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Zephaniah 1:1--3:20

Context
Introduction

1:1 This is the prophetic message that the Lord gave to 1  Zephaniah son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah. Zephaniah delivered this message during the reign of 2  King Josiah son of Amon of Judah:

The Lord’s Day of Judgment is Approaching

1:2 “I will destroy 3  everything from the face of the earth,” says the Lord.

1:3 “I will destroy people and animals;

I will destroy the birds in the sky

and the fish in the sea.

(The idolatrous images of these creatures will be destroyed along with evil people.) 4 

I will remove 5  humanity from the face of the earth,” says the Lord.

1:4 “I will attack 6  Judah

and all who live in Jerusalem. 7 

I will remove 8  from this place every trace of Baal worship, 9 

as well as the very memory 10  of the pagan priests. 11 

1:5 I will remove 12  those who worship the stars in the sky from their rooftops, 13 

those who swear allegiance to the Lord 14  while taking oaths in the name of 15  their ‘king,’ 16 

1:6 and those who turn their backs on 17  the Lord

and do not want the Lord’s help or guidance.” 18 

1:7 Be silent before the Lord God, 19 

for the Lord’s day of judgment 20  is almost here. 21 

The Lord has prepared a sacrificial meal; 22 

he has ritually purified 23  his guests.

1:8 “On the day of the Lord’s sacrificial meal,

I will punish the princes 24  and the king’s sons,

and all who wear foreign styles of clothing. 25 

1:9 On that day I will punish all who leap over the threshold, 26 

who fill the house of their master 27  with wealth taken by violence and deceit. 28 

1:10 On that day,” says the Lord,

“a loud cry will go up 29  from the Fish Gate, 30 

wailing from the city’s newer district, 31 

and a loud crash 32  from the hills.

1:11 Wail, you who live in the market district, 33 

for all the merchants 34  will disappear 35 

and those who count money 36  will be removed. 37 

1:12 At that time I will search through Jerusalem with lamps.

I will punish the people who are entrenched in their sin, 38 

those who think to themselves, 39 

‘The Lord neither rewards nor punishes.’ 40 

1:13 Their wealth will be stolen

and their houses ruined!

They will not live in the houses they have built,

nor will they drink the wine from the vineyards they have planted.

1:14 The Lord’s great day of judgment 41  is almost here;

it is approaching very rapidly!

There will be a bitter sound on the Lord’s day of judgment;

at that time warriors will cry out in battle. 42 

1:15 That day will be a day of God’s anger, 43 

a day of distress and hardship,

a day of devastation and ruin,

a day of darkness and gloom,

a day of clouds and dark skies,

1:16 a day of trumpet blasts 44  and battle cries. 45 

Judgment will fall on 46  the fortified cities and the high corner towers.

1:17 I will bring distress on the people 47 

and they will stumble 48  like blind men,

for they have sinned against the Lord.

Their blood will be poured out like dirt;

their flesh 49  will be scattered 50  like manure.

1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them

in the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.

The whole earth 51  will be consumed by his fiery wrath. 52 

Indeed, 53  he will bring terrifying destruction 54  on all who live on the earth.” 55 

The Prophet Warns the People

2:1 Bunch yourselves together like straw, 56  you undesirable 57  nation,

2:2 before God’s decree becomes reality 58  and the day of opportunity disappears like windblown chaff, 59 

before the Lord’s raging anger 60  overtakes 61  you –

before the day of the Lord’s angry judgment overtakes you!

2:3 Seek the Lord’s favor, 62  all you humble people 63  of the land who have obeyed his commands! 64 

Strive to do what is right! 65  Strive to be humble! 66 

Maybe you will be protected 67  on the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.

Judgment on Surrounding Nations

2:4 Indeed, 68  Gaza will be deserted 69 

and Ashkelon will become a heap of ruins. 70 

Invaders will drive away the people of Ashdod by noon, 71 

and Ekron will be overthrown. 72 

2:5 Those who live by the sea, the people who came from Crete, 73  are as good as dead. 74 

The Lord has decreed your downfall, 75  Canaan, land of the Philistines:

“I will destroy everyone who lives there!” 76 

2:6 The seacoast 77  will be used as pasture lands 78  by the shepherds

and as pens for their flocks.

2:7 Those who are left from the kingdom of Judah 79  will take possession of it. 80 

By the sea 81  they 82  will graze,

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

for the Lord their God will intervene for them 83  and restore their prosperity. 84 

2:8 “I have heard Moab’s taunts

and the Ammonites’ insults.

They 85  taunted my people

and verbally harassed those living in Judah. 86 

2:9 Therefore, as surely as I live,” says the Lord who commands armies, the God of Israel,

“be certain that Moab will become like Sodom

and the Ammonites like Gomorrah.

They will be overrun by weeds, 87 

filled with salt pits, 88 

and permanently desolate.

Those of my people who are left 89  will plunder their belongings; 90 

those who are left in Judah 91  will take possession of their land.”

2:10 This is how they will be repaid for their arrogance, 92 

for they taunted and verbally harassed 93  the people of the Lord who commands armies.

2:11 The Lord will terrify them, 94 

for 95  he will weaken 96  all the gods of the earth.

All the distant nations will worship the Lord in their own lands. 97 

2:12 “You 98  Ethiopians 99  will also die by my sword!” 100 

2:13 The Lord 101  will attack the north 102 

and destroy Assyria.

He will make Nineveh a heap of ruins;

it will be as barren 103  as the desert.

2:14 Flocks and herds 104  will lie down in the middle of it,

as well as every kind of wild animal. 105 

Owls 106  will sleep in the tops of its support pillars;

they will hoot through the windows. 107 

Rubble will cover the thresholds; 108 

even the cedar work 109  will be exposed to the elements. 110 

2:15 This is how the once-proud city will end up 111 

the city that was so secure. 112 

She thought to herself, 113  “I am unique! No one can compare to me!” 114 

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

Everyone who passes by her taunts her 115  and shakes his fist. 116 

Jerusalem is Corrupt

3:1 The filthy, 117  stained city is as good as dead;

the city filled with oppressors is finished! 118 

3:2 She is disobedient; 119 

she refuses correction. 120 

She does not trust the Lord;

she does not seek the advice of 121  her God.

3:3 Her princes 122  are as fierce as roaring lions; 123 

her rulers 124  are as hungry as wolves in the desert, 125 

who completely devour their prey by morning. 126 

3:4 Her prophets are proud; 127 

they are deceitful men.

Her priests defile what is holy; 128 

they break God’s laws. 129 

3:5 The just Lord resides 130  within her;

he commits no unjust acts. 131 

Every morning he reveals 132  his justice.

At dawn he appears without fail. 133 

Yet the unjust know no shame.

The Lord’s Judgment will Purify

3:6 “I destroyed 134  nations;

their walled cities 135  are in ruins.

I turned their streets into ruins;

no one passes through them.

Their cities are desolate; 136 

no one lives there. 137 

3:7 I thought, 138  ‘Certainly you will respect 139  me!

Now you will accept correction!’

If she had done so, her home 140  would not be destroyed 141 

by all the punishments I have threatened. 142 

But they eagerly sinned

in everything they did. 143 

3:8 Therefore you must wait patiently 144  for me,” says the Lord,

“for the day when I attack and take plunder. 145 

I have decided 146  to gather nations together

and assemble kingdoms,

so I can pour out my fury on them –

all my raging anger.

For 147  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. 148 

All of them will invoke the Lord’s name when they pray, 149 

and will worship him in unison. 150 

3:10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, 151 

those who pray to me 152  will bring me tribute.

3:11 In that day you 153  will not be ashamed of all your rebelliousness against me, 154 

for then I will remove from your midst those who proudly boast, 155 

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, 156 

and they will find safety in the Lord’s presence. 157 

3:13 The Israelites who remain 158  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 159  and lie down;

no one will terrify them.”

3:14 Shout for joy, Daughter Zion! 160 

Shout out, Israel!

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

3:15 The Lord has removed the judgment against you; 161 

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 162  to Jerusalem,

“Don’t be afraid, Zion!

Your hands must not be paralyzed from panic! 163 

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

he is a warrior who can deliver.

He takes great delight in you; 164 

he renews you by his love; 165 

he shouts for joy over you.” 166 

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. 167 

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

I will rescue the lame sheep 168 

and gather together the scattered sheep.

I will take away their humiliation

and make the whole earth admire and respect them. 169 

3:20 At that time I will lead you –

at the time I gather you together. 170 

Be sure of this! 171  I will make all the nations of the earth respect and admire you 172 

when you see me restore you,” 173  says the Lord.

1 tn Heb “The word of the Lord which came to.”

2 tn Heb “in the days of.” The words “Zephaniah delivered this message” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

3 tn The Hebrew text combines the infinitive absolute of אָסַף (’asaf, “gather up, sweep away”) with a Hiphil prefixed first person form of סוּף (suf, “come to an end”; see Jer 8:13 for the same combination). This can be translated literally, “Sweeping away, I will bring to an end.” Some prefer to emend the text so that the infinitive and finite form of the verb are from the same root (“I will certainly sweep away,” if from אָסַף [cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV]; “I will certainly bring to an end,” if from סוּף). For a discussion of proposals see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 167, 169.

4 tn Heb “And the stumbling blocks [or, “ruins”] with the evil”; or “the things that make the evil stumble.” The line does not appear in the original form of the LXX; it may be a later scribal addition. The present translation assumes the “stumbling blocks” are idolatrous images of animals, birds, and fish. See J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 167, and Adele Berlin, Zephaniah (AB), 73-74.

5 tn Heb “cut off.”

6 tn Heb “I will stretch out my hand against,” is an idiom for hostile action.

7 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

8 tn Heb “cut off.”

9 tn Heb “the remnant of Baal.”

10 tn Heb “name.” Here the “name” is figurative for the memory of those who bear it.

11 tc Heb “of the pagan priests and priests.” The first word (כְּמָרִים, kÿmarim) refers to idolatrous priests in its two other appearances in the OT (2 Kgs 23:5, Hos 10:5), while the second word (כֹּהֲנִים, kohanim) is the normal term for “priest” and is used of both legitimate and illegitimate priests in the OT. It is likely that the second term, which is omitted in the LXX, is a later scribal addition to the Hebrew text, defining the extremely rare word that precedes (see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah [OTL], 167-68; cf. also NEB, NRSV). Some argue that both words are original; among the modern English versions that include both are NASB and NIV. Possibly the first word refers to outright pagan priests, while the second has in view once-legitimate priests of the Lord who had drifted into idolatrous practices. Another option is found in Adele Berlin, who translates, “the idolatrous priests among the priests,” understanding the second word as giving the general category of which the idolatrous priests are a part (Zephaniah [AB 25A], 75).

12 tn The words “I will remove” are repeated from v. 4b for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text vv. 4b-6 contain a long list of objects for the verb “I will remove” in v. 4b. In the present translation a new sentence was begun at the beginning of v. 5 in keeping with the tendency of contemporary English to use shorter sentences.

13 tn Heb “those who worship on their roofs the host of heaven.” The “host of heaven” included the sun, moon, planets, and stars, all of which were deified in the ancient Near East.

14 tc The MT reads, “those who worship, those who swear allegiance to the Lord.” The original form of the LXX omits the phrase “those who worship”; it may have been accidentally repeated from the preceding line. J. J. M. Roberts prefers to delete as secondary the phrase “those who swear allegiance” (J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah [OTL], 168).

15 tn Heb “those who swear by.”

16 tn The referent of “their king” is unclear. It may refer sarcastically to a pagan god (perhaps Baal) worshiped by the people. Some English versions (cf. NEB, NASB, NRSV) prefer to emend the text to “Milcom,” the name of an Ammonite god (following some LXX mss, Syriac, and Vulgate) or “Molech,” a god to whom the Israelites offered their children (cf. NIV, NLT). For a discussion of the options, see Adele Berlin, Zephaniah (AB 25A), 75-77.

17 tn Heb “turn back from [following] after.”

18 tn Heb “who do not seek the Lord and do not inquire of him.” The present translation assumes the first verb refers to praying for divine help and the second to seeking his revealed will through an oracle. Note the usage of the two verbs in 2 Chr 20:3-4.

19 tn Heb “Lord Lord.” The phrase אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה (adonai yÿhvih) is customarily rendered by Jewish tradition as “Lord God.”

20 tn Heb “the day of the Lord.”

sn The origin of the concept of “the day of the Lord” is uncertain. It may have originated in the ancient Near Eastern idea of the sovereign’s day of conquest, where a king would boast that he had concluded an entire military campaign in a single day (see D. Stuart, “The Sovereign’s Day of Conquest,” BASOR 221 [1976]: 159-64). In the OT the expression is applied to several acts of divine judgment, some historical and others still future (see A. J. Everson, “The Days of Yahweh,” JBL 93 [1974]: 329-37). In the OT the phrase first appears in Amos (assuming that Amos predates Joel and Obadiah), where it seems to refer to a belief on the part of the northern kingdom that God would intervene on Israel’s behalf and judge the nation’s enemies. Amos affirms that the Lord’s day of judgment is indeed approaching, but he declares that it will be a day of disaster, not deliverance, for Israel. Here in Zephaniah, the “day of the Lord” includes God’s coming judgment of Judah, as well as a more universal outpouring of divine anger.

21 tn Or “near.”

22 tn Heb “a sacrifice.” This same word also occurs in the following verse.

sn Because a sacrificial meal presupposes the slaughter of animals, it is used here as a metaphor of the bloody judgment to come.

23 tn Or “consecrated” (ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV).

24 tn Or “officials” (NRSV, TEV); NLT “leaders.”

25 sn The very dress of the royal court, foreign styles of clothing, revealed the degree to which Judah had assimilated foreign customs.

26 sn The point of the statement all who hop over the threshold is unclear. A ritual or superstition associated with the Philistine god Dagon may be in view (see 1 Sam 5:5).

27 tn The referent of “their master” is unclear. The king or a pagan god may be in view.

28 tn Heb “who fill…with violence and deceit.” The expression “violence and deceit” refers metonymically to the wealth taken by oppressive measures.

29 tn The words “will go up” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

30 sn The Fish Gate was located on Jerusalem’s north side (cf. 2 Chr 33:14; Neh 3:3; 12:39).

31 tn Heb “from the second area.” This may refer to an area northwest of the temple where the rich lived (see Adele Berlin, Zephaniah [AB 25A], 86; cf. NASB, NRSV “the Second Quarter”; NIV “the New Quarter”).

32 tn Heb “great breaking.”

33 tn Heb “in the Mortar.” The Hebrew term מַכְתֵּשׁ (makhtesh, “mortar”) is apparently here the name of a low-lying area where economic activity took place.

34 tn Or perhaps “Canaanites.” Cf. BDB 489 s.v. I and II כְּנַעֲנִי. Translators have rendered the term either as “the merchant people” (KJV, NKJV), “the traders” (NRSV), “merchants” (NEB, NIV), or, alternatively, “the people of Canaan” (NASB).

35 tn Or “be destroyed.”

36 tn Heb “weigh out silver.”

37 tn Heb “be cut off.” In the Hebrew text of v. 11b the perfect verbal forms emphasize the certainty of the judgment, speaking of it as if it were already accomplished.

38 tn Heb “who thicken on their sediment.” The imagery comes from wine making, where the wine, if allowed to remain on the sediment too long, will thicken into syrup. The image suggests that the people described here were complacent in their sinful behavior and interpreted the delay in judgment as divine apathy.

39 tn Heb “who say in their hearts.”

40 tn Heb “The Lord does not do good nor does he do evil.”

41 tn Heb “The great day of the Lord.” The words “of judgment” are supplied in the translation here and later in this verse for clarity. See the note on the expression “day of judgment” in v. 7.

42 tn Heb “the sound of the day of the Lord, bitter [is] one crying out there, a warrior.” The present translation does four things: (1) It takes מַר (mar, “bitter”) with what precedes (contrary to the accentuation of the MT). (2) It understands the participle צָרַח (tsarakh, “cry out in battle”) as verbal with “warrior” as its subject. (3) It takes שָׁם (sham, “there”) in a temporal sense, meaning “then, at that time.” (4) It understands “warrior” as collective.

43 tn Heb “a day of wrath.” The word “God’s” is supplied in the translation for clarification.

44 tn Heb “a ram’s horn.” By metonymy the Hebrew text mentions the trumpet (“ram’s horn”) in place of the sound it produces (“trumpet blasts”).

45 sn This description of the day of the Lord consists of an initial reference to anger, followed by four pairs of synonyms. The joining of synonyms in this way emphasizes the degree of the characteristic being described. The first two pairs focus on the distress and ruin that judgment will bring; the second two pairs picture this day of judgment as being very dark (darkness) and exceedingly overcast (gloom). The description concludes with the pairing of two familiar battle sounds, the blast on the ram’s horn (trumpet blasts) and the war cries of the warriors (battle cries).

46 tn Heb “against.” The words “judgment will fall” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

47 tn “The people” refers to mankind in general (see vv. 2-3) or more specifically to the residents of Judah (see vv. 4-13).

48 tn Heb “walk.”

49 tn Some take the referent of “flesh” to be more specific here; cf. NEB (“bowels”), NAB (“brains”), NIV (“entrails”).

50 tn The words “will be scattered” are supplied in the translation for clarity based on the parallelism with “will be poured out” in the previous line.

51 tn Or “land” (cf. NEB). This same word also occurs at the end of the present verse.

52 tn Or “passion”; traditionally, “jealousy.”

53 tn Or “for.”

54 tn Heb “complete destruction, even terror, he will make.”

55 tn It is not certain where the Lord’s words end and the prophet’s words begin. It is possible that Zephaniah begins speaking in the middle of v. 17 or at the beginning of v. 18 (note the third person pronouns referring to the Lord).

56 tn The Hebrew text combines a Hitpolel imperative of קָשַׁשׁ (qashash) with a Qal imperative of the same root. Elsewhere this root appears in the polel stem with the meaning “gather stubble.” Zephaniah’s command is ironic, implying the people are like stubble or straw. As such, they are vulnerable to the Lord’s fiery judgment that will quickly consume them (see 1:18). See Adele Berlin, Zephaniah (AB 25A), 96.

57 tn Some relate this word to an Aramaic cognate meaning “to be ashamed.” With the negative particle it would then mean “unashamed” (cf. NIV “shameful”; NRSV “shameless”). However, elsewhere in biblical Hebrew the verb means “to desire,” or with the negative particle “undesirable.” Cf. also NEB “unruly.”

58 tn Heb “before the giving birth of a decree.” For various alternative readings, see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 187-88.

59 tn The second half of the line reads literally, “like chaff it passes by a day.” The translation above assumes the “day” is the brief time God is giving the nation to repent. The comparison of this quickly passing opportunity to chaff is consistent with the straw imagery of v. 1.

60 tn Heb “the fury of the anger of the Lord.” The synonyms are combined to emphasize the extreme degree of the Lord’s anger.

61 tn Heb “comes upon.” This phrase occurs twice in this verse.

62 tn Heb “seek the Lord,” but “favor” seems to be implied from the final line of the verse.

63 tn Or “poor.” The precise referent of this Hebrew term is unclear. The word may refer to the economically poor or to the spiritually humble.

64 tn The present translation assumes the Hebrew term מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) here refers to God’s covenantal requirements and is a synonym for the Law. The word can mean “justice” and could refer more specifically to the principles of justice contained in the Law. In this case the phrase could be translated, “who have promoted the justice God demands.”

65 tn Heb “Seek what is right.”

66 tn Heb “Seek humility.”

67 tn Heb “hidden.” Cf. NEB “it may be that you will find shelter”; NRSV “perhaps you may be hidden.”

68 tn Or “for” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV).

69 tn There is a sound play here in the Hebrew text: the name Gaza (עַזָּה, ’azzah) sounds like the word translated “deserted” (עֲזוּבָה, ’azuvah).

70 tn Or “a desolate place.”

71 tn Heb “[As for] Ashdod, at noon they will drive her away.”

sn The reference to noon may suggest a sudden, quick defeat (see Jer 6:4; 15:8).

72 tn Heb “uprooted.” There is a sound play here in the Hebrew text: the name “Ekron” (עֶקְרוֹן, ’eqron) sounds like the word translated “uprooted” (תֵּעָקֵר, teaqer).

73 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.

74 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!”

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

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

77 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.

78 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.”

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

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

81 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.

82 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”).

83 tn Or “will care for them.”

84 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).

85 tn Heb “who.” A new sentence was begun here in the translation for stylistic reasons.

86 tn Heb “and they made great [their mouth?] against their territory.” Other possible translation options include (1) “they enlarged their own territory” (cf. NEB) and (2) “they bragged about [the size] of their own territory.”

87 tn The Hebrew text reads מִמְשַׁק חָרוּל (mimshaq kharul, “[?] of weeds”). The meaning of the first word is unknown. The present translation (“They will be overrun by weeds”) is speculative, based on the general sense of the context. For a defense of “overrun” on linguistic grounds, see R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (WEC), 347. Cf. NEB “a pile of weeds”; NIV “a place of weeds”; NRSV “a land possessed by nettles.”

88 tn The Hebrew text reads וּמִכְרֵה־מֶלַח (umikhreh-melakh, “and a [?] of salt”). The meaning of the first word is unclear, though “pit” (NASB, NIV, NRSV; NKJV “saltpit”), “mine,” and “heap” (cf. NEB “a rotting heap of saltwort”) are all options. The words “filled with” are supplied for clarification.

89 tn Or “The remnant of my people.”

90 tn Heb “them.” The actual object of the plundering, “their belongings,” has been specified in the translation for clarity.

91 tn Heb “[the] nation.” For clarity the “nation” has been specified as “Judah” in the translation.

92 tn Heb “this is for them in place of their arrogance.”

93 tn Heb “made great [their mouth?] against” (cf. the last phrase of v. 8).

94 tn Heb “will be awesome over [or, “against”] them.”

95 tn Or “certainly.”

96 tn The meaning of this rare Hebrew word is unclear. If the meaning is indeed “weaken,” then this line may be referring to the reduction of these gods’ territory through conquest (see Adele Berlin, Zephaniah [AB 25A], 110-11). Cf. NEB “reduce to beggary”; NASB “starve”; NIV “when he destroys”; NRSV “shrivel.”

97 tn Heb “and all the coastlands of the nations will worship [or, “bow down”] to him, each from his own place.”

98 sn Though there is no formal introduction, these words are apparently spoken by the Lord (note my sword).

99 tn Heb “Cushites.” This is traditionally assumed to refer to people from the region south of Egypt, i.e., Nubia or northern Sudan, referred to as “Ethiopia” by classical authors (not the more recent Abyssinia).

100 tn Heb “Also you Cushites, who lie dead by my sword.”

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

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

103 tn Or “dry.”

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

105 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.

106 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.

107 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).

108 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).

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

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

111 tn Heb “this is the proud city.”

112 tn Heb “the one that lived securely.”

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

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

115 tn Heb “hisses”; or “whistles.”

116 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.

117 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.

118 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.

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

120 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).

121 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).

122 tn Or “officials.”

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

124 tn Traditionally “judges.”

125 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.

126 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.

127 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).

128 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).

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

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

131 tn Or “he does no injustice.”

132 tn Heb “gives”; or “dispenses.”

133 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.”

134 tn Heb “cut off.”

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

136 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.

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

138 tn Heb “said.”

139 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.

140 tn Or “dwelling place.”

141 tn Heb “cut off.”

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

143 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.

144 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.

145 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).

146 tn Heb “for my decision is.”

147 tn Or “certainly.”

148 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.

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

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

151 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).

152 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.

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

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

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

156 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.

157 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.

158 tn Or “the remnant of Israel.”

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

160 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.

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

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

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

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

165 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”).

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

167 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.

168 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.

169 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.

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

171 tn Or “for.”

172 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.”

173 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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