Zephaniah 1


As with the other minor prophets, little is known about Zephaniah except his lineage.  Some believe the Hezekiah named in the first verse below was the king of two generations before Josiah.  If that were so, it would be difficult to explain how Zephaniah, three generations after Hezekiah, could be a contemporary of king Josiah.  Some presume that early marriages by Zephaniah’s predecessors could explain it.  But if early marriages were common then, wouldn’t that apply also to Josiah’s ancestors?  All these guesses!

דְּבַר־יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר הָיָה אֶל־צְפַנְיָה בֶּן־כּוּשִׁי בֶן־גְּדַלְיָה בֶּן־אֲמַרְיָה בֶּן־חִזְקִיָּה בִּימֵי יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ בֶן־אָמֹון   1:1    מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה׃

Zeph. 1:1   The word of the Lord that occurred to Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah:

אָסֹף אָסֵף כֹּל מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃   1:2

Zeph. 1:2   “I shall completely remove all from the surface of the land,”

                             declares the Lord.

אָסֵף אָדָם וּבְהֵמָה אָסֵף עֹוף־הַשָּׁמַיִם וּדְגֵי הַיָּם וְהַמַּכְשֵׁלֹות אֶת־הָרְשָׁעִים וְהִכְרַתִּי אֶת־הָאָדָם מֵעַל   1:3   פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃

Zeph. 1:3   “I shall remove human and beast;

                              I shall remove the fowl of the skies

                     and the fish of the sea,

                              and the stumbling blocks with the guilty ones;

                      then I will cut off the human from the surface of the land,”

                              declares the Lord.

וְנָטִיתִי יָדִי עַל־יְהוּדָה וְעַל כָּל־יֹושְׁבֵי יְרוּשָׁלִָם וְהִכְרַתִּי מִן־הַמָּקֹום הַזֶּה אֶת־שְׁאָר הַבַּעַל אֶת־שֵׁם   1:4    הַכְּמָרִים עִם־הַכֹּהֲנִים׃

Zeph. 1:4   “And I shall extend My hand against Judah

                              and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

                     and cut off the remnant of Baal from this place,

                              the name of the idolatrous priests, with the priests,

וְאֶת־הַמִּשְׁתַּחֲוִים עַל־הַגַּגֹּות לִצְבָא הַשָּׁמָיִם וְאֶת־הַמִּשְׁתַּחֲוִים הַנִּשְׁבָּעִים לַיהוָה וְהַנִּשְׁבָּעִים   1:5        בְּמַלְכָּם׃

Zeph. 1:5   and the worshipers to the host of the heavens upon the rooftops,

                               and the worshipers swearing to the Lord and swearing by Malcam,

וְאֶת־הַנְּסֹוגִים מֵאַחֲרֵי יְהוָה וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא־בִקְשׁוּ אֶת־יְהוָה וְלֹא דְרָשֻׁהוּ׃   1:6

Zeph. 1:6   and those who turned away from following the Lord

                               and who do not seek the Lord or require Him.”

It seems the mention of the name Malcam in the preceding verse is not well understood.  Guesses range from the literal meaning of the word as their king, which would make the translation “swearing by their king,” to assuming the term applies to Molech, the Ammonite god to which Solomon built idols to please his foreign wives.  I don’t understand the uncertainty.   Malcam was the primary deity of Ammon.  See 2Sam. 12:30.

הַס מִפְּנֵי אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה כִּי קָרֹוב יֹום יְהוָה כִּי־הֵכִין יְהוָה זֶבַח הִקְדִּישׁ קְרֻאָיו׃   1:7

Zeph. 1:7   Be silent before the Master, the Lord!

                               For the day of the Lord is near;

                     for the Lord has prepared a sacrifice,

                               he has consecrated His appointees.

וְהָיָה בְּיֹום זֶבַח יְהוָה וּפָקַדְתִּי עַל־הַשָּׂרִים וְעַל־בְּנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְעַל כָּל־הַלֹּבְשִׁים מַלְבּוּשׁ נָכְרִי׃   1:8

Zeph. 1:8   “And it shall be on the day of the sacrifice of the Lord

                                that I will visit punishment upon the princes and upon the sons of the king,

                     and upon all who are wearing foreign apparel.”

׃וּפָקַדְתִּי עַל כָּל־הַדּוֹלֵג עַל־הַמִּפְתָּן בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא הַמְמַלְאִים בֵּית אֲדֹנֵיהֶם חָמָס וּמִרְמָה   1:9

Zeph. 1:9   “And on that day I shall visit punishment

                               upon every one leaping over a threshold,

                    making the house of their Master full of violence and deceit.”

The reference to those leaping over the threshold appears to be connected directly to 1Sam. 5:5.  As I interpret this verse, I believe the Lord is referring to the priests in the Temple (the house of their Master).  If they were leaping over the threshold of the temple, the implication is that they were worshiping Dagon, and therefore performing all sorts of abominations there.

וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם הַהוּא נְאֻם־יְהוָה קוֹל צְעָקָה מִשַּׁעַר הַדָּגִים וִילָלָה מִן־הַמִּשְׁנֶה וְשֶׁבֶר גָּדוֹל מֵהַגְּבָעוֹת׃   1:10

Zeph. 1:10   “And there shall be on that day,” declares the Lord,

                                 “a sound, an outcry from the fish gate,

                       and wailing from the second quarter,

                                 and a loud crashing from the hills.”

הֵילִילוּ יֹשְׁבֵי הַמַּכְתֵּשׁ כִּי נִדְמָה כָּל־עַם כְּנַעַן נִכְרְתוּ כָּל־נְטִילֵי כָסֶף׃   1:11

Zeph. 1:11   “Wail, inhabitants of the Maktesh,

                                 for every merchant nation is undone;

                       all laden with silver are cut off.”

The Maktesh is thought to be a valley or a street in Jerusalem.

וְהָיָה בָּעֵת הַהִיא אֲחַפֵּשׂ אֶת־יְרוּשָׁלִַם בַּנֵּרוֹת וּפָקַדְתִּי עַל־הָאֲנָשִׁים הַקֹּפְאִים עַל־שִׁמְרֵיהֶם   1:12          הָאֹמְרִים בִּלְבָבָם לֹא־יֵיטִיב יְהוָה וְלֹא יָרֵעַ׃

Zeph. 1:12   “And it shall be at that time,

                                 I will search Jerusalem with lamps

                       and visit punishment upon the men settled on their lees,

                                saying in their heart, ‘The Lord will do neither good nor evil.’”

The phrase “settled on their lees” in this verse would seem to me to be the source of the expression used occasionally in some circles in relatively modern times.  Lees are the dregs of the wine fermentation process, the solid particles on the bottom of the vat that have to be removed periodically.  If they are left in the wine too long, the wine will become bitter.  The phrase appears to have been used in this verse as a metaphor for thoughtlessness, sloth, and self-indulgence.  It is being applied here to those who may believe in the Lord, but see Him as not involving Himself in the world.  Thus they are free to do whatever they wish.

וְהָיָה חֵילָם לִמְשִׁסָּה וּבָתֵּיהֶם לִשְׁמָמָה וּבָנוּ בָתִּים וְלֹא יֵשֵׁבוּ וְנָטְעוּ כְרָמִים וְלֹא יִשְׁתּוּ אֶת־יֵינָם׃   1:13

Zeph. 1:13   “So their wealth shall be for plunder,

                                  and their houses, for a desolation.

                       Now they will build houses but not inhabit;

                                  and they shall plant vineyards but not drink their wine.”

קָרוֹב יוֹם־יְהוָה הַגָּדוֹל קָרוֹב וּמַהֵר מְאֹד קוֹל יוֹם יְהוָה מַר צֹרֵחַ שָׁם גִּבּוֹר׃   1:14

Zeph. 1:14   “The great day of the Lord is near;

                                   the sound of the day of the Lord is near and hurrying quickly,

                       there is a bitter cry of the mighty.”

יוֹם עֶבְרָה הַיּוֹם הַהוּא יוֹם צָרָה וּמְצוּקָה יוֹם שֹׁאָה וּמְשׁוֹאָה יוֹם חֹשֶׁךְ וַאֲפֵלָה יוֹם עָנָן וַעֲרָפֶל׃   1:15

Zeph. 1:15   “That day shall be a day of outpouring,

                                   a day of trouble and distress,

                       a day of devastation and desolation,

                                   a day of darkness and gloom,

                       a day cloudy and very dark,

יוֹם שׁוֹפָר וּתְרוּעָה עַל הֶעָרִים הַבְּצֻרוֹת וְעַל הַפִּנּוֹת הַגְּבֹהוֹת׃   1:16

Zeph. 1:16   a day of horn and alarm over the fortified cities

                                   and above the highest towers.”

וַהֲצֵרֹתִי לָאָדָם וְהָלְכוּ כַּעִוְרִים כִּי לַיהוָה חָטָאוּ וְשֻׁפַּךְ דָּמָם כֶּעָפָר וּלְחֻמָם כַּגְּלָלִים׃   1:17

Zeph. 1:17   “And I shall cause distress for humankind

                                  and they shall walk as though blind,

                       because they sin toward the Lord.

                                  And their blood shall pour out as the dust,

                       and their bowels shall be like dung.”

גַּם־כַּסְפָּם גַּם־זְהָבָם לֹא־יוּכַל לְהַצִּילָם בְּיוֹם עֶבְרַת יְהוָה וּבְאֵשׁ קִנְאָתוֹ תֵּאָכֵל כָּל־הָאָרֶץ כִּי־כָלָה   1:18  אַךְ־נִבְהָלָה יַעֲשֶׂה אֵת כָּל־יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ׃

Zeph. 1:18   Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to rescue them

                                 in the day of outpouring of the Lord.

                       So all the earth shall be consumed in the fire of His zeal,

                                He shall prepare all the inhabitants of the earth

                        for a surely terrifying complete end.


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