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God Asks People to Change Their Lives

Shameless people, change your lives before you become like a dry and dying flower. In the heat of day, a flower will wilt and die. You will be like that when the Lord shows his terrible anger. So change your lives before the Lord shows his anger against you! All you humble people, come to the Lord! Obey his laws. Learn to do good things. Learn to be humble. Maybe then you will be safe when the Lord shows his anger.

The Lord Will Punish Israel’s Neighbors

No one will be left in Gaza. Ashkelon will be destroyed. By noon, the people will be forced to leave Ashdod. Ekron[a] will be empty.[b] You Cretans[c] living by the sea, this message from the Lord is about you. Canaan, land of the Philistines, you will be destroyed—no one will live there! Your land by the sea will become empty fields for shepherds and their sheep. Then the land will belong to the survivors from Judah. The Lord their God will remember the people from Judah and restore their fortunes. Then they will let their sheep eat the grass in those fields. In the evenings they will lie down in the empty houses of Ashkelon.

The Lord says, “I know what the people of Moab and Ammon did. They embarrassed my people. They took their land to make their own countries larger. So, as surely as I am alive, Moab and the people of Ammon will be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. I am the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, and I promise those countries will be destroyed completely forever. Their land will be overgrown with weeds. It will be like the land covered with salt by the Dead Sea. The survivors of my people will take that land and everything left in it.”

10 This will happen to the people of Moab and Ammon because they were so proud and cruel and humiliated the people of the Lord All-Powerful. 11 They will be afraid of the Lord, because he will destroy their gods. Then everyone in all the faraway lands will worship the Lord. 12 People of Ethiopia, this even means you! The Lord’s sword will kill your people. 13 Then the Lord will turn north and punish Assyria. He will destroy Nineveh—that city will be like an empty, dry desert. 14 Only sheep and wild animals will live in those ruins. Owls and crows will sit on the columns that are left standing. Their calls will be heard coming through the windows. Crows will sit on the doorsteps. Black birds[d] will make their homes in those empty houses. 15 Nineveh is so proud now. It is such a happy city. The people think they are safe. They think Nineveh is the greatest place in the world, but it will be destroyed! It will be an empty place where only wild animals go to rest. People who pass by will whistle and shake their heads when they see how badly the city was destroyed.

Footnotes

  1. Zephaniah 2:4 Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron Philistine cities. In Hebrew, Zephaniah is making wordplays on the names of these cities.
  2. Zephaniah 2:4 empty In Hebrew this word is like the word meaning “Philistines.” Also in verse 6.
  3. Zephaniah 2:5 Cretans People from Crete. The Philistines came from that island.
  4. Zephaniah 2:14 Black birds Or “cedar beams.”

Judah and Jerusalem Judged Along With the Nations

Judah Summoned to Repent

Gather together,(A) gather yourselves together,
    you shameful(B) nation,
before the decree takes effect
    and that day passes like windblown chaff,(C)
before the Lord’s fierce anger(D)
    comes upon you,
before the day of the Lord’s wrath(E)
    comes upon you.
Seek(F) the Lord, all you humble of the land,
    you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness,(G) seek humility;(H)
    perhaps you will be sheltered(I)
    on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Philistia

Gaza(J) will be abandoned
    and Ashkelon(K) left in ruins.
At midday Ashdod will be emptied
    and Ekron uprooted.
Woe to you who live by the sea,
    you Kerethite(L) people;
the word of the Lord is against you,(M)
    Canaan, land of the Philistines.
He says, “I will destroy you,
    and none will be left.”(N)
The land by the sea will become pastures
    having wells for shepherds
    and pens for flocks.(O)
That land will belong
    to the remnant(P) of the people of Judah;
    there they will find pasture.
In the evening they will lie down
    in the houses of Ashkelon.
The Lord their God will care for them;
    he will restore their fortunes.[a](Q)

Moab and Ammon

“I have heard the insults(R) of Moab(S)
    and the taunts of the Ammonites,(T)
who insulted(U) my people
    and made threats against their land.(V)
Therefore, as surely as I live,”
    declares the Lord Almighty,
    the God of Israel,
“surely Moab(W) will become like Sodom,(X)
    the Ammonites(Y) like Gomorrah—
a place of weeds and salt pits,
    a wasteland forever.
The remnant of my people will plunder(Z) them;
    the survivors(AA) of my nation will inherit their land.(AB)

10 This is what they will get in return for their pride,(AC)
    for insulting(AD) and mocking
    the people of the Lord Almighty.(AE)
11 The Lord will be awesome(AF) to them
    when he destroys all the gods(AG) of the earth.(AH)
Distant nations will bow down to him,(AI)
    all of them in their own lands.

Cush

12 “You Cushites,[b](AJ) too,
    will be slain by my sword.(AK)

Assyria

13 He will stretch out his hand against the north
    and destroy Assyria,(AL)
leaving Nineveh(AM) utterly desolate
    and dry as the desert.(AN)
14 Flocks and herds(AO) will lie down there,
    creatures of every kind.
The desert owl(AP) and the screech owl(AQ)
    will roost on her columns.
Their hooting will echo through the windows,
    rubble will fill the doorways,
    the beams of cedar will be exposed.
15 This is the city of revelry(AR)
    that lived in safety.(AS)
She said to herself,
    “I am the one! And there is none besides me.”(AT)
What a ruin she has become,
    a lair for wild beasts!(AU)
All who pass by her scoff(AV)
    and shake their fists.(AW)

Footnotes

  1. Zephaniah 2:7 Or will bring back their captives
  2. Zephaniah 2:12 That is, people from the upper Nile region

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