The NET Bible, one of my old go-tos, has had an update to Edition 2. The list of changes are here:

I haven't looked at Edition 2 yet, but I've scrolled through the list of changes and I'm quite ambivalent about it. Some changes are for the better... some not at all. A couple examples...

Zephaniah 1:7 (Hebrew: אדני יהוה) was originally translated “Lord GOD.” Anyone who looks at the consonantal text will note that this is an error. It actually says “Lord YHWH.” Because, however, the Masoretes did not want anyone to pronounce the name (or forgot how to pronounce it themselves), they placed vowels for the word “god” (Elohim) as a stand-in underneath so that one would read it “Lord Elohim” or “Lord God.” The 1st Edition put “God” in all-caps (GOD) to show that this was really the divine name even though it was rendered with the word “god” (not the divine name). The 2nd Edition updates this to “Sovereign Lord.” Now we appear to be getting closer to the original text, which does not say “god” (Elohim) anywhere. HOWEVER, they have left the word “Lord” in upper and lowercase. When NET translates the divine name, it always puts it in caps: LORD. So what this translation actually represents is אדני אדני (“Lord Lord” or, more idiomatically, “Sovereign Lord”), which is actually FURTHER from the original text than was “Lord GOD,” because at least, in that case, the English reader knew that the text had the name of God in there. The translation had actually represented it (in a fashion). Now, the name of god has been entirely dropped from the text.


Zephaniah 2:5 (Hebrew: דבר־יהוה עליכם) was originally translated “The LORD has decreed your downfall.” As pointed by the Masoretes, the text actually says “The word of YHWH is against you.” This is noted by NET in its translation note. Since the vowels (and the little connector between יהוה and דבר) are later additions, it is entirely possible to read the text as “YHWH said/spoke.” Thus, one could actually read the text “The Lord spoke against you.” By doing so, NET broke with oral tradition and went its own way, which is fine if there is good reason for it. I don't see what that reason would be here. Therefore, I prefer to follow the Masoretes. NET does not provide any explanation for its departure from the ancient tradition, which makes me think they had none. The fact that they have now gone back and changed it in the 2nd Edition to “The Lord's message is against you” is for the better, I think, except they have now changed it from “LORD” (the name of God) to “Lord” (a title referring to a person in charge).

Is it so hard to follow the text?

Maybe the person who put together the list of changes didn't know the difference between “LORD” and “Lord”? Maybe NET decided to do away entirely with showing the name of God in their translation?

Zephaniah 2:5 begins, in Hebrew, with הוי. Strangely, the 1st Edition did not represent this. The 2nd Edition now includes the statement “Beware!”, which follows the text much more closely and is a welcome change indeed.

Zephaniah 2:9 has, in Hebrew, צבאות, which refers to “armies/forces” or, more traditionally, “hosts.” The 1st Edition rendered it “who commands armies,” which explains what it means for YHWH to be “of hosts/armies.” The 2nd Edition changed it to “of Heaven's Armies.” Huh? What? Now these armies are specially “heavenly”? I mean, maybe they are. Maybe. But YHWH was also a Warrior Deity who led ISRAEL into battle. Anyway, “Heavenly Armies” is a BIG interpretation to give a text that says nothing on the matter. It appears that every instance of צבאות has been rendered “Heaven's Armies.” This is the kind of theological manipulation I'd expect from the NIV, not NET.

A couple changes that NET could have made that would have actually made it more accurate:

2:7 – The Hebrew says ‫עליהם‬, which could mean “upon them,” “in place of them,” or “against them.” NET renders the text “By the sea,” which represents something entirely different (‫על־הים‬). No Hebrew text has that. The only good thing about NET's rendering is that it brings the text a smidgen closer to the Hebrew than does the KJV, which has the bizarrely errant rendering “thereupon” (as if the Hebrew said על שם‬).

2:9 – The Hebrew says חי־אני, which means something like “[by] the life of me.” This is an oath statement. It invokes the name of someone important to stand as a witness to the utterance. Since the Israelite deity has no one greater to invoke, YHWH always swears by himself. NET renders it “as surely as I live,” which changes the statement from an oath that calls on a person to stand as a witness, to a statement of fact, which affirms the certainty of something based on an undeniable reality. It's like when someone says “I'll do that when pigs fly.” Since the undeniable reality is that pigs will never fly, this is essentially saying “I'll never do that.” NET's “as surely as I live” makes the deity go from saying “I call myself to witness that X will happen” to “since I will never die, you can be sure X will happen.” These statements are simply not the same.