Zephaniah 3:14-20

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Holy Saturday, ABC


14 Sing aloud,A O daughter Zion;B
    shout,C O Israel!D

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 “Zion” = tsiyyon. The word is 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.
C “shout” = rua. To break or destroy something so figuratively, an ear splitting sound such as a call of alarm or a joyful sound.
D “Israel” = yisrael. sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is 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.

RejoiceE and exultF with all your heart,G
    O daughter Jerusalem!H

Notes on verse 14b

E “rejoice” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
F “exult” = alaz. 16x in OT. This is to jump for joy, rejoice, triumph, or be jubilant,
G “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.
H “Jerusalem” = yerushalayim. 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.

15 The LordI has taken away the judgmentsJ against you,
    he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;K
    you shall fearL disasterM no more.

16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
    do not let your handsN grow weak.O

Notes on verses 15-16

I “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.
J “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.
K “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.
L “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.
M “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.
N “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.
O “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.

17 The Lord, your God,P is in your midst,
    a warriorQ who gives victory;R
he will rejoiceS over you with gladness,T
    he will renewU you in his love;
he will exultV over you with loud singingW

Notes on verse 17

P “God” = Elohim.
Q “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.
R “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.
S “rejoice” = sus. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to be bright or cheerful.
T “gladness” = simchah. Related to “rejoice” in v14. From samach (see note E above). This is joy, rejoicing, pleasure, or glee.
U “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.
V “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.
W “loud singing” = rinnah. Related to “sing aloud” in v14. From ranan (see note A above). This is a ringing cry, rejoicing, shouting, proclamation, or singing.

18    X as on a day of festival.
I will removeY disasterZ from you,
    so that you will not bear reproachAA for it.

Notes on verse 18

X {untranslated} = yagah. 8x in OT. This is to suffer, grieve, inflict, or torment.
Y “remove” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, or bring. It can also mean to take away, destroy, or remove.
Z 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.
AA “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 BB I will deal with all your oppressorsCC
    at that time.
And I will saveDD the lame
    and gather the outcast,EE
and I will change their shameFF into praiseGG
    and renownHH in all the earth.

Notes on verse 19

BB {untranslated} = hen. Lo! Behold! If, though. It is an expression of surprise
CC “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.
DD “save” = yasha. Same as “gives victory” in v17. See note R above.
EE “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.
FF “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.
GG “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.”
HH “renown” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). 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.

20 At that time I will bring you home,
    at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
    among all the peoplesII of the earth,
when I restoreJJ your fortunesKK
    before your eyes, says the Lord.

Notes on verse 20

II “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.
JJ “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.”
KK “fortunes” = shebuth. From shabah (to take captive). This is exile or prisoner.

Image Credit: “When you see only the dark, know the Light will soon return” by Louis Bouchetto, 2004.

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