ZEPHANIAH 2:1-5, 4-13, 5-9, 11-3:2

Zephaniah 2:1-5:

A (1) Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O NATION not desired;

B (2) Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce ANGER of Yahweh come upon you, before the day of Yahweh’s ANGER come upon you.

C (3) SEEK YE Yahweh, ALL YE MEEK <06035> of the earth, which have wrought his judgment;

D (3) seek righteousness,

C′ (3) SEEK MEEKNESS <06038>:

B′ (3) it may be ye shall be hid in the day of Yahweh’s ANGER.

A′ (4, 5) For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, THE NATION of the Cherethites! the word of Yahweh is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

Zephaniah 2:4-13:

A (4) For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon A DESOLATION: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.

B (5) Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of Yahweh is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I WILL EVEN DESTROY thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

C (6, 7) And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for Yahweh THEIR GOD shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.

D (8) I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby THEY HAVE REPROACHED MY PEOPLE, and MAGNIFIED  THEMSELVES against their border.

E (9) Therefore as I live, saith Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them.

D′ (10) This shall they have for their pride, because THEY HAVE REPROACHED AND MAGNIFIED THEMSELVES AGAINST THE PEOPLE of Yahweh of hosts.

C′ (11) Yahweh will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all THE GODS of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.

B′ (12, 13) Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword. And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and DESTROY Assyria;

A′ (13) and will make Nineveh A DESOLATION, and dry like a wilderness.

Zephaniah 2:5-9:

A (5) Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, THE NATION <01471> of the Cherethites! the word of Yahweh is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.

B (6, 7) And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for THE REMNANT <07611> of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening:

C (7) for Yahweh THEIR GOD shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.

D (8) I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border.

C′ (9) Therefore as I live, saith Yahweh of hosts, THE GOD of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation:

B′ (9) THE RESIDUE <07611> of my people <05971> shall spoil them, and the remnant <03499>

A′ (9) OF MY PEOPLE <01471> shall possess them.

Zephaniah 2:11-3:2:

A (2:11, 12) Yahweh will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all THE GODS of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen. Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.

B (2:13) And he will stretch out HIS HAND against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness.

C (2:14) And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, ALL THE BEASTS of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work.

D (2:15) This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me:

C′ (2:15) how is she become a desolation, a place FOR BEASTS to lie down in!

B′ (2:15) every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag HIS HAND.

A′ (3:1, 2) Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in Yahweh; she drew not near to HER GOD.

3 thoughts on “ZEPHANIAH 2:1-5, 4-13, 5-9, 11-3:2”

  1. I wonder if you need to incorporate C/D in the structure from 2:1-5. The central point is seek righteousness and meekness.
    This is particularly poignant Judah are being like the other NATIONS ‘gowy’.

    What the other nations are famous for is the centre of the next chiasm (2:5-9): they reproach (blaspheme) and magnify themselves.

    Judah needs to stop being a ‘gowy’ and demonstrate a desire to seek righteousness and meekness. Interestingly here (2:1,9) there are 2 of only a handful of occasions where Judah is referred to as a ‘gowy’ in the minor-prophets.

    1. Yes, within the structure of the chiasm, C/D forms a centre. The further subdivision is based on the parallel between meek/meekness. If you accept that this comparison is valid, then the statement “seek righteousness” seems to be a more specific central point. The verse appears to give more weight to this rather than seeking meekness not least because the people to whom the prophet is addressing the words already have found some meekness, for they are called “meek”. Either way, C/D is in the centre.

      Another justification for identifying “seek righteousness” as a central point within verse 3 is that it is quoted by Christ in Matthew 6:33: “seek ye … his righteousness”. Your point, John, which I hadn’t noticed before, about Judah being referred to as a “nation”, and that it had become like the nations around about, is backed up by, and explains, the comment which Christ makes in the previous verse in Matthew 6 when he says: “For after all these things do the Gentiles (or nations) seek” (v. 32). That is, Christ warns the disciples not to be like Judah of old who in the days of Zephaniah were following the nations.

      Also, Christ’s words “and all these things shall be added unto you” (v. 33), where “things” includes food (see v. 31), parallels the promise which God goes on to make in Zephaniah: “And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon …” (v. 7).

  2. Really helpful reference to Matthew 6. I also noted that meekness and righteousness are put together by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:5-6.

    An additional point to this is that Zephaniah is prophesying of the judgement by drawing on past judgements of God
    1. In the days of Noah, note the multiple allusions to the flood in Zephaniah, e.g. “I will cut off” 1:3, 4, 11, 3:6, 7.
    2. In the days of Moses when judgement was wrought on Egypt, e.g. “I will stretch out my hand”, 1:4, 2:13
    The exhortation to the people was to “seek righteousness” – be like Noah, Genesis 6:5 “Noah was a righteous man” AND “seek meekness” – be like Moses, Numbers 12:3, “Moses was very meek”.

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