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Zephaniah 3:1-3

Context
Jerusalem is Corrupt

3:1 The filthy, 1  stained city is as good as dead;

the city filled with oppressors is finished! 2 

3:2 She is disobedient; 3 

she refuses correction. 4 

She does not trust the Lord;

she does not seek the advice of 5  her God.

3:3 Her princes 6  are as fierce as roaring lions; 7 

her rulers 8  are as hungry as wolves in the desert, 9 

who completely devour their prey by morning. 10 

1 tn The present translation assumes מֹרְאָה (morah) is derived from רֹאִי (roi,“excrement”; see Jastrow 1436 s.v. רֳאִי). The following participle, “stained,” supports this interpretation (cf. NEB “filthy and foul”; NRSV “soiled, defiled”). Another option is to derive the form from מָרָה (marah, “to rebel”); in this case the term should be translated “rebellious” (cf. NASB, NIV “rebellious and defiled”). This idea is supported by v. 2. For discussion of the two options, see HALOT 630 s.v. I מרא and J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 206.

2 tn Heb “Woe, soiled and stained one, oppressive city.” The verb “is finished” is supplied in the second line. On the Hebrew word הוֹי (hoy, “ah, woe”), see the note on the word “dead” in 2:5.

sn The following verses show that Jerusalem, personified as a woman (“she”), is the referent.

3 tn Heb “she does not hear a voice” Refusing to listen is equated with disobedience.

4 tn Heb “she does not receive correction.” The Hebrew phrase, when negated, refers elsewhere to rejecting verbal advice (Jer 17:23; 32:33; 35:13) and refusing to learn from experience (Jer 2:30; 5:3).

5 tn Heb “draw near to.” The present translation assumes that the expression “draw near to” refers to seeking God’s will (see 1 Sam 14:36).

6 tn Or “officials.”

7 tn Heb “her princes in her midst are roaring lions.” The metaphor has been translated as a simile (“as fierce as”) for clarity.

8 tn Traditionally “judges.”

9 tn Heb “her judges [are] wolves of the evening,” that is, wolves that prowl at night. The translation assumes an emendation to עֲרָבָה (’aravah, “desert”). For a discussion of this and other options, see Adele Berlin, Zephaniah (AB 25A), 128. The metaphor has been translated as a simile (“as hungry as”) for clarity.

10 tn Heb “they do not gnaw [a bone] at morning.” The precise meaning of the line is unclear. The statement may mean these wolves devour their prey so completely that not even a bone is left to gnaw by the time morning arrives. For a discussion of this and other options, see Adele Berlin, Zephaniah (AB 25A), 129.



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