8 I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border. 9 Therefore as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.
1 Cor. 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
10 This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts.
Prov. 16:18 Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
The Full Life Study Bible comments, “The unbelieving world insults and mock God’s people, those who are committed to the righteous and holy standard of His Word… This kind of treatment is unavoidable in a world under control of Satan and dominated by people whose minds are darkened (cf. II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2-3; 4:18). Jesus Himself experienced mocking and reproach while on earth (see Matt. 27:39-44; cf. PS. 69:10)… The persecution of the righteous will not last forever. God has appointed a day when He will vindicate these who have remained loyal to His ways and will bring just punishment on those who have mocked the faithful.”
11 The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.
Through His judgment upon the nations, God will defeat all the “gods” of the world and there will be none left but Him to worship. To bring these verses into today’s, “Famish all the gods” spiritually applies to many gods failure to provide and if the gods be famished, so be the people because they cannot provide for their people and who today starves and have impotent gods. See v.12 Ethiopians!
The Stones Tanak says that v.11 is a, “Metaphor for far-flung places.”
Now taking vv.8-11 as a whole we understand that Moab and Amon, cousins through Lot, yet bite rivals of Israel, they are addressed net and for their never ending harassment and oppression toward Israel and their attempts to oust them for the Land and push them into the sea, their judgment ironically will fall upon them as if they were Sodom and Gomorrah, which were in a strange way the catalyst for their very existence (Gen. 19:30-38).
12 Ye Ethiopians also, ye 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.
Nineveh fell approximately 20 years after this prophecy.
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 the upper lintels of it; 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 carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.
Vv. 12-15: Ethiopia (Egypt) is lumped in with Assyria, whose capital city, Nineveh is mentioned. Jonah about 100 years before and Nahum, around the same time of Zephaniah, gives a greater detail of the judgment that was to befall Assyria and can be read about in my commentaries on Jonah and Nahum. For their doom by flood and flame by the hand of the Babylonians, the ones who ended up punishing and exiling Judah.
It describes how Nineveh will become pastureland and eventually a wilderness, like a desert. This future reality seemed impossible to the people of Assyria, who mightily lived in the lap of luxury. Soon people would be able to shake their heads at them, and say, “I told you so.”
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.
The Stones Tanak says this talks about, Preying on the underprivileged.”
4 Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.
The Full Life Study Bible says, “Prices, Judges, Prophets, Priests. These were the four main categories of leadership in Judah. God condemned these spiritual leaders for failing to be holy and righteous… The officials and judges perverted the law and unjustly used their position to gain money and property for themselves… The prophets altered God’s message so as to gain popularity and the approval… The priests profaned the House of God by violating His precepts and living immoral lives… We must resist leaders who tolerate or promote worldliness and immorality in God’s name and replace them with leaders and laypeople who insist that God’s holy standards be followed. God’s standards must never be lowered to accommodate the sins of some leaders.”
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.
The Stones Tanak tells us, “The dishonest judges of Jerusalem are not ashamed to corrupt justice, despite God’s presence in its midst.”
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.
The Stones Tanak says, “Jerusalem’s Temple and all the other blessings God ordained for it.”
Vv. 1-7 Judah is once again addressed as one who play the part of the bleeding heart, but in reality did their share of persecution of their own people by perverting and twisting the Torah to their own ends. YHWH says HE had overthrown other nations for the same type of wickedness, so what makes them think they are exempt from such a fate; because they are His Chosen People?
Heb 12:6-11 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
He judges them in kind precisely because they are His Chosen People. These verses are a warning to repent. Even though Judah needs correction, YHWH has not forgotten the cruelty in which the nations pressed Judah.