New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:14 near. The nearness of the day of the Lord must be understood in a relative sense. Even the precursive fulfillment of this prophecy by the Babylonian subjugation was still some fifty years in the future when Zephaniah wrote these words. The ultimate fulfillment in the end-times is actually the main focus here, with destructiveness and terror far worse even than the Babylonians imposed.
1:14 cry there bitterly. This assertion, “the mighty man shall cry there bitterly,” can (according to some Hebrew scholars) be modified by certain slight changes in the Hebrew text to read: “The mighty man is the Nazarene!” The despised village of Nazareth (John 1:46) was non-existent at the time of Zephaniah, so such a prophecy would have seemed meaningless to the people of his day; thus it is understandable that ancient copyists might have altered it slightly into its present form. If this supposition is correct, then the enigmatic statement of Matthew 2:23 “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” is clarified (but see note on Matthew 2:23).
1:15 day of wrath. This verse and those immediately following must relate primarily to the ultimate “day of the LORD” still in the future. Note also Joel 2:1-2,30-31; Amos 5:18-20; etc. The coming invasion of Nebuchadnezzar would be a terrible holocaust to those experiencing it, but the future “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) would be so severe that “none is like it,” except as a precursive type.