1 [The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.]
2 "I will utterly consume all things from off the land," says the LORD.
3 "I will consume man and beast. I will consume the birds of the heaven, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling-blocks with the wicked. And I will cut off man from off the land," says the LORD.
4 "I will also stretch out my hand upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests,
5 And those who worship the host of heaven upon the house-tops, and those who worship and who swear by the LORD, and who swear by Malcham,
6 And those who have turned back from the LORD, and those who have not sought the LORD, nor inquired for him."
7 Hold your peace at the presence of the Lord GOD, for the day of the LORD is at hand. For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice. He has consecrated his guests.
8 "And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, the king's children, and all those who are clothed with foreign apparel.
9 In the same day I will also punish all those who leap on the threshold, who fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit.
10 And it shall come to pass in that day," says the LORD, "that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish-gate, a howling from the second quarter, and a great crashing from the hills.
11 Howl, you inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down. All those who bear silver are cut off.
12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles and punish the men who are settled on their dregs, who say in their heart, 'The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.'
13 Therefore, their goods shall become plunder and their houses a desolation. They shall also build houses, but not inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine."
14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near and hastes greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD. The mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasting and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
16 And a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers.
17 And I will bring distress upon men so that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD. And their blood shall be poured out as dust and their flesh as the dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath. But the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy, for he will make even a sudden end of all those who dwell in the land.
After the title of the book (verse 1), follows the Lord's threatening of the land of Judea with an utter consumption of it, and of all creatures in it, for the sins of its inhabitants, especially their idolatry and apostasy (verses 2-6), and this is represented under the notion of a sacrifice, to which guests are bid; and which even princes, and those of the royal blood, should not escape, nor ministers of state, or such who filled their masters' houses with violence (verses 7-9). Some particular places are mentioned, where there should be a great noise of crying and howling, and especially Jerusalem, which should be diligently searched, and its goods become plunder, and its houses desolate (verses 10-13). This destruction is spoken of as near at hand, and is described as very terrible and distressing (verses 14-17), and as inevitable; nothing would be able to deliver from it (verse 18).
[v.1] - "Zephaniah" - From the Hebrew word, צפניה, Tsphanyah (tsef-an-yaw'). From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "The name means 'Yahweh (or Yah) has guarded,' literally, 'hidden' (Psalm 27:5, 83:3)."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1-4:
Grant, Almighty God, that as we are so prone to corruptions, and so easily turn from the right course after having commenced it, and so easily degenerate from the truth once known,— O grant, that, being strengthened by your Spirit, we may persevere to the end in the right way which you show to us in your word, and that we may also labor to restore the many who abandon themselves to various errors; and though we may effect nothing, let us not yet be led away after them, but remain firm in the obedience of faith, until having at length finished all these contests, we shall be gathered into that blessed rest which is prepared for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
[v.7] - "he has consecrated his guests" - Literally, "he has consecrated his chosen ones." This is not referring to the Jews, but most likely to the Chaldeans. In this case, to consecrate is to set apart, select, or devote to God's purpose. In this case, the Chaldeans are consecrated (i.e., selected) to carry out the judgment of God. From John Gill's Exposition: "The Chaldeans, whom he invited and called to this sacrifice and feast: or whom he 'prepared,' or 'sanctified;' he prepared them in his purpose and providence; he set them apart for this service, and called them to it; to be the sacrificers of this people, and to feast upon them; to spoil them of their goods and riches, and enjoy them. These guests may also design, as Kimchi observes, the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, invited to feast upon the slain (see Ezekiel 39:17)."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 5-9:
Grant, Almighty God, that as we continue in so many ways to provoke against us your wrath, we may patiently bear the punishment, by which you would correct our faults, and also anticipate your judgment: and since you are pleased to recall us in due time to yourself, let us not turn deaf ears to your counsels, but so obey and submit ourselves to you, that we may become partakers of that mercy, which you offer to us, provided we seek to be reconciled to you, and so proceed in your service, that under the government of Christ your Son, whom you have appointed to be our supreme and only king, we may so strive to be wholly devoted to you that you may be glorified through our whole life, until we become at length partakers of that celestial glory, which has been procured for us by the blood of your only-begotten Son. Amen.
[v.8] - "with foreign apparel" - Literally, "with the garments of a stranger" (John Owen).
[v.9] - "leap" - John Calvin renders this word as, "dance."
[v.10a] - "fish-gate" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Why the Prophet calls it the gate of the fishes we cannot for certainty say, except that it is a probable conjecture, that either some fish-pond was near it, or that the fish-market was near."
[v.10b] - "fish-gate... second quarter... hills" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "He names here three places in Jerusalem, and afterward he adds a fourth. But as we do not understand the situation of the city, sufficient for us is this probable conjecture,— that he refers to parts opposite to one another; as though he had said, that no corner of the city would be in a quiet state, when the Lord roused up war. Let us then suppose it to be triangular, and let the gate of the fishes be one side, and let the second gate or the school be on the other; and let the part near the hills form the third side."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 10-12:
Grant, Almighty God, that as almost the whole world breaks out into such excesses, that there is no moderation, no reason,— O grant, that we may learn not only to confine ourselves within those limits which you approve and command, but also to delight and glory in the smallness of our portion, inasmuch as the wealth, and honors, and pleasures of the world so fascinate the hearts and minds of all, that they elevate themselves into heaven, and carry on war, as it were, avowedly with you. Grant also to us, that in our limited portion we may be in such a way humbled under your powerful hand, as never to doubt but that you will be our deliverer even in our greatest miseries; and that ascribing to you the power over life and death, we may feel fully assured, that whatever afflictions happen to us, proceed from your just judgment, so that we may be led to repentance, and daily exercise ourselves in it, until we shall at length come to that blessed rest which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
[v.13] - Reference, Leviticus 24:20.
[v.13-18] - John Calvin's prayer for theses verses is included with the first two verses of the next chapter. Therefore, the prayer is in the next chapter.