Zephaniah stands in danger of being overshadowed by his great contemporaries. He shares with Jeremiah an intimate concern for the plight of his people but lacks both the pathos and the scope of the weeping Prophet. Like Nahum he pictures with prophetic foresight the collapse of Nineveh, but his poetic style is no match for the stirring cadences and striking metaphors of the Elkosite. With Habakkuk he declares the necessity of divine intervention in judgment, but the personal qualities of righteous indignation and cordial trust which characterize Habakkuk are not so prominent in Zephaniah. However, the lack of originality does not mean that the book is unimportant. Zephaniah has summed up in his brief book many of the dominant prophetic themes, and, above all, he has bound them together with the lucid eschatological insights for which he is justly honored by students of biblical prophecy.

PERSONAL BACKGROUND

Our knowledge of Zephaniah’s life and ministry is limited to those clues which can be detected in his writing. He is not to be identified with any of the several Old Testament men who bear his name (“the Lord had hidden” or “treasured”). The introductory verse carries his genealogy back four generations to Hezekiah. This unusually complete family history seems somewhat pointless unless this Hezekiah is the great king of Judah. If so, it is likely that Zephaniah began his prophetic ministry at an early age, perhaps 25. This suggestion is based on the fact that there are three generations between Hezekiah and Zephaniah and only two (Manasseh and Amon) between Hezekiah and Josiah.

Aage Bentzen (Introduction to the Old Testament, 2nd ed., II, p. 153) has linked Zephaniah with the temple prophets which have received considerable ...

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