Zephaniah 2:4
For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.
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Zephaniah 2:4-7. For Gaza shall be forsaken — The prophet digresses here to foretel the fate of some cities and nations bordering on Judea; probably with a view to show that when Judea should be invaded, and Jerusalem attacked, there would be no place for the Jews to escape to, since all the neighbouring cities would be brought to ruin, as well as those of Judea. Nebuchadnezzar, as history informs us, took many of the cities of the Philistines. Wo to the inhabitants of the sea-coasts — Wo to the Philistines who live upon the coast of the Mediterranean sea: compare Ezekiel 25:16, where, as well as here, they are called Cherethites, or Cherethims. The LXX. read, παροικοι Κρητων, strangers of the Cretans. They are supposed to have been a colony removed from Crete to Palestine. O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee — The Canaanites, properly so called, were the same with the Philistines, and seated in that part of Palestine: see Joshua 13:3. And the sea-coast shall be dwellings for shepherds — The merchants, who inhabited there before, being driven far away by the calamities of the times, or carried into captivity, and no others resorting thither. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah — This is a declaration that the sea-coasts, of which the Philistines should be dispossessed, should afterward come into the possession of the Jewish people, namely, after their return from their captivity; and that they should feed their flocks there, which should lie down in the evening in the desolate or ruined houses of Ashkelon.

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.For - As a ground for repentance and perseverance, he goes through Pagan nations, upon whom God's wrath should come. Jerome: "As Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, after visions concerning Judah, turn to other nations round about, and according to the character of each, announce what shall come upon them, and dwell at length upon it, so doth this prophet, though more briefly" And thus under five nations, who lay west, east, south and north, he includes all mankind on all sides, and, again, according to their respective characters toward Israel, as they are alien from, or hostile to the Church; the Philistines Zephaniah 2:4-7, as a near, malicious, infesting enemy; Moab and Ammon Isaiah 2:8-10, people akin to her (as heretics) yet ever rejoicing at her troubles and sufferings; Etheopians Isaiah 5:12, distant nations at peace with her, and which are, for the most part, spoken of as to be brought unto her; Assyria Isaiah 13-15, as the great oppressive power of the world, and so upon it the full desolation rests.

In the first fulfillment, because Moab and Ammon aiding Nebuchadnezzar, (and all, in various ways wronging God's people Isaiah 16:4; Amos 1:13-15; Amos 2:1-3; Jeremiah 48:27-30, Jeremiah 48:42; Jeremiah 49:1; Ezekiel 20:3, Ezekiel 20:6, Ezekiel 20:8), trampled on His sanctuary, overthrew His temple and blasphemed the Lord, the prophecy is turned against them. So then, before the captivity came, while Josiah was yet king, and Jerusalem and the temple were, as yet, not overthrown, the prophecy is directed against those who mocked at them. "Gaza shall be forsaken." Out of the five cities of the Philistines, the prophet pronounces woe upon the same four as Amos Amo 1:6-8 before, Jeremiah Jer 25:20 soon after, and Zechariah Zechariah 9:5-6 later. Gath, then, the fifth had probably remained with Judah since Uzziah 2 Chronicles 26:6 and Hezekiah 2 Kings 18:8. In the sentence of the rest, regard is had (as is so frequent in the Old Testament) to the names of the places themselves, that, henceforth, the name of the place might suggest the thought of the doom pronounced upon it.

The names expressed boastfulness, and so, in the divine judgment, carried their own sentence with them, and this sentence is pronounced by a slight change in the word. Thus 'Azzah' (Gaza,) 'strong' shall be 'Azoobah, desolated;' "Ekron, deep-rooting" , shall "Teaker, be uprooted;" the "Cherethites" (cutters off) shall become (Cheroth) "diggings;" "Chebel, the band" of the sea coast, shall be in another sense "Chebel," an "inheritance" Zephaniah 2:5, Zephaniah 2:7, divided by line to the remnant of Judah; and "Ashdod" (the waster shall be taken in their might, not by craft, nor in the way of robbers, but "driven forth" violently and openly in the "noon-day."

For Gaza shall be forsaken - Some vicissitudes of these towns have been noted already . The fulfillment of the prophecy is not tied down to time; the one marked contrast is, that the old pagan enemies of Judah should be destroyed, the house of Judah should be restored, and should re-enter upon the possession of the land, promised to them of old. The Philistine towns had, it seems, nothing to fear from Babylon or Persia, to whom they remained faithful subjects. The Ashdodites (who probably, as the most important, stand for the whole ) combined with Sanballat, "the Ammonites and the Arabians" Nehemiah 4:7, to hinder the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Even an army was gathered, headed by Samaria Nehemiah 2.

They gave themselves out as loyal, Jerusalem as rebellious Nehemiah 2:19; Nehemiah 6:6. The old sin remaining, Zechariah renewed the sentence by Zephaniah against the four cities Zechariah 9; a prophecy, which an unbeliever also has recognized as picturing the march of Alexander . : "All the other cities of Palestine having submitted," Gaza alone resisted the conqueror for two or five months. It had come into the hands of the Persians in the expedition of Cambyses against Egypt . The Gazaeans having all perished fighting at their posts, Alexander sold the women and children, and re-populated the city from the neighborhood . Palestine lay between the two rival successors of Alexander, the Ptolemies and Seleucidae, and felt their wars .

Gaza fell through mischance into the hands of Ptolemy , 11 years after the death of Alexander , and soon after, was destroyed by Antiochus (198 b.c.), "preserving its faith to Ptolemy" as before to the Persians, in a way admired by a pagan historian. In the Maccabee wars, Judas Maccabaeus chiefly destroyed the idols of Ashdod, but also "spoiled their cities" (1 Macc. 5:68); Jonathan set it on fire, with its idol-temple, which was a sort of citadel to it (1 Macc. 10:84); Ascalon submitted to him (1 Macc. 10:86); Ekron with its borders were given to him by Alexander Balas (1 Macc. 10:89); he burned the suburbs of Gaza (1 Macc. 11:61); Simon took it, expelled its inhabitants, filled it with believing Jews and fortified it more strongly than before (1 Macc. 13:43-48); but, after a year's siege, it was betrayed to Alexander Jannaeus, who killed its senate of 500 and razed the city to the ground .

Gabinius restored it and Ashdod . After Herod's death, Ashdod was given to Salome ; Gaza, as being a Greek city , was detached from the realm of Archelaus and annexed to Syria. It was destroyed by the Jews in their revolt when Florus was "procurator," 55 A.D . Ascalon and Gaza must still have been strong, and were probably a distinct population in the early times of Antipater, father of Herod, when Alexander and Alexandra set him over all Idumaea, since "he is said" then "to have made friendship with the Arabs, Gazites and Ascalonites, likeminded with himself, and to have attached them by many and large presents."

Yet though the inhabitants were changed, the hereditary hatred remained. Philo in his Embassy to Caius, 40 a.d., used the strong language , "The Ascalonites have an implacable and irreconcilable enmity to the Jews, their neighbors, who inhabit the holy land." This continued toward Christians. Some horrible atrocities, of almost inconceivable savagery, by these of Gaza and Ascalon 361 a.d., are related by Theodoret and Sozomen . : "Who is ignorant of the madness of the Gazaeans?" asks Gregory of Nazianzus, of the times of Julian. This was previous to the conversion of the great Gazite temple of Marna into a Christian Church by Eudoxia . On occasion of Constantine's exemption of the Maiumas Gazae from their control, it is alleged, that they were "extreme heathen." In the time of the Crusades the Ascalonites are described by Christians as their "most savage enemies."

It may be, that a likeness of sin may have continued on a likeness of punishment. But the primary prediction was against the people, not against the walls. The sentence, "Gaza shall be forsaken," would have been fulfilled by the removal or captivity of its inhabitants, even if they had not been replaced by others. A prediction against any ancient British town would have been fulfilled, if the Britons in it had been replaced or exterminated by Danes, and these by Saxons, and these subdued by the Normans, though their displacers became wealthy and powerful in their place. Even on the same site it would not be the same Gaza, when the Philistine Gaza became Edomite, and the Edomite Greek, and the Greek Arabian . Ashdod (as well as Gaza) is spoken of as a city of the Greeks ; New Gaza is spoken of as a mixture of Turks, Arabians, Fellahs, Bedouins out of Egypt, Syria, Petraea . Felix Faber says, "there is a wonderful com-mixture of divers nations in it, Ethiopians, Arabs, Egyptians, Syrians, Indians and eastern Christians; no Latins ." Its Jewish inhabitants fled from it in the time of Napoleon: now, with few exceptions it is inhabited by Arabs .

But these, Ghuzzeh, Eskalon, Akir, Sedud, are at most successors of the Philistine cities, of which there is no trace above the surface of the earth. It is common to speak of "remnants of antiquity," as being or not being to be found in any of them; but this means, that, where these exist, there are remains of a Greek or Roman, not of a Philistine city.

Of the four cities, "Akkaron," Ekron, ("the firm-rooting") has not left a vestage. It is mentioned by name only, after the times of the Bible, by some who passed by it . There was "a large village of Jews" so called in the time of Eusebius and Jerome , "between Azotus and Jamnia." Now a village of "about 50 mud houses without a single remnant of antiquity except 2 large finely built wells" bears the name of Akir. Jerome adds, "Some think that Accaron is the tower of Strato, afterward called Caesarea." This was perhaps derived from misunderstanding his Jewish instructor . But it shows how entirely all knowledge of Ekron was then lost.

Ashdod - Or Azotus which, at the time when Zephaniah prophesied, held out a twenty-nine years' siege against Psammetichus, is replaced by "a moderate sized village of mud houses, situated on the eastern declivity of a little flattish hill," "entirely modern, not containing a vestige of antiquity." "A beautiful sculptured sarcophagus with some fragments of small marble shafts," "near the Khan on the southwest." belong of course to later times. "The whole south side of the hill appears also, as if it had been once covered with buildings, the stones of which are now thrown together in the rude fences." Its Bishops are mentioned from the Council of Nice to 536 a.d. , and so probably continued until the Muslim devastation. It is not mentioned in the Talmud . Benjamin of Tudela calls it Palmis, and says, "it is desolate, and there are no Jews in it ." : "Neither Ibn Haukal (Yacut), Edrisi, Abulfeda, nor William of Tyre mention it."

Ascalon and Gaza had each a port, Maiuma Gazae, Maiuma Ascalon; literally, "a place on the sea" (an Egyptian name ) belonging to Ascalon or Gaza. The name involves that Ascalon and Gaza themselves, the old Philistine towns, were not on the sea. They were, like Athens, built inland, perhaps (as has been conjectured) from fear of the raids of pirates, or of inroads from those who (like the Philistines themselves probably, or some tribe of them) might come from the sea. The port probably of both was built in much later times; the Egyptian name implies that they were built by Egyptians, after the time when its kings Necos and Apries, (Pharaoh-Necho and Pharaoh-Hophra, who took Gaza Jeremiah 47:1) made Egypt a naval power . This became a characteristic of these Philistine cities. They themselves lay more or less inland, and had a city connected with them of the same name, on the shore. Thus there was an , "Azotus by the sea," and an "Azotus Ispinus." There were "two Iamniae, one inland." But Ashdod lay further from the sea than Gaza; Yamnia, (the Yabneel of Joshua Jos 15:11, in Uzziah's time, Yabneh 2 Chronicles 26:6) further than Ashdod. The port of Yamnia was burned by Judas (2 Macc. 12:9).

The "name," Maiumas, does not appear until Christian times, though "the port of Gaza" is mentioned by Strabo : to it, Alexander brought from Tyre the machines, with which he took Gaza itself . That port then must have been at some distance from Gaza. Each port became a town, large enough to have, in Christian times, a Bishop of its own. The Epistle of John of Jerusalem, inserted in the Acts of the Council of Constantinople, 536 a.d., written in the name of Palestine i., ii., and iii., is signed by a Bishop of Maiumen of Ascalon, as well as by a Bishop of Ascalon, as it is by a Bishop of Maiumas of Gaza as well as by a Bishop of Gaza. . Yabne, or Yamnia, was on a small eminence , 6 12 hours from the sea .


4. For—He makes the punishment awaiting the neighboring states an argument why the ungodly should repent (Zep 2:1) and the godly persevere, namely, that so they may escape from the general calamity.

Gaza shall be forsaken—In the Hebrew there is a play of similar sounds, Gaza Gazubah; Gaza shall be forsaken, as its name implies. So the Hebrew of the next clause, Ekron teeakeer.

at the noonday—when on account of the heat Orientals usually sleep, and military operations are suspended (2Sa 4:5). Hence an attack at noon implies one sudden and unexpected (Jer 6:4, 5; 15:8).

Ekron—Four cities of the Philistines are mentioned, whereas five was the normal number of their leading cities. Gath is omitted, being at this time under the Jews' dominion. David had subjugated it (1Ch 18:1). Under Joram the Philistines almost regained it (2Ch 21:16), but Uzziah (2Ch 26:6) and Hezekiah (2Ki 18:8) having conquered them, it remained under the Jews. Am 1:6; Zec 9:5, 6; Jer 25:20, similarly mention only four cities of the Philistines.

For; it is time to seek some refuge, high time to seek it in God, for your neighbours, as well as you, shall be destroyed, there shall he no refuge for you among your neighbours.

Gaza; a chief city of the Philistines, very strong by its situation, and by art fortified; a frontier toward Egypt, and not full three miles from the sea.

Shall be forsaken; when the conquering army of the Chaldeans shall come against it, shall be forsaken either by the flight or captivity of the inhabitants.

Ashkelon; another of the strong cities of the Philistines, which fell to the tribe of Dan, and was a maritime town.

A desolation; utterly wasted, so the abstract doth imply.

They; Babylonians: see Ezekiel 25:15-17.

Shall drive into captivity, cast them out of their own and force them into a strange land. Ashdod; a strong fortified city of Palestina, called in aftertimes Azotus.

At the noon-day; it shall be taken by force at noon, or the citizens led away captive in the heat of the day, and under parching heats.

Ekron; famous for its infamous idolatry, where Baalzebub was worshipped, the chief seat of devil-worship.

Shall be rooted up; utterly extirpated, no more to spring up: see

Jeremiah 47:4,5: it shall be as a tree pulled up by the roots; or maimed, as horses that are houghed, as Joshua 11:9.

For Gaza shall be forsaken,.... Therefore seek the Lord; and not to the Philistines, since they would be destroyed, to whom Gaza, and the other cities later mentioned, belonged; so Aben Ezra connects the words, suggesting that it would be in vain to flee thither for shelter, or seek for refuge there; though others think that this and what follows is subjoined, either to assure the Jews of their certain ruin, since this would be the case of the nations about them; or to alleviate their calamity, seeing their enemies would have no occasion to insult them, and triumph over them, they being, or quickly would be, in the like circumstances. Gaza was one of the five lordships of the Philistines; a strong and fortified place, as its name signifies; but should be demolished, stripped of its fortifications, and forsaken by its inhabitants. It was smitten by Pharaoh king of Egypt; and was laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 47:1 and afterwards taken by Alexander the great; and, having gone through various changes, was in the times of the apostles called Gaza the desert, Acts 8:26. There is a beautiful play on words in the words, not to be expressed in an English translation (h). According to Strabo's account (i), the ancient city was about a mile from the haven, for which (he says) it was formerly very illustrious; but was demolished by Alexander, and remained a desert. And so Jerom (k) says, in his time, the place where the ancient city stood scarce afforded any traces of the foundations of it; for that which now is seen (adds he) was built in another place, instead of that which was destroyed: and which, he observes, accounts for the fulfilment of this prophecy: and so Monsieur Thevenot (l) says, the city of Gaza is about two miles from the sea; and was anciently very illustrious, as may be seen by its ruins; and yet, even this must be understood of new Gaza; so a Greek writer (m), of an uncertain age, observes this distinction; and speaks of this and the following places exactly in the order in which they are here,

"after Rhinocorura lies new Gaza, which is the city itself; then "Gaza the desert" (the place here prophesied of); then the city Askelon; after that Azotus (or Ashdod); then the city Accaron'' (or Ekron):

and Ashkelon a desolation; this was another lordship belonging to the Philistines, that suffered at the same time as Gaza did by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 47:5. This place was ten miles from Gaza, as Mr. Sandys (n) says, and who adds, and now of no note; and Strabo (o) speaks of it in his time as a small city; indeed new Ashkelon is said by Benjamin of Tudela (p) to be a very large and beautiful city; but then he distinguishes it from old Ashkelon, here prophesied of; and which (he says) is four "parsoe", or sixteen miles, from the former, and now lies waste and desolate:

they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, that is, the Chaldeans shall drive out the inhabitants of Ashdod, another of the principalities of the Philistines; the same with Azotus, Acts 8:40 "at noon day", openly and publicly, and with great ease; they shall have no occasion to use any secret stratagems, or to make night work of it; and which would be very incommodious and distressing to the inhabitants, to be turned out at noon day, and be obliged to travel in the heat of the sun, which in those eastern countries at noon day beats very strong. This place was distant from old Ashkelon four "parsae", or twenty four miles, as Benjamin Tudelensis (q) affirms; and with which agrees Diodorus Siculus (r), who says, that from Gaza to Azotus are two hundred and seventy furlongs, which make thirty four miles, ten from Gaza to Ashkelon, and twenty four from thence to Azotus or Ashdod. This place, according to the above Jewish traveller (s), is now called Palmis, which he says is the Ashdod that belonged to the Philistines, now waste and desolate; by which this prophecy is fulfilled. It was once a very large and famous city, strong and well fortified; and held out a siege of twenty nine years against Psamittichus king of Egypt, as Herodotus (t) relates, but now destroyed; see Isaiah 20:1,

and Ekron shall be rooted up; as a tree is rooted up, and withers away, and perishes, and there is no more hope of it: this denotes the utter destruction of this place. There is here also an elegant allusion to the name of the place (u), not to be imitated in a version of it: this was another of the lordships of the Philistines, famous for the idol Beelzebub, the god of this place. Jerom (w) observes, that some think that Accaron (or Ekron) is the same with Strato's tower, afterwards called Caesarea; and so the Talmudists say (x), Ekron is Caesarea; which is not at all probable: he further observes, that there is a large village of the Jews, which in his days was called Accaron, and lay between Azotus and Jamnia to the east; but Breidenbachius (y) relates, that, in his time, Accaron was only a small cottage or hut, yet retaining its ancient name; so utterly rooted up is this place, which once was a considerable principality. Gath is not mentioned, which is the other of the five principalities, because it was now, as Kimchi says, in the hands of the kings of Judah.

(h) . (i) Geograph. l. 16. p. 502. (k) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 91. K. (l) Travels, par. 1. B. 2. c. 36. p. 180. (m) Apud Reland. Palestina Illustrata, l. 2. p. 509. (n) Travels, p. 151. (o) Geograph. l. 16. p. 502. (p) Itinorarium, p. 51. (q) Ibid. (r) Bibliothec. l. 19. p. 723. (s) Itinerarium, p. 51. (t) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 157. (u) . (w) De locis Heb. fol. 88. D. (x) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 6. 1.((y) Apud Adrichom. Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 20.

For {c} Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.

(c) He comforts the faithful in that God would change his punishments from them to the Philistines their enemies, and other nations.

4. For Gaza shall be forsaken] The connecting word for appears to refer to the exhortation in Zephaniah 2:3 : seek the Lord, it may be ye shall be hid, for many shall be overwhelmed. There is an assonance in the words “Gaza shall be forsaken” (‘azza ‘azûba) which cannot be reproduced. “Forsaken” is used probably as in Isaiah 6:12; Isaiah 7:16, in the sense of depopulated. There is a similar paronomasia in “Ekron shall be rooted up” (‘eḳron te‘âḳçr), which the Greek is able partially to imitate, Ἀκκαρὼν ἐκριζωθήσεται.

drive out Ashdod at the noon day] The expression at noon day occurs again Jeremiah 15:8 (Jeremiah 6:4 is different) and stands in parallelism with suddenly in the next clause. It is also curious that in Jeremiah 15:8, “a spoiler at noon day,” the term spoiler (shoded) would form an assonance with Ashdod. The idea meant to be suggested by the phrase “at noon day” is not clear. The usual explanation, to the effect that, as the hot noon was the time when men rested in the East, an attack at such an hour would be unexpected, is rather puerile (1 Kings 20:16). The idea might rather be that Ashdod shall be stormed by sheer and open force. See Appendix.

The Philistine towns are enumerated in their order from south to north. The first three lay near the coast, while Ekron was somewhat further inland.

4–15. The judgment of the Day of the Lord upon the nations

The nations on whom the impending judgment shall fall are: (1) the Philistines (Zephaniah 2:4-7); (2) Moab and Ammon (Zephaniah 2:8-15); (3) Cush or the Ethiopians (Zephaniah 2:12); and (4) Assyria (Zephaniah 2:13-15). In relation to Judah the four nations named lay respectively west, east, south, and north. The passage appears to be written in the rhythm of the ḳinah or Elegy, though in some verses the rhythm is imperfect. Comp. Ezekiel 19. Cambridge Bible, and more fully, Budde in the Zeitsch. für Alttest. Wissensch., 1882, to whom is due the merit of discovering the true nature of the Elegiac rhythm.

Verses 4-7. - § 2. The admonition is enforced by the announcement of the punishment that is about to fall on various nations, which shall prepare the way for the general acceptance of true religion; and first the sentence shall reach the Philistines. Verse 4. - There is reason enough why Judah should tremble when the nations around her, such as the powerful and turbulent Philistines, fall before the invading host. Four of the five cities of the Philistines are mentioned, as denoting the whole territory, which again is the representative of the heathen world more definitely particularized later on. Thus the four quarters of the world are virtually specified: the Philistines representing the west,, the Moabites and Ammonites (vers. 8-10) the east, the Cushites (vers. 11, 12) the south, and the Assyrians (vers. 13-15) the north. Gaza (see note on Amos 1:6) shall be forsaken; depopulated and desolate. There is a paronomasia in the Hebrew: Azzah will be azubhah. Some of the other localities are treated in the same manner (comp. Micah 1:10-15, and notes there). Ashkelon a desolation (see note on Amos 1:8). They shall drive out Ashdod. The inhabitants shall be expelled. (For Ashdod, see note on Amos, loc. cit.) At the noon day. The hottest part of the day, the most unlikely time for a hostile attack, hence the expression is equivalent to "unexpectedly and suddenly" (comp. Jeremiah 15:8). Ekron shall be rooted up. In the Hebrew paronomasia, Ekron ("the Deep-rooted") shall be teaker. (For Ekron, see note on Amos, loc. cit., where the fulfilment of prophecy concerning that town is noted.) Gaza (see note on Amos 1:7), after being depopulated and again re-peopled by Alexander the Great, fell into the hands of Ptolemy, and was destroyed by Antiochus, B.C. 198 (Polybius, 'Reliq.,' 16:40; Pusey, p. 457). Often rebuilt, it was as often razed to the ground; and the present representative of the ancient town, Ghuzzeh, stands upon a hill composed of the accumulated ruins of successive cities. Of the condition of Ashkelon, Dr. Thomson writes, "There are no buildings of the ancient city now standing, but broken columns are mixed up with the soil .... Let us climb to the top of these tall fragments at the southeast angle of the wall, and we shell have the whole scene of desolation before us, stretching terrace after terrace, quite down to the sea on the northwest .... No site in this country has so deeply impressed my mind with sadness. They have stretched out upon Ashkelon the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness. Thorns have come up in her palaces, and brambles in the fortresses thereof, and it is a habitation of dragons and a court for owls (Isaiah 34:11-13)" ('The Land and the Book,' p. 546). "It was for ages," says Dr. Porter, "a great and strong city. Under the Philistines, the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Saracens, the Crusaders, it was a place of note. The shattered walls that still surround the site were built by Richard Coeur de Lion. When I first clambered to the top of a broken bastion, a scene of desolation burst suddenly upon my view for which I was not prepared, though I had seen Baal-bec and Palmyra, Heliopolis and Memphis. The whole site was before me, and not a fragment of a house standing. One small section was covered with little gardens; but over the rest of the site lay smooth rounded hillocks of drifting sand. The sand is fast advancing - so fast, that probably ere the close of the century the site of Ascalon will have been blotted out forever" ('Illust. of Bible Proph.,' p. 21). As for Ekron, hod. Akir, travellers note that it is now a little village, consisting of about fifty mud houses, without a remnant of antiquity except two large walls; its very ruins have vanished. The omission of Gath, a town at this time of small importance (see note on Amos 1:6), is probably owing to a feeling of the symbolism of numbers, four denoting completion, or the whole, like "the four winds, the four ends of the earth," etc. Zephaniah 2:4Destruction of the Philistines. - Zephaniah 2:4. "For Gaza will be forgotten, and Ashkelon become a desert; Ashdod, they drive it out in broad day, and Ekron will be ploughed out. Zephaniah 2:5. Woe upon the inhabitants of the tract by the sea, the nation of the Cretans! The word of Jehovah upon you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines! I destroy thee, so that not an inhabitant remains. Zephaniah 2:6. And the tract by the sea becomes pastures for shepherds' caves, and for folds of sheep. Zephaniah 2:7. And a tract will be for the remnant of the house of Judah; upon them will they feed: in the houses of Ashkelon they encamp in the evening; for Jehovah their God will visit them, and turn their captivity." The fourth verse, which is closely connected by kı̄ (for) with the exhortation to repentance, serves as an introduction to the threat of judgment commencing with hōi in Zephaniah 2:5. As the mentioning of the names of the four Philistian capitals (see at Joshua 13:3) is simply an individualizing periphrasis for the Philistian territory and people, so the land and people of Philistia are mentioned primarily for the purpose of individualizing, as being the representatives of the heathen world by which Judah was surrounded; and it is not till afterwards, in the further development of the threat, that the enumeration of certain near and remote heathen nations is appended, to express more clearly the idea of the heathen world as a whole. Of the names of the Philistian cities Zephaniah makes use of two, ‛Azzâh and ‛Eqrōn, as a play upon words, to express by means of paronomasia the fate awaiting them. ‛azzâh, Gaza, will be ‛azûbhâh, forsaken, desolate. ‛Eqrōn, Ekron, will be tē‛âqēr, rooted up, torn out of its soil, destroyed. To the other two he announces their fate in literal terms, the shemâmâh threatened against Ashkelon corresponding to the ‛ăzūbhâh, and the gârēsh predicated of Ashdod preparing the way for Ekron's tē‛âqēr. בּצּהרים at noon, i.e., in broad day, might signify, when used as an antithesis to night, "with open violence" (Jerome, Kimchi); but inasmuch as the expulsion of inhabitants is not effected by thieves in the night, the time of noon is more probably to be understood, as v. Clln and Rosenmller suppose, as denoting the time of day at which men generally rest in hot countries (2 Samuel 4:5), in the sense of unexpected, unsuspected expulsion; and this is favoured by Jeremiah 15:8, where the devastation at noon is described as a sudden invasion. The omission of Gath may be explained in the same manner as in Amos 1:6-8, from the fact that the parallelism of the clauses only allowed the names of four cities to be given; and this number was amply sufficient to individualize the whole, just as Zephaniah, when enumerating the heathen nations, restricts the number to four, according to the four quarters of the globe: viz., the Philistines in the west (Zephaniah 2:5-7); the Moabites and Ammonites comprised in one in the east (Zephaniah 2:8-10); the Cushites in the south (Zephaniah 2:11, Zephaniah 2:12); and Asshur, with Nineveh, in the north (north-east), (Zephaniah 2:13-15). The woe with which the threat is commenced in Zephaniah 2:5 applies to the whole land and people of the Philistines. Chebhel, the measure, then the tract of land measured out or apportioned (see at Deuteronomy 3:4; Deuteronomy 32:9, etc.). The tract of the sea is the tract of land by the Mediterranean Sea which was occupied by the Philistines (chebhel hayyâm equals 'erets Pelishtı̄m). Zephaniah calls the inhabitants gōi Kerēthı̄m, nation of the Cretans, from the name of one branch of the Philistian people which was settled in the south-west of Philistia, for the purpose of representing them as a people devoted to kârath, or extermination. The origin of this name, which is selected both here and in Ezekiel 25:16 with a play upon the appellative signification, is involved in obscurity; for, as we have already observed at 1 Samuel 30:14, there is no valid authority for the derivation which is now current, viz., from the island of Crete (see Stark, Gaza, pp. 66 and 99ff.). דּבר יי עליכם forms an independent sentence: The word of the Lord cometh over you. The nature of that word is described in the next sentence: I will destroy thee. The name Kena‛an is used in the more limited sense of Philistia, and is chosen to indicate that Philistia is to share the lot of Canaan, and lose its inhabitants by extermination.
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