An Interpretation of Zephaniah

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Interpreting scripture is necessary to Christian life, whether a Christian is seeking leadership in ministry or simply trying to gain understanding of scripture. Whatever end of the spectrum one falls on it is essential to interpret scripture correctly. There is a certain method to interpreting that will lead the interpreter towards success, this is the hermeneutical method. This method looks at the text of study then moves to the chapter it is in, then the book, testament, other testament, and finally the entire message of the Bible. When looking at these different sections, it is essential to research the historical and literary components of the passage. Below is an example of the hermeneutical process being put into practice on a passage from the book of Zephaniah. This student has spent time looking into the context and background of the passage and has come to an individual interpretation of Zephaniah 1:14-18.

Immediate Text

The text below is part of the prophecy given by Zephaniah to the people of Judah. This passage ends chapter one with the judgment that is imminent since the people of Judah have been continually disobedient towards God. The original text was written in Hebrew, a Hebrew translation of the text of study follows the English. The text reads:

“The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the loft battlements. I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, ...

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...e to fame quickly and a fall shortly thereafter. The tortoise had nothing until the birds gave him wings to make him fly. In the same sense, Okonkwo had nothing left to him by his father. He had to start fresh. Just as the tortoise fell back to earth from the sky, so did the legacy of Okonkwo once he was exiled.

Once the reader comes to a full realization about the comparison of Okonkwo to the tortoise, they are allowed to look deeper and see another purpose behind the parable. That purpose is the foreshadowing of colonialism. What the tortoise did to the birds is an earlier version of what the white Christian missionaries did to the Igbo culture. The missionaries could have been perceived as coming and taking over the society just as the tortoise came in and took the power from the birds. Needless to say, this parable is essential to the novel Things Fall Apart

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