An exhortation to repentance, 1-3. The judgment of the Philistines, 4-7, of Moab and Ammon, 8-11, of Ethiopia, 12, and of Assyria, 13-15.
1 Assemble yourselves, yes, assemble, O nation not desired,
2 Before the decree brings forth, before the day passes as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you.
3 Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have performed his judgment. Seek righteousness. Seek meekness. It may be that you will be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.
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.
5 Woe to the inhabitants of the sea coasts, the nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, the land of the Philistines: "I will even destroy you so that there shall be no inhabitant."
6 And the sea coast shall be pastures, with cottages for shepherds and folds for flocks.
7 And the coasts shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah. They shall feed upon them. In the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down in the evening, for the LORD their God will visit them and turn away their captivity.
8 "I have heard the reproach of Moab and the revilings of the children of Ammon by which they have reproached my people and magnified themselves against their border.
9 Therefore, as I live," says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "surely Moab shall be as Sodom and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even a place possessed by nettles and salt-pits and a perpetual desolation. The residue of my people shall lay them waste and the remnant of my people shall possess them."
10 They shall have this for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts. 11 The LORD will be terrible to them, for he will famish all the gods of the earth. And men shall worship him, each from his place, even all the coastlands of the heathen.
12 "You Cushites also, you shall be slain by my sword."
13 And he will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, and will make Nineveh a desolation and dry like a wilderness.
14 And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations. Both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in its upper lintels. Their voice shall sing in the windows. Desolation shall be in the thresholds, for he shall uncover the cedar work.
15 This is the rejoicing city that dwelt in security, that said in her heart, "I am, and there is no one besides me." How she has become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! Everyone who passes by her shall hiss and wag his hand.
Matthew Henry Commentary - Zephaniah, Chapter 2
In this chapter the prophet exhorts the Jews to repentance; and foretells the destruction of several neighboring nations. The body of the people of the Jews in general are first called upon to gather together and humble themselves, who were a people neither desirable, nor deserving of the favors of God, nor desirous of them (verse 1), and to this they are pressed, from the consideration of God's decree of vengeance being ready to bring forth and break forth upon them (verse 2), and then the few godly among them are exhorted to seek the Lord, and what is agreeable to him; since there was at least a probability of their being protected by him in a time of general calamity (verse 3), and that the destruction of this people might appear the more certain, and that they might have no dependence on their neighbors, the prophet proceeds to predict the ruin of several of them, particularly the Philistines; several places belonging to them are by name mentioned, and the whole land threatened with desolation; the maritime part of it to be only inhabited by shepherds and their flocks; and afterward the coast possessed by the Jews, on their return from their captivity (verses 4-7). Next the Moabites and Ammonites are prophesied of; whose destruction should come upon them for their pride, and for their contempt and reviling of the people of God; and which should be like that of Sodom and Gomorrah; and would issue in the abolition of idolatry, and the setting up of the worship of God in their country, and elsewhere (verses 8-11). As for the Ethiopians, they should be slain with the sword (verse 12), and the whole monarchy of Assyria, with Nineveh the metropolis of it, should be utterly laid waste, and become a desolation, and a wilderness; and the habitation, not only of flocks, but of beasts and birds of prey (verses 13-15).
[v.6] - "cottages" - The Hebrew word here has been rendered in various ways. Common renderings are cottages, meadows, wells, or caves. John Owen, the Pulpit Commentary, and the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary rendered the Hebrew word, karah (kaw-raw'), as "to dig," or, "diggings," and said that this refers to either caves dug out by the shepherds to dwell in for shelter, or cisterns or wells dug out to water the flocks. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon supports the rendering of the word as, "cisterns," but also states that the text is dubious.