I will utterly consume all things from off the land, said 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.
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.
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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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. Micah 5:7. "And the remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many nations like dew from Jehovah, like drops of rain upon grass, which tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for children of men. Micah 5:8. And the remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many nations, like the lion among the beasts of the forest, like the young lion among the flocks of sheep; which, when it goes through, treads down, and tears in pieces, without deliverer. Micah 5:9. High be thy hand above thine oppressors, and may all thine enemies be rooted out." Two things are predicted here. In the first place (Micah 5:7), Israel will come upon many nations, like a refreshing dew from Jehovah, which falls plentifully in drops upon the grass, and will produce and promote new and vigorous life among them. Dew is here, as indeed everywhere else, a figurative expression for refreshing, stimulating, enlivening (cf. Psalm 110:3; Psalm 133:3, and Psalm 72:6; Hosea 14:6; Deuteronomy 33:2). The spiritual dew, which Jacob will bring to the nations, comes from Jehovah, and falls in rich abundance without the cooperation of men. Without the spiritual dew from above, the nations are grass (cf. Isaiah 40:6-8). אשׁר before לא יקוּה does not refer to עשׂב, but to the principal idea of the preceding clause, viz., to טל, to which the explanatory כּרביבים וגו is subordinate. As the falling of the dew in rain-drops upon the grass does not depend upon the waiting of men, but proceeds from Jehovah; so will the spiritual blessing, which will flow over from Israel upon the nations, not depend upon the waiting of the nations, but will flow to them against and beyond their expectation. This does not deny the fact that the heathen wait for the salvation of Jehovah, but simply expresses the thought that the blessings will not be measured by their expectation. Secondly (Micah 5:8, Micah 5:9), the rescued Israel will prove itself a terrible power among the nations, and one to which they will be obliged to succumb. No proof is needed that Micah 5:8, Micah 5:9 do not state in what way Israel will refresh the heathen, as Hitzig supposes. The refreshing dew and the rending lion cannot possibly be synonymous figures. The similarity of the introduction to Micah 5:7 and Micah 5:8 points of itself to something new. To the nations Christ is set for the rising and falling of many (compare Luke 2:34; Romans 9:33, with Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16). The people of God shows itself like a lion, trampling and rending the sheep among the nations of the world which oppose its beneficent work. And over these may it triumph. This wish (târōm is optative) closes the promise of the attitude which Israel will assume among the nations of the world. For târōm yâd (high be the hand), compare Isaiah 26:11. High is the hand which accomplishes mighty deeds, which smites and destroys the foe.
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