on Zephaniah 2 :12
Ye Ethiopians also - Nebuchadnezzar subdued these. See Jeremiah 46:2, Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 30:4, Ezekiel 30:10. See also on Amos 9:7 (note).
on Zephaniah 2 :12
Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by My sword - Literally, "Ye Ethiopians also, the slain of My sword are they." Having summoned them to His throne, God speaks of them, not to them anymore; perhaps in compassion, as elsewhere in indignation . The Ethiopians were not in any direct antagonism to God and His people, but allied only to their old oppressor, Egypt. They may have been in Pharaoh Necho's army, in resisting which, as a subject of Assyria, Josiah was slain: they are mentioned Jeremiah 46:9 in that army which Nebuchadnezzar smote at Carchemish in the 4th year of Jehoiakim. The prophecy of Ezekiel implies rather, that Ethiopia should be involved in the calamities of Egypt, than that it should be itself invaded. "Great terror shall be in Ethiopia, 'when the slain shall fall in Egypt' Ezekiel 30:4." "Ethiopia and Lybia and Lydia etc. and all the men of the land that is in league, shall fall 'with these,' by the sword" Ezekiel 30:5. "They also that 'uphold Egypt' shall fall" Ezekiel 30:6.
Syene, the frontier-fortress over against Ethiopia, is especially mentioned as the boundary also of the destruction. "Messengers" God says, "shall go forth from Me to make the careless Ethiopians afraid" Ezekiel 30:9, while the storm was bursting in its full desolating force upon Egypt. All the other cities, whose destruction is foretold, are cities of lower or upper Egypt .
But such a blow as that foretold by Jeremiah and Ezekiel must have fallen heavily upon the allies of Egypt. We have no details, for the Egyptians would not, and did not tell of the calamities and disgraces of their country. No one does. Josephus, however, briefly but distinctly says , that after Nebuchadnezzar had in the 23rd year of his reign, the 5th after the destruction of Jerusalem, "reduced into subjection Moab and Ammon, he invaded Egypt, with a view to subdue it," "killed its then king, and having set up another, captured for the second time the Jews in it and carried them to Babylon." The memory of the devastation by Nebuchadnezzar lived on apparently in Egypt, and is a recognized fact among the Muslim historians, who had no interest in the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, of which it does not appear that they even knew.
Bokht-nasar (Nebuchadnezzar), they say , "made war on the son of Nechas (Necho), slew him and ruined the city of Memphis" and many other cities of Egypt: he carried the inhabitants captive, without leaving one, so that Egypt remained waste forty years without one inhabitant." Another says , The refuge which the king of Egypt granted to the Jews who fled from Nebuchadnezzar brought this war upon it: for he took them under his protection and would not give them up to their enemy. Nebuchadnezzar, in revenge, marched against the king of Egypt and destroyed the country." "One may be certain," says a good authority , "that the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar was a tradition generally spread in Egypt and questioned by no one."
Ethiopia was then involved, as an ally, and as far as its contingent was concerned, in the war, in which Nebuchadnezzar desolated Egypt for those 40 years. But, although this fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel, Isaiah, some sixty years before Zephaniah, prophesied a direct conquest of Ethiopia. I "have given," God says, "Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee" Isaiah 43:3. It lay in God's purpose, that Cyrus should restore His own people, and that his ambition should find its vent and compensation in the lands beyond. It may be that, contrary to all known human policy, Cyrus restored the Jews to their own land, willing to bind them to himself, and to make them a frontier territory toward Egypt, not subject only but loyal to himself. This is quite consistent with the reason which he assigns; "The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem which is in Judah" Ezra 1:2-3; and with the statement of Josephus, that he was moved thereto by "reading the prophecy which Isaiah left, 210 years before."
It is, alas! nothing new to Christians to have mixed motives for their actions: the exception is to have a single motive, "for the glory of God." The advantage to himself would doubtless flash at once on the founder of a great empire, though it did not suggest the restoration of the Jews. Egypt and Assyria had always, on either side, wished to possess themselves of Palestine, which lay between them. Anyhow, one Persian monarch did restore the Jews; his successor possessed himself of "Egypt, and part, at least, of Ethiopia." Cyrus wished, it is related , "to war in person against Babylon, the Bactrians, the Sacae, and Egypt." He perished, as is known, before he had completed the third of his purposed conquests. Cambyses, although after the conquest of Egypt he planned ill his two more distant expeditions, reduced "the Ethiopians bordering upon Egypt" ( "lower Ethiopia and Nubia"), and these "brought gifts" permanently to the Persian Sovereign. Even in the time of Xerxes, the Ethiopians had to furnish their contingent of troops against the Greeks. Herodotus describes their dress and weapons, as they were reviewed at Doriscus . Cambyses, then, did not lose his hold over Ethiopia and Egypt, when forced by the rebellion of Pseudo-Smerdis to quit Egypt.
on Zephaniah 2 :12