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Zephaniah 3:6-20

Context
The Lord’s Judgment will Purify

3:6 “I destroyed 1  nations;

their walled cities 2  are in ruins.

I turned their streets into ruins;

no one passes through them.

Their cities are desolate; 3 

no one lives there. 4 

3:7 I thought, 5  ‘Certainly you will respect 6  me!

Now you will accept correction!’

If she had done so, her home 7  would not be destroyed 8 

by all the punishments I have threatened. 9 

But they eagerly sinned

in everything they did. 10 

3:8 Therefore you must wait patiently 11  for me,” says the Lord,

“for the day when I attack and take plunder. 12 

I have decided 13  to gather nations together

and assemble kingdoms,

so I can pour out my fury on them –

all my raging anger.

For 14  the whole earth will be consumed

by my fiery anger.

3:9 Know for sure that I will then enable

the nations to give me acceptable praise. 15 

All of them will invoke the Lord’s name when they pray, 16 

and will worship him in unison. 17 

3:10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, 18 

those who pray to me 19  will bring me tribute.

3:11 In that day you 20  will not be ashamed of all your rebelliousness against me, 21 

for then I will remove from your midst those who proudly boast, 22 

and you will never again be arrogant on my holy hill.

3:12 I will leave in your midst a humble and meek group of people, 23 

and they will find safety in the Lord’s presence. 24 

3:13 The Israelites who remain 25  will not act deceitfully.

They will not lie,

and a deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouth.

Indeed, they will graze peacefully like sheep 26  and lie down;

no one will terrify them.”

3:14 Shout for joy, Daughter Zion! 27 

Shout out, Israel!

Be happy and boast with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!

3:15 The Lord has removed the judgment against you; 28 

he has turned back your enemy.

Israel’s king, the Lord, is in your midst!

You no longer need to fear disaster.

3:16 On that day they will say 29  to Jerusalem,

“Don’t be afraid, Zion!

Your hands must not be paralyzed from panic! 30 

3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst;

he is a warrior who can deliver.

He takes great delight in you; 31 

he renews you by his love; 32 

he shouts for joy over you.” 33 

3:18 “As for those who grieve because they cannot attend the festivals –

I took them away from you;

they became tribute and were a source of shame to you. 34 

3:19 Look, at that time I will deal with those who mistreated you.

I will rescue the lame sheep 35 

and gather together the scattered sheep.

I will take away their humiliation

and make the whole earth admire and respect them. 36 

3:20 At that time I will lead you –

at the time I gather you together. 37 

Be sure of this! 38  I will make all the nations of the earth respect and admire you 39 

when you see me restore you,” 40  says the Lord.

1 tn Heb “cut off.”

2 tn Heb “corner towers”; NEB, NRSV “battlements.”

3 tn This Hebrew verb (צָדָה, tsadah) occurs only here in the OT, but its meaning is established from the context and from an Aramaic cognate.

4 tn Heb “so that there is no man, without inhabitant.”

5 tn Heb “said.”

6 tn Or “fear.” The second person verb form (“you will respect”) is feminine singular, indicating that personified Jerusalem is addressed.

sn God’s judgment of the nations (v. 6) was an object lesson for Israel’s benefit.

7 tn Or “dwelling place.”

8 tn Heb “cut off.”

9 tn Heb “all which I have punished her.” The precise meaning of this statement and its relationship to what precedes are unclear.

10 tn Heb “But they got up early, they made corrupt all their actions.” The phrase “they got up early” probably refers to their eagerness to engage in sinful activities.

11 tn The second person verb form (“you must wait patiently”) is masculine plural, indicating that a group is being addressed. Perhaps the humble individuals addressed earlier (see 2:3) are in view. Because of Jerusalem’s sin, they must patiently wait for judgment to pass before their vindication arrives.

12 tn Heb “when I arise for plunder.” The present translation takes עַד (’ad) as “plunder.” Some, following the LXX, repoint the term עֵד (’ed) and translate, “as a witness” (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV). In this case the Lord uses a legal metaphor to picture himself as testifying against his enemies. Adele Berlin takes לְעַד (lÿad) in a temporal sense (“forever”) and translates “once and for all” (Zephaniah [AB 25A], 133).

13 tn Heb “for my decision is.”

14 tn Or “certainly.”

15 tn Heb “Certainly [or perhaps, “For”] then I will restore to the nations a pure lip.”

sn I will then enable the nations to give me acceptable praise. This apparently refers to a time when the nations will reject their false idol-gods and offer genuine praise to the one true God.

16 tn Heb “so that all of them will call on the name of the Lord.”

17 tn Heb “so that [they] will serve him [with] one shoulder.”

18 tn Or “Nubia”; Heb “Cush.” “Cush” is traditionally assumed to refer to the region south of Egypt, i.e. Nubia or northern Sudan, referred to as “Ethiopia” by classical authors (not the more recent Abyssinia).

19 tn Heb “those who pray to me, the daughter of my dispersed ones.” The meaning of the phrase is unclear. Perhaps the text is corrupt at this point or a proper name should be understood. For a discussion of various options see Adele Berlin, Zephaniah (AB 25A), 134-35.

sn It is not certain if those who pray to me refers to the converted nations or to God’s exiled covenant people.

20 sn The second person verbs and pronouns are feminine singular, indicating that personified Jerusalem is addressed here.

21 tn Heb “In that day you not be ashamed because of all your actions, [in] which you rebelled against me.”

22 tn Heb “the arrogant ones of your pride.”

23 tn Heb “needy and poor people.” The terms often refer to a socioeconomic group, but here they may refer to those who are humble in a spiritual sense.

24 tn Heb “and they will take refuge in the name of the Lord.”

sn Safety in the Lord’s presence. From the time the Lord introduced his special covenant name (Yahweh) to Moses, it served as a reminder of his protective presence as Israel’s faithful deliverer.

25 tn Or “the remnant of Israel.”

26 tn The words “peacefully like sheep” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

27 sn This phrase is used as an epithet for the city and the nation. “Daughter” may seem extraneous in English but consciously joins the various epithets and metaphors of Israel and Jerusalem as a woman, a device used to evoke sympathy from the reader.

28 tn Heb “your judgments,” that is, “the judgments directed against you.” The translation reflects the implications of the parallelism.

29 tn Heb “it will be said.” The passive construction has been translated as active for stylistic reasons.

30 tn Heb “your hands must not go limp.”

31 tn Heb “he rejoices over you with joy.”

32 tc The MT reads, “he is silent in his love,” but this makes no sense in light of the immediately preceding and following lines. Some take the Hiphil verb form as causative (see Job 11:3) rather than intransitive and translate, “he causes [you] to be silent by his love,” that is, “he soothes [you] by his love.” The present translation follows the LXX and assumes an original reading יְחַדֵּשׁ (yÿkhaddesh, “he renews”) with ellipsis of the object (“you”).

33 tn Heb “he rejoices over you with a shout of joy.”

34 tn Heb “The ones grieving from an assembly I gathered from you they were, tribute upon her, a reproach.” Any translation of this difficult verse must be provisional at best. The present translation assumes three things: (1) The preposition מִן (min) prefixed to “assembly” is causal (the individuals are sorrowing because of the assemblies or festivals they are no longer able to hold). (2) מַשְׂאֵת (maset) means “tribute” and refers to the exiled people being treated as the spoils of warfare (see R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah [WEC], 385-86). (3) The third feminine singular suffix refers to personified Jerusalem, which is addressed earlier in the verse (the pronominal suffix in “from you” is second feminine singular). For other interpretive options see Adele Berlin, Zephaniah (AB 25A), 146.

35 tn The word “sheep” is supplied for clarification. As in Mic 4:6-7, the exiles are here pictured as injured and scattered sheep whom the divine shepherd rescues from danger.

36 tn Heb “I will make them into praise and a name, in all the earth, their shame.” The present translation assumes that “their shame” specifies “them” and that “name” stands here for a good reputation.

37 tn In this line the second person pronoun is masculine plural, indicating that the exiles are addressed.

38 tn Or “for.”

39 tn Heb “I will make you into a name and praise among all the peoples of the earth.” Here the word “name” carries the nuance of “good reputation.”

40 tn Heb “when I restore your fortunes to your eyes.” See the note on the phrase “restore them” in 2:7.



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