Reposted december 29, 2011
New International Version (NIV)
The Book of Zephaniah is a truly prophetic book that speaks of God’s jealousy and anger against the nation of Judah and over Jerusalem. He speaks of His wrath against those who would destroy His people and steal their inheritance. We will be studying this prophetic book together to explore its truths and apply them to our own day and time. Charlene
1 The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah: Judgment on the Whole Earth in the Day of the LORD
2 “I will sweep away everything
from the face of the earth,”
declares the LORD.
3 “I will sweep away both man and beast;
I will sweep away the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea—
and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.”[a]
“When I destroy all mankind
on the face of the earth,”
declares the LORD,
4 “I will stretch out my hand against Judah
and against all who live in Jerusalem.
I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship in this place,
the very names of the idolatrous priests—
5 those who bow down on the roofs
to worship the starry host,
those who bow down and swear by the LORD
and who also swear by Molek,[b]
6 those who turn back from following the LORD
and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him.”
7 Be silent before the Sovereign LORD,
for the day of the LORD is near.
The LORD has prepared a sacrifice;
he has consecrated those he has invited.
8 “On the day of the LORD’s sacrifice
I will punish the officials
and the king’s sons
and all those clad
in foreign clothes.
9 On that day I will punish
all who avoid stepping on the threshold,[c]
who fill the temple of their gods
with violence and deceit.
10 “On that day,”
declares the LORD,
“a cry will go up from the Fish Gate,
wailing from the New Quarter,
and a loud crash from the hills.
11 Wail, you who live in the market district[d];
all your merchants will be wiped out,
all who trade with[e] silver will be destroyed.
12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps
and punish those who are complacent,
who are like wine left on its dregs,
who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing,
either good or bad.’
13 Their wealth will be plundered,
their houses demolished.
Though they build houses,
they will not live in them;
though they plant vineyards,
they will not drink the wine.”
14 The great day of the LORD is near—
near and coming quickly.
The cry on the day of the LORD is bitter;
the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.
15 That day will be a day of wrath—
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of trouble and ruin,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness—
16 a day of trumpet and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the corner towers.
17 “I will bring such distress on all people
that they will grope about like those who are blind,
because they have sinned against the LORD.
Their blood will be poured out like dust
and their entrails like dung.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the LORD’s wrath.”
In the fire of his jealousy
the whole earth will be consumed,
for he will make a sudden end
of all who live on the earth.
An Introduction to the Book of Zephaniah
A. Hebrew: In Hebrew the book is titled hynpx meaning “Yahweh hides” perhaps reflecting the terror of the days of Manasseh when Zephaniah was born, or meaning “Watchman for the Lord,” or even “Zaphon [a Canaanite deity] is Yahweh”1
This was a common name in the Hebrew Scriptures (cf. a Levite, 1 Chron 6:36-38; a second priest under the high priest 2 Ki 25:18-21; cf. Jer 52:24–27; the father of Josiah–a returning exile, Zech 6:10, 14)
B. Greek: In Greek the book is titled SOFONIAS, a transliteration of the prophet’s name in Hebrew
1. Son of Cushi
2. Son of Gedaliah
3. Son of Amariah
4. Son of Hezekiah, (possibly the famous Judean king [c. 716-687 B.C.])
B. The author places himself during the reign of Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah (c. 641-609 B.C.)
III. DATE: between 641 and 612 B.C. (possibly 641 and 621 B.C.)
A. The superscription places the prophet during the time of king Josiah of Judah (c. 641-609 B.C.) 1:1
B. The prophecy anticipated, but preceded the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. (Zeph 2:13-15)
C. Many would date the book prior to Josiah’s reforms (622-621 B.C.) which dealt with much of the nation’s idolatry (cf. 2 Ki 22–23) since there are implications of idolatry in Zephaniah’s Judah (cf. 1:4-6, 11-12; 3:1-4)3
IV. AUDIENCE: To the people of Judah and the nations around her
A. Manasseh’s and Amon’s reigns were dark times in Judah’s history:
1. Manasseh rebuilt the high places that his father, Hezekiah, tore down
2. Manasseh was eclectic making altars to Ashtoreth (Canaanite), Chemosh (Moabite), Milcom (Ammonite), and Baal (Canaanite)
3. Manasseh restored child sacrifice (2 Ki 21) even sacrificing two of his own sons in the Valley of Hinnom
4. Worship of the heavens (stars, sun, moon, astral bodies) was common
5. Amon was named after an Egyptian god unlike most kings who were named after Yahweh
B. Manasseh paid tribute to Esarhaddon to keep Assyria from invading Judah
C. Josiah brought about the final spiritual revival for Judah when during the eighteenth year of his rule in 622 B.C. (2 Ki 22-23)
D. The Assyrian Empire Fell
1. The Assyrian power rose with Ashurnasirpal II (884-859 B.C.) and Shalmaneser II (859-824 B.C.)
2. Tiglath-pileser III (Pul in the Scriptures) began a group of conquerors who took Syria and Palestine including Shalmaneser V (727-722 B.C. who began the deportation of Samaria), Sargon II (722-705 B.C. who completed the deportation of Samaria), Sennacherib (704-581 B.C. who attacked king of Judah, Hezekiah [Josiah’s father]), and Esarhaddon (681-669 B.C. who led campaigns against Egypt)
3. Esarhaddon’s son, Ashurbanipal (669-631) ruled much of the upper Egyptian city of Thebes, but his decline and that of Assyria’s soon followed
4. Nineveh, the capital, was destroyed in 612 B.C.
VI. MAJOR THEME–THE DAY OF THE LORD:
The Day of the Lord is a major theme in Zephaniah occurring 23 times in this short book (as well as in Obadiah, Joel, and Ezekiel). It describes a time when Yahweh will come to His people and necessarily destroy evil as a means to delivering them. While Zephaniah and Joel obviously had “local” aspects in view of this coming Day of Yahweh’s presence among them (with the judgment of Assyria and Babylon), those judgments/deliverances only mirrored, or foreshadowed, the ultimate deliverance (and thus necessary judgment) which would come in the eschaton.
A. To proclaim judgment on the entire world
C. To proclaim judgment on the nations which surrounded Judah (Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Assyria, Ethiopians/Egyptians
D. To proclaim hope for the remnant of Judah
E. To expose the unfaithfulness of Judah’s rulers
F. To encourage Judah to accept correction by hearing of the judgment on her neighbors
G. To expose Judah’s unwillingness to accept correction from Yahweh
H. To describe the ultimate changes which Yahweh will bring about as the nations become worshippers of Him and He becomes Judah’s King/Defender
Credit: David Malick
Our Source: Bible.org