Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18

Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Ordinary A51


Be silentA beforeB the LordC God!D
    For the day of the Lord is at hand;E

Notes on verse 7a

A “be silent” = has. 8x in NT. This is hush, still, hold peace, be quiet. It is an interjection that is likely an onomatopoeia.
B “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
C “Lord” = Adonai. From adon (lord, master, owner); root means to rule or be sovereign. This is the actual Hebrew word for Lord used (in a different form) of humans and (in the present form) of God. It means someone who is in control.
D “God” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
E “at hand” = qarob. From qarab (to come near, offer, make ready). This is near whether nearby, related, near in time, or allied.

the Lord has preparedF a sacrifice,G
    he has consecratedH his guests.I

Notes on verse 7b

F “prepared” = kun. Properly, this means in a perpendicular position. So, it is set up in a literal sense – establish, fix, fasten, prepare. In a figurative sense, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous.
G “sacrifice” = zebach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is a slaughter – literally of an animal. So, it implies the act or the animals used in sacrifice. Further, it can mean offering.
H “consecrated” = qadash. From qodesh (set apart and so sacred; God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart; things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy). This is set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified. This is something or someone that is set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean.
I “guests” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.

12 At that timeJ I will searchK JerusalemL with lamps,M
    and I will punishN the peopleO

Notes on verse 12a

J “time” = eth. Probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is a period or season. It can also mean whenever or continually.
K “search” = chaphas. This is to seek. In a causative sense, it can mean to hide or disguise oneself.
L “Jerusalem” = yerushalaim. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalem (to make amends, to be complete or sound). This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.
M “lamps” = ner. This is to glisten. It is used for a lamp, candle, or light in a literal or figurative sense.
N “punish” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.
O “people” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.

who rest complacentlyP on their dregs,Q
    those who say in their hearts,R
“The Lord will not do good,S
    nor will he do harm.”T

Notes on verse 12b

P “rest complacently” = qapha’. 4x in OT. This is to shrink, thicken, condense, congeal, or curdle. It can refer to freezing water, curdling milk, or clouding skies.
Q “dregs” = shemer. 5x in OT. Perhaps from shamar (to keep, watch, or preserve; to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something). This is something preserved so it is the dregs or settling parts of wine.
R “hearts” = lebab. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
S “do good” = yatab. This is to be good or pleasing, joyful. It can also mean doing good in an ethical sense or be beautiful, happy, successful, or right.
T “do harm” = ra’a’. This is to be evil, bad, afflict. Properly, it means to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces. Figuratively, it is to cause something to be worthless. It is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense – something that displeases, does harm or mischief, punishes or vexes.

13 Their wealthU shall be plundered,V
    and their housesW laid waste.X

Notes on verse 13a

U “wealth” = chayil. From chul (to be firm, strong, prosperous; to endure). This is strength, wealth, ability, activity. It can refer to soldier or a company of soldiers as well as goods. It is a force of people, means, or goods. It can speak of valor, virtue, or strength.
V “plundered” = meshissah. 5x in OT. From shasas (to rifle, plunder). This is booty or spoil.
W “houses” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
X “laid waste” = shemamah. From shamem (to be appalled, astonished; to stun or devastate, be destitute). This is a devastation, ruin, or waste.

Though they buildY houses,
    they shall not inhabitZ them;
though they plantAA vineyards,BB
    they shall not drink wineCC from them.

Notes on verse 13b

Y “build” = banah. Probably related to “houses” in v13. See note W above.
Z “inhabit” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
AA “plant” = nata. To fix or fasten, establish or plant. This is planting in a literal or figurative sense.
BB “vineyards” = kerem. This is a vineyard, garden, vines, or a vintage.
CC “wine” = yayin. Root may mean to effervesce, referring to the fermentation process. This is wine, grape, or banquet. It can imply intoxication.

14 The greatDD day of the Lord is near,EE
    near and hasteningFF fast;

Notes on verse 14a

DD “great” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
EE “near” = qarob. Same as “at hand” in v7. See note E above.
FF “hastening” = maher. 18x in OT. From mahar (being liquid, which implies flowing; so, hurrying forward, whether in a positive or negative sense). This is speedy, quickly, soon, suddenly, or at once.

the soundGG of the day of the Lord is bitter,HH
    the warriorII cries aloudJJ there.

Notes on verse 14b

GG “sound” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.
HH “bitter” = mar. From marar (to be bitter, embittered, weep, troubled). This is bitterness literal or figurative. It could be fierce, angry, or discontented.
II “warrior” = gibbor. From gabar (to be strong or mighty; to prevail or be insolent). This is strong, mighty, or powerful. This can imply a warrior, hero, or tyrant.
JJ “cries aloud” = tsarach. 2x in OT. This is to cry, roar, make a war cry. It is a clear or shrill tone.

15 That day will be a day of wrath,KK
    a day of distressLL and anguish,MM

Notes on verse 15a

KK “wrath” = ebrah. From eber (the region beyond, passage, quarter, opposite side; generally the east); from abar (to pass over, pass through, or pass by; cross over or to alienate; used for transitions). This is overflow or a passionate outburst. So, fury, anger, or rage.
LL “distress” = tsarah. From tsar (properly, a narrow or constricted place; figuratively, trouble, a pebble, an enemy, anguish, or distress); from tsarar (to bind, restrict, narrow, be cramped, an adversary). This is tightness, distress, affliction, trouble, or adversary.
MM “anguish” = metsuqah. 7x in OT. From tsuq (to press on, compress; figuratively, to oppress or bring distress). This is straits or narrowness. Figuratively, it is stress, trouble, or anguish.

a day of ruinNN and devastation,OO
    a day of darknessPP and gloom,QQ
a day of clouds and thick darkness,RR

Notes on verse 15b

NN “ruin” = sho. 12x in OT. This is ruin, desolation, storm. It’s from a root that means rushing over – hence a storm and hence devastation.
OO “devastation” = meshoah. Related to “ruin” in v15. 3x in OT. From the same as sho (see note NN above). This is desolation, ruin, or waste. It can be the act of devastation or the result.
PP “darkness” = choshek. From chashak (to be or become dark). This is literal darkness is contrast to light. Figuratively, it can be obscurity, sorrow, misery, blindness, wickedness, destruction, death. It can also be hiding places. Additionally, it can mean judgment, mourning, ignorance, evil, or sin.
QQ “gloom” = aphelah. 10x in OT. From the same as ophel (darkness, gloom, dusk, obscurity); from the same as aphel (gloomy – unused root which refers to the sun setting i.e. dusky, dark). This is darkness, gloominess, calamity, or an adjective to emphasize how thick darkness is. It is also used to mean misfortune or hiding something.
RR “thick darkness” = araphel. 15x in OT. From araph (to droop, drip, drop). This is a cloud or deep darkness. It is gloom or gloomy as the sky being lowered.

16     a day of trumpet blastSS and battle cryTT
against the fortifiedUU citiesVV
    and against the loftyWW battlements.XX

Notes on verse 16

SS “trumpet blast” = shophar. From shaphar (being beautiful or lovely). This is a ram’s horn, trumpet, or cornet. A shofar is still blown at Jewish festivals such as Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year celebration).
TT “battle cry” = teruah. From rua (to break or destroy something so figuratively, an ear splitting sound such as a call of alarm or a joyful sound). This is an alarm, trumpet sound, battle cry, rejoicing, joyful shout, or jubilee.
UU “fortified” = batsar. This is to enclose, wall up, or make something inaccessible, impenetrable, isolated. It can also mean to fortify, something mighty. It can also mean to gather grapes.
VV “cities” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
WW “lofty” = gaboah. From gabah (to be tall, high, exalted, proud, haughty). This is high, tall, long, proud, or arrogant. It could also be a high ranking official, someone exalted, or something lofty. 
XX “battlements” = pinnah. Perhaps from pen (corner, angle, street, wall). This is an angle, corner, cornerstone, tower, bulwark, pinnacle. Figuratively, it can be a chieftan.

17 I will bring such distressYY upon peopleZZ
    that they shall walkAAA like the blind;

Notes on verse 17a

YY “bring…distress” = tsarar. Related to “distress” in v15. See note LL above.
ZZ “people” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
AAA “walk” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.

    because they have sinnedBBB against the Lord,
their bloodCCC shall be poured outDDD like dust,EEE
    and their fleshFFF like dung.GGG

Notes on verse 17b

BBB “sinned” = chata. This is properly to miss, and so figuratively it is used for sinning, bearing the blame. It implies a forfeiture or loss of something.
CCC “blood” = dam. Perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.
DDD “poured out” = shaphak. This is to pour out, gust, or slip. It can be to pour as blood, a drink offering, or molten metal. It can also mean to create a mound. Figuratively, it can refer to killing, or spending money.
EEE “dust” = aphar. May be related to aphar (to throw dust, be dust). This is dust as powdered, perhaps gray colored. It could be ashes, powder, ground, dry earth, clay mud, or rubbish.
FFF “flesh” = lechum. 2x in OT. From lacham (to eat or feed on). This is eating or food. It can also refer to the bowels, flesh, or body.
GGG “dung” = gelel. 4x in OT. From galal (to roll, roll away, wallow, commit, remove; rolling in a literal or figurative sense). This is dung or refuse.

18 Neither their silverHHH nor their goldIII
    will be able toJJJ saveKKK them
    on the day of the Lord’s wrath;

Notes on verse 18a

HHH “silver” = keseph. From kasaph (to long for, be greedy; to become pale). This is silver or money.
III “gold” = zahab. Root may mean to shimmer. This is gold or something that has the color of gold like oil. It can also refer to a clear sky – to good weather.
JJJ “be able to” = yakol. This is to be able, endure, overcome, prevail.
KKK “save” = natsal. This is to snatch someone or something away in a good sense – as rescue, defend, or deliver – or in a bad sense – as strip or plunder.

in the fire of his passionLLL
    the whole earthMMM shall be consumed;
for a full,NNN a terribleOOO endPPP
    he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Notes on verse 18b

LLL “passion” = qinah. Perhaps from qana (to be jealous, zealous, envious). This is zeal, jealousy, envy, anger, passion rivalry.
MMM “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
NNN “full” = ak. Perhaps related to “prepared” in v7. See aken (surely, truly, firmly, nevertheless); from kun (see note F above). This is surely, also, certainly, at least.
OOO “terrible” = bahal. To be afraid or dismayed or amazed. This is deep trembling within. So, figuratively, it refers to being suddenly agitated. This implies moving or acting quickly/anxiously.
PPP “end” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.

Image credit: “Adam” by Frederick Hart in the Washington Cathedral.

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