on Zephaniah 1 :8
I will punish the princes, and the king's children - After the death of Josiah the kingdom of Judah saw no prosperity, and every reign terminated miserably; until at last King Zedekiah and the king's children were cruelly massacred at Riblah, when Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem.
Strange apparel - I really think this refers more to their embracing idolatrous customs and heathen usages, than to their changing their dress. They acquired new habits, as we would say; customs, that they used as they did their clothing - at all times, and in every thing.
on Zephaniah 1 :8
I will punish - (Literally, visit upon). God seems oftentimes to be away from His own world. People plot, design, say, in word or in deed, "who is Lord over us?" God is, as it were, a stranger in it, or as a man, who hath "taken a journey into afar country." God uses our own language to us. "I will visit," inspecting (so to say), examining, sifting, reviewing, and when man's sins require it, allowing the weight of His displeasure to fall upon them.
The princes - The prophet again, in vivid detail (as his characteristic is), sets forth together sin and punishment. Amid the general chastisement of all, when all should become one sacrifice, they who sinned most should be punished most. The evil priests had received their doom. Here he begins anew with the mighty of the people and so goes down, first to special spots of the city, then to the whole, man by man. Josiah being a godly king, no mention is made of him. Thirteen years before his death, he received the promise of God, "because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord - I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered unto thy grave in peace, and thou shalt not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place" 2 Kings 22:19-20. In remarkable contrast to Jeremiah, who had to be, in detail and continual pleading with his people, a prophet of judgment to come, until these judgments broke upon them, and so was the reprover of the evil sovereigns who succeeded Josiah, Zephaniah has to pronounce God's judgments only on the "princes" and "the king's children."
Jeremiah, in his inaugural vision, was forewarned, that "the kings Judah, its princes, priests, and the people of the land" Jeremiah 1:18 should war against him, because he should speak unto them all which God should command him. And thenceforth, Jeremiah impleads or threatens kings and the princes together Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 4:9; Jeremiah 8:1; Jeremiah 24:8; Jeremiah 32:37; Jeremiah 34:21. Zephaniah contrariwise, his office lying wholly within the reign of Josiah, describes the princes again as "roaring lions" Zephaniah 3:3, but says nothing of the king, as neither does Micah M1 Corinthians 3:1, Micah 3:9, in the reign, it may be, of Jotham or Hezekiah. Isaiah speaks of princes, as "rebellious and companions of thieves" Isaiah 1:23. Jeremiah speaks of them as idolaters Jeremiah 31:32-34; Jeremiah 44:21. They appear to have had considerable influence, which on one occasion they employed in defense of Jeremiah Jer 26:16, but mostly for evil Jeremiah 37:15; Jeremiah 38:4, Jeremiah 38:16. Zedekiah inquired of Jeremiah secretly for fear of them Jeremiah 37:17; Jeremiah 38:14-27. They brought destruction upon themselves by what men praise, their resistance to Nebuchadnezzar, but against the declared mind of God. Nebuchadnezzar unwittingly fulfilled the prophets' word, when he "slew all the nobles of Judah, the eunuch who was over the war, and seven men of them that were near the king's person, and the principal scribe of the host" Jeremiah 39:6; Jeremiah 52:25-27.
And the king's children - Holy Scripture mentions chief persons only by name. Isaiah had prophesied the isolated lonely loveless lot of descendants of Hezekiah who should be "eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon" Isaiah 39:7, associated only with those intriguing pests of Eastern courts, a lot in itself worse than the sword (although to Daniel God overruled it to good) and Zedekiah's sons were slain before his eyes and his race extinct. Jehoiakim died a disgraced death, and Jehoiachin was imprisoned more than half the life of man.
And all such as are clothed with strange apparel - Israel was reminded by its dress, that it belonged to God. It was no great thing in itself; "a band of dark blue Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12 upon the fringes at the four corners of their garments." But "the band of dark blue" was upon the high priest's mitre, with the plate engraved, "Holiness to the Lord" Exodus 28:36, fastened upon it; "with a band of dark blue" also was the breastplate Exodus 39:21 bound to the ephod of the high priest. So then, simple as it was, it seems to have designated the whole nation, as "a kingdom of priests, an holy nation" Exodus 19:6. It was appointed to them, "that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring; that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God" Numbers 15:39-40. They might say, "it is but "a band of blue;"" but the "band of blue" was the soldier's badge, which marked them as devoted to the service of their God; indifference to or shame of it involved indifference to or shame of the charge given them therewith, and to their calling as a peculiar people. The choice of the strange apparel involved the choice to be as the nations of the world; "we will be as the pagan, as the families of the countries" Ezekiel 20:33.
All luxurious times copy foreign dress, and with it, foreign manners and luxuries; from where even the pagan Romans were zealous against its use. It is very probable that with the foreign dress foreign idolatry was imported . The Babylonian dress was very gorgeous, such as was the admiration of the simpler Jews. "Her captains and rulers clothed in perfection, girded with girdles upon their loins, with flowing dyed attire upon their heads" Ezekiel 23:12, Ezekiel 23:15. Ezekiel had to frame words to express the Hebrew idea of their beauty. Jehoiakim is reproved among other things for his luxury Jeremiah 22:14-15. Outward dress always betokens the inward mind, and in its turn acts upon it. An estranged dress betokened an estranged heart, from where it is used as an image of the whole spiritual mind Romans 13:14; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 4:24. Jerome: "The garment of the sons of the king and the apparel of princes which we receive in Baptism, is Christ, according to that, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ," and "Put ye on bowels of mercy, goodness, humililty, patience," and the rest. Wherein, we are commanded to be clothed with the new man from heaven according to our Creator, and to "lay aside" the clothing of "the old man with his deeds" Ephesians 4:22. Whereas, then we ought to be clothed in such raiment, for mercy we put on cruelty, for patience, impatience, for righteousness, iniquity; in a word, for virtues, vices, for Christ, antichrist. Whence it is said of such an one, "He is clothed with cursing as with a garment" Psalm 109:17. These the Lord will visit most manifestly at His Coming." Rup.: "Thinkest thou that hypocrisy is "strange apparel?" Of a truth. For what stranger apparel than sheeps' clothing to ravening wolves? What stranger than for him who "within is full of iniquity, to appear outwardly righteous before men?" Matthew 23:28.
on Zephaniah 1 :8
1:8 The princes - The great ones, who dreamed of shifting better than others, but fell with the first, 2Kings 25:19 - 21. Children - Sons and grand - children, Josiah: Jehoahaz died a captive in Egypt, 2Kings 23:34, Jehoakim died in Babylon, and was buried with the burial of an ass, Jer 22:18,19, Jeconiah died a captive: and Zedekiah and his children, fared still worse. Strange apparel - The garb of foreigners, imitated by the wanton Jews.