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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Zephaniah, Prophecy of

The only personal detail given of this prophet is his ancestry for four generations: he was the son of Cushi, a descendant of Hizkiah. The date to the prophecy is 'the days of Josiah' king of Judah, who reigned B.C. 641-610. The prophecy gives the judgement of God with respect to the testimony that was being borne when there was an outward reformation under a pious king who trembled at God's law. The Spirit of God could read the hearts of the people, and could see what moral corruption was associated with the outward worship of God: cf. Jeremiah 3:6-10 . The prophet proclaims the judgements that must fall upon the land, and upon Judah and Jerusalem, though with grace to the faithful remnant at the end. Within four years of the close of Josiah's reign Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, the holy vessels carried away, and the captivity of Judah commenced.

Zephaniah 1 . The prophecy opens with "I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith Jehovah." God could see the followers of Baal still there, and the Chemarim (idolatrous priests, mentioned in 2 Kings 23:5 and Hosea 10:5 , margin ), and those who worshipped the host of heaven; and those that sware by Jehovah and by Malcham, or 'their king,' that is, Baal: cf. Jeremiah 49:1 , margin. Judgement would surely overtake them, and their gold and silver should not deliver them in the great day of God's wrath upon the whole land of Judah and Jerusalem. Maktesh in Zephaniah 1:11 is literally 'of a mortar' or 'hollow place' as in a rock (cf. Judges 15:19; Proverbs 27:22 , where the same Hebrew word occurs), probably signifying Jerusalem, where, as in a mortar, they would be pounded by their enemies.

Zephaniah 2 . The people are addressed as a nation 'without shame' (instead of 'not desired'): they are called to seek Jehovah, if haply a remnant might be hidden in the day of His wrath. Then the various nations are denounced that had been hostile to the land and to God's people. God had from time to time used some of them as the means whereby He punished His chosen people; but they had been filled with pride and had abused their power, therefore His judgements should surely fall upon them: the prophecy however looks on to the future great day of God's wrath.

Zephaniah 3 . Here Jerusalem, the filthy and polluted city, is treated of. The princes, judges, prophets, and priests were all corrupt. The nations of those mentioned in the previous chapter would be completely cut off; and then Jehovah says, Surely Judah will listen to Me! In the future, Jehovah, after punishing the nations, will turn to His people, and a remnant will be brought into blessing. Israel will then be called upon to sing. The King of Israel, even Jehovah, will be in her midst, and she shall have a name and a praise among all the people of the earth. Christ is not, as in other prophecies, introduced here as the Messiah, but as Jehovah. The 'times of the Gentiles' and their four great kingdoms are passed over.

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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Zephaniah, Prophecy of'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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