Zephaniah 1:1-13

The Lord will destroy Judah

1 This is the Lord's message, which he gave to Zephaniah, Cushi's son. Cushi's father was Gedaliah. Gedaliah's father was Amariah, and Amariah's father was Hezekiah. The Lord gave this message to Zephaniah when Josiah was king. Josiah was the son of Amon, who was the king of Judah.

1:1When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.

2 ‘It is the Lord who is speaking now.

I will remove everything from the ground.

3 I will remove men and animals.

I will remove the birds that fly in the air.

I will also remove the fish that live in the sea.

I will remove all the bad people.

Bad people cause trouble for other people.

Yes, I will remove all the people from the ground.

It is the Lord who is speaking.

4 I will destroy Judah.

I will remove all the people who live in Jerusalem.

I will remove all those who believe in the false god Baal.

I will remove Baal's priests.

1:4priests: See 2 Kings 23:5.

5 Some people stand on the roof tops to worship the sun, the moon and the stars. I will remove those people.

1:5the sun, the moon and the stars: Many people in Judah worshipped the sun and the stars. See 2 Kings 23:11; Jeremiah 19:13; Ezekiel 8:16.

Some people say that they love me. But they say also that they love Malcam (a false god). So I will remove them, too.’

1:5Malcam: The people who worshipped the false god Malcam killed their own children. They thought that it made Malcam happy.

6 ‘I will remove those who have turned away from the Lord.

I will also remove those who decide things without the Lord.

7 Be quiet! The Lord God is here.

It will soon be the day of the Lord.

1:7day of the Lord is the time when God comes as the great judge.

The Lord has made his sacrifice ready.

1:7sacrifice: Here, this does not mean an animal. It means the people who worshipped false gods.

He has made the people ready who will give the sacrifice to him.’

1:7the people that God made ready: the army of the Chaldeans.

8 ‘When it is time for the Lord's sacrifice, I will punish the rulers and the king's sons.

I will punish everyone who wears clothes like foreign people do.’

1:8Foreign people probably put these clothes on when they worshipped their own gods.

9 ‘I will also punish the people who rush into other people's houses. They do that because they want to rob those people.

On that same day, I will also punish other robbers. Those people fill their masters' houses with the things that they take.’

10 ‘On that day,’ says the Lord, ‘you will hear the noise of people who are shouting from one gate of the city. It is the gate called Fish Gate.

And there will be sad sounds from the next gate.

There will be loud noises from the hills.

11 Shout out, you who live near Jerusalem's market! Weep!

The Lord will remove the traders from your town.

Some people have lots of money there. But all those people will be dead then.’

1:11This will happen to Judah's people when the army of the Chaldeans comes.

12 ‘At that time,

I will look in all Jerusalem's dark corners. I will take lights with me.

I will find the drunks and I will punish them. These people say in their minds,

“The Lord will do neither good things nor bad things to us.”

13 So I will take away from them everything that they have.

I will take away their houses too.

They will build houses, but they will never live in them.

They will plant plants to get grapes. But they will never have wine from them.’