The Meaning of Zephaniah 2:12 Explained

Zephaniah 2:12

KJV: Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.

YLT: Also ye, O Cushim, pierced of My sword are they.

Darby: Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be the slain of my sword.

ASV: Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword.

What does Zephaniah 2:12 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Zephaniah"s oracle against Ethiopia is very brief (cf. Isaiah 18-20; Jeremiah 46; Ezekiel 29-32). Patterson suggested that Zephaniah may have meant Egypt rather than Ethiopia. [1] Biblical Ethiopia occupied the territory now held by southern Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and northern Ethiopia. The Ethiopians were the southernmost (really southwestern-most) people known to the Judeans. God promised to send His sword against this nation. His instrument of judgment proved to be Nebuchadnezzar who defeated Ethiopia shortly after overrunning all of Judah in586 B.C. (cf. Ezekiel 30:4-5; Ezekiel 30:9; Ezekiel 30:24-25). The prophet gave no reason for this overthrow, though it must be that Ethiopia shared the same disregard for Yahweh that the other nations he condemned did.

Context Summary

Zephaniah 2:1-15 - Meekness Saves, Pride Destroys
The nation, on the whole, had no remorse, no desire for God; but there were a few meek and lowly souls, and the hope was held out to them that they would be hidden from the coming overthrow. God discriminates in His judgments, and sends His angels to conduct Lot out of Sodom. The judgment of the surrounding nations occupies Zephaniah 2:4-15. Philistia, Moab, Amnion, Ethiopia and Assyria, are mentioned. God never forgets the treatment meted out to His people by their foes, Zephaniah 2:8-10. The captivity of Israel would be turned again, but there was no hope of recovery for the peoples that had rejoiced in their overthrow. What a picture is given in Zephaniah 2:11 of famished gods! It seemed incredible that great Nineveh should become a wilderness, yet so it has been for centuries. Whenever an individual or nation dwells carelessly, destruction is not far away. [source]

Chapter Summary: Zephaniah 2

1  An exhortation to repentance
4  The judgment of the Philistines,
8  of Moab and Ammon,
12  of Ethiopia,
13  and of Assyria

What do the individual words in Zephaniah 2:12 mean?

Also You Ethiopians slain by My sword are
גַּם־ אַתֶּ֣ם כּוּשִׁ֔ים חַֽלְלֵ֥י חַרְבִּ֖י הֵֽמָּה

גַּם־  Also 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: גַּם  
Sense: also, even, indeed, moreover, yea.
כּוּשִׁ֔ים  Ethiopians 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine plural
Root: כּוּשִׁי  
Sense: one of the descendants of Cush the grandson of Noah through Ham and a member of that nation or people.
חַֽלְלֵ֥י  slain  by 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: חָלָל 
Sense: slain, fatally wounded, pierced.
חַרְבִּ֖י  My  sword 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct, first person common singular
Root: חֶרֶב  
Sense: sword, knife.