The final judgment for humans (Zeph 1:17-1:18)

“I will bring

Such distress

Upon the people

That they shall walk

Like the blind.

They have sinned

Against Yahweh.

Their blood

Shall be poured out

Like dust.

Their flesh

Shall be

Like dung.

Neither their silver,

Nor their gold,

Shall be able

To save them

On the day

Of Yahweh’s wrath.

In the fire

Of his passion,

The whole earth

Shall be consumed.

He will make

All the inhabitants

Of the earth

A full end,

A terrible end.”

Very clearly the end was coming.  There would be so much distress among humans that they would be walking around as if they were blind.  They had sinned against Yahweh, so that their blood would be poured out like dust, while their bodies would be like smelly dung.  Their silver and gold would not save them from Yahweh’s day of wrath, because Yahweh’s angry passion would consume the whole world, including all the people living on it.  The end times was near.

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The bitter wrathful day of Yahweh (Zeph 1:14-1:16)

“The great day of Yahweh

Is near,

Near,

Coming fast.

The sound of

The day of Yahweh

Is bitter.

The warrior

Cries aloud there.

That day will be

A day of wrath,

A day of distress,

A day of anguish,

A day of ruin,

A day of devastation,

A day of darkness,

A day of gloom,

A day of clouds

A day of darkness,

A day of trumpet blast,

A day of battle cry,

Against the fortified cities,

Against the lofty battlements.”

The day of Yahweh was to be a day of wrath and doom, as can be found also in Amos, chapter 5 and Isaiah, chapter 2.  This great day for Yahweh was coming right away, very soon.  This bitter sound was in the air, as the warriors cried out loudly with their battle cry against the fortified cities and their secure fortresses.  This was a day of wrath, distress, anguish, ruin, devastation, darkness, gloom, clouds, and a trumpet blast, certainly not a happy day.  Thus, the natural connection to death formed the inspiration for the medieval funeral hymn, Dies Irae, Latin for the day of wrath.

The unbelieving rich (Zeph 1:12-1:13)

“At that time,

I will search Jerusalem

With lamps.

I will punish

The people

Who rest complacently

On their dregs.

I will punish

Those who say

In their hearts,

‘Yahweh will not do good.

Nor will he do harm.’

Their wealth

Shall be plundered.

Their houses laid waste.

Though they build houses,

They shall not inhabit them.

Though they plant vineyards,

They shall not drink wine

From them.”

On the day of Yahweh, Yahweh was going to search through Jerusalem with lamps.  He would punish the complacent people, those who had drunk too much of the dregs of their wine casks.  Yahweh was going to punish those who said that they didn’t care about Yahweh, because he had no effect on their lives, either for good or bad.  Yahweh was going to take the wealth of these rich people by plundering their belongings and destroying their homes.  If they were planning to build a house, they would never live in it.  If they were planting vineyards, they would never enjoy the wine from those vines.  Wealth would not save them from the Day of Yahweh.

Against the commercial traders (Zeph 1:10-1:11)

“Says Yahweh.

‘On that day,

A cry will be heard

From the Fish Gate.

A wail will be heard

From the Second Quarter.

A loud crash will be heard

From the hills.

The inhabitants

Of the Mortar

Wail.

All the traders

Have perished.

All who weigh out

Silver

Are cut off.’”

Yahweh was clear about the consequences on the Day of Yahweh.  A cry would come from the north Fish Gate and the Second Quarter of Jerusalem, probably the entrance and the market place of business near this gate.  The Jerusalem traders may have sold fish there.  The northern hills around Jerusalem would also cry out, as would the wailing people of Mortal, those in the valley.  They would all wail and cry because of the lack of commerce.  All the traders would die.  Anyone involved with the weighing of silver would be wiped out.

Those punished on the Day of Yahweh (Zeph 1:8-1:9)

“On the day

Of Yahweh’s sacrifice,

I will punish

The officials,

The king’s sons,

As well as

All those who dress themselves

In foreign attire.

On that day,

I will punish

Everyone

Who leaps over the threshold.

I will punish

All those who fill

Their master’s house

With violence,

With fraud.”

On the day of Yahweh’s punishing sacrifice, he was going to punish all the officials and the sons of the king.  He was going to punish anyone who was dressed in foreign attire, since they were not loyal.  He also was going to punish those who leapt over the threshold, because this was a religious practice among some idolatrous followers.  Of course, he would punish any house where there was violence and fraud in it.

The Day of Yahweh is coming (Zeph 1:7-1:7)

“Be silent!

Before Yahweh God!

The day of Yahweh

Is at hand.

Yahweh has prepared

A sacrifice.

He has consecrated

His guests.”

Zephaniah asked the people to be silent before Yahweh, their God, because the day of Yahweh was nearly there.  Yahweh would prepare a sacrificial slaughter of these sinners.  However, he would consecrate his invited guests on the day of Yahweh.

Against the strange false idol gods (Zeph 1:4-1:6)

“I will cut off

From this place

Every remnant of Baal.

I will cut off

The name

Of the idolatrous priests.

They bow down

On the roofs

To the host

Of the heavens.

They bow down.

They swear

To Yahweh,

But also swear

To Milcom.

They have turned back

From following Yahweh.

They do not seek Yahweh.

They do not inquire of him.”

In Jerusalem and Judah, Yahweh was going to cut off every last remains of the Canaanite god Baal, a very popular Semitic god, who was in charge of fertility and storms as the lord of all.  Thus, the use of the term lord might indicate Baal as well.  Apparently, there were some idolatrous priests in Judah or Jerusalem who worshiped Baal on the roofs of their houses.  On top of that, there was the cult or worship of Milcom or Moloch.  Generally, people would offer up their children as sacrifices to Milcom or Moloch.  Thus, some people were swearing by Yahweh, but also swearing by Milcom at the same time.  In other words, they were not true monotheists.  They had turned away from Yahweh.  They were no longer seeking Yahweh or inquiring about him.