Introducing the Book of Zephaniah
The tracing of Zephaniah’s genealogy through several
generations to his great-great-grandfather Hezekiah is unique in the prophets.
There is no way to know, however, whether or not his great-great-grandfather is
the renowned king of
The General Structure of the Book of Zephaniah
Who can withstand the anticreational terror of the coming day of Yahweh?
I Introduction (1:1-3)
A Heading (1:1)
B Anti-creation of the earth (1:2-3)
1:2-3 The thematic scope of the judgment is set in 1:2-3. The Creator will anti-create the rebellious nations, beginning with his own people. The order of creation—fish, birds, animals, humans (Gen -26)—is reversed. Compare Jer 4:23-26 (cf. Hos 4:3).
I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth, says Yahweh. I will sweep away humans and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. I will make the wicked stumble. I will cut off humanity from the face of the earth, says Yahweh (1:2-3).
II Oracles of disaster (1:4-3:8)
1:7 Be silent; compare Zeph 1:7; Hab . 1:7 Sacrifice imagery is used to depict the judgment of the people of God in the day of Yahweh (1:7, 17, 18). 1:8 “princes” and “king’s sons” lead some to think of Zephaniah as later in Josiah’s reign, after the revival had begun (thus, he offers support and corroboration). 1:14-18 Note the tenfold use of “day” (yom) to accent the “sacrifice” of judgment upon the people for their sin in the near great day of Yahweh. Compare the tenfold use of “in the day” in Obadiah 11-14. 2:3 The call for the humble to seek Yahweh, righteous, and humility, is along the lines of the Davidic hope of Psalm 22:26. The same themes are repeated later in Zephaniah in terms of the hope for salvation (see , 19). Moreover, compare the humble as the subjects in Yahweh’s new rule in Isaiah 66:1-2.
D against the nations (2:4-15)
1 Philistine cities (2:4-7)
2:5 Cretans (Cherethites) may have been mercenaries from
The remnant of Judah is pictured as inhabiting the destroyed
kingdoms of the
4 Assyrians (-15)
E against the city of
F against the nations (3:6-8)
3:8 The fire of Yahweh’s zeal/jealousy echoes the rationale for the sacrifice of his people in .
III Promises of salvation (3:9-20)
G a day of hope for the nations (3:9-11)
H a day of salvation for the people of God (-20)
 Structure based upon my own reading, and observations in Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, 457-62; John S. Kselman, “Zephaniah, Book of,” ABD, 6: 1077-1080.
Also see introduction to the prophets, and see bibliography on the prophets.
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