Zephaniah 1 – Judgment Upon Jerusalem & Lost Cities of Europe: Introduction

Today we’re going to have an introduction to lost cities and then tomorrow we will start with the city of…

Zephaniah 1
Judgment Upon Jerusalem

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.

A reproduction of the prohibition inscription from the Temple court in Jerusalem. This inscription was placed in the wall surrounding the Temple in Jerusalem warning that any Gentile who passed the entry through the wall would be punished with death.

“Son of Hizkiah” – archaic spelling for King Hezekiah.  From Zephaniah’s pedigree, scholars suggest that he was in his early 20s when he began to prophesy.  He is more closely identified with the ruling class than was Isaiah, although Israel also moved regularly in court circles and was perhaps of noble birth.

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

3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks 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 – seems to indicate that Zephaniah’s main ministry took place before 621 B.C., since the practices condemned here were abolished In Josiah’s reforms (2 Kgs 23:4-16).  Perhaps Zephaniah’s message was partly instrumental in motivating King Josiah and the people to undertake the reforms.

Baal, God of Thunder
The storm god, Baal, was a West Semitic import to Egypt.

Late Bronze Age texts discovered at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) on the Levantine coast, from which his cult spread, indicate that by 1400 BC, Baal had displaced the god El to become the most important god in the local pantheon.

Judah is censured for its unrepentant participation in the gross idolatry of Baal worship.

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;

“Swear by the LORD…by Malcham” – syncretism (worship of one’s own god along with other gods).  Malcham was worshiped by the Ammonites, and his rituals sometimes involved child sacrifice.  Molech worship (Malcham and Molech were variant names referring to the same god) was forbidden to the Israelites (Lev 18:21, 20:1-5).

Despite this, Solomon set up an altar to Molech on the mount of Olives.  Manasseh established the rituals in the valley of Ben-hinnom (Chr 33:6; Jer 7:31, 32:35).

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.

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.

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 a howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills.

1:10-13 – Wailing throughout the city.

Merchants who had grown rich through corrupt business practices would be destroyed.

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

“Maktesh” – may have been an area in the Tyropoeon Valley, just south of Mount Moriah, where some foreign merchants lived.

Moloch, the ancient pagan God of child sacrifice.
Moloch was one of the false gods that Israel would worship during its periods of apostasy.

This false deity is associated with Ammon in 1 Kgs 11:7, “Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon.”

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.

“Search Jerusalem with candles” – the Babylonians later dragged people from houses, streets, sewers and tombs where they had hidden.

“The LORD will not do” – a typical depiction of arrogance of the wicked.

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.

The assets of those who have become wealthy through dishonesty will be exposed and plundered.

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.

1:14-18 – in a dramatic passage of great lyrical power, the Lord describes the destruction that will sweep the earth in the day of God’s wrath.

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,

Moloch In Iraq today.

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.

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.

“Neither…silver  nor…gold shall be able to deliver them” – in the day of God’s judgment, material wealth cannot buy deliverance from punishment, as the Catholic Church and non-believers think.

Lost Cities of Europe: Introduction

From Bronze Age Knossos to doomed Pompeii, only four cities are going to be discussed in this span 1,500 years of history. 

Palace of Minos
Restored North Entrance with charging bull fresco.
Knossos, Knossus, or Cnossus is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and is considered Europe’s oldest city.

Yet there is a clear connection and sense of continuity running through their stories, which chart the development of the Classical world in Europe from its earliest times to the threshold of its greatest empire.

Until the late 19th century it had been believed that European civilization started with the ancient Greeks in around 800 B.C., but Schliemann’s excavations at Mycenae, which appeared to reveal a High Bronze Age culture corresponding to the Achaeans of Homer, with their great king Agamemnon and their heroes such as Achilles and Ajax, pushed this date back to at least 1500 B.C.

Schliemann’s discoveries inspired the excavation of Knossos, which revealed an even older civilization – the Minoans: the first European civilization.

“Prince of lilies” or “Priest-king Relief”, plaster relief at the end of the Corridor of Processions, restored by Gilliéron, believed by Arthur Evans to be a priest-king, wearing a crown with peacock feathers and a necklace with lilies on it, leading an unseen animal to sacrifice.

A cultural thread runs from this early European civilization at Knossos through the Mycenaeans to the Greeks and eventually from them to the Romans, and this thread links all four cities together.

Akrotiri, on modern-day Santorini (but originally on a much larger island that was largely destroyed when the volcano of Thera erupted in a colossal explosion c 1625 B.C., was a town of the Cycladic culture with close ties to the dominant Minoan culture on Crete, but which also traded with Mycenae on mainland Greece.

Entremont, in southern France (then Gaul), was a settlement on the fringes of the Greco-Roman world, built by Celto-Ligurians, but inspired by and modelled on nearby Greek colonies, and later closely involved with the expanding empire of Rome.

Pompeii was a thriving city of late Republican Rome (although originally Latin rather than Roman) and at one time may well have been the base for merchants and artisans who traded with Entremont.

Through the stories of these four cities we can follow the development and spread of European civilization.

…Akrotiri.