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Zephaniah 2:13-15

Context

2:13 The Lord 1  will attack the north 2 

and destroy Assyria.

He will make Nineveh a heap of ruins;

it will be as barren 3  as the desert.

2:14 Flocks and herds 4  will lie down in the middle of it,

as well as every kind of wild animal. 5 

Owls 6  will sleep in the tops of its support pillars;

they will hoot through the windows. 7 

Rubble will cover the thresholds; 8 

even the cedar work 9  will be exposed to the elements. 10 

2:15 This is how the once-proud city will end up 11 

the city that was so secure. 12 

She thought to herself, 13  “I am unique! No one can compare to me!” 14 

What a heap of ruins she has become, a place where wild animals live!

Everyone who passes by her taunts her 15  and shakes his fist. 16 

1 tn Heb “He”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Heb “he will stretch out his hand against the north.”

3 tn Or “dry.”

4 tn Heb “flocks.” The Hebrew word can refer to both flocks of sheep and herds of cattle.

5 tn Heb “[and] all the wild animals of a nation.” How גוֹי (goy, “nation”) relates to what precedes is unclear. It may be a corruption of another word. See J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 193.

6 tn The Hebrew text reads here גַּם־קָאַת גַּם־קִפֹּד (gam-qaat gam-qippod). The term קָאַת refers to some type of bird (see Lev 11:18; Deut 14:17) that was typically found near ruins (Isa 34:11); one of the most common translations is “owl” (cf. NEB “horned owl”; NIV, NRSV “desert owl”; contra NASB “pelican”). The term קִפֹּד may also refer to a type of bird (cf. NEB “ruffed bustard”; NIV, NRSV “screech owl”). Some suggest a rodent may be in view (cf. NASB “hedgehog”); this is not unreasonable, for a rodent or some other small animal would be able to sleep in the tops of pillars which would be lying in the ruins of the fallen buildings.

7 tn Heb “a sound will sing in the window.” If some type of owl is in view, “hoot” is a more appropriate translation (cf. NEB, NRSV).

8 tn Heb “rubble [will be] on the threshold.” “Rubble” translates the Hebrew word חֹרֶב (khorev, “desolation”). Some emend to עֹרֵב (’orev, “raven”) following the LXX and Vulgate; Adele Berlin translates, “A voice shall shriek from the window – a raven at the sill” (Zephaniah [AB 25A], 104).

9 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word translated “cedar work” (so NASB, NRSV) is unclear; NIV has “the beams of cedar.”

10 tn Heb “one will expose.” The subject is probably indefinite, though one could translate, “for he [i.e., God] will lay bare.”

11 tn Heb “this is the proud city.”

12 tn Heb “the one that lived securely.”

13 tn Heb “the one who says in her heart.”

14 tn Heb “I [am], and besides me there is no other.”

15 tn Heb “hisses”; or “whistles.”

16 sn Hissing (or whistling) and shaking the fist were apparently ways of taunting a defeated foe or an object of derision in the culture of the time.



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