Zephaniah 1:9
In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.
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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.I will punish all those that leap on the threshold - Neither language nor history nor context allow this to be understood of the idolatrous custom of Ashdod, not to tread on the threshold of the temple of Dagon. It had indeed been a strange infatuation of idolatry, that God's people should adopt an act of superstitious reverence for an idol in the very instance in which its nothingness and the power of the true God had been shown. Nothing is indeed too brutish for one who chooses an idol for the true God, preferring Satan to the good God. Yet, the superstition belonged apparently to Ashdod alone; the worship of Dagon, although another form of untrue worship, does not appear, like that of Baal, to have fascinated the Jews; nor would Zephaniah, to express a rare superstition, have chosen an idiom, which might more readily express the contrary, that they "leapt "on" the threshold," not over it.

They are also the same persons, who "leap on the threshold," and who "fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit." Yet, this relates, not to superstition, but to plunder and goods unjustly gotten. As then, before, he had declared God's judgments upon idolatry, so does he here upon sins against the second table, whether by open violence, or secret fraud, as do also Habakkuk Hab 1:2-3, and Jeremiah Jer 5:27. All, whether open or hidden from man, every wrongful dealing, (for every sin as to a neighbor's goods falls under these two, violence or fraud) shall be avenged in that day. Here again all which remains is the sin. They enriched, as they thought, their masters by art or by force; they schemed, plotted, robbed; they succeeded to their heart's wish; but, "ill-gotten, ill-spent!" They "filled their masters' houses" quite full; but wherewith? with violence and deceit, which witnessed against them, and brought down the judgments of God upon them.

9. those that leap on the threshold—the servants of the princes, who, after having gotten prey (like hounds) for their masters, leap exultingly on their masters' thresholds; or, on the thresholds of the houses which they break into [Calvin]. Jerome explains it of those who walk up the steps into the sanctuary with haughtiness. Rosenmuller translates, "Leap over the threshold"; namely, in imitation of the Philistine custom of not treading on the threshold, which arose from the head and hands of Dragon being broken off on the threshold before the ark (1Sa 5:5). Compare Isa 2:6, "thy people … are soothsayers like the Philistines." Calvin's view agrees best with the latter clause of the verse.

fill … masters' houses with violence, &c.—that is, with goods obtained with violence, &c.

In the same day; not to be taken for a single day, but more largely for that time wherein God would visit and punish.

That leap on the threshold; insolently, and with rage, break open the doors of such whose goods they seize, upon pretence of forfeitures or fines; a sin that Ezekiel both taxed and threatened, Ezekiel 8:17 12:19 45:9.

Their masters; either the oppressing kings, whose officers these were, or public officers and judges, whose servants thus did (to enrich their masters) spoil the poor and the oppressed.

With violence; goods taken away by force, and kept as much against right, as at first taken away without right;

and deceit, by false accusations, and by suborned evidence for proof, and by perjuries.

In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold,.... Not in a ludicrous way, who, by dancing and leaping, made sport for persons, and brought their masters much gain, as the damsel possessed with a spirit of divination did, Acts 16:16 rather, that entered rashly and irreverently into the house of God; or else in an idolatrous way, who, when they went into an idol's temple, did not tread upon the threshold, but leaped over it, as the priests of Dagon, after the fall of that idol on the threshold, 1 Samuel 5:4. So the Targum,

"and I will visit all those that walk in the laws (or according to the customs) of the Philistines;''

whose idol Dagon was: but it seems better to interpret it of such, who, seeing houses full of good things, in a rude, bold, insolent manner, thrust themselves, or jumped into them, and took away what they pleased; or when they returned to their masters' houses with their spoil, who set them on, and encouraged them in these practices, leaped over the threshold for joy of what they had got, as Aben Ezra observes; which agrees with what follows:

which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit; that is, with goods got by rapine and force, and by fraudulent ways and methods: this is to be understood of the servants of great men, who, to feed the ambition and avarice of their masters, used very oppressive methods with inferior persons to get their substance from them, and gratify their masters. Cocceius interprets these "three" verses of the day of Christ's coming in the flesh being at hand, when the true sacrifice should be offered up, and God would call his people to feed by faith upon it; when all civil power and authority in the sanhedrim and family of David should be removed from the Jews; and all friendship with the nations of the world, signified by likeness of garments; and the priestly dignity, the priests, according to him, being those that leaped over the threshold; that is, of the house of the Lord, the temple, and filled it with the spoil of widows' houses, unsupportable precepts, and false doctrines.

In the same day also will I punish all those that {e} leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.

(e) He means the servants of the rulers who invade other men's houses, and rejoice and leap for joy, when they can get any gain to please their master with.

9. those that leap on the threshold] Rather: leap (or, spring) over the threshold. The priests of Dagon avoided treading on the threshold of his temple because the idol had fallen upon it (1 Samuel 5:5). The connexion here, however, implies that leaping over the threshold is rather an act of violence, suggesting forcible invasion of the house, for the next clause, “that fill their master’s house with violence,” is a further description of those that leap over the threshold.

fill their masters’ houses] More probably: their master’s house, reference being to the king. Zephaniah 1:8-9 seem to have a common subject, the princes and king’s children, that is, the officers of the king and the members of the royal family. Probably persons belonging to the collateral branches of the royal house filled judicial and other offices in the government.

with violence and deceit] Or, wrong and fraud. The words do not mean that wrong and fraud are committed in the house of the king, but that his house is filled with the proceeds of such things, cf. Isaiah 3:14-15. What is alluded to is the perversion of justice practised by the princes and the royal family for purposes of gain. At a later time Ezek. makes a similar complaint against the princes and royal house (ch. Ezekiel 22:25-29. In Ezekiel 22:25 read princes).

Verse 9. - Those that leap on (over) the threshold. These are the retainers of the princes, etc., named in ver. 8. There is no allusion to the circumstance of the priests of Dagon abstaining from treading on the threshold of their temple in consequence of what happened to the idol at Ashdod (1 Samuel 5:5). It is inconceivable that this merely local custom, which demonstrated the impotence of the false god, should have been imported into Judah. where, indeed, the worship of Dagon seems never to have made any way. The following clause explains the meaning which the Latin version intimates, Omnem qui arroganter ingreditur super limen - all those who, carrying out their masters' wishes, violently invade the houses of others and pillage them of their contents. The expression, "to leap over the threshold," seems to have been a common term for burglary and stealing with violence. Which fill their masters' houses. These retainers plunder and steal in order that they may increase their masters' treasures. The king (though not Josiah) may be meant, the plural being the plural of majesty, or the idol temples. The LXX., followed by Jerome, renders, "who fill the house of the Lord their God." This is plainly erroneous, as there is no question here about the temple at Jerusalem. Violence and deceit; i.e. the fruits of, what they have extorted by, violence and fraud (Jeremiah 5:27). Zephaniah 1:9The judgment will fall with equal severity upon the idolatrous and sinners of every rank (Zephaniah 1:8-11), and no one in Jerusalem will be able to save himself from it (Zephaniah 1:12, Zephaniah 1:13). In three double verses Zephaniah brings out three classes of men who differ in their civil position, and also in their attitude towards God, as those who will be smitten by the judgment: viz., (1) the princes, i.e., the royal family and superior servants of the king, who imitate the customs of foreigners, and oppress the people (Zephaniah 1:8, Zephaniah 1:9); (2) the merchants, who have grown rich through trade and usury (Zephaniah 1:10, Zephaniah 1:11); (3) the irreligious debauchees (Zephaniah 1:12, Zephaniah 1:13). The first of these he threatens with visitation. Zephaniah 1:8. "And it will come to pass in the day of Jehovah's sacrifice, that I visit the princes and the king's sons, and all who clothe themselves in foreign dress. Zephaniah 1:9. And I visit every one who leaps over the threshold on that day, those who fill the Lord's house with violence and deceit." The enumeration of those who are exposed to the judgment commences with the princes, i.e., the heads of the tribes and families, who naturally filled the higher offices of state; and the king's sons, not only the sons of Josiah, who were still very young (see the Introduction), but also the sons of the deceased kings, the royal princes generally. The king himself is not named, because Josiah walked in the ways of the Lord, and on account of his piety and fear of God was not to lie to see the outburst of the judgment (2 Kings 22:19-20; 2 Chronicles 34:27-28). The princes and king's sons are threatened with punishment, not on account of the high position which they occupied in the state, but on account of the ungodly disposition which they manifested. For since the clauses which follow not only mention different classes of men, but also point out the sins of the different classes, we must also expect this in the case of the princes and the king's sons, and consequently must refer the dressing in foreign clothes, which is condemned in the second half of the verse, to the princes and king's sons also, and understand the word "all" as relating to those who imitated their manners without being actually princes or king's sons. Malbūsh nokhrı̄ (foreign dress) does not refer to the clothes worn by the idolaters in their idolatrous worship (Chald., Rashi, Jer.), nor to the dress prohibited in the law, viz., "women dressing in men's clothes, or men dressing in women's clothes" (Deuteronomy 22:5, Deuteronomy 22:11), as Grotius maintains, nor to clothes stolen from the poor, or taken from them as pledges; but, as nokhrı̄ signifies a foreigner, to foreign dress. Drusius has already pointed this out, and explains the passage as follows: "I think that the reference is to all those who betrayed the levity of their minds by wearing foreign dress. For I have no doubt that in that age some copied the Egyptians in their style of dress, and others the Babylonians, according as they favoured the one nation or the other. The prophet therefore says, that even those who adopted foreign habits, and conformed themselves to the customs of the victorious nation, would not be exempt." The last allusion is certainly untenable, and it would be more correct to say with Strauss: "The prophets did not care for externals of this kind, but it was evident to them that 'as the dress, so the heart;' that is to say, the clothes were witnesses in their esteem of the foreign inclinations of the heart." In Zephaniah 1:9 many commentators find a condemnation of an idolatrous use of foreign customs; regarding the leaping over the threshold as an imitation of the priests of Dagon, who adopted the custom, according to 1 Samuel 5:5, of leaping over the threshold when they entered the temple of that idol. But an imitation of that custom could only take place in temples of Dagon, and it appears perfectly inconceivable that it should have been transferred to the threshold of the king's palace, unless the king was regarded as an incarnation of Dagon, - a thought which could never enter the minds of Israelitish idolaters, since even the Philistian kings did not hold themselves to be incarnations of their idols. If we turn to the second hemistich, the thing condemned is the filling of their masters' houses with violence; and this certainly does not stand in any conceivable relation to that custom of the priests of Dagon; and yet the words "who fill," etc., are proved to be explanatory of the first half of the verse, by the fact that the second clause is appended without the copula Vav, and without the repetition of the preposition על. Now, if a fresh sin were referred to there, the copula Vav, at all events, could not have been omitted. We must therefore understand by the leaping over the threshold a violent and sudden rushing into houses to steal the property of strangers (Calvin, Ros., Ewald, Strauss, and others), so that the allusion is to "dishonourable servants of the king, who thought that they could best serve their master by extorting treasures from their dependants by violence and fraud" (Ewald). אדניהם, of their lord, i.e., of the king, not "of their lords:" the plural is in the pluralis majestatis, as in 1 Samuel 26:16; 2 Samuel 2:5, etc.
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