Zephaniah 2:15
This is the rejoicing city that dwelled carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passes by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zephaniah 2:15. This is the rejoicing city — This is supposed to be said by those who should pass by it after its desolation; that said in her heart, I am, and there is none besides me — Its inhabitants indulged themselves in their ease and pleasures; and they arrived at that degree of presumption, as to fancy that no strength or power could bring them down from the height of grandeur at which they were arrived. Babylon is charged with the same degree of pride and carnal security, Isaiah 47:8. Every one that passeth by her shall hiss, &c. — In astonishment at the condition to which she is reduced: see a like topic, of a great city laid waste, pursued in a train of images full of sublimity and terror, Isaiah 34:11-17. 2:4-15 Those are really in a woful condition who have the word of the Lord against them, for no word of his shall fall to the ground. God will restore his people to their rights, though long kept from them. It has been the common lot of God's people, in all ages, to be reproached and reviled. God shall be worshipped, not only by all Israel, and the strangers who join them, but by the heathen. Remote nations must be reckoned with for the wrongs done to God's people. The sufferings of the insolent and haughty in prosperity, are unpitied and unlamented. But all the desolations of flourishing nations will make way for the overturning Satan's kingdom. Let us improve our advantages, and expect the performance of every promise, praying that our Father's name may be hallowed every where, over all the earth.This utter desolation is "the rejoicing city" (so unlike is it, that there is need to point out that it is the same); this is she, who was full of joy, exulting exceedingly, but in herself, not in God; "that dwelt carelessly," literally, "securely," and so carelessly; saying "Peace and safety" 1 Thessalonians 5:3, as though no evil would come upon her, and so perishing more certainly and miserably (see Judges 18:27) "That said in her heart," this was her inmost feeling, the moving cause of all her deeds; "I am and there is none beside me;" literally , "and there is no I beside," claiming the very attribute of God (as the world does) of self-existence, as if it alone were "I," and others, in respect of her, were as nothing. Pantheism, which denies the being of God, as Author of the world, and claims the life in the material world to be God, and each living being to be a part of God, is only this self-idolatry, reflected upon and carried out in words. All the pride of the world, all self-indulgence which says, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," all covetousness which ends in this world, speaks this by its acts, "I and no Ibeside."

How is she become a desolation - Has passed wholly into it, exists only as a desolation, "a place for beasts to lie down in," a mere den for "the wild beasts. Every one that passeth by her shall hiss" in derision, "and wag" (or wave) "his hand" in detestation, as though putting the hand between them and it, so as not to look at it, or, as it were, motioning it away. The action is different from that of "clapping the hands in exultation" Nahum 3:19.

"It is not difficult," Jerome says, "to explain this of the world, that when the Lord hath stretched forth His Hand over the north and destroyed the Assyrian, the Prince of this world, the world also perishes together with its Princes, and is brought to utter desolation, and is pitied by none, but all hiss and shake their hands at its ruin. But of the Church it seems, at first sight, blasphemous to say that it shall be a pathless desert, and wild beasts shall dwell in her, and that afterward it shall be said insultingly over her; 'This is the city given up to ill, which "dwelt carelessly and said in her heart, I and none beside."' But whoso should consider that of the Apostle, wherein he says, "in the last days perilous times shall come" 2 Timothy 3:1-5, and what is written in the Gospel, that "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" Matthew 24:12, so that then shall that be fulfilled, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find the faith on the earth?" he will not marvel at the extreme desolation of the Church, that, in the reign of antichrist, it shall be reduced to a desolation and given over to beasts, and shall suffer whatever the prophet now describes.

For if for unbelief "God spared not the natural branches," but "brake them off," and "turned rivers into a wilderness and the water-springs into a dry ground," and "a fruitful land into barrenness, for the iniquity of them that dwell therein," why not as to those of whom He had said, "He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into water-springs, and there He maketh the hungry to dwell" Psalm 107:33-36; and as to those whom "out of the wild olive He hath grafted into the good olive tree," why, if forgetful of this benefit, they depart from their Maker and worship the Assyrian, should He not undo them and bring them to the same thirst wherein they were before? Which, whereas it may be understood generally of the coming of antichrist or of the end of the world, yet it may, day by day, be understood of those who feign to be of the Church of God, and "in works deny it, are hearers of the word not doers," who in vain boast in an outward show, whereas herds that is, troops of vices dwell in them, and brute animals serving the body, and all the beasts of the field which devour their hearts (and pelicans, that is, gluttons , whose 'god is their belly') and hedgehogs, a prickly animal full of spikes which pricketh whatever it toucheth.

After which it is subjoined, that the Church shall therefore suffer this, or hath suffered it, because it lifted itself up proudly and raised its head like a cedar, given up to evil works, and yet promising itself future blessedness, and despising others in its heart, nor thinking that there is any other beside itself, and saying, "I am, and there is no other beside me," how is it become a solitude, a lair of beasts! For where before, dwelt the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and Angels presided over its ministries, there shall beasts dwell. And if we understand that, every one that passeth by shall hiss, we shall explain it thus; when Angels shall pass through her, and not remain in her, as was their wont, they shall be amazed and marvel, and shall not support and bear her up with their hand, when falling, but shall lift up the hands and shall pass by. Or they shall make a sound as those who mourn. But if we understand this of the devil and his angels, who destroyed the vine also that was brought out of Egypt, we shall say, that through the soul, which before was the temple of God and hath ceased so to be, the serpent passeth, and hisseth and spitteth forth the venom of his malice in her, and not this only, but setteth in motion his works which figuratively are called hands."

Rup.: "The earlier and partial fulfillment of prophecy does not destroy, it rather confirms, the entire fulfillment to come. For whoso heareth of the destruction of mighty cities, is constrained to believe the truth of the Gospel, that the fashion of this world passeth away, and that, after the likeness of Nineveh and Babylon, the Lord will in the end judge the whole world also."

15. Nothing then seemed more improbable than that the capital of so vast an empire, a city sixty miles in compass, with walls one hundred feet high, and so thick that three chariots could go abreast on them, and with fifteen hundred towers, should be so totally destroyed that its site is with difficulty discovered. Yet so it is, as the prophet foretold.

there is none beside me—This peculiar phrase, expressing self-gratulation as if peerless, is plainly adopted from Isa 47:8. The later prophets, when the spirit of prophecy was on the verge of departing, leaned more on the predictions of their predecessors.

hiss—in astonishment at a desolation so great and sudden (1Ki 9:8); also in derision (Job 27:23; La 2:15; Eze 27:36).

This is the rejoicing city: we may suppose the prophet, or the Jews, or all passengers, standing still and wondering, nay, upbraiding Nineveh, all mirth and jollity once, but now all sorrow and grief.

That dwelt carelessly; in so great confidence and security, as if it had been impossible she should ever have fallen from her glory.

That said in her heart; persuaded herself into an opinion very ill becoming any but God himself.

There is none beside me; none that can contend with me, that will be so hardy as to attempt against me, none able to overthrow me. Somewhat like Tyre, Ezekiel 28:12, &o.

How is she become a desolation! she thought none was like her in glory, power, and wealth. now there is none like her indeed, but it is for misery and desolations. It may be either the speech of one that laments and wonders at it, or of one that rejoiceth at it.

A place for beasts to lie down in: where palaces for princes stood, now are places for beasts; where nobles dwelt, now do ignoble cattle couch.

Shall hiss and wag his hand; deride their arrogancy, and condemn their ungodly pride and security, yet with some pity toward this desolate city. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly,.... Once exceeding populous, and the inhabitants full of mirth and gaiety, abounding with wealth and riches, and indulging themselves in all carnal delights and pleasures; and, being well fortified, thought themselves out of all danger, and were careless and unconcerned, not fearing any enemy that should attack them; imagining their city was impregnable and invincible: these are the words of the prophet, concluding his prophecy concerning the destruction of this city, and having, by a spirit of prophecy, a foresight of its ruin and desolation; or of passengers, and what they should say when they saw it lie in its ruins:

that said in her heart, I am, and there is none besides me; or, "is there any besides me?" (t) there is none, no city in the world to be compared to it for the largeness of the place, the strength of its walls, the number of its inhabitants, its wealth and riches: at least so she thought within herself, and was elated with these things; and concluded it would never be otherwise with her; "I am", and shall always continue so:

how is she become a desolation! what a desolate place is this! its walls broken down, its houses demolished, its wealth and riches plundered, its inhabitants destroyed; and now the hold and habitation of beasts of prey, and hateful birds:

a place for beasts to lie down in! and not for men to dwell in: this is said, either as wondering, or as rejoicing at it, as follows:

everyone that passeth by her; and sees her in this ruinous condition:

shall hiss, and wag his hand; in scorn and derision, as pleased with the sight, and having no pity and compassion for her, remembering her cruelty to and oppression of others, when in her prosperity; see Nahum 3:19.

(t) "et praeter me adhuc quiequam est?" Cocceius.

This is the {i} rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.

(i) Meaning, Nineveh, which rejoicing so much of her strength and prosperity, should be thus made waste, and God's people delivered.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. A ḳinah or elegy on Nineveh.

the rejoicing city] R.V. the joyous city.

there is none beside me] there is none else. She felt unique in her power and splendour. The same words are used of herself by Babylon, Isaiah 47:8.

shall hiss, and wag his hand] Expressions of scorn and hatred. Ezekiel 27:36; Lamentations 2:15-16; Job 27:23; Nahum 3:19.Verse 15. - This is the rejoicing city. Such is the fate of this once exulting city, that dwelt carelessly, secure, with no fear of danger at hand (Isaiah 47:8, on which this passage is founded). I am, and there is none beside me. Thus, in effect, Nineveh claimed for himself the attributes of Almighty God. She stands alone, mistress of nations, a type of the powers of this world, which deify themselves and defy the Lord. Septuagint, Οὐκ ἔστι μετ ἐμὲ ἔτι, "There is no more any after me." Shall hiss. In scorn (Job 27:23; Jeremiah 19:8; Micah 6:16). Wag his hand. He shall shake or wave his hand with the gesture of dismissal, as if saying, "Away with thee! get thee gone!" - a rehearsal of the awful "Depart ye!" in the final judgment (comp. Nahum 3:19).



"This confession of sin is followed by a confession of faith on the part of the humiliated people of God" (Shlier.) Micah 7:7. "But I, for Jehovah will I look out; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Micah 7:8. Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy! for am I fallen, I rise again; for do I sit in darkness, Jehovah is light to me." By ואני what follows is attached adversatively to the preceding words. Even though all love and faithfulness should have vanished from among men, and the day of visitation should have come, the church of the faithful would not be driven from her confidence in the Lord, but would look to Him and His help, and console itself with the assurance that its God would hear it, i.e., rescue it from destruction. As the looking out (tsâphâh) for the Lord, whether He would not come, i.e., interpose to judge and aid, involves in itself a prayer for help, though it is not exhausted by it, but also embraces patient waiting, or the manifestation of faith in the life; so the hearing of God is a practical hearing, in other words, a coming to help and to save. The God of my salvation, i.e., from whom all my salvation comes (cf. Psalm 27:9; Isaiah 17:10). Her enemy, i.e., the heathen power of the world, represented in Micah's time by Asshur, and personified in thought as daughter Asshur, is not to rejoice over Zion. כּי, for, not "if:" the verb nâphaltı̄ is rather to be taken conditionally, "for have I fallen;" nâphal being used, as in Amos 5:2, to denote the destruction of the power and of the kingdom. The church is here supposed to be praying out of the midst of the period when the judgment has fallen upon it for its sins, and the power of the world is triumphing over it. The prophet could let her speak thus, because he had already predicted the destruction of the kingdom and the carrying away of the people into exile as a judgment that was inevitable (Micah 3:12; Micah 6:16). Sitting in darkness, i.e., being in distress and poverty (cf. Isaiah 9:1; Isaiah 42:7; Psalm 107:10). In this darkness the Lord is light to the faithful, i.e., He is their salvation, as He who does indeed chasten His own people, but who even in wrath does not violate His grace, or break the promises which He has given to His people.
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