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".

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]

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 Jerusalem, [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.

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).

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).

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:

(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 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".

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Josiah King of Judah

Josiah or Yoshiyahu was the sixteenth 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.

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Richard Elliott Friedman is a biblical scholar and the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia. Rochester, New York. He attended the University of Miami, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Harvard University. He was the Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization: Hebrew Bible; Near Eastern Languages and Literature at the University of California, San Diego, from 1994 until 2006, whereupon he joined the faculty of the University of Georgia's Religion Department, where he is currently the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies. Friedman teaches courses in Hebrew, Bible, and Jewish Studies.

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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.

Jeremiah 1 Book of Jeremiah, chapter 1

Jeremiah 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book, one of the Nevi'im or Books of the Prophets, contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Jeremiah. This chapter serves as an introduction to the Book of Jeremiah and relates Jeremiah's calling as a prophet.

Zephaniah 2

Zephaniah 2 is the second 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.

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 attributed to 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