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Zephaniah 3:14-20 - That hidden within is hard to keep from showing

Updated: Apr 3

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[14] Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;

shout, O Israel!

Rejoice and exult with all your heart,

O daughter Jerusalem!

[15] Yahweh has taken away the judgments against you,

he has turned away your enemies.

The king of Israel, Yahweh, is in your midst;

you shall fear disaster no more.

[16] On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:

Do not fear, O Zion;

do not let your hands grow weak.

[17] Yahweh elohayik is in your midst,

a warrior who gives victory;

he will rejoice over you with gladness,

he will renew you in his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing

as on a day of festival.

[18] I will remove disaster from you,

so that you will not bear reproach for it.

[19] I will deal with all your oppressors

at that time.

And I will save the lame

and gather the outcast,

and I will change their shame into praise

and renown in all the earth.

[20] At that time I will bring you home,

at the time when I gather you;

for I will make you renowned and praised

among all the peoples of the earth,

when I restore your fortunes

before your eyes, says Yahweh.


This is the Old Testament reading that will be read aloud on the third Sunday of Advent, Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will be followed by a singing of Canticle 9 (“The First Song of Isaiah – Isaiah 12:2-6), which includes: “you shall draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation.” That will precede a reading from Philippians, where Paul wrote, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” All will accompany the Gospel reading from Luke, where John the Baptist told those who praised him, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Zephaniah is one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. His name means: “Yah Has Concealed,” “[he whom] Yah Has Hidden,” or “Yah Lies In Wait.” “Yah” (in case you did not know) is a short way to say “Yahweh.” It is worthwhile to realize “Yah” is commonplace in the names found in the Old Testament, especially for prophets.

In verse fourteen, the repetition of the prefix word “bat-“ (meaning “daughter”) needs to be seen as metaphor for all Jews whose souls filled bodies of flesh (males and females). A soul in the flesh is feminine essence because the flesh (all of the material plane) is feminine, as receptive. Without matter receiving the spirit of a soul, there would be no life without the soul presence. Plants would be feminine lifeforms, generated by Mother Earth, and the only forms of life in the world. The Jews (“daughters of Zion” and “daughters of Jerusalem”) were told to “sing” and “shout” because redemption would mean being a Yahweh elohim Who Retained His divine presence in each of their souls [the meaning of “Israel”].

This song names Yahweh specifically four times. The NRSV translation shows each reference as “the Lord,” which is not what should be read or taught. Because “Israel” means “He Who Retains [Yahweh as His] elohim,” where an el is a soul led by Yahweh, as His hand extended onto the earth, verse fifteen surrounds “Israel” with statements about “Yahweh.” To be a true “Israel,” then one’s soul will have “the judgments against you” “taken away.” This in itself means one’s soul has been “saved,” and that becomes a hidden statement about “Jesus,” a name that means “Yah[weh] Saves.”

The second use of Yahweh follows “Israel,” stating Yahweh to be the “king.” Zephaniah was a contemporary to Jeremiah, with both prophesying for Yahweh while the “King of Judah” (not the Northern Kingdom) was Josiah. Zephaniah was singing praise to Yahweh being the true “king” of all souls "Who Retained Yahweh as His elohim.” The King of Judah, Josiah, is listed by Matthew in the linage of Jesus; and, he ‘discovered’ a “book of the law,” which had been lost from the people under prior kings. He began changes that removed Baalists from Judah, which had infiltrated Jerusalem prior. This says Josiah, and thereby his prophet Zephaniah, were both true “Israelites” in Judah, so Zephaniah personally knew what he was singing about.

In verse sixteen, the meaning of “on that day” is when Yahweh becomes one’s “king,” which then placed focus on the repeating of Jerusalem and Zion. Both names should be read as what the names mean, more than as the places named such. “Jerusalem” means “In Awe Of Peace, Teaching Peace,” which became the focus of the Temple under Josiah (he ordered the normal taxes collected to go to renovating the Temple built by Solomon). The word “Zion” means “Dry Place” or “Tradition,” which says the heart does not naturally incline towards love and the works involved in maintaining love, once found. Thus, Zephaniah was singing to not stop being “hands” of Yahweh, once one’s soul has found love for Him and marriage to His Spirit.

In verse seventeen, where the NRSV translates, “Yahweh elohayik is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory,” the truth of a literal translation says, “Yahweh your elohim in your inward part the mighty one will save.” This, again, becomes a statement of true Israelites (in Judah, the Southern Kingdom) had their souls married to Yahweh (becoming his elohim); and, that marriage of Spirit to soul brought about the presence of the soul of Yahweh’s Son, who is called the “warrior who gives victory,” while literally being the possessing spirit that is “the mighty one [who] will save.” This divine possession is then the impetus for rejoicing and singing, because without that inner strength being born [here is the theme of Advent being stated], one is incapable of being righteous and pleasing Yahweh.

Verses eighteen and nineteen then sing praise to the achievements one is capable of, once that inner strength has been born. The removal of disaster foretells of the removal of those bad leaders, who were leading all Yahweh’s children to ruin. They would be thrown out of Judah, just as Jesus would cast out the vendors animals from the Temple and overturn their tables. The worst enemy Judah had prior to Josiah was its own leaders. While the enemies without were building up, and Judah would seek an alliance with Egypt, the souls were safe as long as they served Yahweh. That was how “lame” Judah had become. Their “shame” had been to not even know the “book of the law,” because of having been led by false shepherds.

Verse twenty then sings of those saved souls being brought home, which is a return to be one with Yahweh. It is not a prophecy of their coming collapse, destruction by the Babylonians and exile in disgrace. The “renown” that would be theirs was to be in the name of Yahweh, which is the truth of “Israel.” The Promised Land was never meant to be land held forever, just as a mother’s womb can never be expected to be where her children will always live. It is Heaven; but to gain that place, one’s soul must be purified by the Spirit and the Son reborn.

As an Old Testament selection to be read aloud on the third Sunday of Advent, one needs to hear the joy of a song of praise that feels the future will be blessed. The name Zephaniah means “Yahweh Has Hidden” or “Yahweh Has Concealed” which is appropriate for this season IF one’s soul is pregnant and about to become possessed by the divine soul of Jesus. One should be building up inside, so signs are beginning to show outwardly, such as a smile on one’s face (or a glow of a halo) and a song in one’s heart. The Law is being written on the walls of one’s heart by the soul of Jesus – Yahweh Saves.

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