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Zephaniah 1:2-6

Context
The Lord’s Day of Judgment is Approaching

1:2 “I will destroy 1  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.) 2 

I will remove 3  humanity from the face of the earth,” says the Lord.

1:4 “I will attack 4  Judah

and all who live in Jerusalem. 5 

I will remove 6  from this place every trace of Baal worship, 7 

as well as the very memory 8  of the pagan priests. 9 

1:5 I will remove 10  those who worship the stars in the sky from their rooftops, 11 

those who swear allegiance to the Lord 12  while taking oaths in the name of 13  their ‘king,’ 14 

1:6 and those who turn their backs on 15  the Lord

and do not want the Lord’s help or guidance.” 16 

1 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.

2 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.

3 tn Heb “cut off.”

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

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

6 tn Heb “cut off.”

7 tn Heb “the remnant of Baal.”

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

9 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).

10 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.

11 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.

12 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).

13 tn Heb “those who swear by.”

14 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.

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

16 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.



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