Zeph 3:1 - Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled!

I'm trying to find out about the oppressing city mentioned in Zeph 3:1


The unnamed city of Zeph 3:1 is Jerusalem for the following reasons:

  1. The prophet Zephaniah was based in Jerusalem, the capital of Judah during the time of "Josiah son of Amon king of Judah" (Zeph 1:1)
  2. Zephaniah had just pronounced prophecies against Judah as a whole (Zeph 2:1-3), the Philistines (Zeph 2:4-7), Moab and Ammon (Zeph 2:8-11), Cush and Assyria (Zeph 2:12-15), and finally, Jerusalem in Zeph 3:1-5.
  3. That Jerusalem is intended here is further confirmed by the following allusions:
  • V2c: She does not trust in the LORD
  • V2d: she has not drawn near to her God
  • V4a: Her prophets are reckless, faithless men. [Discussing the many false prophets in king Josiah's time]
  • V5a: The LORD within her is righteous

That the LORD (YHWH) was supposed to be Judah/Jerusalem/s sole God is well known and unique among the surrounding nations. This alone identifies the "city of oppressors" as Jerusalem. The interpretive NLT has:

Zeph 3:1 - What sorrow awaits rebellious, polluted Jerusalem, the city of violence and crime!

Rev 17:18

By contrast with Zeph 3:1, the "great city" mentioned in Rev 17:18 is one of the two great cities in the book of Revelation: The "New Jerusalem" (Rev 3:12, 21:2 which allude to Isa 65:18) and Babylon (Rev 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, etc).

That Rev 17:18 is explicitly confirmed by its name in Rev 17:5 because V6-18 constitute the explanation of the vision in V1-6. Further explanation is provided in Rev 18 where the mystical city of Babylon is explicitly named in V2, 10, 21.

Now, what literal city, or nation, or power, or person this metaphoric reference to Babylon represents is another matter, but it is not literal Jerusalem because Jerusalem did not "rule over the kings of the earth" at the time of John's writing of Revelation (Rev 17:18). The more likely candidate is Rome which did rule over the kings of the earth, but that is another question.

In any case, Rev 17:18 does not allude to Zeph 3:1.

APPENDIX - Comments on Zeph 3:1

The Amplified Bible has this:

Woe (judgment is coming) to her who is rebellious and defiled, The tyrannical city [Jerusalem]!

The Cambridge commentary has this:

Ch. 3 returns to Jerusalem. The city is reproached as rebellious, polluted, and full of oppression (Zephaniah 3:1); disobedient to God and neglectful of His word and of the lessons of His operations in the world of the nations (Zephaniah 3:2). All classes within her are corrupt: her princes violent, her judges venal and greedy (Zephaniah 3:3), her prophets unstable and false, and her priests profaners of what is holy and perverters of the Torah (Zephaniah 3:4 ff.).

The Pulpit Commentary has this:

The prophet turns to Jerusalem, and warns her that, if God punishes the heathen, he will not spare the hardened sinners in Judah. Verse 1.

  • Woe to her! This is addressed to Jerusalem, as is seen by vers. 2-4. Filthy; rather, rebellious, i.e. against God.

Barnes is similar:

The "woe," having gone round the pagan nations, again circles round where it began, the "Jerusalem that killed the prophets and stoned those that were sent unto her" Matthew 23:37. Woe upon her, and joy to the holy Jerusalem, the "new Jerusalem Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:10, the Jerusalem which is from above, the mother of us all," close this prophecy; both in figure; destruction of her and the whole earth, in time, the emblem of the eternal death; and the love of God, the foretaste of endless joy in Him.

Woe - "Rebellious and polluted;" "thou oppressive city!" . The address is the more abrupt, and bursts more upon her, since the prophet does not name her. He uses as her proper name, not her own name, city of peace," but "rebellious," "polluted;" then he sums up in one, thou "oppressive city."

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary is also similar:

Zep 3:1-20. Resumption of the Denunciation of Jerusalem, as Being Unreformed by the Punishment of Other Nations: After Her Chastisement Jehovah Will Interpose for Her against Her Foes; His Worship Shall Flourish in All Lands, Beginning at Jerusalem, Where He Shall Be in the Midst of His People, and Shall Make Them a Praise in All the Earth.


In the ultimate futurist sense, it's a prophecy of the 6th Trump, prior to the 7th (second advent).

Jerusalem is where anti-Christ steps foot, 2 Thessalonians 2. This becomes the epicenter for what is already in the works the one world order as described in Revelation 13 of the First beast. Forewarned; as per God's plan. Consider the four horns of Zechariah 1.

Jerusalem at that time is considered Sodom and Egypt spiritually speaking . Revelation 11:8 “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”


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