Against the Philistine cities (Zeph 2:4-2:4)

“Gaza shall be deserted.

Ashkelon shall become

A desolation.

Ashdod’s people

Shall be driven out

At noon.

Ekron shall be uprooted.”

Like the other prophets, Zephaniah rallied against the neighboring countries of Israel.  He started with the Philistine cities along the Mediterranean coast.  Although there were 5 major cities, Zephaniah did not mention Gath that was probably destroyed in the 8th century BCE.  Here there is a mention of 4 Philistine cities from south to north, the coastal towns of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron, the farthest north and a little inland.  Gaza would be deserted, while Ashkelon would become desolate.  Ashdod had its people driven out at noon.  Nevertheless, all 3 cities still exist today.  Ekron was simply uprooted, something that actually took place around 604 BCE under the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II.

The breaking of the peace (Mic 2:8-2:10)“But you rise Against my people As an enemy. You strip the robe From the peaceful, From those who pass by Trustingly, With no thought of war. You drive out The women Of my people From their pleasant houses. You take away From their young children My glory forever. Arise! Go! This is no place To rest. Because uncleanness Destroys With a grievous destruction.” Micah pointed out that this was no longer a time of peace. The people of Israel had treated their own people, the people of Yahweh in Israel, like they were an enemy. They had taken their clothes, including the robes of the peaceful and trusting ones, as if there was a war. They had driven out the young women from their pleasant homes. They had taken away the glory of Yahweh from the young children. Israel was no longer a restful place anymore, because uncleanliness had brought great destruction to this place.

“But you rise

Against my people

As an enemy.

You strip the robe

From the peaceful,

From those who pass by

Trustingly,

With no thought of war.

You drive out

The women

Of my people

From their pleasant houses.

You take away

From their young children

My glory forever.

Arise!

Go!

This is no place

To rest.

Because uncleanness

Destroys

With a grievous destruction.”

Micah pointed out that this was no longer a time of peace.  The people of Israel had treated their own people, the people of Yahweh in Israel, like they were an enemy.  They had taken their clothes, including the robes of the peaceful and trusting ones, as if there was a war.  They had driven out the young women from their pleasant homes.  They had taken away the glory of Yahweh from the young children.  Israel was no longer a restful place anymore, because uncleanliness had brought great destruction to this place.

The king will lose his kingdom (Dan 4:31-4:32)

“While the words

Were still

In the king’s mouth,

A voice

Came from heaven.

‘O King Nebuchadnezzar!

To you

It is declared!

The kingdom has departed

From you!

You shall be driven away

From human society!

Your dwelling

Shall be with

The animals

Of the field!

You shall be made

To eat grass

Like oxen!

Seven times,

It shall pass

Over you,

Until you have learned

That the Most High

Has sovereignty

Over the kingdoms

Of mortals!

He gives it

To whom he will.’”

While the prideful words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice from heaven told the king that he had lost his kingdom. His punishment was coming. He was going to be driven out from human society. He would live among the wild animals and eat grass like oxen. However, it would pass over him 7 times, until he realized that the Most High God ruled all the human kingdoms. Thus, God was able to give his kingdoms to whomever he wanted.

God helps the righteous (Ps 68:1-68:3)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David, a song

“Let God rise up!

Let his enemies be scattered!

Let those who hate him

Flee before him!

As smoke is driven away,

So drive them away!

As wax melts before fire,

Let the wicked perish before God!

But let the righteous be joyful!

Let them exult before God!

Let them be jubilant with joy!”

Psalm 68 is a long liturgical choral psalm and song of David at the Temple. It portrays the various stages in the history of Israel where God has helped them, but it is a little disjointed in its long ramblings. This psalm begins by asking God to rise up and scatter his enemies, especially those who hate him. The wicked should flee, just like smoke that is blown away. They should be driven out like wax that melts in front of a fire. The wicked should die, but the righteous should be joyful before God.