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Zephaniah 2:5-7

Context

2:5 Those who live by the sea, the people who came from Crete, 1  are as good as dead. 2 

The Lord has decreed your downfall, 3  Canaan, land of the Philistines:

“I will destroy everyone who lives there!” 4 

2:6 The seacoast 5  will be used as pasture lands 6  by the shepherds

and as pens for their flocks.

2:7 Those who are left from the kingdom of Judah 7  will take possession of it. 8 

By the sea 9  they 10  will graze,

in the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down in the evening,

for the Lord their God will intervene for them 11  and restore their prosperity. 12 

1 tn Heb “Kerethites,” a people settled alongside the Philistines in the coastal areas of southern Palestine (cf. 1 Sam 30:14; Ezek 25:16). They originally came from the island of Crete.

2 tn Heb “Woe, inhabitants of the coast of the sea, nation of Kerethites.” The Hebrew term הוֹי (hoy, “ah, woe”), is used to mourn the dead and express outwardly one’s sorrow (see 1 Kgs 13:30; Jer 22:18; 34:5). By using it here the prophet mourns in advance the downfall of the Philistines, thereby emphasizing the certainty of their demise (“as good as dead”). Some argue the word does not have its earlier connotation here and is simply an attention-getting interjection, equivalent to “Hey!”

3 tn Heb “the word of the Lord is against you.”

4 tn Heb “I will destroy you so there is no inhabitant [remaining].”

5 tn The NIV here supplies the phrase “where the Kerethites dwell” (“Kerethites” is translated in v. 5 as “the people who came from Crete”) as an interpretive gloss, but this phrase is not in the MT. The NAB likewise reads “the coastland of the Cretans,” supplying “Cretans” here.

6 tn The Hebrew phrase here is נְוֹת כְּרֹת (nÿvot kÿrot). The first word is probably a plural form of נָוָה (navah, “pasture”). The meaning of the second word is unclear. It may be a synonym of the preceding word (cf. NRSV “pastures, meadows for shepherds”); there is a word כַּר (kar, “pasture”) in biblical Hebrew, but elsewhere it forms its plural with a masculine ending. Some have suggested the meaning “wells” or “caves” used as shelters (cf. NEB “shepherds’ huts”); in this case, one might translate, “The seacoast will be used for pasturelands; for shepherds’ wells/caves.”

7 tn Heb “the remnant of the house of Judah.”

8 tn Or “the coast will belong to the remnant of the house of Judah.”

9 tc Heb “on them,” but the antecedent of the masculine pronoun is unclear. It may refer back to the “pasture lands,” though that noun is feminine. It is preferable to emend the text from עֲלֵיהֶם (’alehem) to עַל־הַיָּם (’al-hayyam, “by the sea”) an emendation that assumes a misdivision and transposition of letters in the MT (cf. NEB “They shall pasture their flocks by the sea”). See J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 192.

10 tn The referent of the pronominal subject (“they”) is unclear. It may refer (1) to the shepherds (in which case the first verb should be translated, “pasture their sheep,” cf. NEB), or (2) to the Judahites occupying the area, who are being compared to sheep (cf. NIV, “there they will find pasture”).

11 tn Or “will care for them.”

12 tn Traditionally, “restore their captivity,” i.e., bring back their captives, but it is more likely the expression means “restore their fortunes” in a more general sense (cf. NEB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).



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