Torat Imecha is dedicated by Mrs. Nechama Wolfson in memory of her grandmother, Riva Schwab, Rivka bat Alexander Sender. Visit the OU Women's Initiative to register for additional content!
Through Zephaniah, G-d tells the people to assess their deeds, calling them a people that has not heretofore been interested in doing His will. They should do this before His decree is fulfilled and they are swept away by G-d's anger like chaff or smoke. The humble and G-d-fearing are encouraged to seek Him; perhaps they can mitigate His judgment and merit exile for themselves, rather than destruction.
Various cities, including Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod, will be desolate. The sea shore will become a passing place for shepherds and their flocks. The sheep will graze where people used to live. Ultimately, though, G-d will return the people from their exile.
G-d heard the people of Amon and Moav cheering as the Jews were led into captivity, so He will make their end like that of Sodom and Gemorrah. (Remember that the ancestors of Amon and Moav were born of Lot's daughters in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom - see Genesis chapter 19.) The survivors of Israel will inherit what is left from Amon and Moav as a punishment for the arrogance of those nations when Israel was down.
The awe of G-d will ultimately come over all nations and their idols will be destroyed. The Jews exiled to Cush (Ethiopia) will return. (Could this refer to the Ethiopian Jews who returned in recent years, in Operations Moses, Joshua and Solomon?) Assyria, where the majority of the Tribes were exiled, will be dismantled; their land will be taken over by animals and birds. Pelicans and owls will perch in their decorative lumber. Nineveh, capital of Assyria, once so proud and complacent, is destroyed. This will amaze passersby.
Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz