The Prophecy of Zephaniah 3:9


One of the most peculiar verses in the Old Testament is that of Zephaniah 3:9, let’s begin by first looking at two translations of this passage:

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“Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder.” – Zephaniah 3:9 (NIV)

“For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call in the name of the Lord, to worship Him of one accord.” – Zephaniah 3:9 (Rabbi Rosenberg)

The first translation is one done by the Christian community while the second is from the Jewish community. Both translations say roughly the same thing but there are minute differences which will shape how the verse is meant to be understood. It is therefore important to break up the verse into its constituent parts to help us understand the message it is trying to convey:

9a –
Then I will purify the lips of the peoples (Christian translation)
For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language (Jewish translation)

9b –
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord (Christian translation)
that all of them call in the name of the Lord (Jewish translation)

9c –
and serve him shoulder to shoulder (Christian translation)
to worship Him of one accord (Jewish translation)

Analyzing 9a –

The message being conveyed here seems to be that God will convert or change this ‘pious nation’ such that they adopt a pure language. This immediately rules out the options of Christianity and Judaism as neither faith in the present day rely on one ‘pure’ language as the basis for worshiping God. The Qur’an therefore teaches:

“We know indeed that they say, “It is a man that teaches him.” The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear.” – Qur’an 16:103 (Yusuf Ali)

A point to keep in mind is that all Muslims read the Qur’an in Arabic for Salaah (daily worship).

Analyzing 9b –

Of the major religions of Christianity and Judaism, neither use a single and pure language to call upon the name of God. Rather, if we were to go into any Masjid, anywhere in the world, they would all use the name Allah (the Arabic name of God in Islam). If I were to go to an Arab Christian he may say Yasu’, yet if I went to a European or North American Christian they may call God by the name of Jesus, both of which are not of the same language nor of a language that specifically describes itself as pure and clear. Indeed there is no one language that neither the Christian community nor the Jewish community would agree on presently for which they can use to refer to God together. The Qur’an teaches:

“Surely in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find comfort.” – Qur’an 13:28 (Dr. Khattab)

A point to keep in mind is that the Imam begins the Salaah with the Takbir (Allahu akbar, trans.: God is the greatest).

Analyzing 9c –

This passage is most interesting because of the fact that Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder in Salaah and in Salaah we have one Imam who leads everyone in the prayer:

Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Straighten your rows for I see you from behind my back.” Anas added, “Everyone of us used to put his shoulder with the shoulder of his companion and his foot with the foot of his companion.” – Sahih al Bukhari, Book 10, Hadith 199

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Set the rows in order, stand shoulder to shoulder, close the gaps, be pliant in the hands of your brethren, and do not leave openings for the devil. – Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 2, Hadith 276

Indeed, it is a condition for Salaah to be valid behind the Imam, that one follows the Imam:

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: The imam is appointed only to be followed; when he says “Allah is most great,” say “Allah is most great” and do not say “Allah is most great” until he says “Allah is most great.” When he bows; bow; and do not bow until he bows. And when he says “Allah listens to him who praise Him,” say “O Allah, our Lord, to Thee be the praise.” – Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 2, Hadith 213

In fact, the word used in Zephaniah 3:9c for worship and serving is the Hebrew equivalent to ‘Ibadah (عبادة) which is the term for worship (prayer) in Arabic. The Hebrew word used in this case is Ibadow (לְעָבְד֖וֹ), Strong’s #5647.

Conclusion

All in all, this passage when analyzed demonstrates for us the truth of Islam with absolute clarity.

and Allah knows best.

8 comments

  • Amazing article, brother Ijaz! Keep up the good work.

  • What I anylzed is Muslims are desperate to find out Quranic reference from Bible proving that Bible is a historical book and the true Word of God. This is why scholars look into the holy Bible as a historical book more than a scripture. This only proves Quran is another fictional story book which is not taken seriously by the Muslims themselves. So, thanks Calling Christian Izaj Ahmed proving that Bible is the only historical book taken seriously and read by the world and not Quran. So, I invite you Calling Muslims.

  • There are two problems with this article.

    Firstly, Zephaniah 3:9 is the answer to the problem of 1:5 and the false god’s of the nations.

    Zep 1:5 those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the LORD and who also swear by Molech,

    Israel has joined the nations in swearing by the names of other gods. Yahweh promises that Israel and the nations of the world 2:11 will stop this corrupt speech and have a pure speech that confesses his name Yahweh 3:9 alone. This is the context of the verse in the book. It has nothing to do with Arabic. That is simply reading into the text something that is not there.

    Secondly, Zephaniah 3:9 says that people will call on the name of Yahweh not Allah. Allah is the name of the god of Islam and is not a translation of Yahweh. These are two different names just as Yahweh and Molech are different names. The verse says that people will call on the name of Yahweh not Allah.

  • Hi Samuel,

    The first problem is not a problem, both Islam and Judaism accept that God answers prayers for the saved and the unsaved.

    I don’t follow your eisegesis of Zephaniah 3:9, the verse plainly says God will convert His people (believers) to a pure tongue, if that tongue was Hebrew then we know this prophecy is false, as Zephaniah would have been originally written in a language that would later be changed from. In this case, the obvious link of Arabic as a semitic language, the specific description of being pure and the specific description of the act of worship is identical to that of Islam.

    The text actually says they’ll call on the name of the Lord, but I assume you read the later Hebrew reintroducing of the word Yhwh back into the text which would be anachronistic and highly irresponsible, though I can understand the need to do so.

    Kind Regards,
    Br. Ijaz.

  • Hello Ijaz,

    > The first problem is not a problem, both Islam and Judaism accept that God answers prayers for the saved and the unsaved.

    That is not the issue. The issue is idolatry and false gods. God does not answer the prayers of idolatry.

    > I don’t follow your eisegesis of Zephaniah 3:9,

    I am saying read the verse in the context of the book. 1:5 is talking about corrupted speech through idolatry. 3:9 is the resolution of this problem through confessing the name of the true God.

    > The text actually says they’ll call on the name of the Lord,

    No, it doesn’t. The Hebrew says Yahweh. Where is your evidence this is not the case?

  • Hi Samuel,

    That is not the issue. The issue is idolatry and false gods. God does not answer the prayers of idolatry.

    I’m not sure how in the same breath you can say it’s not *the issue* and then go on to deny in the very next sentence that God does not answer the prayers of the unsaved (idolaters).

    I am saying read the verse in the context of the book. 1:5 is talking about corrupted speech through idolatry. 3:9 is the resolution of this problem through confessing the name of the true God.

    Hence why the interpretation presented fits into the context of the book and takes into consideration the different interpretations that both Jews and Christians hold to on these passages. For future reference: https://callingchristians.com/2012/09/07/we-lost-the-name-of-god-christians-jews/

    No, it doesn’t. The Hebrew says Yahweh. Where is your evidence this is not the case?

    Do you deny that Jews of old would replace the name of God in the text or do you accede en toto to the scripture of the Essenes? No evidence is needed beyond that. If it is your assertion that it has always read YHWH, then please feel free to present a text that meets this standard.

    Kind Regards,
    Br. Ijaz.

  • green , you have no authority to use a small g for the every living creator of the heavens and the earth

    you disrespected your creator u disgusting hypocrite.

    before i expose u, tell me the different between

    yhwh ( made up bs Reconstructed name) and ya-shua

    Do u believe that yhwh ( made up bs RECONSTRUCTED NAME which could be read in different ways) saved by becoming a DYING god?

  • Pingback: Nubuah di ayat Zefanya 3:9: brother Ijaz Ahmad | Berik’s blog

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