King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Zephaniah 3

Further reproofs for sin. (1-7) Encouragement to look for mercy. (8-13) Promises of future favour and prosperity. (14-20)

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Further reproofs for sin

1 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!

2 She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God.

3 Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.

4 Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.

5 The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.

6 I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.

7 I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.

Encouragement to look for mercy

8 Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.

11 In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

Promises of future favour and prosperity

14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.

17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.

19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.

20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Dove. Jerusalem is upbraided, and then comforted. She had been treated like a spouse, a dove; and yet proved faithless. C. — Heb. “Wo to the famous, and defiled, and oppressing city.” Sept. agree with us, if we only exchange famous for provoking. H. — After being redeemed from Egypt, the Jews ungratefully followed idols. Osee vii. 11. M. — Jerusalem having been freely chosen and favoured above other places, and still provoking God, cannot escape a severe chastisement. W.

Ver. 2. Lord. She had recourse rather to the princes of Assyria and of Egytp, which proved her ruin.

Ver. 3. Evening. Sept. “Arabian.” Hab. i. 8. Such was the state of the kingdom before the reform of Josias. C.

Ver. 4. Senseless. Prot. “light,” or (H.) windy and inconstant. There were too many false prophets (C.) during the minority of Josias. C.

Ver. 5. Morning. Speedily he will punish the guilty before all. — Shame. He is hardened. C. — Sept. “and not injustice for victory.” Grabe substitutes contention. God is just, (H.) even when he takes vengeance. C.

Ver. 6. Towers. Lit. “angles,” (H.) the chiefs, or to the very last. Job xxxviii. 6. Zac. x. 4. The nations have been punished for an example. But you do not take warning. C.

Ver. 7. But. Sept. “be prepared, rise early, all their grapes are corrupt.” H. — I had reason to expect an amendment, when so many nations had perished before their eyes. C. — They however sinned out of malice, and strove to provoke me in all their ways.

Ver. 8. To come. Sept. “for a witness.” H. — About forty years after Christ’s resurrection, the Jews for the most part continuing obstinate, Titus ruined their city; which is a figure of the world’s destruction, and of the eternal punishment of the wicked. W. — After the resurrection, the Church was to be gathered from all nations. Christ will rise again at the last day to judge all. God threatens his rebellious people with captivity, and then promises to shew mercy. v. 9. Thus the prophets often subjoin promises to threats.

Ver. 9. Chosen. Sym. “pure.” C. — Idols shall not be mentioned. Theod. — All people shall know and adore the Lord, which was verified only after Christ’s coming. C. — Sept. “for then I will change again for the peoples, language to its own kind,” (H.) which Origen, (c. Cels. viii.) and the Jews in S. Jerom, explain of the days of the Messias, when the confusion of Babel shall cease. But this is forced: it suffices that people unite in faith and obey the Church. — Shoulder, like people carrying a burden. Sept. “under one yoke.” After the captivity the Jews were more obedient and faithful, as the more corrupt remained behind the Euphrates, or were cut off in the last wars. Yet the synagogue was never so pure as the Christian Church, even in the worst times. C. — All nations shall worship God in unity of faith, and courageously submit to the gospel. W.

Ver. 10. Ethiopia. The Nile arises in that country, and runs through Egypt and Arabia, which is often styled Ethiopia or Cush. Is. xviii. 1. The Jews came from Egypt to adore at Jerusalem, even after the building of Onion. Yet this literally regard’s Christ’s Church. — Offering. The Jews performed this after the captivity, coming or sending the half sicle to Jerusalem annually, from all quarters of the world. Num. iii. 46. Mat. xvii. 23. C.

Ver. 11. Doings. Lit. “inventions,” of religion of thy own choice. H. — Thy past offenses shall be obliterated, and thou shalt commit nothing of the kind any more. Those proud spirits who caused thee to dislike my law, and who set up idols in my temple shall disappear. — Mountain. The temple shall be destroyed, that all may know that I am attached to virtue alone, (C.) and not to any edifice or place. H. — They trusted too much to the temple. Jer. vii. 4. M.

Ver. 12. Poor in spirit. H. — Heb. “meek and extenuated,” who trust not in themselves. This is the character of true Christians. The few Jews who remained in the country, or who returned from Babylon, might well represent them, being poor and dependent. The disciples of Christ contemned riches, and were resolute only where virtue was at stake. C. — They were instructed by poor fishermen taught by God. M.

Ver. 13. Israel. They shall be more submissive, and afraid of yielding to idolatry. Yet the synagogue was far from the perfection of the primitive Christianity, or even from that of many pious souls in these days of relaxation. — Afraid. The Jews were not much molested till the time of Epiphanes, nor was the country ravaged as it had been. Mic. ii. 12. This peace is however of a spiritual nature, granted by Christ to those who fight against their passions. John xiv. 27. C. — They shall feed on the word of God and on the blessed Eucharist. M.

Ver. 15. Judgment, or “condemnation.” Sept. “iniquities,” (C.) nailing to the cross the handwriting that was against thee. H. — God does not treat thee with rigour. He will be thy king. The Jews had no king for a long time. But the true Israel, of whom the prophet speaks, is continually ruled and fed by Jesus Christ, who imparts his graces abundantly. C.

Ver. 17. Silent; constant. M. — He will accuse thee no more. Can this be understood of the Jews, who have been cast off till the fulness of the Gentiles enter the Church? To the latter all this must be applied. Few prophets inveighed against the crimes of the captives after their return. C. — But this must be deemed a punishment, unless the crimes were also removed. H.

Ver. 18. Triflers. Lit. “trifles;” nugas. Heb. nugi, (H.) which is almost Latin. S. Jer. — These vain nothings, (C.) men who were of light dispositions, scoffers at Christ, shall be converted and honour him. W. — Sept. 17. “he will renew thee in his love, and will exult over thee in joy, as on a festival day: (18) and I will bring back thy bruised ones. Wo to him that has reproached her.” Aquila likewise renders by woe, or eju, oh, oi, usingit as an exclamation, though not of sorrow. Yet the term signifies, they were. S. Jer. H. — Heb. lit. “I have gathered those who were in grief for a time. They were of thee. Shame was upon them like a heavy load;” or, “they were grieved on account of the festivals disused. They were like an offering rejected,” with disgrace. C. — They lamented that they could no longer observe the solemn festivals, and this was to the pious a most intolerable burden, while libertines seem to feel as great a misery in the observance.

Ver. 19. Cut. Sept. “do in thee, for thy sake at,” &c. H. — Halteth, and have no children, (Mic. iv. 7.) denoting the Gentiles. C. — Sept. “squeezed out,” like grapes, being in distress. S. Jer. — Where. Sept. “and they shall be ashamed at,” &c.

Ver. 20. Bring. Sept. “do good to you.” H. — Praise. All shall speak well of you who have been lately dishonoured, when I shall take both Gentiles and Jews for my spouse after the captivity, which seems present, (C.) it is so certain. H. — Captivity, under satan and sin. M.