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©Michael Player

Chapter 2:12-15 (ESV)

Posted on June 01, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 2:12-15 (ESV) - You also, O Cushites,
    shall be slain by my sword.

And he will stretch out his hand against the north
    and destroy Assyria,
and he will make Nineveh a desolation,
    a dry waste like the desert.
Herds shall lie down in her midst,
    all kinds of beasts;
even the owl and the hedgehog
    shall lodge in her capitals;
a voice shall hoot in the window;
    devastation will be on the threshold;
    for her cedar work will be laid bare.
This is the exultant city
    that lived securely,
that said in her heart,
    “I am, and there is no one else.”
What a desolation she has become,
    a lair for wild beasts!
Everyone who passes by her
    hisses and shakes his fist.

Question to consider: Where else in scripture do we see the LORD’s judgment proclaimed against Nineveh?

In the LORD’s judgments against the nations surrounding Judah, the final two directions were South and North which were judgments against Cush and Assyria respectively. There wasn’t much to say about Cush. They would be slain by the LORD’s sword (Nebuchadnezzar) for being an ally of Egypt. We get more detail about this from Ezekiel 30:5-9, “Cush, and Put, and Lud, and all Arabia, and Libya, and the people of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword. ‘Thus says the LORD: Those who support Egypt shall fall, and her proud might shall come down; from Migdol to Syene they shall fall within her by the sword, declares the LORD God. And they shall be desolated in the midst of desolated countries, and their cities shall be in the midst of cities that are laid waste. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have set fire to Egypt, and all her helpers are broken. On that day messengers shall go out from me in ships to terrify the unsuspecting people of Cush, and anguish shall come upon them on the day of Egypt's doom; for, behold, it comes!’”

The final judgment against Assyria probably seemed the most incredulous to those who received these words from Zephaniah. After all, Assyria was a powerful nation that sacked the northern kingdom of Israel and had the fearsome city of Nineveh. Assyria in itself meant “level, straight, just”, and the name Nineveh meant something like “strong propagation of the seat of government.” They were a people who leveled nations and ruled over them, and yet the hand of the LORD would level them and make them desolate. What is sad is that three generations earlier, Nineveh had repented and turned to the LORD who relented from His judgment against them at the time of Jonah. This time there would be no such repentance and salvation. The description of animals making their home from the top of their capitals to the bottom of their streets illustrated the fact that there would be no humans left to keep the beasts from making Nineveh their lair.

Cedar-work was something that was carved and lined the inside of their buildings so the description of it being laid bare pointed to the devastation of their structures. I would imagine that this picture was about as shocking to Zephaniah as Jesus’ description of the Jerusalem temple having "not one stone on another" was to the disciples.

In our study of Ezekiel, we learned that these judgments against the nations that surrounded Judah were because they either aided in its destruction, took advantage of their weakened state, or simply allowed these things to occur without coming to their aid. For example, Tyre and Sidon on the seacoast were judged because they rejoiced that Judah would be eliminated as a middle-man to their trade routes allowing them to become more wealthy (see Ezekiel 26:1-14).


Dear heavenly Father, please give us a desire to repent like Nineveh at the time of Jonah and not at the time of their judgment after the destruction of Judah when they ignored Your warnings. Thank You for giving us a remedy for our sin in Christ that we may be made righteous by the work He has done on our behalf. Amen.