Zephaniah Intro

The reign of King Manasseh of Judah was the time of greatest corruption, injustice and paganism in Judah’s history. But Manasseh’s grandson King Josiah reasserted the nation’s faith and obedience to God and its independence from foreign empires. One reason for this seems to be that a member of his court stood up and warned that Judah’s breaking of the covenant had led it to the brink of destruction. The person who offered this warning was the prophet Zephaniah.

The book’s prologue identifies Zephaniah as the great-great-grandson of Hezekiah. No other prophet’s ancestry is traced back four generations, so this seems intended to associate Zephaniah with the great reforming king of Judah. It is likely that Zephaniah was of royal blood, since he was familiar with particular districts in Jerusalem and with specific activities in the capital.

This collection of prophecies has three main parts. First is a description of

the day of theLord

that is coming against Judah and Jerusalem. Next is a call for national repentance, along with oracles of destruction against the Philistines, Moabites, Cushites (Ethiopians), Assyrians and Jerusalem itself. In the final section, Zephaniah promises that God will restore a humble remnant when he returns as a Mighty Warrior among his people.


Zephaniah 1

1 The word of theLordthat came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah:

Judgment on the Whole Earth in the Day of the Lord

2 “I will sweep away everything

from the face of the earth,”

declares theLord.

3 “I will sweep away both man and beast;

I will sweep away the birds in the sky

and the fish in the sea—

and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble.”

“When I destroy all mankind

on the face of the earth,”

declares theLord,

4 “I will stretch out my hand against Judah

and against all who live in Jerusalem.

I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship in this place,

the very names of the idolatrous priests—

5 those who bow down on the roofs

to worship the starry host,

those who bow down and swear by theLord

and who also swear by Molek,

6 those who turn back from following theLord

and neither seek theLordnor inquire of him.”

7 Be silent before the SovereignLord,

for the day of theLordis near.

TheLordhas prepared a sacrifice;

he has consecrated those he has invited.

8 “On the day of theLord’s sacrifice

I will punish the officials

and the king’s sons

and all those clad

in foreign clothes.

9 On that day I will punish

all who avoid stepping on the threshold,

who fill the temple of their gods

with violence and deceit.

10 “On that day,”

declares theLord,

“a cry will go up from the Fish Gate,

wailing from the New Quarter,

and a loud crash from the hills.

11 Wail, you who live in the market district;

all your merchants will be wiped out,

all who trade withsilver will be destroyed.

12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps

and punish those who are complacent,

who are like wine left on its dregs,

who think, ‘TheLordwill do nothing,

either good or bad.’

13 Their wealth will be plundered,

their houses demolished.

Though they build houses,

they will not live in them;

though they plant vineyards,

they will not drink the wine.”

14 The great day of theLordis near—

near and coming quickly.

The cry on the day of theLordis bitter;

the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.

15 That day will be a day of wrath—

a day of distress and anguish,

a day of trouble and ruin,

a day of darkness and gloom,

a day of clouds and blackness—

16 a day of trumpet and battle cry

against the fortified cities

and against the corner towers.

17 “I will bring such distress on all people

that they will grope about like those who are blind,

because they have sinned against theLord.

Their blood will be poured out like dust

and their entrails like dung.

18 Neither their silver nor their gold

will be able to save them

on the day of theLord’s wrath.”

In the fire of his jealousy

the whole earth will be consumed,

for he will make a sudden end

of all who live on the earth.



Zephaniah 2

Judah and Jerusalem Judged Along With the Nations

Judah Summoned to Repent

1 Gather together, gather yourselves together,

you shameful nation,

2 before the decree takes effect

and that day passes like windblown chaff,

before theLord’s fierce anger

comes upon you,

before the day of theLord’s wrath

comes upon you.

3 Seek theLord, all you humble of the land,

you who do what he commands.

Seek righteousness, seek humility;

perhaps you will be sheltered

on the day of theLord’s anger.


4 Gaza will be abandoned

and Ashkelon left in ruins.

At midday Ashdod will be emptied

and Ekron uprooted.

5 Woe to you who live by the sea,

you Kerethite people;

the word of theLordis against you,

Canaan, land of the Philistines.

He says, “I will destroy you,

and none will be left.”

6 The land by the sea will become pastures

having wells for shepherds

and pens for flocks.

7 That land will belong

to the remnant of the people of Judah;

there they will find pasture.

In the evening they will lie down

in the houses of Ashkelon.

TheLordtheir God will care for them;

he will restore their fortunes.

Moab and Ammon

8 “I have heard the insults of Moab

and the taunts of the Ammonites,

who insulted my people

and made threats against their land.

9 Therefore, as surely as I live,”

declares theLordAlmighty,

the God of Israel,

“surely Moab will become like Sodom,

the Ammonites like Gomorrah—

a place of weeds and salt pits,

a wasteland forever.

The remnant of my people will plunder them;

the survivors of my nation will inherit their land.”

10 This is what they will get in return for their pride,

for insulting and mocking

the people of theLordAlmighty.

11 TheLordwill be awesome to them

when he destroys all the gods of the earth.

Distant nations will bow down to him,

all of them in their own lands.


12 “You Cushites,too,

will be slain by my sword.”


13 He will stretch out his hand against the north

and destroy Assyria,

leaving Nineveh utterly desolate

and dry as the desert.

14 Flocks and herds will lie down there,

creatures of every kind.

The desert owl and the screech owl

will roost on her columns.

Their hooting will echo through the windows,

rubble will fill the doorways,

the beams of cedar will be exposed.

15 This is the city of revelry

that lived in safety.

She said to herself,

“I am the one! And there is none besides me.”

What a ruin she has become,

a lair for wild beasts!

All who pass by her scoff

and shake their fists.



Zephaniah 3


1 Woe to the city of oppressors,

rebellious and defiled!

2 She obeys no one,

she accepts no correction.

She does not trust in theLord,

she does not draw near to her God.

3 Her officials within her

are roaring lions;

her rulers are evening wolves,

who leave nothing for the morning.

4 Her prophets are unprincipled;

they are treacherous people.

Her priests profane the sanctuary

and do violence to the law.

5 TheLordwithin her is righteous;

he does no wrong.

Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,

and every new day he does not fail,

yet the unrighteous know no shame.

Jerusalem Remains Unrepentant

6 “I have destroyed nations;

their strongholds are demolished.

I have left their streets deserted,

with no one passing through.

Their cities are laid waste;

they are deserted and empty.

7 Of Jerusalem I thought,

‘Surely you will fear me

and accept correction!’

Then her place of refugewould not be destroyed,

nor all my punishments come uponher.

But they were still eager

to act corruptly in all they did.

8 Therefore wait for me,”

declares theLord,

“for the day I will stand up to testify.

I have decided to assemble the nations,

to gather the kingdoms

and to pour out my wrath on them—

all my fierce anger.

The whole world will be consumed

by the fire of my jealous anger.

Restoration of Israel’s Remnant

9 “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples,

that all of them may call on the name of theLord

and serve him shoulder to shoulder.

10 From beyond the rivers of Cush

my worshipers, my scattered people,

will bring me offerings.

11 On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame

for all the wrongs you have done to me,

because I will remove from you

your arrogant boasters.

Never again will you be haughty

on my holy hill.

12 But I will leave within you

the meek and humble.

The remnant of Israel

will trust in the name of theLord.

13 They will do no wrong;

they will tell no lies.

A deceitful tongue

will not be found in their mouths.

They will eat and lie down

and no one will make them afraid.”

14 Sing, Daughter Zion;

shout aloud, Israel!

Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,

Daughter Jerusalem!

15 TheLordhas taken away your punishment,

he has turned back your enemy.

TheLord, the King of Israel, is with you;

never again will you fear any harm.

16 On that day

they will say to Jerusalem,

“Do not fear, Zion;

do not let your hands hang limp.

17 TheLordyour God is with you,

the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

in his love he will no longer rebuke you,

but will rejoice over you with singing.”

18 “I will remove from you

all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals,

which is a burden and reproach for you.

19 At that time I will deal

with all who oppressed you.

I will rescue the lame;

I will gather the exiles.

I will give them praise and honor

in every land where they have suffered shame.

20 At that time I will gather you;

at that time I will bring you home.

I will give you honor and praise

among all the peoples of the earth

when I restore your fortunes

before your very eyes,”

says theLord.