Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Zephaniah 3

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

Verse 1

Zephaniah 3:1

Woe -- the Prophet Zephaniah again returned to the theme of Jerusalem’s doom (cf. 1:4–2:3). He emphasized the need for the wicked Jews to seek repentance. The prophet listed God’s grievances against His people (3:1–5), and then pronounced God’s inevitable judgment (vv. 6–7).

The oppressing city Jerusalem.

3:1 Defiled -- Polluted Jerusalem had wandered far from its call to be a holy city (Isaiah 52:1)

Verse 2

Zephaniah 3:2-5: they oppressed their own people (v. 3), were rebellious against God

3:2 she does not accept correction Describes discipline.

The Jerusalemites failed to heed the correction provided by the Law and the Prophets. Such rebellion was a failure to trust in the LORD and to be near Him in fellowship and worship (cf. Zephaniah 1:6).

Verse 3

Zephaniah 3:3

3:3–4 See also Ezekiel 22:23-29.

3:3 roaring lions Compare Proverbs 28:15. These large, powerful, fast cats are supreme predators.

evening wolves See Habakkuk 1:8. A wolf is a large, mostly nocturnal member of the canine family. Wolves stalk their prey at night in large packs. When they make a kill, the pack ferociously fights over pieces of flesh (see Ezekiel 22:27). Most biblical references to wolves are symbolic, as here.

The officials were compared to voracious, hungry lions; the rulers (judges) were insatiable wolves who completely devoured an evening prey by morning (cf. Ezekiel 22:27; Micah 3:1-3)


Verse 4

Zephaniah 3:4

3:3–4. The prophet then indicted both the civil leaders (cf. Zephaniah 1:8) and the religious leaders.

The prophets were self-styled, arrogant religionists who, with the treachery of the priests, twisted and perverted the Law of God in order to fill their bulging purses (cf. Ezekiel 22:28; Micah 3:5, 11).

are arrogant The root of the term pochaz means “to overcook.” As a result, the word has the idea of “boiling over with greed.”

The priests (cf Zephaniah 1:4) profaned the sanctuary probably by their idolatry and astrology (Zephaniah 1:4-5) and by offering blemished animal sacrifices. Since they violated the Law by their disobedience (cf. Ezekiel 22:26), no wonder their people were not teachable (Zephaniah 3:2).

men of treachery The prophets were treacherous primarily because they delivered false messages to the nation. They promised peace (Micah 3:5; Jeremiah 29:21-23) instead of warning the nation of impending judgment.

Micah 3:11

Verse 5

Zephaniah 3:5

3:5 Yahweh is righteous in her midst Contrasts Yahweh with the wicked leaders of Jerusalem.

in her Refers to Jerusalem.

3:5 He does no wrong, unlike those mentioned in 3:3–4.

The nation evidenced the depth of its debauchery by its callous conscience: the unrighteous know no shame (cf. Zephaniah 2:1). The word “unrighteous” (‘awwal) is related to the word “wrong” (‘awlâh) in the first part of Zephaniah 3:5. It means “to distort, to turn aside, to be wicked.”

Verse 6

Zephaniah 3:6

3:6–7. The Lord’s words recorded in verses 6–13 point up Judah’s dire situation. The Lord rehearsed His past actions against other nations (v. 6), and then cited both the reasons for and the actuality of a near-future judgment (v. 7). God had acted in conformity with His righteousness by judging nations for their wickedness, leaving them demolished … deserted, and destroyed.

3:6 I have cut off nations The northern kingdom had suffered the judgment of Yahweh. The southern kingdom should have learned from their example.

their strongholds Heavily fortified defensive structures placed strategically within city walls.

Verse 7

Zephaniah 3:7

3:7 But ... The word but in the last sentence of 3:7 has a sad implication. Instead of responding to the Lord’s unceasing mercies, Judah consciously and purposely repudiated Him and was even eager to continue in her corrupt ways. Complacency (Zephaniah 1:12) and rebellion (Zephaniah 3:1) led to an enthusiasm for corruption! (v. 7) What a cameo of human history!

3:7 get up early: Jerusalem’s citizens couldn’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning and do more evil deeds (Proverbs 1:16). They had moved far from the ways of their ancestor Abraham, who arose early to obey God’s command (Genesis 22:3).

Verse 8

Zephaniah 3:8

According to the Masora, (The group of Jewish scholars who preserved the Hebrew text of the OT in the early Middle Ages.) this is the only verse in the OT that contains all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, including the final forms.

3:8 be patient: See Habakkuk 2:3.

• stand and accuse: The prophet portrays a courtroom scene where God rises first as witness (see also Jeremiah 29:23; Malachi 3:5) on his own behalf, and then presides as judge (see also Job 9:15; Psalms 50:6) to deliver his righteous sentence.

• The fire of my jealousy describes the Lord’s righteous hatred of sin, as well as his concern for his holy name and for the welfare of his people (see Isaiah 66:13-16).

Verse 9

Zephaniah 3:9

3:9 God intends for the blessings promised to the faithful remnant of 3:9–13 to reach people from every nation of the world. Not just Israel, but all people would be transformed, call on the Lord (see Isaiah 55:5), and serve him (see Isaiah 59:19-21; Zechariah 14:16).

The spread of the Good News to all nations furthered the fulfillment of this vision (Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 10:9-13).

3:9–13 Following the prophetic custom, Zephaniah concludes his book with a message of hope (e.g., Hosea 14:1-9; Joel 3:18-21; Amos 9:11-15). He begins by announcing the future inclusion of the Gentile nations, Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16. The future Israel, in Christ’s kingdom, would be all in the world who believed and followed God .

Who is the real Israel today?

Romans 2:28-29; Romans 4:12-14; Romans 9:4-8; Galatians 3:27-29; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 3:9; 1 Corinthians 10:18

God’s Israel today is not that nation in Palestine called by that name, but His people who live by faith in Him and His Son Jesus Christ.

Verse 10

Zephaniah 3:10

3:10 The rivers of Ethiopia (Hebrew Cush) are the distant headwaters of the Nile River.

The idea is that even in the most distant parts of the world the followers of God would be found.

Verse 11

Zephaniah 3:11

On that day ... in the Christian age, when the whole would worship the true living God. cf. John 4:21-23.

Verse 12

Zephaniah 3:12

3:12 Jesus the Messiah perfectly expresses the ethical qualities predicted for the godly remnant of Israel (Isaiah 42:1-4; Isaiah 53:3, Isaiah 53:7-9; Zechariah 9:9; see Matthew 11:28-30; Matthew 12:15-21; Philippians 2:1-8; 1 Peter 2:23).

3:12 a people afflicted and poor When the Assyrians and Babylonians uprooted people from their homelands and exiled them throughout their empire, they typically left only the poor behind (see 2 Kings 25:12).

afflicted and poor Contrasts the proud and haughty individuals of v. 11.

Verse 13

Zephaniah 3:13

the remnant -- A term often used for the faithful to God, in contrast to the multitudes who stray to the broad path. Zephaniah 2:7. Isaiah 6:13. Isaiah 10:20-22. Micah 4:7. Romans 11:4-7.

3:12-13 Jesus the Messiah perfectly expresses the ethical qualities predicted for the godly remnant of Israel (Isaiah 42:1-4; Isaiah 53:3, Isaiah 53:7-9; Zechariah 9:9; see Matthew 11:28-30; Matthew 12:15-21; Philippians 2:1-8; 1 Peter 2:23).

Verse 14

Zephaniah 3:14

3:14 Sing … shout aloud … ! Be glad and rejoice: The cumulative effect of these commands emphasizes that God’s people will one day experience unsurpassed joy.

Though the immediate prospect for the nation was one of sorrow and torment (vv. 1, 5–7), a day will come when the remnant’s fears will give way to shouts of praise. cf. Matthew 21:9.

Verse 15

Zephaniah 3:15

3:15 The true King of Israel was always to be the Lord (Numbers 23:21; 1 Samuel 8:7; Isaiah 44:6).

• will live among you: See also Isaiah 54:4-8; Isaiah 57:14-19; Isaiah 62:10-12; Ezekiel 48:35; Joel 3:17, 21.

Verse 16

Zephaniah 3:16

They ... The remnant of v.13, the singers of v.14.

Jerusalem ... Zion ... the faithful of God.

your hands shall not hang limp Literally “do not let your hands sink.” The inhabitants of Jerusalem should no longer let their hands hang limp in fear (see Isaiah 13:7-8; Jeremiah 6:24).

Verse 17

Zephaniah 3:17

3:17 a mighty savior: God was Israel’s Divine Warrior and Redeemer (see Psalms 24:8-10; Isaiah 42:13; Habakkuk 3:8-15). One of God’s titles is “the Mighty God” (Isaiah 10:21). This title also applies to the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6).

• With his love, he will calm all your fears: Or He will be silent in his love. Greek and Syriac versions read He will renew you with his love.

• He will rejoice over you: Not only will Jerusalem and all Israel rejoice in God (Zephaniah 3:14) but God will also rejoice over them as a purified and faithful people (see Zephaniah 3:12-13).

Verse 18

Zephaniah 3:18

A burden -- It was a burden for scattered and removed people to travel to Jerusalem for the feasts, but the law would be removed and all people everywhere could worship God where they were. John 4:21-24.

The law requiring such feasts were fulfilled by Christ and that law taken out of the way Matthew 5:17; Hebrews 10:8-9; Colossians 2:14

Verse 19

Zephaniah 3:19

At that time -- The prophet’s message of hope refers to their return from Babylonian captivity, but the ultimate picture is to the Messianic age. See note on Zephaniah 3:11

Verse 20

Zephaniah 3:20

At that time -- . cf note Zephaniah 3:19

• I, the LORD, have spoken! Zephaniah’s prophecy, entirely from God (see also Zephaniah 1:1-3, Zephaniah 1:10; Zephaniah 2:9; Zephaniah 3:8), is utterly trustworthy.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Zephaniah 3". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/zephaniah-3.html. 2021.
Ads FreeProfile