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Her leaders in the midst of her are roaring lions.
Her judges are wolves at evening.
They leave not a bone to gnaw on for the morning. Bible

“are roaring lions.” Zephaniah uses the metaphor to express how powerful, dangerous, and fierce the leaders of Judah are. One of the inherent problems with figures of comparison (simile, metaphor, and hypocatastasis) is that one has to be very sensitive to the context to get the meaning. For example, in other places in Scripture the “lion of Judah” is strong, courageous, and protective (Rev. 5:5). The leaders are supposed to be shepherds who care for the sheep, instead, these leaders are lions who eat the sheep. [For more on figures of comparison, see commentary on Rev. 20:2].

“wolves at evening.” Wolves are fierce and merciless, and an apt metaphor for the judges who pervert justice and thus kill the dreams and aspirations of those they are supposed to protect by justice. The addition “at evening” is also apt, because just as evening wolves use the cover of darkness to make their kill, these unjust judges cover their sin and avarice with the darkness of lies, “reasons,” and wise-sounding words and “kill” justice. They don’t even leave “a bone” of justice in their decisions so the weak are helped out a little.


Commentary for: Zephaniah 3:3