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those who worship the army of heaven
on the housetops,
those who worship and swear by Yahweh
and also swear by their “king,” Bible other translations

“worship.” Or, “bowed down to.” The same Hebrew verb, shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is translated as both “bow down” and “worship;” traditionally “worship” if God is involved and “bow down” if people are involved, but the verb and action are the same, the act of bowing down is the worship. The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. [For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20].

“on the housetops.” The worship of the heavenly bodies was tied to the gods those heavenly bodies represented in the mind of the people (such as during the time of the Greeks the planet Mars representing the god Mars). The fact that these planets and stars were worshiped “on the housetops” shows that they were worshiped by families and friends, not only as some form of corporate worship done at a national level by idolatrous priests and pagan priests. Zephaniah’s words were not heeded, and so a half a generation or so later, in the time of Jeremiah, the practice was still going on (Jer. 19:13). In fact, although it seemed to have stopped after Jerusalem was destroyed, the women regretted stopping (Jer. 44:19). This worship of the heavenly bodies is parallel to the practice of astrology today, which is usually done on an individual level and involves the worship of the planets and stars. Although devotees of astrology would say they do not “worship” the stars, from a biblical perspective of looking to them for advice and guidance and giving one’s time to them, they are worshiping them and also disobeying Deuteronomy 4:9; 17:3; and 18:9-12.

“their ‘king’”. This is apparently a sarcastic referral to a god (perhaps Baal) that the people worshiped. Although the Hebrew text is debated and many versions prefer “Milcom” or “Moloch,” the meaning of the verse is not. The people of Israel were going through the motions of worshiping Yahweh but were also heavily involved in the worship of pagan gods. This kind of worship made a mockery of the first great commandment about not having any other gods.


Commentary for: Zephaniah 1:5