Zephaniah (book of the Bible

Zephaniah Hebrew, Zephanja was the ninth of the twelve prophets under the canon of the OT . He was a contemporary and collaborator of the great prophet Jeremías . His name (Hebrew, Zephanja, which means “the Lord hides”, “the Lord protects”), according to the analogy made by Gottfried, to be translated briefly with the words “God protects”. The only primary source of our poor understanding of Zephaniah’s personality and rhetorical and literary qualities is the little book, it has only three chapters with a total of 53 Old Testament verses bearing his name. The scene of his activity was the city of Jerusalem .


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  • 1 Outline of the book
    • 1 Author
    • 2 Date
  • 2 Themes
  • 3 Doctrine
  • 4 Brief summary
  • 5 Sources

Outline of the book

Naturally, the book of the Prophet contains in its three chapters only an outline of the fundamental ideas of the preaching of Zephaniah . The outline of the book in its current form is as follows:

(a) 1, 2 – 2, 3. A threat from the “Day of the Lord”, a dies irae dies illa of the Old Testament . The judgment of the Lord will descend on Judah and Jerusalem as punishment for the tremendous degeneration of religious life (1,4-7a); it will be extended to all kinds of people (1.7b-13), and will present itself with all the horrors of a fearsome catastrophe (1, 14-18). For this reason, he exhorts penance and the search for the Lord (2, 1-3).

(b) 2, 4-15. The hand of the Lord will extend not only over Jerusalem , but over the entire world (urbi et orbi), over the peoples of the four regions of the heavens: to the west over the Philistines (4-7), to the east over the Moabites and Ammonites (8-11), to the south over the Ethiopians (12) and to the north over the Assyrians and the Ninevites (13-15).

(c) A special threat (3, 1-8). The Prophet turns back to Jerusalem: “Woe to the rebellious, impure and oppressing city… He never heard the call, he did not accept the correction.” The strongest warning is for aristocrats and administrators of the law (the ruling classes of the civil community), and the prophets and priests, guides of public worship.

(d) 3, 9-20. A prophecy of consolation, or a prophetic look at the kingdom of God of the future, in which the whole world, united in faith and worship, will turn to God one, and it will be possible to enjoy the riches of the messianic kingdom, whose capital she is the daughter of Zion. The universality of judgment, as well as of redemption, is so powerfully exposed in Zephaniah that this book can be seen as the “Catholic epistle” of the Old Testament .

(e) The last exhortation of Zephaniah (3, 9-20) also has a messianic hue, although it does not reach the extent of Isaiah .


The first verse of the book attributes its authorship to “Zephaniah, the son of Kushi, the son of Guedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah , in the time of Josiah , the son of Ammon, king of Judah .” According to this verse, Zephaniah was the great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah and it could be that, like Isaiah, he was a member of the royal family. From this verse and from the analysis of the content of the book it is believed that the activity of the prophet was developed in the reign of Josías (640-609 a. C.). Zephaniah and Jeremiah were probably the prophets who urged King Josiah to enact a Reform of the Cult that was subsequently carried out.


The prophet’s activity takes place in the reign of Josiah (689-639 BC). Zephaniah is one of the few prophets whose chronology is fixed with precise data in the introductory verses of the book. In the two previous kingdoms, those of Ammon and Manasseh, idolatry had been introduced into the holy city in other shameful ways (especially in the worship of Baal and Astarte). And with the foreign cult came also the foreign culture and a great corruption of morals. Josiah, the king of the anointed scepter, wanted to end the horrible devastation of the holy places. One of the most staunch defenders and advisers of that reform was Zephaniah, and his writing continues to be one of the most useful documents to understand the Josiah era.

The prophet put the ax to the root of moral and religious corruption when, faced with the idolatry that had invaded even the sanctuary itself , he threatened to “remove from this place the last remnant of Baal and even the names of his … priests “(1,4), and urged a return to the simplicity of the ancestors, instead of the luxury of the foreign clothing that was popular, especially among aristocratic circles (1.8). The time of Zephaniah was decisive and important because the lands of the Middle East were being razed by foreigners who had arrived with the Scythian migrations in the last decade of the 7th century BC, and because Jerusalem, the City of the Prophets, was only a few years after its destruction (586). The long-distance lookout on the ramparts of Zion saw the catastrophe approach . “For the day of the Lord is at hand” is the core of his preaching (1,7). “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near and it is fast approaching… It will be a day of wrath, a day of anguish and misfortune, a day of disaster and desolation, a day of darkness and darkness, a day of clouds and dark clouds “(1,14-15)


The book of Zephaniah consists of three parts in the Hebrew Masoret text and four chapters in the Christian versions. The New International Version provides the following titles to the different parts of the book.

  • 1: 1 Zephaniah
  • 1: 2-3 Warning about destruction to come
  • 1: 4-13 Judgment against Judah
  • 1: 14-18 The great day of the Lord
  • 2: 1-3 Zephaniah 2
  • 2: 3-7 Judgment against the Philistines
  • 2: 8-11 Judgment against Moab and Ammon
  • 2:12 Judgment against Cush
  • 2: 13-15 Judgment against Syria
  • 3: 1-20 The Future of Jerusalem


The main message of the book is the Day of the Lord or Day of Yahveh, the day that the prophet announces as a divine punishment for the sins of the Kingdom of Judah . Verses 15 and 16 of the first chapter: “Day of wrath that day, day of anguish and trouble, day of devastation and desolation, day of darkness and darkness, day of cloudy and thick fog, day of trumpet and cry , against the fortified cities and the corner towers “. They inspired the hymn Dies irae , which was a fixed part of the Requiem Mass between the Council of Trent and Vatican II .

Short summary

Zephaniah pronounces the Lord’s judgment on all the earth, on Judah, on the surrounding nations, on Jerusalemand over all nations. This is followed by proclamations of the Lord’s blessing upon all nations, and especially upon the faithful remnant of His people in Judah. Zephaniah had the courage to speak with determination, because he knew he was proclaiming the Word of the Lord. Her book begins with “The Word of Jehovah” and ends with “Says Jehovah.” He knew that neither the many gods that people worshiped nor even the power of the Assyrian army could save them. God is merciful and compassionate, but when all His warnings are ignored, judgment must be awaited. The day of God’s judgment is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures. The prophets call it the “Day of the Lord.” They refer to various events, such as the fall of Jerusalem as to the manifestations of the Lord’s Day,


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