Zephaniah Introduction

  1. Meaning of the name Zephaniah
    1. Yahweh hides or Yahweh has hidden or Yahweh treasured
    2. Three other men are called Zephaniah in Old Testament
    3. May point to God’s protection of His people during the impending difficulties in Zephaniah’s day
    4. Or may point to God’s protection of Zephaniah in his childhood during Manasseh’s wicked reign (2 Kings 21:16)
  2. Author
    1. We know very little about Zephaniah beyond 1:1
    2. He is the only prophet whose ancestry is traced back four generations (1:1). It implies he was a man of prominence and even of royalty.
    3. He was the great-grand son of King Hezekiah, which made him the only known Old Testament prophet with such high social standing. Royal genealogy would have given him the ear of Judah’s king, Josiah
    4. He was probably familiar with Jerusalem because God prophesied through him about the “Fish Gate”, the “New Quarter”, the “hills”, and the market district in Jerusalem (1:10-11)
  3. Date
    1. Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 BC) of the southern kingdom (1:1)
    2. 1:8 mentioned that the king’s sons were old enough to make choices to choose foreign clothes. It hints that King Josiah was in his thirties.
    3. Wrote this book before the destruction of Nineveh (612BC), because  2:13 hints that Nineveh was still in existence when this book was written. Nineveh was destroyed by a coalition of Medes and Babylonians in 612BC
  4. Setting
    1. King Josiah’s father and great grandfather Amon and Manasseh were wicked kings.
    2. Manasseh:
      1. built altars to Baal
      2. worshiped the sun, moon and stars. He built altars to these stellar objects and placed them in the temple courts
      3. He made his own son pass through the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritist (2 Kings 21:6)
      4. Craved Asherah pole in the temple (2 Kings 21:7)
    3. Judah was having a brief spiritual revival under the reign of Josiah (2 King 22:1-23:30).
    4. The book of Law was discovered by Hilkiah in 622 BC(2 Kings 22:8)
    5. Josiah read the book of the Law (2 Kings 22:11, 23:2), and did the following
      1. Led the Jews to renewed covenant with God (2 Kings 23:3)
      2. Removed and killed the pagan priests (2 Kings 23:5, 20)
      3. Removed idols of Baal, Asherah from the teample (2 Kings 22:4)
      4. Re-established Passover (2 Kings 22:21)
    6. Judah was prosperous political because the power Assyrian was declining.
    7. However the revival was brief and superficial, it did not deeply affect the heart of the people. Worship of Yahweh was reestablished, but idolatry was not entirely removed. Both Zephaniah and Jeremiah prophesied to a politically prospering people of coming judgment.
  5. Theme
    1. “The day of the LORD” is used the most in this book than any other Old Testament books
    2. Thus the theme of the book is the impending judgment of God on Judah for its disobedience.
    3. Key verse is 1:7 “Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near.”
    4. Though judgment was sure, God’s promise to protect His people and fulfill His promises was steadfast and everlasting
  6. Outline
    1. 1:1-3:8 The Day of The LORD’s Judgment
    2. 3:9-20 The Day of The LORD’s Restoration

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