Book of Zephaniah
Zephaniah or The Book of Zephaniah is a prophetic text that forms a part of the Nevi’im section of the Hebrew Bible Tanakh. The superscription given in the book of Zephaniah identifies the author as the son of Cushi and belonging to the lineage of Hezekiah, the thirteenth king of Judah. Although not much is known about the author that what is expressed in the book of Zephaniah, it is believed that Zephaniah was a man of considerable social repute and standing as he belonged to a royal genealogy.
Zephaniah is believed to be a contemporary of the prophets Jeremiah, Habakkuk and Nahum and prophesied during the time of King Josiah, around 640 BC to 609 BC. In fact, his prophesies are dated rather early in the reign of Josiah; even before the demise of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in 627 BC.
The main purpose of the Book of Zephaniah is to announce God’s forthcoming judgment to the citizens of Judah. In fact, the “Day of the Lord” phrase occurs 7 times in the first twenty verses of the book of Zephaniah. The people of Judah and Jerusalem have rejected the Lord and acted rebelliously. They have violated the commandments as set forth by Yahweh; have lost their former trust in Him and have moved away from Him.
Zephaniah calls the people of the world to repent for their sins and seek the grace of the Lord, who have resorted to uphold His justice. Zephaniah believes that by seeking humility and righteousness, the people of Judah might convince the Lord to bestow his divine mercy on them. This is regardless that the people may have to hide in order to save themselves on the day of Lord’s wrath. Zephaniah says that the Lord apart from punishing Judah will also bestow His judgment on the surrounding kingdoms of Philistia, Ammon, Moab, Ethiopia and Assyria. This he will do as the people in these kingdoms are guilty of the vice of pride; they have also reproached and threatened God’s good people. Zephaniah further declares that when the time comes, the Lord will truly overwhelm the people of these nations with His majestic power. He will reduce all other earthly gods into a state of nothingness. People of all nations will be bound to worship Him.
Furthermore in the Book of Zephaniah, he predicts that Judah will not be threatened by Assyrian empire, but by the Babylonian empire that will eventually destroy the Assyrians and assume control over the land of Judah and all the surrounding nations. The prophet further goes on to paint an image of the extent of desolation that Judah will face. The houses in Judah will be destroyed, and people’s properties will be ransacked. Although people will build houses, they will not be able to inhabit them. People of Judah will be able to create beautiful vineyards, and yet won’t have the good fortune of drinking their wine. However, in the midst of such judgment in the book of Zephaniah, he points out that Lord’s deliverance and salvation will prevail. The people of Zion shall see brighter days ahead when they will be able to live in comfort and happiness.