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The word of the L ord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah.


The Coming Judgment on Judah


I will utterly sweep away everything

from the face of the earth, says the L ord.


I will sweep away humans and animals;

I will sweep away the birds of the air

and the fish of the sea.

I will make the wicked stumble.

I will cut off humanity

from the face of the earth, says the L ord.


I will stretch out my hand against Judah,

and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

and I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal

and the name of the idolatrous priests;


those who bow down on the roofs

to the host of the heavens;

those who bow down and swear to the L ord,

but also swear by Milcom;


those who have turned back from following the L ord,

who have not sought the L ord or inquired of him.



Be silent before the Lord G od!

For the day of the L ord is at hand;

the L ord has prepared a sacrifice,

he has consecrated his guests.


And on the day of the L ord’s sacrifice

I will punish the officials and the king’s sons

and all who dress themselves in foreign attire.


On that day I will punish

all who leap over the threshold,

who fill their master’s house

with violence and fraud.



On that day, says the L ord,

a cry will be heard from the Fish Gate,

a wail from the Second Quarter,

a loud crash from the hills.


The inhabitants of the Mortar wail,

for all the traders have perished;

all who weigh out silver are cut off.


At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,

and I will punish the people

who rest complacently on their dregs,

those who say in their hearts,

“The L ord will not do good,

nor will he do harm.”


Their wealth shall be plundered,

and their houses laid waste.

Though they build houses,

they shall not inhabit them;

though they plant vineyards,

they shall not drink wine from them.


The Great Day of the L ord


The great day of the L ord is near,

near and hastening fast;

the sound of the day of the L ord is bitter,

the warrior cries aloud there.


That day will be a day of wrath,

a day of distress and anguish,

a day of ruin and devastation,

a day of darkness and gloom,

a day of clouds and thick darkness,


a day of trumpet blast and battle cry

against the fortified cities

and against the lofty battlements.



I will bring such distress upon people

that they shall walk like the blind;

because they have sinned against the L ord,

their blood shall be poured out like dust,

and their flesh like dung.


Neither their silver nor their gold

will be able to save them

on the day of the L ord’s wrath;

in the fire of his passion

the whole earth shall be consumed;

for a full, a terrible end

he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.


He confirms here the same truth, and amplifies and illustrates it by a striking description; for we know how much a lively representation avails to touch the feelings, when the event itself is not only narrated, but placed as it were before our eyes. So the Prophet is not content with plain words, but presents a scene, that the future destruction of Jerusalem might appear in a clearer light. But as I have elsewhere explained this mode of speaking, I shall not dwell on the subject now.

He says, that there would be the voice of crying from the gate of the fishes. He names here three places in Jerusalem, and afterwards he adds a fourth. But as we do not understand the situation of the city, sufficient for us is this probable conjecture,—that he refers to parts opposite to one another; as though he had said, that no corner of the city would be in a quiet state, when the Lord roused up war. Let us then suppose it to be triangular, and let the gate of the fishes be one side, and let the second gate or the school be on the other; and let the part nigh the hills form the third side. What some say, that the hills mean palaces, I do not approve of; nor is it consistent with the context: but we ought to bear in mind what I have already stated, that the Prophet here denounces ruin on every part of the city, so that the Jews would in vain seek refuges for themselves; for by running here and there, they would find all places full of crying and howling. There shall be then the voice of crying from the gate of the fishes. Why the Prophet calls it the gate of the fishes we cannot for certainty say, except that it is a probable conjecture, that either some fish-pond was near it, or that the fish-market was nigh.

As to the word משנה, meshene, the majority of interpreters think that it means the place where the priests explained the law and devoted themselves to the study of it; and they adduce a passage from 2 Kings 22:14, where it seems, as there is mention made of priests, the word is taken in this sense. But as gates are spoken of here, and as the Hebrews often call whatever is second in order by this word, as the second part in buildings and also in towns and in other places, is thus called, we may take it here in this sense, that is, as meaning that gate which was next to the first in general esteem. But as the subject has little to do with the main point, I dismiss it. 7878     Junius, Piscator, Newcome, and Henderson think that it means the second city, a part of Jerusalem, being so called, as they supposed, in Nehemiah 11:9: where our version is considered to be wrong, and the clause ought to be, “and Judah, the son of Jeruiah, was over the second city”—[משנה על-העיר]. So it is deemed improperly rendered “college” in 2 Kings 22:14 and 2 Chronicles 34:22; where it ought to be “in the second city.” But the passage in Nehemiah is not decisive on the subject; and our version is countenanced by the former part of the verse, where “Joel” is said to be the “overseer,” and “Judah” is mentioned as being next to him, the second in office: and it is so rendered in the Septuagint. As to the other text, the word is by itself as here. What Calvin, after Cyril and Theodoret, suggests, is the most probable solution.
   The word rendered by Calvincontritio—breach,” and by Henderson, “destruction,” is [שבר]. As “crying” and “howling” are said to proceed from the other parts, so something similar must have proceeded from “the hills.” The word means breaking, and it is often applied to the heart—“a broken heart,” Psalm 34:18; 51:19, etc. It seems to mean here the breaking out into weeping and wailing. The parallelism of the verse would thus be complete—

   And there shall be in that day, saith Jehovah,
The voice of crying from the fish-gate,
And howling from the second
And great wailing from the hills.

   Wailing is the breaking out of anguish and pangs. The word is used in Ezekiel 21:6, for acute pain in the loins, and may be considered as used here metonymically.—Ed.

He says in the last place, that there would be a great breach in the hills. He refers, I have no doubt, to that part of the city which was contiguous to the mountains. However this may be, it was the Prophet’s object to include here the whole city, that he might shake off from the Jews all vain confidence, and show that there would be no escape, when the Lord stretched forth his hand to punish their sins. It now follows—

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