on Zephaniah 2 :8
I have heard the reproach of Moab - God punished them for the cruel part they had taken in the persecutions of the Jews; for when they lay under the displeasure of God, these nations insulted them in the most provoking manner. See on Amos 1:13 (note), and Genesis 19:25 (note); Deuteronomy 29:23 (note); Isaiah 13:19 (note); Isaiah 34:13 (note); Jeremiah 49:18 (note); Jeremiah 50:40 (note).
on Zephaniah 2 :8
I-- Dionysius: "God, Who know all things, "I heard" that is, have known within Me, in My mind, not anew but from eternity, and now I shew in effect that I know it; wherefore I say that I hear, because I act after the manner of one who perceiveth something anew." I, the just Judge, heard (see Isaiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:39; Ezekiel 35:12-13). He was present and "heard," even when, because He avenged not, He seemed not to hear, but laid it up in store with Him to avenge in the due time Deuteronomy 32:34-35.
The reproach of Moab and the reviling of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached My people - Both words, "reproached, reviled," mean, primarily, cutting speeches; both are intensive, and are used of blaspheming God as unable to help His people, or reviling His people as forsaken by Him. If directed against man, they are directed against God through man. So David interpreted the taunt of Goliah, "reviled the armies of the living God" (1 Samuel 17:26, 1 Samuel 17:36, 1 Samuel 17:45, coll. 10. 25), and the Philistine cursed David "by his gods" 1 Samuel 17:43. In a Psalm David complains, "the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon me" (Psalm 69:10 (9)); and a Psalm which cannot be later than David, since it declares the national innocency from idolatry, connects with their defeats, the voice of him "that reproacheth and blasphemeth" (Psalm 44:16 (17), joining the two words used here). The sons of Corah say, "with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me, while they say daily unto me, where is thy God?" Psalm 42:10. So Asaph, "The enemy hath reproached, the foolish people hath blasphemed Thy Name" Psalm 74:10, Psalm 74:18; and, "we are become a reproach to our neighbors. Wherefore should the pagan say, where is their God? render unto our neighbors - the reproach wherewith they have reproached Thee, O Lord" Psalm 79:4, Psalm 79:10, Psalm 79:12. And Ethan, "Remember, Lord, the reproach of Thy servants - wherewith Thine enemies have reproached, O Lord, wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of Thine Anointed" Psalm 89:50-51.
In history the repeated blasphemies of Sennacherib and his messengers are expressed by the same words. In earlier times the remarkable concession of Jephthah, "Wilt not thou possess what Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? so whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out before us, them will we possess" Judges 11:24, implies that the Ammonites claimed their land as the gift of their god Chemosh, and that that war was, as that later by Sennacherib, waged in the name of the false god against the True.
The relations of Israel to Moab and Ammon have been so habitually misrepresented, that a review of those relations throughout their whole history may correct some wrong impressions. The first relations of Israel toward them were even tender. God reminded His people of their common relationship and forbade him even to take the straight road to his own future possessions, across their hand against their will. "Distress them not, nor contend with them," it is said of each, "for I will not give thee of their land for a possession, for I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession" Deuteronomy 2:9, Deuteronomy 2:19. Idolaters and hostile as they were, yet, for their father's sake, their title to their land had the same sacred sanction, as Israel's to his. "I," God says, "have given it to them as a possession." Israel, to their own manifest inconvenience, "went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, but came not within the border of Moab" Judges 11:18. By destroying Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Bashan, Israel removed formidable enemies, who had driven Moab and Ammon out of a portion of the land which they had conquered from the Zamzummim and Anakim Deuteronomy 2:10, Deuteronomy 2:20-21, and who threatened the remainder, "Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites" Numbers 21:25, Numbers 21:31.
Heshbon, Dibon, Jahaz, Medeba, Nophah "were cities in the land of the Amorites, in" which "Israel dwelt." The exclusion of Moab and Ammon from the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation Deuteronomy 23:3 was not, of course, from any national antipathy, but intended to prevent a debasing intercourse; a necessary precaution against the sensuousness of their idolatries. Moab was the first in adopting the satanic policy of Balaam, to seduce Israel by sensuality to their idolatries; but the punishment was appointed to the partners of their guilt, the Midianites Numbers 25:17; 31, not to Moab. Yet Moab was the second nation, whose ambition God overruled to chasten His people's idolatries. Eglon, king of Moab, united with himself Ammon and Amalek against Israel. The object of the invasion was, not the recovery of the country which Moab had lost to the Amorites but, Palestine proper.
The strength of Moab was apparently not sufficient to occupy the territory of Reuben. They took possession only of "the city of palm trees" Judges 3:13; either the ruins of Jericho or a spot close by it; with the view apparently of receiving reinforcements or of securing their own retreat by the ford. This garrison enabled them to carry their forays over Israel, and to hold it enslaved for 18 years. The oppressiveness of this slavery is implied by the cry and conversion of Israel to the Lord, which was always in great distress. The memory of Eglon, as one of the oppressors of Israel, lived in the minds of the people in the days of Samuel 1 Samuel 12:9. In the end, this precaution of Moab turned to its own destruction, for, after Eglon was slain, Ephraim, under Ehud, took the fords, and the whole garrison, 10,000 of Moab's warriors, "every strong man and every man of might" Judges 3:29, were intercepted in their retreat and perished. For a long time after this, we hear of no fresh invasion by Moab. The trans-Jordanic tribes remained in unquestioned possession of their land for 300 years Judges 40:26, when Ammon, not Moab, raised the claim, "Israel took away my land" Judges 11:13, although claiming the land down to the Arnon, and already being in possession of the southernmost portion of that land, Aroer, since Israel smote him "from Aroer unto Minnith" Judges 11:33. The land then, according to a law recognized by nations, belonged by a twofold right to Israel;
(1) that it had been won, not from Moab, but from the conquerors of Moab, the right of Moab having passed to its conquerors ;
(2) that undisputed and unbroken possession "for time immemorial" as we say, 300 years, ought not to be disputed .
The defeat by Jephthah stilled them for near 50 years until the beginning of Saul's reign, when they refused the offer of the "men of Jubesh-Gilead" to serve them, and, with a mixture of insolence and savagery, annexed as a condition of accepting that entire submission, "that I may thrust out all your right eyes, to lay it as a reproach to Israel" 1 Samuel 11:1-2. The signal victory of Saul 1 Samuel 11:11 still did not prevent Ammon, as well as Moab, from being among the enemies whom Saul "worsted" . The term "enemies" implies that "they" were the assailants. The history of Naomi shows their prosperous condition, that the famine, which desolated Judah Ruth 1:1, did not reach them, and that they were a prosperous land, at peace, at that time, with Israel. If all the links of the genealogy are preserved Ruth 4:21-22, Jesse, David's father, was grandson of a Moabitess, Ruth, and perhaps on this ground David entrusted his parents to the care of the king of Moab 1 Samuel 22:3-4.
Sacred history gives no hint, what was the cause of his terrible execution upon Moab. But a Psalm of David speaks to God of some blow, under which Israel had reeled. "O God, Thou hast abhorred us, and broken us in pieces; Thou hast been wroth: Thou hast made the land to tremble and cloven it asunder; heal its breaches, for it shaketh; Thou hast showed Thy people a hard thing, Thou hast made it drink wine of reeling" Psalm 60:3-5; and thereon David expresses his confidence that God would humble Moab, Edom, Philistia. While David then was engaged in the war with the Syrians of Mesopotamia and Zobah (Psalm 60:1-12 title), Moab must have combined with Edom in an aggressive war against Israel. "The valley of salt" , where Joab returned and defeated them, was probably within Judah, since "the city of salt" Joshua 15:62 was one of the six cities of the wilderness. Since they had defeated Judah, they must have been overtaken there on their return .
Yet this too was a religious war. "'Thou,'" David says "hast given a 'banner to them that fear Thee,' to be raised aloft because of the truth" Psalm 60:4.
There is no tradition, that the kindred Psalm of the sons of Corah, Psalm 44 belongs to the same time. Yet the protestations to God of the entire absence of idolatry could not have been made at any time later than the early years of Solomon. Even were there Maccabee Psalms, the Maccabees were but a handful among apostates. They could not have pleaded the national freedom from unfaithfulness to God, nor, except in two subordinate and self-willed expeditions (1 Macc. 5:56-60, 67), were they defeated. Under the Persian rule, there were no armies nor wars; no immunity from idolatry in the later history of Judah. Judah did not in Hezekiah's time go out against Assyria; the one battle, in which Josiah was slain, ended the resistance to Egypt. Defeat was, at the date of this Psalm, new and surprising, in contrast with God's deliverances of old Psalm 44:1-3; yet the inroad, by which they had suffered, was one of spoiling Psalm 44:10, Psalm 44:12, not of subdual. Yet this too was a religious war, from their neighbors. They were slain for the sake of God Psalm 44:22, they were covered with shame on account of the reproaches and blasphemies Psalm 44:13-14 of those who triumphed over God, as powerless to help; they were a scorn and derision to the petty nations around them. It is a Psalm of unshaken faith amid great prostration: it describes in detail what the lxth Psalm sums up in single heavy words of imagery; but both alike complain to God of what His people had to suffer for His sake.
The insolence of Ammon in answer to David's message of kindness to their new king, like that to the men of Jabesh Gilead, seems like a deliberate purpose to create hostilities. The relations of the previous king of Ammon to David, had been kind 2 Samuel 10:2-3, perhaps, because David being a fugitive from Israel, they supposed him to be Saul's enemy. The enmity originated, not with the new king, but with "the princes of the children of Ammon" 2 Samuel 10:3. David's treatment of these nations 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 12:31 is so unlike his treatment of any others whom he defeated, that it implies an internecine warfare, in which the safety of Israel could only be secured by the destruction of its assailants.
Mesha king of Moab records one war, and alludes to others, not mentioned in Holy Scripture. He says, that before his own time, "Omri, king of Israel, afflicted Moab many days;" that "his son (Ahab) succeeded him, and he too said, 'I will afflict Moab.'" This affliction he explains to be that "Omri possessed himself of the land of Medeba" (expelling, it is implied, its former occupiers) "and that" (apparently, Israel) , "dwelt therein," "(in his days and in) the days of his son forty years." He was also in possession of Nebo, and "the king of Israel" (apparently Omri,) "buil(t) Jahaz and dwelt in it, when he made war with me" . Jahaz was near Dibon. In the time of Eusebius, it was still "pointed out between Dibon and Medeba" .
on Zephaniah 2 :8
2:8 I - God. Magnified themselves - Invading their frontiers.