Zephaniah

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A 17th century icon of Zephaniah. Icon of Zephaniah (17th c., North Russia, priv. coll.).jpg
A 17th century icon of Zephaniah.

Zephaniah ( /ˌzɛfəˈn.ə/ , Hebrew : צְפַנְיָה, Modern: Tsfanya, Tiberian: Ṣəp̄anyāh, "Concealed of/is YHWH ") is the name of several people in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Tanakh; the most prominent one being the prophet who prophesied in the days of Josiah, king of Judah (640-609 BCE) and is attributed a book bearing his name among the Twelve Minor Prophets. [1] His name is commonly transliterated Sophonias in Bibles translated from the Vulgate or Septuagint. The name might mean "YHWH (YH), phonetically (IAH), has concealed", "[he whom] YH has hidden", or "YH lies in wait".

Hebrew language Semitic language native to Israel

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel, the modern version of which is spoken by over nine million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name "Hebrew" in the Tanakh itself. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only Canaanite language still spoken, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.

Modern Hebrew language

Modern Hebrew or Israeli Hebrew, generally referred to by speakers simply as Hebrew, is the standard form of the Hebrew language spoken today. Spoken in ancient times, Hebrew, a member of the Canaanite branch of the Semitic language family, was supplanted as the Jewish vernacular by the western dialect of Aramaic beginning in the third century BCE, though it continued to be used as a liturgical and literary language. It was revived as a spoken language in the 19th and 20th centuries and is the official language of Israel.

Tiberian vocalization System of diacritics

The Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian pointing, or Tiberian niqqud is a system of diacritics (niqqud) devised by the Masoretes of Tiberias to add to the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible to produce the Masoretic Text. The system soon became used to vocalize other Hebrew texts, as well.

Contents

The prophet Zephaniah

An 18th-century Russian icon of the prophet Zephaniah in Kizhi, Karelia Zephaniah.jpg
An 18th-century Russian icon of the prophet Zephaniah in Kizhi, Karelia

The best known Biblical figure bearing the name Zephaniah is the son of Cushi, and great-great grandson of King [2] Hezekiah, ninth in the literary order of the Twelve Minor Prophets. He prophesied in the days of Josiah, ruler of the Kingdom of Judah (640-609 BCE), but before Josiah's reform in 621 BCE, [1] and was contemporary with Jeremiah, with whom he had much in common. The unique source containing the minimal knowledge of his personality and rhetorical and literary qualities is the short, three chapter book of the Old Testament which bears his name. [1] The scene of his activity was the city of Jerusalem, which he seems to know well. [1] The existence of two Zephaniahs linked to the book is considered purely hypothetical. [1]

Hezekiah King of Judah

Hezekiah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the son of Ahaz and the 13th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BCE. He is considered a very righteous king by the author of the Books of Kings. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Bible and is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

Twelve Minor Prophets book or collection of books in the Bible

The Minor Prophets or Twelve Prophets, occasionally Book of the Twelve, is the last book of the Nevi'im, the second main division of the Jewish Tanakh. The collection is broken up to form twelve individual books in the Christian Old Testament, one for each of the prophets. The terms "minor prophets" and "twelve prophets" can also refer to the twelve traditional authors of these works.

Josiah King of Judah

Josiah or Yoshiyahu was a seventh-century BCE king of Judah who, according to the Hebrew Bible, instituted major religious reforms. Josiah is credited by most biblical scholars with having established or compiled important Hebrew Scriptures during the "Deuteronomic reform" which probably occurred during his rule. Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years, from 641/640 to 610/609 BCE. Josiah is known only from biblical texts; no reference to him exists in other surviving texts of the period from Egypt or Babylon, and no clear archaeological evidence, such as inscriptions bearing his name, has ever been found. Nevertheless, most scholars believe that he existed historically and that the absence of documents is due to few documents of any sort surviving from this very early period, and to Jerusalem having been occupied, conquered, and rebuilt for thousands of years.

Date of activity

Under the two preceding kings of Judah, Amon of Judah and Manasseh of Judah, the cult of other deities (especially Baal and Astarte) had developed in the Holy City, [3] [4] bringing with it elements of alien culture and morals. Josiah, a dedicated reformer, [5] wished to put an end to perceived misuse of the holy places. One of the most zealous champions and advisers of this reform was Zephaniah, and his writing remains one of the most important documents for the understanding of the era of Josiah.

Amon of Judah King of Judah

Amon of Judah was a 7th-century BC King of Judah who, according to the biblical account, succeeded his father Manasseh of Judah. Amon is most remembered for his idolatrous practices while king, which led to a revolt against him and eventually his assassination in c. 641 BC.

Manasseh of Judah King of Judah

Manasseh was a king of the Kingdom of Judah. He was the oldest of at least two sons of Hezekiah and his wife Hephzibah. He became king at the age of 12 and reigned for 55 years. Edwin Thiele has concluded that he commenced his reign as co-regent with his father Hezekiah in 697/696 BC, with his sole reign beginning in 687/686 BC and continuing until his death in 643/642 BC.

Baal Various Levantine deities

Baal, properly Baʿal, was a title and honorific meaning "owner," "lord" in the Northwest Semitic languages spoken in the Levant during antiquity. From its use among people, it came to be applied to gods. Scholars previously associated the theonym with solar cults and with a variety of unrelated patron deities, but inscriptions have shown that the name Baʿal was particularly associated with the storm and fertility god Hadad and his local manifestations.

Boldly predicting the destruction of Judah for the evil committed by its occupiers, [1] the prophet spoke against the religious and moral corruption, when, in view of the idolatry which had penetrated even into the sanctuary, he warned that God would "destroy out of this place the remnant of Baal, and the names of the ... priests" (Zeph 1:4), and pleaded for a return to the simplicity of their fathers instead of the luxurious foreign clothing which was worn especially in aristocratic circles (1:8).

Judea and Samaria Area is the Israeli government term for the administrative division encompassing Israeli-occupied West Bank excluding East Jerusalem. It is for some purposes regarded by Israeli authorities as one of its administrative regions, although the international community considers the West Bank to be a territory held by Israel under military occupation.

The age of Zephaniah was also a key historical period, because the lands of Western Asia were overrun by foreigners due to the migration of the Scythians in the last decades of the seventh century BC, and because Jerusalem was only a few decades before its downfall in 586 BC. [6] In light of these events, a message of impending judgment is the primary burden of this figure's preaching (1:7).

Western Asia Westernmost portion of Asia

Western Asia, West Asia, Southwestern Asia or Southwest Asia is the westernmost subregion of Asia. The concept is in limited use, as it significantly overlaps with the Middle East, the main difference usually being the exclusion of the majority of Egypt, which would be counted as part of North Africa, and of European Turkey and the inclusion of the Caucasus. The term is sometimes used for the purposes of grouping countries in statistics, in which case Egypt might be excluded and Turkey included entirely. The total population of Western Asia is an estimated 300 million as of 2015. Although the term "Western Asia" is mostly used as a convenient division of contemporary sovereign states into a manageable number of world regions for statistical purposes, it is sometimes used instead of the more geopolitical term "Middle East".

Scythians A nomadic people of the Pontic steppe

The Scythians, also known as Scyth, Saka, Sakae, Iskuzai, or Askuzai, were a nomadic people who dominated the Pontic steppe from about the 7th century BC up until the 3rd century BC. They were part of the wider Scythian cultures, stretching across the Eurasian Steppe, which included many peoples that are distinguished from the Scythians. Because of this, a broad concept referring to all early Eurasian nomads as "Scythians" has sometimes been used. Within this concept, the actual Scythians are variously referred to as Classical Scythians, European Scythians, Pontic Scythians or Western Scythians. Use of the term "Scythians" for all early Eurasian nomads has however led to much confusion in literature, and the validity of such terminology is controversial. Other names for that concept are therefore preferable.

Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC) Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and its temple in the summer of 587 or 586 BC

In 589 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and its temple in the summer of 587 or 586 BC.

The Book of Zephaniah

Zephaniah addressing people (France, 16th century). Sophonie s'adressant au peuple.jpg
Zephaniah addressing people (France, 16th century).

The Book of Zephaniah contains the fundamental ideas of the preaching of Zephaniah. The scheme of the book in its present form is as follows:

Book of Zephaniah book of the Bible

The Book of Zephaniah is the ninth of the Twelve Minor Prophets, preceded by the Book of Habakkuk and followed by the Book of Haggai. Zephaniah means "Yahweh has hidden/protected," or "Yahweh hides".

(a) 1:2-2:3. Warnings about the "day of the Lord", a Dies irae, dies illa [7] of the Old Testament. The judgment of the Lord will descend on Judah and Jerusalem as a punishment for the awful degeneracy in religious life (1:4-7a); it will extend to all classes of the people (1:7b-13), and will be attended with all the horrors of a frightful catastrophe (1:14-18); therefore, repent and seek the Lord (2:1-3).

(b) 2:4-15. Not only Jerusalem, but the entire world is subject to judgment, including the Philistines, (4-7) Moabites, Ammonites, (8-11) Ethiopians, (12) Assyrians and Ninevites (13-15).

(c) 3:1-8. The Prophet focuses once again on Jerusalem: "Woe to the provoking, and redeemed city ... She hath not hearkened to the voice, neither hath she received discipline." The severest reckoning will be required of the leading classes of the civil community, and of the Prophets and priests as the directors of public worship.

(d) 3:9-20. With a prophetic glance at the Kingdom of God of the future, in which all the world unites and turns to God, the prosperity of the Messianic Kingdom will be enjoyed.

(e) 3:9-20. The last message of Zephaniah also has a Messianic coloring, although not to an extent comparable with that which may be found in the Book of Isaiah.

In Christianity

He is commemorated with the other minor prophets in the calendar of saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 31. On the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar and in the Roman Martyrology, he is commemorated on December 3.

His book is an inspiration for the hymn, Dies irae .

Other Zephaniahs in the Bible

Other individuals named Zephaniah include:

  1. The son of Maaseiah, the "second priest" in the reign of Zedekiah, often mentioned in Jeremiah as having been sent from the king to inquire (Jer. 21:1) regarding the coming woes which he had denounced, and to entreat the prophet's intercession that the judgment threatened might be averted (Jer 29:25, 26, 29; 37:3; 52:24). He, along with some other captive Jews, was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar II "at Riblah in the land of Hamath" (2 Kings 25:21).
  2. A Kohathite ancestor of the prophet Samuel (1 Chr 6:36).
  3. The father of Josiah, the kohen (priest) who dwelt in Jerusalem when Darius I issued the decree that the temple should be rebuilt ... (Zech 6:10).

See also

Related Research Articles

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Book of Micah book of the bible

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Isaiah Hebrew prophet

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Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) Israelite kingdom, c. 930-720 BCE

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Jeremiah Biblical prophet

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Joel (prophet) prophet

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Matthew 1:10 The tenth verse of the first chapter in the Gospel of Matthew

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Isaiah 7:14 A verse in the seventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah

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Micah (prophet) prophet

Micah was a prophet in Judaism who prophesied from approximately 737 to 696 BC in Judah and is the author of the Book of Micah. He is considered one of the twelve minor prophets of the Tanakh and was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. Micah was from Moresheth-Gath, in southwest Judah. He prophesied during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. Micah’s messages were directed chiefly toward Jerusalem. He prophesied the future destruction of Jerusalem and Samaria, the destruction and then future restoration of the Judean state, and he rebuked the people of Judah for dishonesty and idolatry. Micah 5:2 is interpreted by Christians as a prophecy that Bethlehem, a small village just south of Jerusalem, would be the birthplace of the Messiah.

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Zephaniah 1

Zephaniah 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Zephaniah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Zephaniah, and is a part of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets. This chapter contains a call to penitence and oracles against nations, the editorial superscription and the exposition about the day of Yahweh's judgment against the Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem.

Zephaniah 3

Zephaniah 3 is the third chapter of the Book of Zephaniah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Zephaniah, and is a part of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets. This chapter contains further indictments against the Jerusalem community, a prophecy of salvation for Judah and the Nations with Yahweh reigning victoriously as king in Jerusalem.

Micah 1

Micah 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Micah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies spoken by the prophet Micah, and is a part of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Mason, Rex (2007). "35. Zephaniah". In Barton, John; Muddiman, John (eds.). The Oxford Bible Commentary (first (paperback) ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 604–607. ISBN   978-0199277186 . Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  2. The Interpreter's Bible, Volume VI, p. 1014
  3. ANE History: The End of Judah Copyright © Quartz Hill School of Theology
  4. "2 Kings 21 - The Wicked Reigns of Manasseh and Amon".
  5. "The Religious Reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah" at the Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archive
  6. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Sophonias (Zephaniah)".
  7. "That day of wrath, that dreadful day," as described in Nelson's Compact Illustrated Bible Dictionary, pp. 283, 283, Thomas Nelson Publishers (1964). Pre-ISBN book, only later (1978) edition found in WorldCat, ISBN   978-0-8407-5636-7.

Attribution