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:
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.
and all who live in Jerusalem. 7
and do not want the Lord’s help or guidance.” 18
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
1:10 On that day,” says the Lord,
wailing from the city’s newer district, 31
and a loud crash 32 from the hills.
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.
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
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,
Judgment will fall on 46 the fortified cities and the high corner towers.
and they will stumble 48 like blind men,
for they have sinned against the Lord.
Their blood will be poured out like dirt;
1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them
in the day of the Lord’s angry judgment.
1 tn Heb “The word of the
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.
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
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
17 tn Heb “turn back from [following] after.”
18 tn Heb “who do not seek the
19 tn Heb “Lord
20 tn Heb “the day of the
sn The origin of the concept of “the day of the
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.
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.
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.”
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
42 tn Heb “the sound of the day of the
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
46 tn Heb “against.” The words “judgment will fall” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
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