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Zephaniah 3:1-5

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 

3:4 Her prophets are proud; 11 

they are deceitful men.

Her priests defile what is holy; 12 

they break God’s laws. 13 

3:5 The just Lord resides 14  within her;

he commits no unjust acts. 15 

Every morning he reveals 16  his justice.

At dawn he appears without fail. 17 

Yet the unjust know no shame.

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.

11 sn Applied to prophets, the word פֹּחֲזִים (pokhazim, “proud”) probably refers to their audacity in passing off their own words as genuine prophecies from the Lord (see Jer 23:32).

12 tn Or “defile the temple.”

sn These priests defile what is holy by not observing the proper distinctions between what is ritually clean and unclean (see Ezek 22:26).

13 tn Heb “they treat violently [the] law.”

14 tn The word “resides” is supplied for clarification.

15 tn Or “he does no injustice.”

16 tn Heb “gives”; or “dispenses.”

17 tn Heb “at the light he is not missing.” Note that NASB (which capitalizes pronouns referring to Deity) has divided the lines differently: “Every morning He brings His justice to light; // He does not fail.”



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