Zephaniah 3:14-20

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Annunciation of the Lord – A Women’s Lectionary


14 Sing aloud,A O daughterB Zion;C
    shout,D O Israel!E

Notes on verse 14a

A “sing aloud” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
B “daughter” = bat. From ben (son literal or figurative; also, grandson, subject, nation); from banah (to build or obtain children). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.
C “Zion” = Tsiyyon. Related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (dryness, drought); from a root meaning parched as desert, dry land. Zion can refer to a mountain in Jerusalem as well as another name for Jerusalem itself or the people.
D “shout” = rua. To break or destroy something so figuratively, an ear splitting sound such as a call of alarm or a joyful sound.
E “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.

RejoiceF and exultG with allH your heart,I
    O daughter Jerusalem!J

Notes on verse 14b

F “rejoice” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
G “exult” = alaz. 16x in OT. This is to jump for joy, rejoice, triumph, or be jubilant.
H “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
I “heart” = leb. 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.
J “Jerusalem” = Yerushalaim. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalam (to make amends, to be complete or sound). This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.

15 The LordK has taken awayL the judgmentsM against you;
    he has turned awayN your enemies.O

Notes on verse 15a

K “Lord” = 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.
L “taken away” = sur. This is to turn aside in a literal or figurative sense – to depart, decline, rebel, remove, or withdraw.
M “judgments” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
N “turned away” = panah. This is to turn, regard, appear, look, prepare.
O “enemies” = oyeb. From ayab (to hate or be hostile to). This is a foe or enemy as one that you are hostile to.

The kingP of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;Q
    you shall fearR disasterS no more.

Notes on verse 15b

P “king” = melek. From malak (to be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned; by implication, to take counsel). This is king or royal.
Q “midst” = qereb. Perhaps from qarab (to come near or approach). This is among, in the midst, before, the center It is the inward part, whether literal or figurative. It can also be used for the heart, the site of thoughts and feelings. This word is also used as a technical term for the entrails of the animals who are sacrificed.
R “fear” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
S “disaster” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.

16 On that dayT it shall be said to Jerusalem:

“Do not fear, O Zion;
    do not let your handsU grow weak.V
17 The Lord, your God,W is in your midst,
    a warriorX who gives victory;Y

Notes on verses 16-17a

T “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
U “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
V “grow weak” = raphah. This is to slacken in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be to hang, be feeble, fail, drop, be helpless, relax, slink, subside, or wait.
W “God” = Elohim. Related to “Israel” in v14. See note E above.
X “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.
Y “gives victory” = yasha. To deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free.

he will rejoiceZ over you with gladness;AA
    he will renewBB you in his love;CC

Notes on verse 17b

Z “rejoice” = sus. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to be bright or cheerful.
AA “gladness” = simchah. Related to “rejoice” in v14. From samach (see note F above). This is joy, rejoicing, pleasure, or glee.
BB “renew” = charash. This is to scratch, which implies etching or plowing. It can mean to manufacture regardless of materials used. Figuratively, it can be to devise or conceal. It can also have a sense of secrecy. Hence, being silent or left alone. It can also be speechless.
CC “love” = ahabah. From ahab (love or affection); from aheb (to love, beloved, friend; to have affection for sexually or otherwise). This is love as a noun.

he will exultDD over you with loud singingEE
18     FFas on a day of festival.”GG

Notes on verses 17c-18a

DD “exult” = gil. Properly, this is twirling around because of a strong feeling whether of rejoicing or from fear. This can be rejoice, be glad or joyful, or to cry.
EE “loud singing” = rinnah. Related to “sing aloud” in v14. From ranan (see note A above). This is a song, shout, cry of joy, or proclamation. It could also be a shout of grief.
FF {untranslated} = yagah. 8x in OT. This is to suffer, grieve, afflict.
GG “festival” = moed. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree). This is a meeting, assembly, fixed time. It can be used for a festival or feast. It can also refer to a meeting place.

I will removeHH disasterII fromJJ you,
    so that you will not bear reproachKK for it.

Notes on verse 18b

HH “remove” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, or bring. It can also mean to take away, destroy, or remove.
II “disaster” = maseth. 16x in OT. From nasa (to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively; to carry, take, or arise; to bring forth, advance, accept). This is an utterance, lifting up, collection, uprising, a rising flame or beacon, a present lifted up, a mess, reproach, or burden.
JJ {untranslated} = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v15. See note K above.
KK “bear reproach” = cherpah. From charaph (to expose and so figuratively to reproach, defame, carp at, defy). This is reproach, rebuke, shame, or disgrace. It can also refer to genitals.

19 LLI will dealMM with all your oppressorsNN
    at that time.OO

Notes on verse 19a

LL {untranslated} = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
MM “deal” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
NN “oppressors” = anah. This is to be bowed down. It can refer to a sense of humility or to a sense of being browbeaten, oppressed, afflicted, or depressed. This can be literal or figurative – depressed in mood or circumstance.
OO “time” = et. 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.

And I will savePP the lameQQ
    and gatherRR the outcast,SS

Notes on verse 19b

PP “save” = yasha. Same as “gives victory” in v17. See note Y above.
QQ “lame” = tsala. 4x in OT. Perhaps from tsela (rib, side, leaf, plank, side of a person or object; quarter of the sky). Root may mean to curve. This is lame or limping.
RR “gather” = qabats. This is to collect, assemble, heap, grasp, or gather.
SS “outcast” = nadach. This is scatter, seduce, banish, draw away, drive away, outcast, scatter. It means to push off in a literal or figurative sense so it could also be mislead, inflict, or withdraw.

and I will changeTT their shameUU into praiseVV
    and renownWW in all the earth.XX

Notes on verse 19c

TT “change” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
UU “shame” = bosheth. From bosh (properly, to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion). This is shame as a feeling and a thing that creates shame. It can also mean humiliation, confusion, or be used specifically for an idol.
VV “praise” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
WW “renown” = shem. Related to “change” in v19. Perhaps from sim (see note TT above). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
XX “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

20 At that time I will bringYY you home,
    at the time when I gather you;
for I will makeZZ you renowned and praised
    among all the peoplesAAA of the earth,
when I restoreBBB your fortunesCCC
    before your eyes,DDD says the Lord.

Notes on verse 20

YY “bring” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
ZZ “make” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
AAA “peoples” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
BBB “restore” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
CCC “fortunes” = shebuth. From shabah (to take captive, keep, a captor). This is prisoners or exile. It can also be used figuratively to describe a previous condition of prosperity.
DDD “eyes” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

Image credit: “Waves of Joy” by PJ Johnson, 2010.

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