Zephaniah 2:15
This is the 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.
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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).



Zephaniah 2:15After this statement of the aim of the judgments of God, Zephaniah mentions two other powerful heathen nations as examples, to prove that the whole of the heathen world will succumb to the judgment. Zephaniah 2:12. "Ye Cushites also, slain of my sword are they. Zephaniah 2:13. And let him stretch out his hand toward the south, and destroy Asshur; and make Nineveh a barren waste, a dry place, like the desert. Zephaniah 2:14. And herds lie down in the midst of it, all kinds of beasts in crowds: pelicans also and hedgehogs will lodge on their knobs; the voice of the singer in the window; heaps upon the threshold: for their cedar-work hath He made bare. Zephaniah 2:15. This the city, the exulting one, the safely dwelling one, which said in her heart, I, and no more: how has she become a desolation, a lair of beasts! Every one that passeth by it will hiss, swing his hand." As a representative of the heathen dwelling in the south, Zephaniah does not mention Edom, which bordered upon Judah, or the neighbouring land of Egypt, but the remote Ethiopia, the furthest kingdom or people in the south that was known to the Hebrews. The Ethiopians will be slain of the sword of Jehovah. המּה does not take the place of the copula between the subject and predicate, any more than הוּא in Isaiah 37:16 and Ezra 5:11 (to which Hitzig appeals in support of this usage: see Delitzsch, on the other hand, in his Comm. on Isaiah, l.c.), but is a predicate. The prophecy passes suddenly from the form of address (in the second person) adopted in the opening clause, to a statement concerning the Cushites (in the third person). For similar instances of sudden transition, see Zephaniah 3:18; Zechariah 3:8; Ezekiel 28:22.

(Note: Calvin correctly says: "The prophet commences by driving them, in the second person, to the tribunal of God, and then adds in the third person, 'They will be,' etc.")

חללי חרבּי is a reminiscence from Isaiah 66:16 : slain by Jehovah with the sword. Zephaniah says nothing further concerning this distant nation, which had not come into any hostile collision with Judah in his day; and only mentions it to exemplify the thought that all the heathen will come under the judgment. The fulfilment commenced with the judgment upon Egypt through the Chaldaeans, as is evident from Ezekiel 30:4, Ezekiel 30:9, as compared with Josephus, Ant. x. 11, and continues till the conversion of that people to the Lord, the commencement of which is recorded in Acts 8:27-38. The prophet dwells longer upon the heathen power of the north, the Assyrian kingdom with its capital Nineveh, because Assyria was then the imperial power, which was seeking to destroy the kingdom of God in Judah. This explains the fact that the prophet expresses the announcement of the destruction of this power in the form of a wish, as the use of the contracted forms yēt and yâsēm clearly shows. For it is evident that Ewald is wrong in supposing that ויט stands for ויּט, or should be so pointed, inasmuch as the historical tense, "there He stretched out His hand," would be perfectly out of place. נטה יד (to stretch out a hand), as in Zephaniah 1:4. ‛al tsâphōn, over (or against) the north. The reference is to Assyria with the capital Nineveh. It is true that this kingdom was not to the north, but to the north-east, of Judah; but inasmuch as the Assyrian armies invaded Palestine from the north, it is regarded by the prophets as situated in the north. On Nineveh itself, see at Jonah 1:2 (p. 263); and on the destruction of this city and the fall of the Assyrian empire, at Nahum 3:19 (p. 379). Lishmâmâh is strengthened by the apposition tsiyyâh kammidbâr.

Nineveh is not only to become a steppe, in which herds feed (Isaiah 27:10), but a dry, desolate waste, where only desert animals will make their home. Tsiyyâh, the dry, arid land - the barren, sandy desert (cf. Isaiah 35:1). בּתוכהּ, in the midst of the city which has become a desert, there lie flocks, not of sheep and goats (צאן, Zephaniah 2:6; cf. Isaiah 13:20), but כּל־חיתו־גוי , literally of all the animals of the (or a) nation. The meaning can only be, "all kinds of animals in crowds or in a mass." גּוי is used here for the mass of animals, just as it is in Joel 1:6 for the multitude of locusts, and as עם is in Proverbs 30:35-36 for the ant-people; and the genitive is to be taken as in apposition. Every other explanation is exposed to much greater objections and difficulties. For the form חיתו, see at Genesis 1:24. Pelicans and hedgehogs will make their homes in the remains of the ruined buildings (see at Isaiah 34:11, on which passage Zephaniah rests his description). בּכפתּריה, upon the knobs of the pillars left standing when the palaces were destroyed (kaphtōr; see at Amos 9:1). The reference to the pelican, a marsh bird, is not opposed to the tsiyyâh of Zephaniah 2:13, since Nineveh stood by the side of streams, the waters of which formed marshes after the destruction of the city. קול ישׁורר cannot be rendered "a voice sings," for shōrēr, to sing, is not used for tuning or resounding; but yeshōrēr is to be taken relatively, and as subordinate to קול, the voice of him that sings will be heard in the window. Jerome gives it correctly: vox canentis in fenestra. There is no necessity to think of the cry of the owl or hawk in particular, but simply of birds generally, which make their singing heard in the windows of the ruins. The sketching of the picture of the destruction passes from the general appearance of the city to the separate ruins, coming down from the lofty knobs of the pillars to the windows, and from these to the thresholds of the ruins of the houses. Upon the thresholds there is chōrebh, devastation ( equals rubbish), and no longer a living being. This is perfectly appropriate, so that there is no necessity to give the word an arbitrary interpretation, or to alter the text, so as to get the meaning a raven or a crow. The description closes with the explanatory sentence: "for He has laid bare the cedar-work," i.e., has so destroyed the palaces and state buildings, that the costly panelling of the walls is exposed. 'Arzâh is a collective, from 'erez, the cedar-work, and there is no ground for any such alteration of the text as Ewald and Hitzig suggest, in order to obtain the trivial meaning "hews or hacks in pieces," or the cold expression, "He destroys, lays bare." In Zephaniah 2:15 the picture is rounded off. "This is the city," i.e., this is what happens to the exulting city. עלּיזה, exulting, applied to the joyful tumult caused by the men - a favourite word with Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 22:2; Isaiah 23:7; Isaiah 24:8; Isaiah 32:13). The following predicates from היּושׁבת to עוד are borrowed from the description of Babel in Isaiah 47:8, and express the security and self-deification of the mighty imperial city. The Yod in 'aphsı̄ is not paragogical, but a pronoun in the first person; at the same time, 'ephes is not a preposition, "beside me," since in that case the negation "not one" could not be omitted, but "the non-existence," so that אפסי equals איני, I am absolutely no further (see at Isaiah 47:8). But how has this self-deifying pride been put to shame! איך, an expression of amazement at the tragical turn in her fate. The city filled with the joyful exulting of human beings has become the lair of wild beasts, and every one that passes by expresses his malicious delight in its ruin. Shâraq, to hiss, a common manifestation of scorn (cf. Micah 6:16; Jeremiah 19:8). היניע יד, to swing the hand, embodying the thought, "Away with her, she has richly deserved her fate."

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