Day of Judgment on Judah
1 The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of [a]Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah:
“I will completely consume and sweep away all things
From the face of the earth [in judgment],” says the Lord.
“I will consume and sweep away man and beast;
I will consume and sweep away the birds of the air
And the fish of the sea,
And the [b]stumbling blocks (idols) along with the wicked;
And I will cut off and destroy man from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.
“I will also stretch out My hand [in judgment] against Judah
And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And I will cut off and destroy the remnant of [c]Baal from this place,
And the names and remembrance of the idolatrous priests along with the [false] priests,
And those who bow down and worship the host of heaven [the sun, the moon, and the stars] [d]on their housetops
And those who bow down and swear [oaths] to [and pretend to worship] the Lord and [yet also] swear by [the pagan god called] Milcom [god of the Ammonites],
And those who have turned back from following the Lord,
And those who have not sought the Lord [as their most important need] or inquired of Him.”
[Hush!] Be silent before the Lord God [there is no acceptable excuse to offer]!
For the day [of the vengeance] of the Lord is near,
For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice (Judah),
He has set apart [for His use] those who have accepted His invitation [the Chaldeans who rule Babylon].(A)
“Then it will come about on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice
That I will punish the princes and the king’s sons
And all who are clothed in [lavish] foreign apparel [reflecting their paganism].(B)
“On that day I will also punish all those who [e]leap over the temple threshold,
Who fill their [pagan] lord’s temple with violence and deceit.
“On that day,” declares the Lord,
“There will be the sound of crying from the Fish (Damascus) Gate [in the northern wall of Jerusalem where invaders enter]
And wailing from the [f]Second Quarter [of the city],
And a loud crash from the hills.
“Wail [in anguish], you inhabitants of the [g]Mortar (Valley of Siloam),
For all the merchants of Canaan will be silenced and destroyed;
All who weigh out silver will be cut off.
“It will come about at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps
And I will punish the men
Who [like old wine] are stagnant in spirit,
Who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’
“Furthermore, their wealth will become plunder
And their houses a desolation.
Yes, they will build houses but not live in them,
And plant vineyards but not drink their wine.”(C)
The great [judgment] day of the Lord is near,
Near and coming very quickly.
Listen! The [voice of the] day of the Lord!
The warrior cries out bitterly [unable to fight or to flee].
That day is a day of [the outpouring of the] wrath [of God],
A day of trouble and distress,
A day of destruction and devastation,
A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,(D)
A day of trumpet and the battle cry [of invaders]
Against the fortified cities
And against the high corner towers (battlements).
I will bring distress on men
So that they will walk like the blind [unable to find a way of escape],
Because they have sinned against the Lord;
Their blood will be poured out like dust [and trampled underfoot],
And their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold
Will be able to rescue them
On the day of the Lord’s indignation and wrath.
And the whole earth will be consumed
In the fire of His jealous [h]wrath,
For He shall make a full and complete end,
Indeed a terrifying one,
Of all the inhabitants of the earth.(E)
- Zephaniah 1:1 Zephaniah’s great-great-grandfather, Hezekiah, ruled Judah (the Southern Kingdom) from 715-686 b.c. He was a godly king who restored the temple and abolished pagan worship. He was also notable as the great warrior who defended Jerusalem from the attacking Assyrians, and the great builder who developed the Siloam tunnel and reservoir to enhance the fresh water supply of Jerusalem.
- Zephaniah 1:3 MT reads ruins.
- Zephaniah 1:4 One of the major male gods of Canaan. His female consort was Asherah.
- Zephaniah 1:5 The flat roofs of the houses were often used as convenient places of planetary worship (i.e. Sabeanism, astrology).
- Zephaniah 1:9 This may have a connection to the pagan custom mentioned in 1 Sam 5:5, or to the pagan belief that spirits resided in the threshold.
- Zephaniah 1:10 I.e. the lower, newer part of the city.
- Zephaniah 1:11 A shallow hollow that was a district in Jerusalem.
- Zephaniah 1:18 God’s judgment and God’s mercy are the twin themes of the prophets. In this dramatic passage, the Lord describes the destruction that will sweep the earth in the day of His wrath. Yet the Lord is true to His promises: the remnant will be restored (Zeph 3:18-20); the last day is also “the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). See also Matt 24:31; John 14:3; 1 Thess 4:15-17.