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Zephaniah 1:7-18

Context

1:7 Be silent before the Lord God, 1 

for the Lord’s day of judgment 2  is almost here. 3 

The Lord has prepared a sacrificial meal; 4 

he has ritually purified 5  his guests.

1:8 “On the day of the Lord’s sacrificial meal,

I will punish the princes 6  and the king’s sons,

and all who wear foreign styles of clothing. 7 

1:9 On that day I will punish all who leap over the threshold, 8 

who fill the house of their master 9  with wealth taken by violence and deceit. 10 

1:10 On that day,” says the Lord,

“a loud cry will go up 11  from the Fish Gate, 12 

wailing from the city’s newer district, 13 

and a loud crash 14  from the hills.

1:11 Wail, you who live in the market district, 15 

for all the merchants 16  will disappear 17 

and those who count money 18  will be removed. 19 

1:12 At that time I will search through Jerusalem with lamps.

I will punish the people who are entrenched in their sin, 20 

those who think to themselves, 21 

‘The Lord neither rewards nor punishes.’ 22 

1:13 Their wealth will be stolen

and their houses ruined!

They will not live in the houses they have built,

nor will they drink the wine from the vineyards they have planted.

1:14 The Lord’s great day of judgment 23  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. 24 

1:15 That day will be a day of God’s anger, 25 

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 26  and battle cries. 27 

Judgment will fall on 28  the fortified cities and the high corner towers.

1:17 I will bring distress on the people 29 

and they will stumble 30  like blind men,

for they have sinned against the Lord.

Their blood will be poured out like dirt;

their flesh 31  will be scattered 32  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 33  will be consumed by his fiery wrath. 34 

Indeed, 35  he will bring terrifying destruction 36  on all who live on the earth.” 37 

Zephaniah 2:2-3

Context

2:2 before God’s decree becomes reality 38  and the day of opportunity disappears like windblown chaff, 39 

before the Lord’s raging anger 40  overtakes 41  you –

before the day of the Lord’s angry judgment overtakes you!

2:3 Seek the Lord’s favor, 42  all you humble people 43  of the land who have obeyed his commands! 44 

Strive to do what is right! 45  Strive to be humble! 46 

Maybe you will be protected 47  on the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.

1 tn Heb “Lord Lord.” The phrase אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה (adonai yÿhvih) is customarily rendered by Jewish tradition as “Lord God.”

2 tn Heb “the day of the Lord.”

sn The origin of the concept of “the day of the Lord” is uncertain. It may have originated in the ancient Near Eastern idea of the sovereign’s day of conquest, where a king would boast that he had concluded an entire military campaign in a single day (see D. Stuart, “The Sovereign’s Day of Conquest,” BASOR 221 [1976]: 159-64). In the OT the expression is applied to several acts of divine judgment, some historical and others still future (see A. J. Everson, “The Days of Yahweh,” JBL 93 [1974]: 329-37). In the OT the phrase first appears in Amos (assuming that Amos predates Joel and Obadiah), where it seems to refer to a belief on the part of the northern kingdom that God would intervene on Israel’s behalf and judge the nation’s enemies. Amos affirms that the Lord’s day of judgment is indeed approaching, but he declares that it will be a day of disaster, not deliverance, for Israel. Here in Zephaniah, the “day of the Lord” includes God’s coming judgment of Judah, as well as a more universal outpouring of divine anger.

3 tn Or “near.”

4 tn Heb “a sacrifice.” This same word also occurs in the following verse.

sn Because a sacrificial meal presupposes the slaughter of animals, it is used here as a metaphor of the bloody judgment to come.

5 tn Or “consecrated” (ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

6 tn Or “officials” (NRSV, TEV); NLT “leaders.”

7 sn The very dress of the royal court, foreign styles of clothing, revealed the degree to which Judah had assimilated foreign customs.

8 sn The point of the statement all who hop over the threshold is unclear. A ritual or superstition associated with the Philistine god Dagon may be in view (see 1 Sam 5:5).

9 tn The referent of “their master” is unclear. The king or a pagan god may be in view.

10 tn Heb “who fill…with violence and deceit.” The expression “violence and deceit” refers metonymically to the wealth taken by oppressive measures.

11 tn The words “will go up” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

12 sn The Fish Gate was located on Jerusalem’s north side (cf. 2 Chr 33:14; Neh 3:3; 12:39).

13 tn Heb “from the second area.” This may refer to an area northwest of the temple where the rich lived (see Adele Berlin, Zephaniah [AB 25A], 86; cf. NASB, NRSV “the Second Quarter”; NIV “the New Quarter”).

14 tn Heb “great breaking.”

15 tn Heb “in the Mortar.” The Hebrew term מַכְתֵּשׁ (makhtesh, “mortar”) is apparently here the name of a low-lying area where economic activity took place.

16 tn Or perhaps “Canaanites.” Cf. BDB 489 s.v. I and II כְּנַעֲנִי. Translators have rendered the term either as “the merchant people” (KJV, NKJV), “the traders” (NRSV), “merchants” (NEB, NIV), or, alternatively, “the people of Canaan” (NASB).

17 tn Or “be destroyed.”

18 tn Heb “weigh out silver.”

19 tn Heb “be cut off.” In the Hebrew text of v. 11b the perfect verbal forms emphasize the certainty of the judgment, speaking of it as if it were already accomplished.

20 tn Heb “who thicken on their sediment.” The imagery comes from wine making, where the wine, if allowed to remain on the sediment too long, will thicken into syrup. The image suggests that the people described here were complacent in their sinful behavior and interpreted the delay in judgment as divine apathy.

21 tn Heb “who say in their hearts.”

22 tn Heb “The Lord does not do good nor does he do evil.”

23 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.

24 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.

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

26 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”).

27 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).

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

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

30 tn Heb “walk.”

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

32 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.

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

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

35 tn Or “for.”

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

37 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).

38 tn Heb “before the giving birth of a decree.” For various alternative readings, see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 187-88.

39 tn The second half of the line reads literally, “like chaff it passes by a day.” The translation above assumes the “day” is the brief time God is giving the nation to repent. The comparison of this quickly passing opportunity to chaff is consistent with the straw imagery of v. 1.

40 tn Heb “the fury of the anger of the Lord.” The synonyms are combined to emphasize the extreme degree of the Lord’s anger.

41 tn Heb “comes upon.” This phrase occurs twice in this verse.

42 tn Heb “seek the Lord,” but “favor” seems to be implied from the final line of the verse.

43 tn Or “poor.” The precise referent of this Hebrew term is unclear. The word may refer to the economically poor or to the spiritually humble.

44 tn The present translation assumes the Hebrew term מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) here refers to God’s covenantal requirements and is a synonym for the Law. The word can mean “justice” and could refer more specifically to the principles of justice contained in the Law. In this case the phrase could be translated, “who have promoted the justice God demands.”

45 tn Heb “Seek what is right.”

46 tn Heb “Seek humility.”

47 tn Heb “hidden.” Cf. NEB “it may be that you will find shelter”; NRSV “perhaps you may be hidden.”



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