Zephaniah 3:10
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring my offering.
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Zephaniah 3:10. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia — The expression, מעבר, rendered from beyond, may be translated, from the borders of, as it signifies indifferently the hither or further side of a river. In the war with Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt, many of the Jews were made captive and carried into Egypt, and from thence were sold into Ethiopia, properly so called. This prophecy, therefore, in its primary sense, seems to signify, that the posterity of these, termed here by God the daughter of his dispersed, should bring him an offering, namely, into his temple. And accordingly Cyrus, entering into an alliance with the Ethiopians, obtained that the Jews, who were captives among them, should have their liberty restored to them, that so they might return with others to their own country. In like manner Ptolemy Philadelphus, as Josephus relates, purchased the liberty of a vast number of the Jews, who were captives, or slaves, in very distant countries. Thus were the prophecies of bringing them from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and from beyond the sea, very remarkably fulfilled. There can be no doubt, however, that this promise ultimately relates to the time when all Israel shall be saved, Romans 11:26; when “the Jews, who are dispersed in the most distant countries, such as was Ethiopia, which lay beyond Egypt, shall come into the Christian Church, and make their religious acknowledgments there.” — Lowth.3:8-13 The preaching of the gospel is predicted, when vengeance would be executed on the Jewish nation. The purifying doctrines of the gospel, or the pure language of the grace of the Lord, would teach men to use the language of humility, repentance, and faith. Purity and piety in common conversation is good. The pure and happy state of the church in the latter days seems intended. The Lord will shut out boasting, and leave men nothing to glory in, save the Lord Jesus, as made of God to them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Humiliation for sin, and obligations to the Redeemer, will make true believers upright and sincere, whatever may be the case among mere professors.From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia - (See Isaiah 18:1.) The farthest southern people, with whom the Jews had contact, stand as the type of the whole world beyond. The utmost bound of the known inhabited land should not be the bound of the Gospel. The conversion of Abyssinia is one, but the narrowest fulfillment of the prophecy. The whole new world, though not in the mind of the prophet, was in the mind of Him who spake by the prophet.

My suppliants - He names them as what they shall be when they shall come to Him. They shall come, as needy, to the Fountain of all good, asking for mercy of the unfailing Source of all mercy. He describes the very character of all who come to God through Christ. "The daughter of My dispersed." God is, in the way of Providence, the Father of all, although, by sin, alienated from Him; from where Paul says, "we are the offspring of God" Acts 17:28. They were "dispersed," severed from the oneness in Him and from His house and family; yet still, looking on them as already belonging to Him, He calls them, "My dispersed," as by Caiaphas, being high priest, He prophesied that "Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad" John 11:51-52.

Shall bring Mine offering - o The offering is the same as that which Malachi prophesies shall continue under the New Testament, which offering was to be offered to the Name of God, not in Jerusalem, but Malachi 1:11 "in every place from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same." The dark skin of the Ethiopian is the image of ingrained sin, which man could not efface or change Jeremiah 13:23 : their conversion then declares how those steeped in sin shall be cleansed from all their darkness of mind, and washed white from their sins in Baptism and beautified by the grace of God. Cyril: "The word of prophecy endeth in truth. For not only through the Roman empire is the Gospel preached, but it circles round the barbarous nations. And there are Churches everywhere, shepherds and teachers, guides and instructors in mysteries, and sacred altars, and the Lamb is invisibly sacrificed by holy priests among Indians too and Ethiopians. And this was said plainly by another prophet also, 'For I am a great King, saith the Lord, and My Name is great among the pagan, and in every place incense is offered to My Name and a pure sacrifice' Malachi 1:11."

10. From beyond … Ethiopia my suppliants—literally, "burners of incense" (compare Ps 141:2; Re 5:8; 8:3, 4). The Israelites are meant, called "the daughter of My dispersed," a Hebrew idiom for My dispersed people. "The rivers of Ethiopia" are those which enclose it on the north. In the west of Abyssinia there has long existed a people called Falashas, or "emigrants" (akin to the synonym "Philistine"). These trace their origin to Palestine and profess the Jewish religion. In physical traits they resemble the Arabs. When Bruce was there, they had a Jewish king, Gideon, and his queen, Judith. Probably the Abyssinian Christians were originally in part converted Jews. They are here made the representatives of all Israel which is to be restored.

shall bring mine offering—that is, the offering that is My right. I prefer, with De Wette and Chaldee Version, making "suppliants" the objective case, not the nominative. The peoples: (Zep 3:8, 9), brought to fear Me by My judgments, "shall bring as Mine offering My suppliants (an appropriate term for the Jews, on whom then there shall have been poured the spirit of supplications, Zec 12:10), the daughter of My dispersed." So Isa 66:20, "they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord." Compare Horsley's view of Isa 18:1, 2, 7. England in this view may be the naval power to restore Israel to Palestine (Isa 60:9). The Hebrew for "Ethiopia" is Cush, which may include not only Ethiopia, but also the region of the Tigris and Babylon, where Nimrod, Cush's son (Ge 10:8-12), founded Nineveh and acquired Babylon, and where the ten tribes are mentioned as being scattered (1Pe 1:1; 5:13; compare Isa 11:11). The restoration under Cyrus of the Jews transported under Pharaoh-necho to Egypt and Ethiopia, was an earnest of the future restoration under Christ.

From beyond the rivers; the coasts which lie beyond the rivers of India, saith the Chaldee paraphrast, but I doubt whether the captive Jews were carried so far.

Of Ethiopia, in Arabia, bordering on Egypt, whither it is easy to conceive many Jews might betake themselves, who are here called

dispersed, or dispersion, somewhat distinguished from captives.

My suppliants; praying to me, saith one version.

The daughter of my dispersed: this explains who the suppliant is; the praying remnant of the scattered Jews, who had gotten into those parts of Arabia that were coasting along the rivers which divided Ethiopia Cusaea from the rest of Arabia.

Shall bring mine offering; shall return to their land and bring themselves an offering unto the Lord, which was done when Cyrus, in league with these Ethiopians, procured their favour for the dispersed Jews, that they might return to Jerusalem, meet their captive brethren, and offer a gift to God. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,.... Either the African Ethiopia, or Arabia Chusea, which lay between Judea and Egypt: here some particular places and people are mentioned, in whom the preceding prophecy would be fulfilled. If these rivers of Ethiopia are such as ran in the midst of the country, and so point at some parts of it, though on the other side of them, then this prophecy might have its accomplishment, at least when the Evangelist Matthew went thither, and preached the Gospel, and very likely the Apostle Paul; as also when the Ethiopian eunuch was converted, who doubtless did what in him lay to promote the interest of Christ in those parts. Ben Melech makes this parallel with and illustrates it by Isaiah 18:1; see Gill on Isaiah 18:1, Isaiah 18:7; but if these design rivers on the furthermost borders of the country, which divided it from others, then Egypt, which lay beyond it, seems to be intended; and so the prophecy, in connection with the foregoing verse Zephaniah 3:9, is the same with Isaiah 19:18 "in that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan"; of these rivers of Ethiopia, whether in Africa or Arabia Chusea; see Gill on Isaiah 18:1. The Targum renders it

"beyond the rivers of India:''

my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed: Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Abarbinel, and Ben Melech, take the words "Atharai Bathpusai" to be the proper name of a nation or family beyond the rivers of Ethiopia (l); whereas they are characters which describe persons there, who should have the pure language turned to them, and call on the name of the Lord; even such, who, being made sensible of sin, and of their danger, would be humble supplicants at the throne of grace, and pray to the Lord for the discovery and application of pardoning grace and mercy to them, agreeably to the prophecy in Psalm 68:31 "princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God"; that is, in prayer: and these are the sons and daughters of the Almighty, who are scattered abroad in the several parts of the world, and among the rest here; but as they are gathered together by Christ in redemption, so they are found out and reached by efficacious grace in calling, whether Jews or Gentiles. Some think the Jews are here meant, even the elect of God among them, who were dispersed in several nations, and particularly in Egypt and Ethiopia; who were met with by the Gospel, and converted in the first times of it; to these Peter and James direct their epistles: and of whom, being called by grace, it is said, they

shall bring mine offering; themselves as an offering to the Lord, souls and bodies, with all other spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praise, and well doing; and likewise such persons they may be the instruments of the conversion of, called the offering of the Gentiles, Romans 15:16.

(l) So Menasseh ben Israel. Spes Israelis, p. 57.

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the {h} daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

(h) That is, the Jews will come as well as the Gentiles: which is to be understood as referring to the time of the Gospel.

10. The verse is obscure on account of the uncertain meaning of several expressions in it. Its general sense is that the heathen nations, even those most distant, shall do homage to Jehovah and present offerings to Him. Jeremiah already predicts the conversion of the nations (Jeremiah 3:17, Jeremiah 16:19).

From beyond the rivers] This meaning is possible, but the usual sense would be: beyond the rivers—in answer to the question where, not, whence (Isaiah 18:1). On Ethiopia or Cush see on ch. Zephaniah 2:12.

My suppliants] The word does not occur again in this sense, though a verb to supplicate, from which it might be derived, is not uncommon (Genesis 25:21). In the sing, the word occurs Ezekiel 8:11 in the sense of vapour or odour (R.V.) of incense, and this sense, being parallel to “mine offering,” might be adopted here.

even the daughter of my dispersed] Phrases like “daughter of Zion” (Zephaniah 3:14), of Babylon (Psalm 137:8), of Edom (Lamentations 4:21), signify the city or country named with its inhabitants. There is always in such phrases the name of a place, and this suggests that under the word “my dispersed” (pûtsai) there lurks some proper name. Ewald suggested Put, which is often named in connexion with Cush (cf. on Nahum 3:9). “The daughter of Put” would then be parallel to “beyond the rivers of Cush.” Others have assumed that somewhat after the analogy of “daughter of Zion” in the sense of Zion with those inhabiting it, “the daughter of my dispersed” might mean those composing (comprised in) my dispersed. “My dispersed” must certainly refer to Jews; the view of Hitzig that they are the same as “those that escape” of the Gentiles and carry tidings of the greatness of Jehovah to all nations (Isaiah 66:18-19), has no probability. The general meaning of the verse would be that the most distant nations would bring back God’s dispersed people the Jews as an offering to Him (Isaiah 66:20): From beyond the rivers of Cush shall they bring my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed as mine offering. The term “suppliants” seems unnatural in the connexion. After all, the other sense appears at least equally probable: Beyond the rivers of Cush they shall offer me incense, the daughter of [Put] shall bring me an offering, the reference being to the service of Jehovah by all the nations. Comp. Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 45:14; Psalm 72:10.Verse 10. - From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia (Cush); i.e. from the distant south, a type of the remotest parts of the world (Zephaniah 2:12). The rivers of Cush (Isaiah 18:1), are the Nile, the Atbara, and their affluents. My suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering. From the ends of the earth, the Jews who have continued faithful to Jehovah, and have not lost their nationality among the Gentiles, but have considered themselves as belonging to "the dispersion," shall be again received of the Lord, and bring their oblations unto him. This may be the sense intended: but looking to the thought in Isaiah 66:20 (where it is said that the Gentiles shall bring the Israelites out of all nations as a meat offering unto the Lord), we had better render the passage as the Revised Version margin, "They shall bring my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, for an offering unto me." The remote Gentiles shall show their faith in God by aiding the Hebrews among them to turn to the Lord; this shall be their offering to the true God, whom they have learned to adore. When they themselves are converted, they shall be evangelists to the Hebrews of the Dispersion. For this work of the Gentiles in converting the Hebrews, Wordsworth compares Song of Solomon 3:4; Song of Solomon 8:8, 9; Isaiah 61:5, 6; Isaiah 65:18-21. St. Paul speaks to the same effect in Romans 6. Offering (minehah). The pure meal offering (Malachi 1:10, 11, where see notes; comp. Romans 15:16; Philippians 2:17). Dr. Briggs renders, "From beyond the rivers of Gush will be my incense (athar); the daughter of Phut will bring a minchah." This brings out the parallelism. The universal worship of Messianic times is expressed in the ceremonial terms of the old dispensation, but has a very real applicableness to the Christian religion (see note on Malachi 1:11). The promise of salvation impels the congregation to pray that it may be granted (Micah 7:14); whereupon the Lord assures it that His covenant mercies shall be renewed, and promises the thorough humiliation of the hostile nations of the world (Micah 7:15-17). Micah 7:14. "Feed thy people with thy staff, the sheep of thine inheritance, dwelling apart, in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of the olden time." The question in dispute among commentators, whether this prayer is addressed to the Lord by the prophet on behalf of the nation, or whether the prophet is still speaking in the name of the believing church, is decided in favour of the latter by the answer addressed to the church in Micah 7:15. The Lord is addressed as the shepherd of Israel, the title by which Jacob addressed Him in Genesis 49:24 (cf. Psalm 80:2; Psalm 23:1 ff.). The prayer is related to the promise in Micah 5:3 ff., viz., that the ruler coming forth out of Bethlehem will feed in the strength of Jehovah, and involves the prayer for the sending of this ruler. "With this staff," i.e., the shepherd's staff (cf. Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4), is added pictorially; and as a support to the prayer, it designates the people as the sheep of Jehovah's inheritance. צאן נחלה, instead of עם נחלה, which occurs more frequently, is occasioned by the figure of the shepherd. As the sheep need the protection of the shepherd, lest they should perish, so Israel needs the guidance of its God, that it may not be destroyed by its foes. The following apposition שׁכני לבדד determines the manner of the feeding more precisely; so that we may resolve it into the clause, "so that thy people may dwell apart." The words contain an allusion to Numbers 23:9, where Balaam describes Israel as a people separated from the rest of the nations; and to Deuteronomy 33:28, where Moses congratulates it, because it dwells in safety and alone (bâdâd, separate), under the protection of its God, in a land full of corn, new wine, etc. The church asks for the fulfilment of this blessing from Jehovah its shepherd, that it may dwell separate from the nations of the world, so that they may not be able to do it any harm; and that "in the wood in the midst of Carmel," that promontory abounding in wood and pasture land (laetis pascuis abundat: Jerome on Amos 1:2). The wood is thought of here as shutting off the flock from the world without, withdrawing it from its sight, and affording it security; and the fact that dangerous wild beasts have their home in the forest (Jeremiah 5:6; Psalm 80:14) is overlooked here, because Israel is protected from them by its own shepherd. ירעוּ, which follows, is not future, but optative, corresponding to the imperative רעה. Gilead and Bashan are also named as portions of the land that were rich in pasture (cf. Numbers 32:1 ff.), namely, of the land to the east of the Jordan, Carmel belonging to the western portion of Canaan. These three portions individualize the whole of the territory which Israel received for its inheritance, and not merely the territory of the kingdom of the ten tribes. The simple reason why no districts in the kingdom of Judah are mentioned, is that Judah possessed no woody districts abounding in grass and pasture resembling those named. Moreover, the prayer refers to the whole of Israel, or rather to the remnant of the whole nation that has been rescued from the judgment, and which will form an undivided flock under the Messiah (cf. Micah 5:2; Isaiah 11:13; Ezekiel 37:15 ff.). ימי עולם, "the days of old," are the times of Moses and Joshua, when the Lord brought Israel with His mighty arm into the possession of the promised land. The Lord answers this prayer, by promising, according to His abundant goodness, more than the church has asked. Micah 7:15. "As in the days of thy going out of the land of Egypt will I cause it to see wonders. Micah 7:16. Nations will see it, and be ashamed of all their strength: they will lay the hand upon the mouth, their ears will become deaf. Micah 7:17. They will lick dust like the snake, like the reptiles of the earth they come trembling out of their castles: they will go trembling to Jehovah our God, and before thee will they fear." The wonders (niphlâ'ōth; cf. Exodus 3:20; Exodus 15:11; Psalm 78:11) with which the Lord formerly smote Egypt, to redeem His people out of the bondage of that kingdom of the world, will the Lord renew for His people. In צאתך the nation is addressed, whilst the suffix of the third pers. attached to אראנּוּ points back to עמּך in Micah 7:14. The miraculous deeds will make such an impression, that the heathen nations who see them will stand ashamed, dumb and deaf with alarm and horror. Ashamed of all their strength, i.e., because all their strength becomes impotence before the mighty acts of the Almighty God. Laying the hand upon the mouth is a gesture expressive of reverential silence from astonishment and admiration (cf. Judges 18:19; Job 21:5, etc.). Their ears shall become deaf "from the thunder of His mighty acts, Job 26:14, the qōl hâmōn of Isaiah 33:8" (Hitzig). With this description of the impression made by the wonderful works of God, the words of God pass imperceptibly into words of the prophet, who carries out the divine answer still further in an explanatory form, as we may see from Isaiah 33:17. The heathen will submit themselves to Jehovah in the humblest fear. This is stated in Micah 7:17. Licking the dust like the serpent contains an allusion to Genesis 3:14 (cf. Psalm 72:9 and Isaiah 49:23). זחלי ארץ, earth-creepers, i.e., snakes, recals the זחלי עפר of Deuteronomy 32:24. Like snakes, when they are driven out of their hiding-place, or when charmers make them come out of their holes, so will the nations come trembling out of their castles (misgerōth as in Psalm 18:46), and tremble to Jehovah, i.e., flee to Him with trembling, as alone able to grant help (see Hosea 3:5), and fear before thee. With ממּךּ the prayer passes into an address to Jehovah, to attach to this the praise of God with which he closes his book.
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