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Bible Commentaries

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
Zephaniah

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Book Overview - Zephaniah

by Joseph Parker

Zephaniah

[Note.—"The chief characteristics of this book are the unity and harmony of the composition, the grace, energy, and dignity of its style, and the rapid and effective alternations of threats and promises. Its prophetical import is chiefly shown in the accurate predictions of the desolation which has fallen upon each of the nations denounced for their crimes; Ethiopia, which is menaced with a terrible invasion, being alone exempted from the doom of perpetual ruin. The general tone of the last portion is Messianic, but without any specific reference to the Person of our Lord. The date of the book is given in the inscription; viz, the reign of Josiah, from642to611 b.c. This date accords fully with internal indications. Nineveh is represented as in a state of peace and prosperity, while the notices of Jerusalem touch upon the same tendencies to idolatry and crime which are condemned by the contemporary Jeremiah. It is most probable, moreover, that the prophecy was delivered before the eighteenth year of Josiah, when the reformation, for which it prepares the way, was carried into effect, and about the time when the Scythians overran the empires of Western Asia, extending their devastations to Palestine. The notices which are supposed by some critics to indicate a somewhat later date are satisfactorily explained. The king"s children, who are spoken of, in chap. Zephaniah 1:8, as addicted to foreign habits, could not have been sons of Josiah, who was but eight years old at his accession, but were probably his brothers or near relatives. The remnant of Baal (chap. Zephaniah 1:4) implies that some partial reformation had previously taken place, while the notices of open idolatry are incompatible with the state of Judah after the discovery of the Book of the Law."—Smith"s Dictionary of the Bible.]

Analysis of the Book of Zephaniah

" Zephaniah 1. The utter desolation of Juda is predicted as a judgment for idolatry and neglect of the Lord, the luxury of the princes, and the violence and deceit of their dependants ( Zephaniah 1:3-9). The prosperity, security, and insolence of the people is contrasted with the horrors of the day of wrath, the assaults upon the fenced cities and high towers, and the slaughter of the people ( Zephaniah 1:10-18).

" Zephaniah 2, a call to repentance ( Zephaniah 2:1-3), with prediction of the ruin of the cities of the Philistines, and the restoration of the house of Judah after the visitation ( Zephaniah 2:4-7). Other enemies of Judah, Moab, Ammon, are threatened with perpetual destruction, Ethiopia with a great slaughter, and Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, with desolation ( Zephaniah 2:8-15).

" Zephaniah 3. The prophet addresses Jerusalem, which he reproves sharply for vice and disobedience, the cruelty of the princes and the treachery of the priests, and for their general disregard of warnings and visitations ( Zephaniah 3:1-7). He then concludes with a series of promises—the destruction of the enemies of God"s people, the restoration of exiles, the extirpation of the proud and violent, and the permanent peace and blessedness of the poor and afflicted remnant who shall trust in the name of the Lord. These exhortations to rejoicing and exertion are mingled with intimations of a complete manifestation of God"s righteousness and love in the restoration of his people ( Zephaniah 3:8-20)."—Smith"s Dictionary of the Bible.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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