6 hammakhshēlâh is not the fallen house, but the state brought to ruin by the sin of the people; and makhshēlâh is that against which or through which a person meets with a fall. Makhshēlōth are all the objects of coarser and more refined idolatry, not merely the idolatrous images, but all the works of wickedness, like τὰ σκάνδαλα in Matthew 13:41. The judgment, however, applies chiefly to men, i.e., to sinners, and hence in the last clause the destruction of men from off the earth is especially mentioned. The irrational creation is only subject to φθορά, on account of and through the sin of men (Romans 8:20.).
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