Zephaniah 2:1
Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zephaniah 2:1-2. Gather yourselves together, &c. — Assemble yourselves to make a public humiliation: see Joel 2:16. O nation not desired — Or coveted, as the word נכסŠproperly signifies. The Vulgate renders it, non amabilis, not lovely; and the Greek, το απαιδευτον, uninstructed, or, that will not receive instruction; that is, not to be amended but by the discipline of God’s judgments. Before the decree bring forth, before the day, &c. — Before the decree of God shall bring forth the day that shall be like the passing of chaff; that is, wherein the wicked shall be dispersed, as the chaff is by the wind. God’s consuming the wicked is often compared in Scripture to the dispersing of chaff.

2:1-3 The prophet calls to national repentance, as the only way to prevent national ruin. A nation not desiring, that has not desires toward God, is not desirous of his favour and grace, has no mind to repent and reform. Or, not desirable, not having any thing to recommend them to God; to whom God might justly say, Depart from me; but he says, Gather together to me that you may seek my face. We know what God's decree will bring against impenitent sinners, therefore it highly concerns all to repent in the accepted time. How careful should we all be to seek peace with God, before the Holy Spirit withdraws from us, or ceases to strive with us; before the day of grace is over, or the day of life; before our everlasting state is determined! Let the poor, despised, and afflicted, seek the Lord, and seek to understand and keep his commandments better, that they may be more humbled for their sins. The chief hope of deliverance from national judgments rests upon prayer.Having set forth the terrors of the Judgment Day, the prophet adds an earnest call to repentance; and then declares how judgments, forerunners of that Day, shall fall, one by one, on those nations around, who know not God, and shall rest upon Nineveh, the great beautiful ancient city of the world. Jerome: "See the mercy of God. It had been enough to have set before the wise the vehemence of the coming evil. But because He willeth not to punish, but to alarm only, Himself calleth to repentance, that He may not do what He threatened." Cyril: "Having set forth clearly the savageness of the war and the greatness of the suffering to come, he suitably turns his discourse to the duty of calling to repentance, when it was easy to persuade them, being terrified. For sometimes when the mind has been numbed, and exceedingly bent to evil, we do not readily admit even the will to repent, but fear often drives us to it, even against our will. He calls us then to friendship with Himself. For as they revolted, became aliens, serving idols and giving up their mind to their passions, so they would, as it were, retrace their steps, and lay hold of the friendship of God, choosing to serve Him, nay and Him Alone, and obey His commandments. Wherefore, while we have time, while the Lord, in His forbearance as God, gives way, let us enact repentance, supplicate, say weeping, "remember not the sins and offences of my youth" Psalm 25:7; let us unite ourselves with Him by sanctification and sobriety. So shall we be sheltered in the day of wrath, and wash away the stain of our falls, before the Day of the Lord come upon us. For the Judge will come, He will come from heaven at the due season, and will reward each according to his work."

Gather yourselves together, yea gather together - o, rather, "Sift yourselves, yea sift" . The exact image is from gathering stubble or dry sticks, which are picked up one by one, with search and care.

So must men deal with the dry and withered leaves of a past evil life. The English rendering however, comes to the same meaning. We use, "collect oneself" for bringing oneself, all one's thoughts, together, and so, having full possession of oneself. Or "gathering ourselves" might stand in contrast with being "abroad," as it were, out of ourselves amid the manifoldness of things seen. Jerome: "Thou who, taken up with the business of the world, hurriest to and fro amid divers things, return to the Church of the saints, and join thyself to their life and assembly, whom thou seest to please God, and bring together the dislocated members of thy soul, which now are not knit together, into one frame of wisdom, and cleave to its embrace." "Gather yourselves" into one, wherein ye have been scattered; to the One God, from whom they had wandered, seeking pleasure from His many creatures; to His one fold and Church, from which they had severed themselves outwardly by joining the worship of Baal, inwardly, by serving him and his abominable rites; joining and joined to the assembly of the faithful, by oneness of faith and life.

In order to repent, a man must know himself thoroughly; and this can only be done by taking act by act, word by word, thought by thought, as far as he can, not in a confused heap or mass, as they lie in any man's conscience, but one by one, each picked up apart, and examined, and added to the sear unfruitful heap, plucking them as it were, and gathering them out of himself, that so they may, by the Spirit of burning, the fire of God's Spirit kindling repentance, be burned up, and not the sinner himself be fuel for fire with them. The word too is intensive, "Gather together all which is in you, thoroughly, piece by piece" (for the sinner's whole self becomes chaff, dry and empty). To use another image, "Sift yourselves thoroughly, so that nothing escape, as far as your diligence can reach, and then - "And gather on," that is, "glean on;" examine yourselves, "not lightly and after the manner of dissemblers before God," but repeatedly, gleaning again and again, to see if by any means anything have escaped: continuing on the search and ceasing not.

The first earnest search into the soul must be the beginning, not the end. Our search must be continued, until there be no more to be discovered, that is, when sin is no more, and we see ourselves in the full light of the presence of our Judge. For a first search, however diligent, never thoroughly reaches the whole deep disease of the whole man; the most grievous sins hide other grievous sins, though lighter. Some sins flash on the conscience, at one time, some at another; so that few, even upon a diligent search, come at once to the knowledge of all their heaviest sins. When the mist is less thick, we see more clearly what was before one dark dull mass of imperfection and misery. : "Spiritual sins are also with difficulty sifted, (as they are,) by one who is carnal. Whence it happens, that things in themselves heavier he perceives less or very little, and conscience is not grieved so much by the memory of pride or envy, as of impurities and crimes."

So having said, "Sift yourselves through and through," he says, "sift on." A diligent sifting and search into himself must be the beginning of all true repentance and pardon. : "What remains, but that we give ourselves wholly to this work, so holy, and needful? "Let us search and try our ways and our doings" , and let each think that he has made progress, not if he find not what to blame, but if he blame what he finds. Thou hast not sifted thyself in vain, if thou hast discovered that thou needest a fresh sitting; and so often has thy search not failed thee, as thou judgest that it must be renewed. But if thou ever dost this, when there is need, thou dost it ever. But ever remember that thou needest help from above and the mercy of Jesus Christ our Lord Who is over all, God blessed forever." The whole course of self-examination then lies in two words of divine Scripture. And withal he warns them, instead of gathering together riches which shall "not be able to deliver them in the day of trouble," to gather themselves into themselves, and so "judge" themselves "thoroughly , that they be not judged of the Lord" 1 Corinthians 11:31-32.

O nation not desired - o, that is, having nothing in itself to be desired or loved, but rather, for its sin, hateful to God. God yearneth with pity and compassion over His creatures; He "hath a desire to the work of His Hands" . Here Israel is spoken to, as what he had made himself, hateful to God by his sins, although still an object of His tender care, in what yet remained to him of nature or grace which was from Himself.

CHAPTER 2

Zep 2:1-15. Exhortation to Repent before the Chaldean Invaders Come. Doom of Judah's Foes, the Philistines, Moab, Ammon, with Their Idols, and Ethiopia and Assyria.

1. Gather yourselves—to a religious assembly, to avert the judgment by prayers (Joe 2:16) [Grotius]. Or, so as not to be dissipated "as chaff" (Zep 2:2). The Hebrew is akin to a root meaning "chaff." Self-confidence and corrupt desires are the dissipation from which they are exhorted to gather themselves [Calvin]. The foe otherwise, like the wind, will scatter you "as the chaff." Repentance is the gathering of themselves meant.

nation not desired—(Compare 2Ch 21:20), that is, not desirable; unworthy of the grace or favor of God; and yet God so magnifies that grace as to be still solicitous for their safety, though they had destroyed themselves and forfeited all claims on His grace [Calvin]. The Margin from Chaldee Version has, "not desirous," namely of returning to God. Maurer and Gesenius translate, "Not waxing pale," that is, dead to shame. English Version is best.An exhortation to repentance, Zephaniah 2:1-3. The judgment of the Philistines, Zephaniah 2:4-7 of Moab and Ammon, Zephaniah 2:8-11\, of Ethiopia, Zephaniah 2:12, and Assyria, Zephaniah 2:13-15.

Gather yourselves together; call a solemn assembly, as Joel 1:14, proclaim a fast. Let all have notice given to meet on this work, and, being gathered together, search yourselves, your hearts and ways, and repent.

Gather together; repeated to affect them the more, and to hasten them to it, and make them serious in it.

O nation of the Jews, yet a people, yet my people, though next door almost to being no people.

Not desired; neither desirous to return, nor desirable in your return; foolishly unwilling to return, and utterly unworthy to be received on your return: yet gather together, search your ways, and try what you may do for your safety.

Gather yourselves together,.... This is said to the people of the Jews in general; that whereas the judgments of God were coming upon them, as predicted in the preceding chapter Zephaniah 1:1, it was high time for them to get together, and consider what was to be done at such a juncture; it was right to call a solemn assembly, to gather the people, priests, and elders, together, to some one place, as Joel directs, Joel 1:14 the inhabitants of Jerusalem to the temple, and the people of the land to their respective synagogues, and there humble themselves before the Lord; confess their sins, and declare their repentance for them; and pray that God would show favour to them, and avert his wrath and judgments from them: or, "gather the straw" (y); from yourselves, and then gather it from others, as follows: or, "first adorn yourselves", and "then others", as in the Talmud (z); and the sense is the same with the words of Christ, "first cast out the beam out of thine own eye", &c. Matthew 7:3 and the meaning of both is, first correct and amend yourselves, and then reprove others: this sense is given by the Jewish commentators, and is approved by Gussetius (a): or "search yourselves" (b); as some render the word; and that very diligently, as stubble is searched into, or any thing searched for in it; let the body of the people inquire among themselves what should be the cause of these things; what public sins prevailed among them, for which they were threatened with an utter destruction; and let everyone search into his own heart and ways, and consider how much he has contributed to the bringing down such sad calamities upon the nation: thus it became them to search and inquire into their state and circumstances of affairs, in a way of self-examination; or otherwise the Lord would search them in a way of judgment, as threatened Zephaniah 1:12 or "shake out" (c), or "fan yourselves", as others; remove your chaff by repentance and reformation, that you be not blown away like chaff in the day of God's wrath, as afterwards suggested:

yea, gather together; or "search", or "shake out", or "fan", as before: this is repeated, to show the necessity and importance of it, and the vehemency of the prophet in urging it:

O nation not desired; by other nations, but hated by them, as Abarbinel observes; not desirable to God or good men; not amiable or lovely for any excellencies and goodness in them, but the reverse; being a disobedient and rebellious people; a seed of evildoers, laden with iniquity, who, from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet, were full of wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores; or of disorders and irregularities, sins and transgressions, comparable to them; and therefore, instead of being desirable, were loathsome and abominable: or, as some render the word, "O nation void of desire" (d); or "not affected" with it; who had no desire after God, and the knowledge of his will; after his word and worship; after a return unto him, and reconciliation with him; after his favour, grace, and mercy; not desirous of good things, nor of doing any. So the Targum,

"gather together, and come, and draw near, this people who desire not to return to the law.''

Joseph Kimchi, from the use of the word in the Misnic language, renders it, "O nation not ashamed": of their evil works, being bold and impudent; and yet, such was the goodness and grace of God to them, that he calls them to repentance, and gives them warning before he strikes the blow.

(y) "legite paleas vestras", Gussetius. "proprie est stipulas colligere", Drusius, Piscator, Tarnovius. (z) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 107. 2. & Bava Bathra, fol. 60. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 19. 1.((a) Ebr. Comment. p. 763. (b) "Scrutamini", Pagninus; "disquirite", Munster; "examinate", Vatablus; "perscrutamini", Cocceius. (c) "Excutite vos", Junius & Tremellius, Tarnovius; so Stockius, p. 975. (d) "vacua desiderio", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "quae nullo desiderio afficeris", Burkius; "quae nullo tenteris affectu", Munster.

Gather {a} yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;

(a) He exhorts them to repentance, and wills them to descend into themselves and gather themselves, lest they be scattered like chaff.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Chap. Zephaniah 2:1-3. Exhortation to men to seek righteousness, if perchance they may be hid in the Day of the Lord

1. The prophet addresses himself to Judah.

Gather yourselves together] The sense is obscure. The verb (ḳash) is used of gathering straw, Exodus 5:12, sticks, Numbers 15:32; 1 Kings 17:10; 1 Kings 17:12, and does not otherwise occur. It is very doubtful if the word could be used in a metaphorical or mental sense, collect yourselves, that is, reflect, that ye may understand and repent. Rothstein (in Kautzsch’s Bible) suggests a root ḳûsh, and renders, Bow yourselves and be bowed, but the Arabic verb on which he bases this sense (ḳáwisa, 5 taḳáwwasa) is a denominative from ḳaus “a bow,” and does not mean to bow down but to be bow-shaped, or curved in the back. With more plausibility Ewald appealed to the Aramaic word signifying to be old (ḳâsh), assuming that the primary sense of the word was to be (become) withered, grey in colour. If this primary sense could be established his rendering turn pale! i.e. be ashamed, might be accepted, as it would agree very well with the next clause. Budde proposes at once to read be ashamed (root, bôsh), but if this common word had originally stood in the text it is not easy to understand how the present difficult reading could have arisen. There is a similarly obscure word in Isaiah 46:8.

O nation not desired] R.V. O nation that hath no shame, marg. longing. In usage the Heb. word means to long, to desire greatly, but this sense is supposed to be secondary, the primary meaning being to be pale, whitish (hence the word silver in Heb., = “white money”). The radical meaning of most Heb. words signifying “to be ashamed” is to be (become) white, because to be ashamed meant, to be practically confounded, and terror or dismay was an element in the feeling.

Verse 1-ch.3:8. - Part II. EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE AND TO PERSEVERANCE. Verses 1-3. - § 1. The prophet urges all to examine their ways before the day of the Lord come; and he prays the righteous to seek the Lord more earnestly, in order that they may be safe in the judgment. Verse 1. - Gather yourselves together. So the versions; and this rendering is probably correct. The prophet calls upon his nation to assemble themselves together in order to take mutual counsel or to make general confession and supplication to God. Another rendering, based on some alteration of letters, is, "Set yourselves to be ashamed; yea, be ashamed" (comp. Isaiah 46:8). Yea, gather together. The LXX. renders the two words, συνάχθητε καὶ συνδέθητε, "be ye gathered and bound together;" "Id est," says Jerome, "estote vobis caritatis vinculo copulati." O nation not desired; Vulgate, gens non amabilis - a litotes for abominable, hated for its sins, unworthy of God's love and care. The Septuagint rendering, ἀπαίδευτον, "unchastened," points to the meaning affixed by the Chaldee paraphrase, that does not wish to be converted," having no desire for amendment; like what is said in Jeremiah 2:30, "they received no correction." Others render, "which does not turn pale," i.e. which is not ashamed, comparing Isaiah 29:22. The verb kasaph seems to have this meaning in niphal, according to Talmudic use; but its usual signification is "to pine" or "long for." The Revised Version gives in the margin, "that hath no longing" - a rendering adopted by Professor Gandell, implying that the people are quite satisfied with their present condition, and have no aspiration for anything better or higher (comp. Hosea 12:8). This is a very apposite interpretation; but there is no sufficient ground for rejecting the translation of the Authorized Version, which is supported by high authority, is agreeable to the use of the word, and affords a satisfactory sense. Zephaniah 2:1Call to conversion. - Zephaniah 2:1. "Gather yourselves together, and gather together, O nation that dost not grow pale. Zephaniah 2:2. Before the decree bring forth (the day passes away like chaff), before the burning wrath of Jehovah come upon you, before the day of Jehovah's wrath come upon you. Zephaniah 2:3. Seek Jehovah, all ye humble of the land, who have wrought His right; seek righteousness, seek humility, perhaps ye will be hidden in the day of Jehovah's wrath." The summons in Zephaniah 2:1 is addressed to the whole of Judah or Israel. The verb qōshēsh, possibly a denom. from qash, signifies to gather stubble (Exodus 5:7, Exodus 5:12), then generally to gather together or collect, e.g., branches of wood (Numbers 15:32-33; 1 Kings 17:10); in the hithpoel, to gather one's self together, applied to that spiritual gathering which leads to self-examination, and is the first condition of conversion. The attempts of Ewald and Hitzig to prove, by means of doubtful etymological combinations from the Arabic, that the word possesses the meanings, to grow pale, or to purify one's self, cannot be sustained. The kal is combined with the hiphil for the purpose of strengthening it, as in Habakkuk 1:5 and Isaiah 29:9. Nikhsâph is the perf. nipahl in pause, and not a participle, partly because of the לא which stands before it (see however Ewald, 286, g), and partly on account of the omission of the article; and nikhsâph is to be taken as a relative, "which does not turn pale." Kâsaph has the meaning "to long," both in the niphal (vid., Genesis 31:30; Psalm 84:3) and kal (cf. Psalm 17:12; Job 14:15). This meaning is retained by many here. Thus Jerome renders it, "gens non amabilis, i.e., non desiderata a Deo;" but this is decidedly unsuitable. Others render it "not possessing strong desire," and appeal to the paraphrase of the Chaldee, "a people not wishing to be converted to the law." This is apparently the view upon which the Alex. version rests: ἔθνος ἀπαίδευτον. But although nikhsâph is used to denote the longing of the soul for fellowship with God in Psalm 84:3, this idea is not to be found in the word itself, but simply in the object connected with it. We therefore prefer to follow Grotius, Gesenius, Ewald, and others, and take the word in its primary sense of turning pale at anything, becoming white with shame (cf. Isaiah 29:22), which is favoured by Zephaniah 3:15. The reason for the appeal is given in Zephaniah 2:2, viz., the near approach of the judgment. The resolution brings forth, when that which is resolved upon is realized (for yâlad in this figurative sense, see Proverbs 27:1). The figure is explained in the second hemistich. The next clause כּמוץ וגו does not depend upon בּטרם, for in that case the verb would stand at the head with Vav cop., but it is a parenthesis inserted to strengthen the admonition: the day comes like chaff, i.e., approaches with the greatest rapidity, like chaff driven by the wind: not "the time passes by like chaff" (Hitzig); for it cannot be shown that yōm was ever used for time in this sense. Yōm is the day of judgment mentioned in Zephaniah 1:7, Zephaniah 1:14-15; and עבר here is not to pass by, but to approach, to come near, as in Nahum 3:19. For the figure of the chaff, see Isaiah 29:5. In the second בּטרם is strengthened by לא; and חרון אף, the burning of wrath in the last clause, is explained by יום אף יי, the day of the revelation of the wrath of God.
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