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Zephaniah 1:14-18

Context

1:14 The Lord’s great day of judgment 1  is almost here;

it is approaching very rapidly!

There will be a bitter sound on the Lord’s day of judgment;

at that time warriors will cry out in battle. 2 

1:15 That day will be a day of God’s anger, 3 

a day of distress and hardship,

a day of devastation and ruin,

a day of darkness and gloom,

a day of clouds and dark skies,

1:16 a day of trumpet blasts 4  and battle cries. 5 

Judgment will fall on 6  the fortified cities and the high corner towers.

1:17 I will bring distress on the people 7 

and they will stumble 8  like blind men,

for they have sinned against the Lord.

Their blood will be poured out like dirt;

their flesh 9  will be scattered 10  like manure.

1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them

in the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.

The whole earth 11  will be consumed by his fiery wrath. 12 

Indeed, 13  he will bring terrifying destruction 14  on all who live on the earth.” 15 

1 tn Heb “The great day of the Lord.” The words “of judgment” are supplied in the translation here and later in this verse for clarity. See the note on the expression “day of judgment” in v. 7.

2 tn Heb “the sound of the day of the Lord, bitter [is] one crying out there, a warrior.” The present translation does four things: (1) It takes מַר (mar, “bitter”) with what precedes (contrary to the accentuation of the MT). (2) It understands the participle צָרַח (tsarakh, “cry out in battle”) as verbal with “warrior” as its subject. (3) It takes שָׁם (sham, “there”) in a temporal sense, meaning “then, at that time.” (4) It understands “warrior” as collective.

3 tn Heb “a day of wrath.” The word “God’s” is supplied in the translation for clarification.

4 tn Heb “a ram’s horn.” By metonymy the Hebrew text mentions the trumpet (“ram’s horn”) in place of the sound it produces (“trumpet blasts”).

5 sn This description of the day of the Lord consists of an initial reference to anger, followed by four pairs of synonyms. The joining of synonyms in this way emphasizes the degree of the characteristic being described. The first two pairs focus on the distress and ruin that judgment will bring; the second two pairs picture this day of judgment as being very dark (darkness) and exceedingly overcast (gloom). The description concludes with the pairing of two familiar battle sounds, the blast on the ram’s horn (trumpet blasts) and the war cries of the warriors (battle cries).

6 tn Heb “against.” The words “judgment will fall” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

7 tn “The people” refers to mankind in general (see vv. 2-3) or more specifically to the residents of Judah (see vv. 4-13).

8 tn Heb “walk.”

9 tn Some take the referent of “flesh” to be more specific here; cf. NEB (“bowels”), NAB (“brains”), NIV (“entrails”).

10 tn The words “will be scattered” are supplied in the translation for clarity based on the parallelism with “will be poured out” in the previous line.

11 tn Or “land” (cf. NEB). This same word also occurs at the end of the present verse.

12 tn Or “passion”; traditionally, “jealousy.”

13 tn Or “for.”

14 tn Heb “complete destruction, even terror, he will make.”

15 tn It is not certain where the Lord’s words end and the prophet’s words begin. It is possible that Zephaniah begins speaking in the middle of v. 17 or at the beginning of v. 18 (note the third person pronouns referring to the Lord).



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