But now I will not be to the residue of this people as in the former days, said the LORD of hosts.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Zechariah 8:11-13. But now I will not be as in the former days — But now, seeing that ye have proceeded in rebuilding my temple, I will order, by my divine providence, that things shall happen otherwise to you than they did before, or that your affairs shall be more prosperous. For the seed shall be prosperous — This in the Hebrew is, For the seed shall be of peace, which seems intended to express that they should have peaceable times, or be a seed or nation at peace. And, as ye were a curse — A standing form of imprecation; among the heathen — Who wished that their enemies might be as miserable as the Jews. This was to be changed into a blessing, to the contrary effect; May you be as happy as the Jews who are restored. See Grotius and Calmet. O house of Judah and house of Israel — By Israel may be understood here those of the ten tribes who returned to Judea with the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. But the mentioning both Judah and Israel, which had been so long separated, shows that both the curse and the blessing here spoken of, in their ultimate sense, belong to the whole body of the Jews, who, as they are public instances of God’s judgments now, so shall they be hereafter of his blessings; namely, at the general restoration and conversion of that nation, to which several promises in this chapter relate.But now; since this people go about building the temple and restoring my worship with some cheerfulness.
I will not be unto the residue of this people: God changeth not, his not being what he was to this people is a change of his providence and his dealings with them. Our affairs will be to us as God is to us.
As in the former days: see Zechariah 8:10.
as in the former days, saith the Lord of hosts; when they neglected the house of the Lord, caring only for their own cieled houses, Haggai 1:2.But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. now I will not be] Rather, now (in this period since ye began to build) I am not. My attitude towards you is already changed.
the residue] Rather, the remnant, as in Zechariah 8:12, i.e. the returned captives. See Haggai 1:12, and note.Verse 11. - But now I will not be. God's attitude towards the people had already changed in consequence of their diligence in the work of restoration. Perowne renders, "Now I am not." The residue; the remnant; the returned Jews (ver. 12; Haggai 1:12). The former days. In the time of their inactivity, when a curse rested upon them and upon their land. The curse was now removed, and a marked amelioration had set in (Haggai 2:15-19). Zephaniah 3:19. Behold, at that time I will treat with all thine oppressors, and will save the limping, and gather together that which is dispersed, and make them a praise and a name in every land of their shame. Zephaniah 3:20. At that time will I bring you and gather you in time; for I will make you a name and a praise among all the nations of the earth, when I turn your captivity before your eyes, saith Jehovah." The salvation held up in prospect before the remnant of Israel, which has been refined by the judgments and delivered, was at a very remote distance in Zephaniah's time. The first thing that awaited the nation was the judgment, through which it was to be dispersed among the heathen, according to the testimony of Moses and all the prophets, and to be refined in the furnace of affliction. The ten tribes were already carried away into exile, and Judah was to share the same fate immediately afterwards. In order, therefore, to offer to the pious a firm consolation of hope in the period of suffering that awaited them, and one on which their faith could rest in the midst of tribulation, Zephaniah mentions in conclusion the gathering together of all who pine in misery at a distance from Zion, and who are scattered far and wide, to assure even these of their future participation in the promised salvation. Every clause of Zephaniah 3:18 is difficult. נוּגי is a niphal participle of יגה, with וּ instead of ו, as in Lamentations 1:4, in the sense of to mourn, or be troubled. Mō‛ēd, the time of the feast, when all Israel gathered together to rejoice before Jehovah, as in Hosea 12:10, except that the word is not to be restricted to the feast of tabernacles, but may be understood as relating to all the feasts to which pilgrimages were made. The preposition min is taken by many in the sense of far from; in support of which Hitzig appeals to Lamentations 1:4. But that passage is rather opposed to the application of the meaning referred to, inasmuch as we have מבּלי there, in which min denotes the cause. And this causal signification is to be retained here also, if only because of the close connection between נוּגי and ממּועד, according to which the dependent word can only denote the object or occasion of the nōgâh. Those who are troubled for the festal meeting are they who mourn because they cannot participate in the joy of assembling before the face of the Lord, namely, on account of their banishment into foreign lands. Mimmēkh hâyū, from thee were they, i.e., they have been thine (min expressing descent or origin, as in Isaiah 58:12; Ezra 2:59; Psalm 68:27; and the whole clause containing the reason for their meeting). The explanation given by Anton and Strauss is unsuitable and forced: "They will be away from thee, namely, separated from thee as mourners." In the last clause it is a matter of dispute to what the suffix in עליה refers. The explanation of Strauss, that it refers to Zion, is precluded by the fact that Zion is itself addressed, both in what precedes and what follows, and the thought does not require so rapid a change of persons. It is more natural to refer it to נוּגי, in which case the singular suffix is used collectively as a neuter, like the feminines הצּלעה and הנּדּחה; and the meaning takes this form: a burden upon them, viz., those who mourned for the feasts, was the reproach, sc. of slavery among the heathen (compare Zephaniah 3:19, at the close). Consequently the clause assigns a still further reason for the promise, that they are to be gathered together.
In Zephaniah 3:19, עשׂה with את signifies neither to handle in an evil sense, nor comprimere, conculcare, but to treat or negotiate with a person, as in Ezekiel 23:25 and Ezekiel 17:17, where אות, according to a later usage of the language, is a preposition, and not a sign of the accusative. The more precise definition of the procedure, or of the kind of negotiation, is evident from the context. The reference is to a punitive procedure, or treating in wrath. מענּיך as in Psalm 60:14, the heathen nations who had subjugated Israel. What follows is taken almost verbatim from Micah 4:6; and the last clause points back to Deuteronomy 26:19, to tell the people that the Lord will assuredly realize the glorification promised to the people of His possession, and make Israel an object of praise to the whole earth. בּכל־הארץ בּשׁתּם, in all lands, where they have suffered shame. Boshtâm is epexegetical of hâ'ârets, which governs it; this explains the use of the article with the nomen regens (cf. Ewald, 290, d). In order to paint the glory of the future salvation in still more vivid colours before the eyes of the people, the Lord ends by repeating this promise once more, with a slight change in the words. At that time will I lead you. The indefinite אביא might be expounded from the context, by supplying the place to which God will lead them, after such passages as Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 43:5. But it is more natural to think of the phrase, to lead out and in, according to Numbers 27:17, and to take אביא as an abbreviation of הוציא והביא, picturing the pastoral fidelity with which the Lord will guide the redeemed. The following words קבּצי אתכם point to this: compare Isaiah 40:11, where the gathering of the lambs is added to the feeding of the flock, to give prominence to the faithful care of the shepherds for the weak and helpless. קבּצי is the infinitive: my gathering you, sc. will take place. The choice of this form is to be traced, as Hitzig supposes, to the endeavour to secure uniformity in the clauses. A fresh reason is then assigned for the promise, by a further allusion to the glorification appointed for the people of God above all the nations of the earth, coupled with the statement that this will take place at the turning of their captivity, i.e., when God shall abolish the misery of His people, and turn it into salvation ("turn the captivity," as in Zephaniah 2:7), and that "before your eyes;" i.e., not that "ye yourselves shall see the salvation, and not merely your children, when they have closed your eyes" (Hitzig) - for such an antithesis would be foreign to the context - but as equivalent to "quite obviously, so that the turn in events stands out before the eye," analogous to "ye will see eye to eye" (Isaiah 52:8; cf. Luke 2:30). This will assuredly take place, for Jehovah has spoken it.
On the fulfilment of this promise, Theodoret observes that "these things were bestowed upon those who came from Babylon, and have been offered to all men since then." This no doubt indicates certain points of the fulfilment, but the principal fulfilment is generalized too much. For although the promise retains its perfect validity in the case of the Christian church, which is gathered out of both Jews and Gentiles, and will receive its final accomplishment in the completion of the kingdom of heaven founded by Christ on the earth, the allusion to the Gentile Christians falls quite into the background in the picture of salvation in Zephaniah 3:11-20, and the prophet's eye is simply directed towards Israel, and the salvation reserved for the rescued ἐκλογὴ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. But inasmuch as Zephaniah not only announces the judgment upon the whole earth, but also predicts the conversion of the heathen nations to Jehovah the living God (Zephaniah 3:9-10), we must not restrict the description of salvation in Zephaniah 3:11-20 to the people of Israel who were lineally descended from Abraham, and to the remnant of them; but must also regard the Gentiles converted to the living God through Christ as included among them, and must consequently say that the salvation which the Lord will procure through the judgment for the daughter Zion or the remnant of Israel, commenced with the founding of the Christian church by the apostles for Judah and the whole world, and has been gradually unfolded more and more through the spread of the name of the Lord and His worship among all nations, and will be eventually and fully realized at the second coming of Christ, to the last judgment, and to perfect His kingdom in the establishment of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21 and 22). It is true that both the judgment and the salvation of the remnant of Israel seeking Jehovah and His righteousness commenced even before Christ, with the giving up of Judah, together with all the tribes and kingdoms falling within the horizon of Old Testament prophecy, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and the imperial rulers who followed him; but so far as the question of the fulfilment of our prophecy is concerned, these events come into consideration merely as preliminary stages of and preparations for the times of decision, which commenced with Christ not only for the Jews, but for all nations.
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