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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments


- Zephaniah

by Joseph Benson



ACCORDING to Epiphanius, Zephaniah was of the tribe of Simeon. He prophesied in the reign of Josiah, as he himself tells us, Habakkuk 3:1, but in what part of his reign is not certain; although it is probable, from the description which he gives of the disorders which prevailed in Judea in his time, that it was before the eighteenth year of it: that is, before that prince began to exert himself to effect a reformation in his kingdom, according to what we read, 2 Kings 22., 23. Some think, however, that Zephaniah uttered these prophecies toward the close of Josiah’s reign, when religion had greatly declined among the Jews, through the hypocrisy of those who had at first concurred with that pious king, in endeavouring to bring about a reformation. The first chapter of this prophecy contains divers threatenings against the kingdom of Judah in general, and the city of Jerusalem in particular. In the second he calls the people to repentance, and prophesies against the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Assyrians, &c. The third and last consists of two parts: the first, a prophecy against Jerusalem and its inhabitants; the second, a promise of a return from their captivity upon their repentance, and a restoration of the Jewish state to a flourishing condition. The style of this prophet is poetical; but his book contains nothing remarkable or striking, either with respect to the arrangement of his matter, or the colouring of his diction. His method and his subject bear so near a resemblance to those of Jeremiah, that St. Isidore asserts him to have been his abbreviator. Nor is this the only prophet whom Zephaniah resembles, as every one must own who compares him with Joel. See Calmet and Bishop Lowth.