Zephaniah 2:4 MEANING

Zephaniah 2:4
Verses 4-7. - § 2. The admonition is enforced by the announcement of the punishment that is about to fall on various nations, which shall prepare the way for the general acceptance of true religion; and first the sentence shall reach the Philistines. Verse 4. - There is reason enough why Judah should tremble when the nations around her, such as the powerful and turbulent Philistines, fall before the invading host. Four of the five cities of the Philistines are mentioned, as denoting the whole territory, which again is the representative of the heathen world more definitely particularized later on. Thus the four quarters of the world are virtually specified: the Philistines representing the west,, the Moabites and Ammonites (vers. 8-10) the east, the Cushites (vers. 11, 12) the south, and the Assyrians (vers. 13-15) the north. Gaza (see note on Amos 1:6) shall be forsaken; depopulated and desolate. There is a paronomasia in the Hebrew: Azzah will be azubhah. Some of the other localities are treated in the same manner (comp. Micah 1:10-15, and notes there). Ashkelon a desolation (see note on Amos 1:8). They shall drive out Ashdod. The inhabitants shall be expelled. (For Ashdod, see note on Amos, loc. cit.) At the noon day. The hottest part of the day, the most unlikely time for a hostile attack, hence the expression is equivalent to "unexpectedly and suddenly" (comp. Jeremiah 15:8). Ekron shall be rooted up. In the Hebrew paronomasia, Ekron ("the Deep-rooted") shall be teaker. (For Ekron, see note on Amos, loc. cit., where the fulfilment of prophecy concerning that town is noted.) Gaza (see note on Amos 1:7), after being depopulated and again re-peopled by Alexander the Great, fell into the hands of Ptolemy, and was destroyed by Antiochus, B.C. 198 (Polybius, 'Reliq.,' 16:40; Pusey, p. 457). Often rebuilt, it was as often razed to the ground; and the present representative of the ancient town, Ghuzzeh, stands upon a hill composed of the accumulated ruins of successive cities. Of the condition of Ashkelon, Dr. Thomson writes, "There are no buildings of the ancient city now standing, but broken columns are mixed up with the soil .... Let us climb to the top of these tall fragments at the southeast angle of the wall, and we shell have the whole scene of desolation before us, stretching terrace after terrace, quite down to the sea on the northwest .... No site in this country has so deeply impressed my mind with sadness. They have stretched out upon Ashkelon the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness. Thorns have come up in her palaces, and brambles in the fortresses thereof, and it is a habitation of dragons and a court for owls (Isaiah 34:11-13)" ('The Land and the Book,' p. 546). "It was for ages," says Dr. Porter, "a great and strong city. Under the Philistines, the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Saracens, the Crusaders, it was a place of note. The shattered walls that still surround the site were built by Richard Coeur de Lion. When I first clambered to the top of a broken bastion, a scene of desolation burst suddenly upon my view for which I was not prepared, though I had seen Baal-bec and Palmyra, Heliopolis and Memphis. The whole site was before me, and not a fragment of a house standing. One small section was covered with little gardens; but over the rest of the site lay smooth rounded hillocks of drifting sand. The sand is fast advancing - so fast, that probably ere the close of the century the site of Ascalon will have been blotted out forever" ('Illust. of Bible Proph.,' p. 21). As for Ekron, hod. Akir, travellers note that it is now a little village, consisting of about fifty mud houses, without a remnant of antiquity except two large walls; its very ruins have vanished. The omission of Gath, a town at this time of small importance (see note on Amos 1:6), is probably owing to a feeling of the symbolism of numbers, four denoting completion, or the whole, like "the four winds, the four ends of the earth," etc.

2:4-15 Those are really in a woful condition who have the word of the Lord against them, for no word of his shall fall to the ground. God will restore his people to their rights, though long kept from them. It has been the common lot of God's people, in all ages, to be reproached and reviled. God shall be worshipped, not only by all Israel, and the strangers who join them, but by the heathen. Remote nations must be reckoned with for the wrongs done to God's people. The sufferings of the insolent and haughty in prosperity, are unpitied and unlamented. But all the desolations of flourishing nations will make way for the overturning Satan's kingdom. Let us improve our advantages, and expect the performance of every promise, praying that our Father's name may be hallowed every where, over all the earth.For Gaza shall be forsaken,.... Therefore seek the Lord; and not to the Philistines, since they would be destroyed, to whom Gaza, and the other cities later mentioned, belonged; so Aben Ezra connects the words, suggesting that it would be in vain to flee thither for shelter, or seek for refuge there; though others think that this and what follows is subjoined, either to assure the Jews of their certain ruin, since this would be the case of the nations about them; or to alleviate their calamity, seeing their enemies would have no occasion to insult them, and triumph over them, they being, or quickly would be, in the like circumstances. Gaza was one of the five lordships of the Philistines; a strong and fortified place, as its name signifies; but should be demolished, stripped of its fortifications, and forsaken by its inhabitants. It was smitten by Pharaoh king of Egypt; and was laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 47:1 and afterwards taken by Alexander the great; and, having gone through various changes, was in the times of the apostles called Gaza the desert, Acts 8:26. There is a beautiful play on words in the words, not to be expressed in an English translation (h). According to Strabo's account (i), the ancient city was about a mile from the haven, for which (he says) it was formerly very illustrious; but was demolished by Alexander, and remained a desert. And so Jerom (k) says, in his time, the place where the ancient city stood scarce afforded any traces of the foundations of it; for that which now is seen (adds he) was built in another place, instead of that which was destroyed: and which, he observes, accounts for the fulfilment of this prophecy: and so Monsieur Thevenot (l) says, the city of Gaza is about two miles from the sea; and was anciently very illustrious, as may be seen by its ruins; and yet, even this must be understood of new Gaza; so a Greek writer (m), of an uncertain age, observes this distinction; and speaks of this and the following places exactly in the order in which they are here,

"after Rhinocorura lies new Gaza, which is the city itself; then "Gaza the desert" (the place here prophesied of); then the city Askelon; after that Azotus (or Ashdod); then the city Accaron'' (or Ekron):

and Ashkelon a desolation; this was another lordship belonging to the Philistines, that suffered at the same time as Gaza did by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 47:5. This place was ten miles from Gaza, as Mr. Sandys (n) says, and who adds, and now of no note; and Strabo (o) speaks of it in his time as a small city; indeed new Ashkelon is said by Benjamin of Tudela (p) to be a very large and beautiful city; but then he distinguishes it from old Ashkelon, here prophesied of; and which (he says) is four "parsoe", or sixteen miles, from the former, and now lies waste and desolate:

they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, that is, the Chaldeans shall drive out the inhabitants of Ashdod, another of the principalities of the Philistines; the same with Azotus, Acts 8:40 "at noon day", openly and publicly, and with great ease; they shall have no occasion to use any secret stratagems, or to make night work of it; and which would be very incommodious and distressing to the inhabitants, to be turned out at noon day, and be obliged to travel in the heat of the sun, which in those eastern countries at noon day beats very strong. This place was distant from old Ashkelon four "parsae", or twenty four miles, as Benjamin Tudelensis (q) affirms; and with which agrees Diodorus Siculus (r), who says, that from Gaza to Azotus are two hundred and seventy furlongs, which make thirty four miles, ten from Gaza to Ashkelon, and twenty four from thence to Azotus or Ashdod. This place, according to the above Jewish traveller (s), is now called Palmis, which he says is the Ashdod that belonged to the Philistines, now waste and desolate; by which this prophecy is fulfilled. It was once a very large and famous city, strong and well fortified; and held out a siege of twenty nine years against Psamittichus king of Egypt, as Herodotus (t) relates, but now destroyed; see Isaiah 20:1,

and Ekron shall be rooted up; as a tree is rooted up, and withers away, and perishes, and there is no more hope of it: this denotes the utter destruction of this place. There is here also an elegant allusion to the name of the place (u), not to be imitated in a version of it: this was another of the lordships of the Philistines, famous for the idol Beelzebub, the god of this place. Jerom (w) observes, that some think that Accaron (or Ekron) is the same with Strato's tower, afterwards called Caesarea; and so the Talmudists say (x), Ekron is Caesarea; which is not at all probable: he further observes, that there is a large village of the Jews, which in his days was called Accaron, and lay between Azotus and Jamnia to the east; but Breidenbachius (y) relates, that, in his time, Accaron was only a small cottage or hut, yet retaining its ancient name; so utterly rooted up is this place, which once was a considerable principality. Gath is not mentioned, which is the other of the five principalities, because it was now, as Kimchi says, in the hands of the kings of Judah.

(h) . (i) Geograph. l. 16. p. 502. (k) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 91. K. (l) Travels, par. 1. B. 2. c. 36. p. 180. (m) Apud Reland. Palestina Illustrata, l. 2. p. 509. (n) Travels, p. 151. (o) Geograph. l. 16. p. 502. (p) Itinorarium, p. 51. (q) Ibid. (r) Bibliothec. l. 19. p. 723. (s) Itinerarium, p. 51. (t) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 157. (u) . (w) De locis Heb. fol. 88. D. (x) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 6. 1.((y) Apud Adrichom. Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 20.

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