Once again, there is a diatribe against the Philistine cities on the Mediterranean coast. Only 3 of the 5 cities are mentioned here. Ashkelon and Gaza would be afraid. Ekron would have its hope crushed. There would no longer be a king in Gaza. No one would live in Ashkelon. Only a mongrel or mixed race would live in Ashdod. The pride of the Philistines would be crushed. Yahweh was going to end their unclean practices of eating their meat with blood in their mouths, since they would follow the Israelite dietary laws. These Philistines would become a small remnant just like Judah had become. Ekron would become like the decimated Canaanite Jebusites, who had formerly inhabited Jerusalem, before the time of David.
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.
This short chapter and book ends and a new larger Israel, as their long standing enemy neighbors will no longer exist. Israel shall rule them. The area of the Negeb was the arid southern land that would change from the land of Edom or Mount Esau into Israel. Israel was going to possess the Shephelah, the western area along the Mediterranean coast where the Philistines lived. They were also going to have the land of Samaria and the territory of Ephraim, north of Judah. The territory of Benjamin would include land on the east side of the Jordan River, the Gilead. The exiled Israelites in Halah in the upper Mesopotamia region and those in the Phoenician town of Zarephath, as well as the exiles in Asia Minor in Shephard would all return to live in the arid southern Negeb region. All the saved Israelites would return to Mount Zion, as Mount Esau and all of Edom would go away and be under the Israelites.
The Philistines had 5 major cities along the Mediterranean coast, west of Judah. The only city not mentioned here was Gath that had been wiped out by the Syrian King Hazael. Otherwise, Yahweh was going to punish the other 4 cities. Gaza was cited as the worst, since the numbering iniquities were about 3 and 4 things, just like the numerical Proverbs, chapter 30. Yahweh was not going to revoke his punishment against them. They were involved in the slave trade with Edom that sent whole communities into exile. Although fire would come to Gaza, Yahweh reminded them that Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron would also suffer. All the remaining Philistines would perish or die. This was clearly an oracle of Yahweh.