The Book of Zephaniah


Background of Zephaniah
Time:  Late 7th Century BCE
            Last of the pre-exile prophets (though sometimes dated later)
Place: Southern Kingdom
            There is no more Northern Kingdom
Kings: King Josiah (South)





Political Backdrop:

·       Josiah is the last great king of Judah – removes idols: ‘Josiah’s Reform’ (622BCE)
o   Zephaniah seems very critical of Jerusalem, which is strange because Josiah reigned over one of the better eras! Some suggest that the book was written pre-reform

·       Assyrian Empire starting to fall apart; Neo-Babylonian Empire hasn’t yet risen to take its place. Zephaniah seems to be describing Babylon, but doesn’t name them.


Primary Themes of Zephaniah:

·       Catastrophe -> Restoration

·       The Day of the Lord – doom and gloom, followed by announcement of hope

·       Universality of God’s power and reign (creation, nations, statement against deism)

·       Zephaniah is both an ‘insider’ (Hezekiah?) and an ‘outsider’ (Cushi?) – prophesises against the ‘insiders’ and the ‘outsiders’



Structure of Zephaniah


Content
Verses
Section One: Doom is Coming
Chapter 1 – 2:3
Superscription
1:1
Announcement of doom
1:2-9
Description of doom
1:10-18
Repent!
2:1-3


Section Two: Judgments
2:4-3:13
Against the nations
2:4-14 (15?)
Against Jerusalem – but ambiguity with Nineveh
3:1-7


Section Three: Joy to Jerusalem
3:8-20
We will be saved
3:8-11
Remnant
3:12-13
Song of joy
3:14-20










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