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Zephaniah 1 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Zephaniah 1 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

2 I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.

(1:2-3) "I will consume man and beast."
God plans to kill every living thing.
This message is about the coming judgement: when Israel would be taken captive from out of their land, and the land destroyed by their enemies. This was not injustice, but just punishment.

3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.

4 I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests;

(1:4-6) God will "cut off" all those who "have not sought the Lord" or who worship another god. 
(1:4-5) "I will cut off ... them that worship the host of heaven."
Some Christians interpret this to be a condemnation of astrology.1
Does the Bible condemn astrology?
“Some Christians,” now, there's precision! ALL Christians should condemn astrology, it is clearly forbidden in the Bible. Anyone who does it, can call himself a Christian, but is not one according to Biblical principles.
Astronomy is different. Stars were created for navigation and to be able to distinguish between the seasons, Gen. 1:14.

5 And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham;

6 And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him.

7 Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.

"The day of the LORD is at hand."
Why does the author of the SAB scoff? The day was near as history tells us. John Gill:

the time of his vengeance on the Jewish nation for their sins, which he had fixed in his mind, and had given notice of by his prophets: this began to take place at Josiah's death, after which the Jews enjoyed little peace and prosperity; and his successor reigned but three months, was deposed by the king of Egypt, and carried thither captive, and there died; and Jehoiakim, that succeeded him, in the fourth year of his reign was carried captive into Babylon, or died by the way thither; so that this day might well be said to be at hand:

8 And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.

(1:8-9) God "will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel" or "leap on the threshold."
Are we punished for the sins of others?
What the Bible says about clothing and fashion
It seems the author of the SAB believes that the princes and the king's children have nothing to do with the perversions in Jerusalem. But the opposite is true. This prophecy happened in the days of Josiah (Zeph. 1:1), and his son Jehoahaz, when he became king, did evil, 2 Kg. 23:32. And so we can continue. Those clothed with strange apparel are either those who in their clothing showed they followed strange gods, or had clothing on they had stolen from others.

9 In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.

10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.

11 Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off.

12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.

"I will search Jerusalem with candles."
God doesn't have night-vision, so he needs candles when he comes to punish the people that say, "The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil."
This verse is not about using candles at night, but is a poetical description of seeking that which is obscured. As John Gill says:

and no doubt but this was literally true of the Chaldeans, who with candles might search vaults and cellars, and such like dark places, where they supposed goods and riches were concealed. The allusion may be to the searching with lamps for leaven on the fourteenth of Nisan, when the passover began, in every corner of a house, and, when they found it, burnt it; or in general to searching for anything which lies concealed in dark places, where the light of the sun comes not, and can only be discovered by the light of candles; and denotes that nothing should escape the sight and knowledge of God, by whom a full discovery would be made of their persons and sins, and cognizance taken of them in a vindictive way;

13 Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.

14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

"The great day of the LORD is near."
See verse 7.

15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.

17 And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.

(1:17-18) "Their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung."
God will "bring distress upon men" so that they "walk like blind men." He will pour out their blood like dust and "their flesh as dung."
The author of the SAB doesn't quote the reason: because they have sinned. Does the author of the SAB believe evil shouldn't be punished?

18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.