Zephaniah 1:8
And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD's sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zephaniah 1:8-9. In that day I will punish the princes and the king’s children — In 2 Kings 25:7; 2 Kings 25:21, we read of the fulfilling of both these particulars; the sons of King Zedekiah, and the principal officers of the state, being slain by the order of the king of Babylon. And all such as are clothed with strange apparel — Used for idolatrous purposes: see Deuteronomy 22:11. There were peculiar vestments belonging to the worship of each idol; hence the command of Jehu, 2 Kings 10:22, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. The text may likewise be explained of such men as wore women’s apparel, and such women as wore that of men, which was contrary to an express law, Deuteronomy 22:5, and was a rite observed in the worship of some idols. In the same day will I punish all those that leap on the threshold — Or rather, over the threshold. The expression is thought to denote some idolatrous rite, like that which was practised in the temple of Dagon, where the priests did not tread upon the threshold, 1 Samuel 5:5. Thus the Chaldee paraphrast interprets it of those who walked after the laws or rites of the Philistines. Capellus, however, understands it of those who invaded the house of their neighbours, joyfully bounding on the threshold. “This sense is favoured by what follows.” — Newcome. Which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit — Who enter into other men’s houses, and take away their goods by fraud or violence, and carry them to the houses of their masters. The iniquitous officers of the kings and princes seem to be here intended, who employed all the arts of deceit and oppression, as well as of open violence, to fill their master’s coffers.1:7-13 God's day is at hand; the punishment of presumptuous sinners is a sacrifice to the justice of God. The Jewish royal family shall be reckoned with for their pride and vanity; and those that leap on the threshold, invading their neighbours' rights, and seizing their possessions. The trading people and the rich merchants are called to account. Secure and careless people are reckoned with. They are secure and easy; they say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; that is, they deny his dispensing rewards and punishments. But in the day of the Lord's judgment, it will clearly appear that those who perish, fall a sacrifice to Divine justice for breaking God's law, and because they have no interest by faith in the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice.I will punish - (Literally, visit upon). God seems oftentimes to be away from His own world. People plot, design, say, in word or in deed, "who is Lord over us?" God is, as it were, a stranger in it, or as a man, who hath "taken a journey into afar country." God uses our own language to us. "I will visit," inspecting (so to say), examining, sifting, reviewing, and when man's sins require it, allowing the weight of His displeasure to fall upon them.

The princes - The prophet again, in vivid detail (as his characteristic is), sets forth together sin and punishment. Amid the general chastisement of all, when all should become one sacrifice, they who sinned most should be punished most. The evil priests had received their doom. Here he begins anew with the mighty of the people and so goes down, first to special spots of the city, then to the whole, man by man. Josiah being a godly king, no mention is made of him. Thirteen years before his death, he received the promise of God, "because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord - I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered unto thy grave in peace, and thou shalt not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place" 2 Kings 22:19-20. In remarkable contrast to Jeremiah, who had to be, in detail and continual pleading with his people, a prophet of judgment to come, until these judgments broke upon them, and so was the reprover of the evil sovereigns who succeeded Josiah, Zephaniah has to pronounce God's judgments only on the "princes" and "the king's children."

Jeremiah, in his inaugural vision, was forewarned, that "the kings Judah, its princes, priests, and the people of the land" Jeremiah 1:18 should war against him, because he should speak unto them all which God should command him. And thenceforth, Jeremiah impleads or threatens kings and the princes together Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 4:9; Jeremiah 8:1; Jeremiah 24:8; Jeremiah 32:37; Jeremiah 34:21. Zephaniah contrariwise, his office lying wholly within the reign of Josiah, describes the princes again as "roaring lions" Zephaniah 3:3, but says nothing of the king, as neither does Micah M1 Corinthians 3:1, Micah 3:9, in the reign, it may be, of Jotham or Hezekiah. Isaiah speaks of princes, as "rebellious and companions of thieves" Isaiah 1:23. Jeremiah speaks of them as idolaters Jeremiah 31:32-34; Jeremiah 44:21. They appear to have had considerable influence, which on one occasion they employed in defense of Jeremiah Jer 26:16, but mostly for evil Jeremiah 37:15; Jeremiah 38:4, Jeremiah 38:16. Zedekiah inquired of Jeremiah secretly for fear of them Jeremiah 37:17; Jeremiah 38:14-27. They brought destruction upon themselves by what men praise, their resistance to Nebuchadnezzar, but against the declared mind of God. Nebuchadnezzar unwittingly fulfilled the prophets' word, when he "slew all the nobles of Judah, the eunuch who was over the war, and seven men of them that were near the king's person, and the principal scribe of the host" Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 52:25-27.

And the king's children - Holy Scripture mentions chief persons only by name. Isaiah had prophesied the isolated lonely loveless lot of descendants of Hezekiah who should be "eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon" Isaiah 39:7, associated only with those intriguing pests of Eastern courts, a lot in itself worse than the sword (although to Daniel God overruled it to good) and Zedekiah's sons were slain before his eyes and his race extinct. Jehoiakim died a disgraced death, and Jehoiachin was imprisoned more than half the life of man.

And all such as are clothed with strange apparel - Israel was reminded by its dress, that it belonged to God. It was no great thing in itself; "a band of dark blue Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12 upon the fringes at the four corners of their garments." But "the band of dark blue" was upon the high priest's mitre, with the plate engraved, "Holiness to the Lord" Exodus 28:36, fastened upon it; "with a band of dark blue" also was the breastplate Exodus 39:21 bound to the ephod of the high priest. So then, simple as it was, it seems to have designated the whole nation, as "a kingdom of priests, an holy nation" Exodus 19:6. It was appointed to them, "that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring; that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God" Numbers 15:39-40. They might say, "it is but "a band of blue;"" but the "band of blue" was the soldier's badge, which marked them as devoted to the service of their God; indifference to or shame of it involved indifference to or shame of the charge given them therewith, and to their calling as a peculiar people. The choice of the strange apparel involved the choice to be as the nations of the world; "we will be as the pagan, as the families of the countries" Ezekiel 20:33.

All luxurious times copy foreign dress, and with it, foreign manners and luxuries; from where even the pagan Romans were zealous against its use. It is very probable that with the foreign dress foreign idolatry was imported . The Babylonian dress was very gorgeous, such as was the admiration of the simpler Jews. "Her captains and rulers clothed in perfection, girded with girdles upon their loins, with flowing dyed attire upon their heads" Ezekiel 23:12, Ezekiel 23:15. Ezekiel had to frame words to express the Hebrew idea of their beauty. Jehoiakim is reproved among other things for his luxury Jeremiah 22:14-15. Outward dress always betokens the inward mind, and in its turn acts upon it. An estranged dress betokened an estranged heart, from where it is used as an image of the whole spiritual mind Romans 13:14; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 4:24. Jerome: "The garment of the sons of the king and the apparel of princes which we receive in Baptism, is Christ, according to that, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ," and "Put ye on bowels of mercy, goodness, humililty, patience," and the rest. Wherein, we are commanded to be clothed with the new man from heaven according to our Creator, and to "lay aside" the clothing of "the old man with his deeds" Ephesians 4:22. Whereas, then we ought to be clothed in such raiment, for mercy we put on cruelty, for patience, impatience, for righteousness, iniquity; in a word, for virtues, vices, for Christ, antichrist. Whence it is said of such an one, "He is clothed with cursing as with a garment" Psalm 109:17. These the Lord will visit most manifestly at His Coming." Rup.: "Thinkest thou that hypocrisy is "strange apparel?" Of a truth. For what stranger apparel than sheeps' clothing to ravening wolves? What stranger than for him who "within is full of iniquity, to appear outwardly righteous before men?" Matthew 23:28.

8. the princes—who ought to have been an example of good to others, but were ringleaders in all evil.

the king's children—fulfilled on Zedekiah's children (Jer 39:6); and previously, on Jehoahaz and Eliakim, the sons of Josiah (2Ki 23:31, 36; 2Ch 36:6; compare also 2Ki 20:18; 21:13). Huldah the prophetess (2Ki 22:20) intimated that which Zephaniah now more expressly foretells.

all such as are clothed with strange apparel—the princes or courtiers who attired themselves in costly garments, imported from abroad; partly for the sake of luxury, and partly to ingratiate themselves with foreign great nations whose costume as well as their idolatries they imitated, [Calvin]; whereas in costume, as in other respects, God would have them to be separate from the nations. Grotius refers the "strange apparel" to garments forbidden by the law, for example, men's garments worn by women, and vice versa, a heathen usage in the worship of Mars and Venus (De 22:5).

It shall come to pass; it shall most certainly be fulfilled what I threaten I will most surely execute.

In the day of the Lord’s sacrifice; of slaughter to be made by the Babylonians, called here a day of sacrifice, that we might see clearly the just and exemplary proceedings of God; these people sinned in sacrificing to strange gods, and God will punish them, making them a strange sacrifice to his anger.

I will punish; the punishment shall appear to be from my hand, as he threatens often by Ezekiel.

The princes; nobles about the court, the great ones, who dreamed of shifting better than others, but fell with the first, 2 Kings 25:19-21.

The king’s children; sons and grandchildren too of good Josiah. Jehoahaz died a captive in Egypt, 2 Kings 23:34. Jehoiakim died on the way, or in Babylon, buried with the burial of an ass, Jeremiah 22:18,19. Jeconiah, carried to Babylon, sped somewhat, yet but little, better; there he died a captive. As for Zedekiah and his children, these were slain before his face, then his eyes put out, and he led into miserable captivity.

Clothed with strange apparel; some say the strange apparel of idolatrous priests; others say, and more likely, the garb of foreigners, imitated by the wanton Jews. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord's sacrifice,.... When the above sacrifice prepared shall be offered, and the slaughter of his people made, when his wrath shall be poured out upon them, within the time of its beginning and ending:

that I will punish the princes, and the king's children; either the children of Josiah, who, though a good prince, his children did evil in the sight of the Lord, and were punished by him: Jehoahaz, after a three months' reign was carried down to Egypt, and died there; Jehoiakim, his elder brother, that succeeded him, rebelling against the king of Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign, fell into his hands, and died, and was buried with the burial of an ass; and Jeconiah his son was carried captive into Babylon, and there remained to the day of his death; and with him were carried the whole royal family, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, 2 Kings 24:14 or else the children of Zedekiah, another son of Josiah, and the last of the kings of Judah, who was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who before his eyes slew his sons, and all the princes of Judah, and then put out his eyes, and bound him in chains, Jeremiah 52:10 and thus this prophecy had its accomplishment:

and all such as are clothed with strange apparel; either which they put on in honour of the idols they worshipped, as Jarchi; so the heathens wore one sort of garments for one idol, and another sort for another; or these were men of a pharisaical cast, who wore garments different from others, that they might be thought to be very holy and religious, which sense is mentioned by Kimchi; or they were such, which he also observes, who, seeing some to have plenty of good clothes, stole them from them, and put them on; or such who arrayed themselves in garments that did not belong to their sex, men put on women's garments, and women clothed themselves with men's, and both strange apparel; or rather this points at such persons, who, in their apparel, imitated the fashions and customs of foreign nations; which probably began with the king's children and courtiers, and were followed by others. The Targum is,

"and upon all those that make a noise at the worship of idols.''

And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with {d} strange apparel.

(d) Meaning, the courtiers, who did imitate the strange apparel of other nations to win their favour by it, and to appear glorious in the eyes of all others; read Eze 23:14-15.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. I will punish the princes] lit. visit upon the princes. The princes are the nobles, particularly those entrusted with judicial and similar offices.

the king’s children] The children of the king are the royal house in general, hardly Josiah’s own sons, who in the eighteenth year of his reign were aged ten and twelve (2 Kings 23:31; 2 Kings 23:36). For “children” Sept. reads house of the king, a reading which at least suggests the right meaning. The words “children” and “house” are occasionally confused. Sept. reads “house” where Heb. has “children” in Jeremiah 16:15; Ezekiel 2:3; 1 Chronicles 2:10, and on the other hand it reads “children” where Heb. has “house” in Genesis 45:11; Exodus 16:31; Joshua 17:17; Joshua 18:5; Hosea 1:7.

clothed with strange apparel] i.e. foreign apparel. It would be the royal family, “behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses” (Matthew 11:8), and the nobility who were given to this practice.

8–13. The classes in Jerusalem on which the judgment will fall

The errors and sins assailed by Zephaniah are the same as those attacked by earlier prophets, e.g. (1) the false worship, Zephaniah 1:4-6, cf. Amos 4:4 ff.; Isaiah 1:11 ff.; (2) the civil wrong and injustice, Zephaniah 1:9, cf. Amos 5:7; Amos 5:10-13; Isaiah 3:12-15; Isaiah 5:8; Isaiah 5:23; (3) dissatisfaction with the idea of the theocratic state and its place among the nations, and consequent assumption of foreign manners, Zephaniah 1:8, cf. Isaiah 2:6; Isaiah 8:6 (they reject the waters of Shiloah that go softly), though possibly the luxury of foreign apparel may also be stigmatised (Amos 6:3-7); and (4) religious indifference and insensibility to the operations of Jehovah, Zephaniah 1:12, cf. Amos 6:1; Amos 6:13-14; Isaiah 5:11-12; Isaiah 6:9-10; Isaiah 29:9-12, the result of which was an absorbing devotion to secular business, Zephaniah 1:11, cf. Amos 8:5.Verse 8. The prophet names the three classes of people who shall be smitten in this judgment. First, the princes. In the day of the Lord's sacrifice (see note on ver. 7). God is speaking; so the name of the Lord is employed instead of the pronoun (comp. Lamentations 3:66). I will punish; literally, visit upon (ver. 12; Amos 3:14). The princes. The heads of tribes and families, nobles and magistrates. The king's children (sons); Septuagint, τὸν οϊκον τοῦ βασιλέως, "the house of the king." The royal family, not specially the sons of Josiah, who, if they were then in existence, must have been mere children, but princes of the royal house. The reference may be particularly to the sons of the king reigning when the judgment fell (see 2 Kings 25:7). The king himself is not mentioned as subject to the judgment, inasmuch as he was pious and obedient (2 Chronicles 34:27, etc.). In the mention of these "children" Keil finds proof of the late origin of the prophecy. Such as are clothed with strange apparel. This clause must represent the sin for which the princes are "visited." "Strange" apparel means "foreign" apparel, and this implied foreign manners and habits. The Israelites were reminded by their very dress that they were a peculiar people, consecrated to God's service (Numbers 15:37, etc.; Deuteronomy 22:12). These nobles, however, assumed the dress of the Egyptians and other nations with which they came in contact, and, despising their own national customs, copied the manners and vices of foreigners (comp. Isaiah 3:16-24; Ezekiel 20:32; 1 Macc. 1:11-15). But if Israel conquer the nations in such a way as this, then will Jehovah fulfil the peace of His people by the destruction of all the instruments of war, and the extermination of everything of an idolatrous nature, as well as by the judgment of wrath upon all resisting nations. Micah 5:10. "And it comes to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah, that I will destroy thy horses out of the midst of thee, and annihilate thy chariots. Micah 5:11. And I shall destroy the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy fortresses. Micah 5:12. And I shall destroy the witchcrafts out of thy hand; and cloud-interpreters shall not be left to thee. Micah 5:13. And I shall destroy thy graven images and thy statutes out of the midst of thee; and thou wilt no more worship the work of thy hands. Micah 5:14. And I shall root out thine idol-groves out of the midst of thee, and destroy thy cities. Micah 5:15. And I shall execute vengeance in wrath and fury upon the nations which have not heard." These verses do not explain Micah 5:8, or state how the extermination of the enemy is to take place, or how Israel is made into a lion destroying the nations that are hostile to it, namely, by the fact that the Lord eradicates from its heart all confidence in horses, chariots, and fortifications, in witchcraft and idolatry (Caspari). This assumption is at variance with the words themselves, and with the strophic arrangement of the chapter. There is nothing about trust in horses, etc., but simply about the extermination of the horses, and everything else in which the idolatrous nation had sought its strength. Moreover, the expression והיה ביּום ההוּא, when compared with והיה in Micah 5:4 and Micah 5:6, shows at once that these verses are intended to depict the last and greatest effect produced by the coming of the Prince of peace in Israel, and overthrows Hengstenberg's assumption, that the prophet here foretels the destructive work of the Lord in Israel, which will precede the destruction of the enemy predicted in Micah 5:10. In that case בּיּום ההוּא would mean "before that day," a meaning which it can never have. The prophet passes rather from the attitude of Israel among the nations, to the description of the internal perfection of the kingdom of God, which does indeed stand in a reciprocal relation to the former and proceed simultaneously with it, but which will not be completed till after the victorious suppression of the foe. Only when the people of God shall have gained the supremacy over all their enemies, will the time have arrived for all the instruments of war to be destroyed. When the world shall be overcome, then will all war cease. The ancient Israel did indeed put its trust in war-horses, and war-chariots, and fortifications (cf. Isaiah 2:7); but the Messianic Israel, or the true people of the Lord, will only put its trust in such things so far as it is not yet pervaded by the power of the peace brought by the Messiah. And the more it appropriates the spiritual power of the Prince of peace, the more will the trust in horses and chariots disappear; so that they will be destroyed, because all war comes to an end (compare Isaiah 9:4-6). And the extermination of everything of an idolatrous nature will go hand in hand with this. Two kinds are mentioned in Micah 5:12 and Micah 5:13, viz., witchcraft and the worship of idols of their own making. As objects of witchcraft there are mentioned keshâphı̄m, lit., witchcrafts of different kinds, but the expression מיּדך limits them to such as are performed with the hand, and me‛ōnenı̄m ( equals ‛ōnenı̄m in Isaiah 2:6), lit., cloud-interpreters, or cloud, i.e., storm makers, from ‛ânan, a kind of witchcraft which cannot be more precisely defined (see Delitzsch on Isaiah, l.c.). Of the objects of the idolatrous worship there are mentioned (after Leviticus 26:1) pesı̄lı̄m, idols made of wood or metal; and מצּבות, stone-images, or stones dedicated to idols (see at 1 Kings 14:23). For Micah 5:12, compare Isaiah 2:8.
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