Zephaniah 3:7
I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.
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3:1-7 The holy God hates sin most in those nearest to him. A sinful state is, and will be, a woful state. Yet they had the tokens of God's presence, and all the advantages of knowing his will, with the strongest reasons to do it; still they persisted in disobedience. Alas, that men often are more active in doing wickedness than believers are in doing good.I said, surely thou wilt fear Me - God speaks of things here, as they are in their own nature. "It could not but be," that in the very presence of the Hand of God, destroying others but as yet sparing them, they must learn to fear Him; they must stand in awe of Him for His judgments on others; they must be in filial fear of Him for His loving longsuffering toward themselves. "Thou 'wilt' receive instruction," corrected and taught through God's correction of others and the lighter judgments on themselves, as Solomon says, "I looked, I set my heart: I saw, I received instruction" Proverbs 24:32. He saith, "receive," making it man's free act. God brings it near, commends it to him, exhorts, entreats, but leaves him the awful power to "receive" or to refuse. God speaks with a wonderful tenderness. "Surely thou 'wilt' stand in awe of Me; thou 'wilt' receive instruction; thou wilt now do what hitherto thou hast refused to do." There was (so to speak) nothing else left for them, in sight of those judgments. He pleads their own interests. The lightning was ready to fall. The prophet had, in vision, seen the enemy within the city. Yet even now God lingers, as it were, "If thou hadst known in this thy day, the things which are for thy peace" Luke 19:42.

So their - (her) dwelling should not be cut off His own holy land which He had given them. A Jew paraphrases , "And He will not cut off their dwellings from the land of the house of My Shechinah" (God's visible presence in glory). Judah, who was before addressed "thou," is now spoken of in the third person, "her;" and this also had wonderful tenderness. It is as though God were musing over her and the blessed fruits of her return to Him; "it shall not be needed to correct her further." "Howsoever I punished them:" literally, "all" (that is, 'all' the offences) "which I visited upon her," as God saith of Himself, "'visiting' the 'sins' of the fathers 'upon' the children" Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18, and this is mostly the meaning of the words "visit upon." Amid and not withstanding all the offences which God had already chastised, He, in His love and compassion, still longeth, not utterly to remove them from His presence, if they would but receive instruction "now;" but they would not. "How often," our Lord says, "would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not" Matthew 23:37. "But indeed," "probably, Of a truth" (it is a word strongly affirming what follows) "they rose early, they corrupted all their doings;" God gave them His warnings, awaited the result; they lost no time, they began with morning light; they hasted to rise, burdened themselves, made sure of having the whole day before them, to - seek God as He had sent His prophets, "rising early and sending them?" Jeremiah 7:13, Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 11:7; Jeremiah 26:5; Jeremiah 29:19.

No, nor even simply to do ill, but of set purpose. to do, not this or that corruptly, but "to corrupt all their doings." Jerome: "They with diligence and eagerness rose early, that, with the same haste wherewith they ought to have returned to Me, they might shew forth in deed what they had conceived amiss in their mind." There are as many aggravations of their sin as there are words. The four Hebrew words bespeak eagerness, willfulness, completeness enormity, in sin. They "rose early," themselves deliberately "corrupted," of their own mind made offensive, "all" their "doings," not slight acts, but "deeds," great works done with a high hand .

7. I said, Surely, &c.—God speaks after the manner of men in condescension to man's infirmity; not as though God was ignorant of the future contingency, but in their sense, Surely one might have expected ye would under such circumstances repent: but no!

thou—at least, O Jerusalem! Compare "thou, even thou, at least in this thy day" (Lu 19:42).

their dwelling—the sanctuary [Buxtorf]. Or, the city. Compare Jesus' words (Lu 13:35), "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" (Le 26:31, 32; Ps 69:25); and used as to the temple (Mic 3:12). "Their" is used instead of "thy"; this change of person implies that God puts them to a greater distance.

howsoever I punished them—Howsoever I might have punished them, I would not have cut off their dwelling. Calvin, "Howsoever I had marked them out for punishment" because of their provocations, still, if even then they had repented, taught by My corrections, I was ready to have pardoned them. Maurer, "Altogether in accordance with what I had long ago decreed (ordained) concerning you" (De 28:1-14, and, on the other hand, De 28:15-68; 27:15-26). English Version, or Calvin's view, is better.

rose early, and corrupted, &c.—Early morning is in the East the best time for transacting serious business, before the relaxing heat of midday comes on. Thus it means, With the greatest earnestness they set themselves to "corrupt all their doings" (Ge 6:12; Isa 5:11; Jer 11:7; 25:3).

I said; I thought, (speaking as man would,) I concluded what was likely, what I might expect.

Surely thou, O Jerusalem, O Judah, wilt fear me, for the many and great judgments executed upon others in thy sight; thou wilt fear, by sinning still, to provoke me.

Thou wilt receive instruction; wilt learn thy duty, to do it; thy danger, to prevent it; thy sins, to repent of them; thy ways, to amend them.

So their dwelling, houses, villages, Jerusalem,

should not be out off, sacked and burned,

howsoever I punished them; whatever I had done against them, however I had chastised them, had they been bettered, humbled, and amended, I would have spared, not destroyed utterly.

But they rose early; but they grew worse, more eager in the pursuit of their vile courses; as if the day would be too short for their sins, they rise early, and begin betimes.

Corrupted all their doings; designedly and out of set purpose did worse and worse, when smitten they revolted more and more, Isaiah 1:5.

I said, Surely thou wilt fear me,.... This is spoken after the manner of men; as if God should say within himself, and reason in his own mind, upon a view of things, surely the people of the Jews will take notice of my judgments executed on other nations, and will stand in awe of me on account of them; and fear to offend me, lest the same calamities should come upon them; this, humanly speaking, might be reasonably thought would be the case:

thou wilt receive instruction; by these judgments, taking warning by them; repent, reform, and amend, and thereby escape the like:

so their dwelling should not be cut off; or, "its dwelling"; the dwelling of the city of Jerusalem, the houses in it; the dwelling places of the inhabitants of it; the singular being put for the plural; unless the temple should be meant, as Abendana interprets it; and so it may be rendered "his dwelling" (c); their house, which was left desolate to them, because they feared not the Lord; nor received instruction by the example of others; nor repented of their sins, and altered their course of life; which, if done, their dwelling would have been preserved, Matthew 23:38,

howsoever I punished them; or "visited" (d) them; chastised them in a gentle manner, in order to reform them, but in vain. Some render it, "all which I committed to them" (e); the oracles of God, his word and ordinances, his promises, and the blessings of his goodness, which he deposited with them, in order to do them good, and bring them to repentance. The Targum is,

"all the good things which I have said unto them (or promised them), I will bring unto them;''

and to the same sense Jarchi. The goodness of God should have brought them to repentance, yet it did not:

but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings; they were diligent and industrious eager and early, in the commission of sins, in doing corrupt and abominable works; receiving and tenaciously adhering to the traditions of the elders; seeking to establish their own righteousness, not submitting to Christ's; rejecting him the true Messiah; blaspheming his doctrines, despising his ordinances, and persecuting his people; besides other vices, which abounded among them; for which the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost, as expressed in the following verse, Zephaniah 3:8.

(c) "habitaculum; vel habitatio ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Burkius; "mansio ejus", Cocceius. (d) "visitavi", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus. (e) "Omne id quod commendavi illi", Cocceius.

I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but {e} they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.

(e) They were most earnest and ready to do wickedly.

7. God’s purpose in these judgments on the nations was that Israel should take warning from them and receive instruction.

I said] Or, I thought; Jeremiah 3:19. For their dwelling read her dwelling.

howsoever I punished them] Perhaps: according to all that I have appointed concerning her. The words seem to explain the preceding “that her dwelling should not be cut off.” This destruction of her place of abode is what the Lord has appointed for her. His desire and nope was that she would receive instruction so that her dwelling place should remain for ever. Instead of “her dwelling-place” Sept. reads “from her eyes” (with a difference of one letter). So Wellhausen: she will receive instruction, and that which I have commanded her will never be cut off (fade) from her sight, i.e. she will continually keep before her eyes God’s commandments. For the meaning “I have commanded her” instead of “appointed concerning her” he cites Job 36:23; 2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2.

rose early, and corrupted] i.e. corrupted with eagerness. The phrase is a favourite one with Jeremiah, e.g. Jeremiah 7:13.

Verse 7. - Taught by such examples, the Jews might have learned to repent and amend their ways. I said. God represents himself as reasoning as a man would reason. Surely thou wilt fear me; Septuagint, "only fear me." This is the one condition for salvation. Or, according to our version, Judah must learn experience from my threats and visitations, and return unto me. Thou wilt.., receive instruction; Septuagint, "receive ye discipline," accept the correction and learn the lesson which it is meant to teach (Proverbs 24:32). Their (her) dwelling. Jerusalem or Judaea. The temple is never called the dwelling place of the people. This sudden change of person is very common in the prophets. Howsoever I punished them; rather, according to all that I appointed concerning her. God had ordained certain punishment for Jerusalem if she reformed not. The Anglican Version means that God would never cut them off wholly, however severely he might chastise them. The Hebrew will not carry this; nor are the Greek and Latin Versions quite correct. Septuagint, Οὐ μὴ ἐξολοθρευθῆτε ἐξ ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτῆς πάντα δοα ἐξεδίκησα ἐπ αὐτήν, "And ye shall not be cut off from the face thereof for all the punishment that I inflicted upon it;" Vulgate, Propter omnia in quibus visitavi earn. But they rose early. Warning, reproof, and chastisement were expended in vain; the people only gave themselves up more ardently to their evil doings. "To rise early to do a thing" is a phrase used to signify the acting with zeal and full purpose (comp. Jeremiah 7:13, 25; Jeremiah 11:7, etc.). Corrupted all their doings. Like the inhabitants of the earth before the Flood (Corinthians 6:12; comp. Psalm 14:1). The Septuagint rendering is peculiar, Ἐτοι μάζου ὄρθισον ἔφθαρται πᾶσα ἡ ἐπιφυλλὶς αὐτῶν "Prepare thyself, rise early, all their produce is spoiled." St. Jerome, moralizing on this, adds, "Nisi praeparati fuerimus, non nobis orietur sol justitiae. Orto autem sole, omnes racemi de vinea Sodomorum dissipantur et pereunt; ut non solum grandes botri, sed etiam quod parvum esse videbatur in nobis, Christi lucerna radiante dispereat." Zephaniah 3:7In Zephaniah 3:7 and Zephaniah 3:8 the prophet sums up all that he has said in Zephaniah 3:1-6, to close his admonition to repentance with the announcement of judgment. Zephaniah 3:7. "I said, Only do thou fear me, do thou accept correction, so will their dwelling not be cut off, according to all that I have appointed concerning them: but they most zealously destroyed all their doings. Zephaniah 3:8. Therefore wait for me, is the saying of Jehovah, for the day when I rise up to the prey; for it is my right to gather nations together, to bring kingdoms in crowds, to heap upon them my fury, all the burning of my wrath: for in the fire of my zeal will the whole earth be devoured." God has not allowed instruction and warning to be wanting, to avert the judgment of destruction from Judah; but the people have been getting worse and worse, so that now He is obliged to make His justice acknowledged on earth by means of judgments. אמרתּי, not I thought, but I said. This refers to the strenuous exertions of God to bring His justice to the light day by day (Zephaniah 3:5), and to admonitions of the prophets in order to bring the people to repentance. תּיראי and תּקחי dna תּ are cohortatives, chosen instead of imperatives, to set forth the demand of God by clothing it in the form of entreating admonition as an emanation of His love. Lâqach mūsâr as in Zephaniah 3:2. The words are addressed to the inhabitants of Jerusalem personified as the daughter of Zion (Zephaniah 3:11); and מעונהּ, her dwelling, is the city of Jerusalem, not the temple, which is called the dwelling-place of Jehovah indeed, but never the dwelling-place of the nation, or of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The clause which follows, and which has been very differently interpreted, כּל אשׁר פּקדתּי עליה, can hardly be taken in any other way than that in which Ewald has taken it, viz., by rendering kōl as the accusative of manner: according to all that I have appointed, or as I have appointed everything concerning them. For it is evidently impracticable to connect it with what precedes as asyndeton, because the idea of יבוא cannot be taken per zeugma from יכּרת, and we should necessarily have to supply that idea. For hikkârēth does not in any way fit in with אשׁר פּקדתּי, whether we take פּקד על in the sense of charge, command, appoint (after Job 34:13; Job 36:23), or in that of correct, punish. For the thought that God will cut off all that He has appointed concerning Jerusalem, would be just as untenable as the thought that He will exterminate the sins that have been punished in Jerusalem. But instead of repenting, the people have only shown themselves still more zealous in evil deeds. Hishkı̄m, to rise early, then in connection with another verb, adverbially: early and zealously. Hishchı̄th, to act corruptly; and with ‛ălı̄lōth, to complete corrupt and evil deeds (cf. Psalm 14:1). Jehovah must therefore interpose with punishment.
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