Zephaniah 1 – “The Day of Yahweh: Impending Doom”

gloomy dark clouds stormHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Zephaniah is introduced. Yahweh promises to wipe out the entire world in general and to punish Judah in specific.

II. Photo

The day of Yahweh approaches: “That day shall be… A day of darkness and deep gloom, A day of densest clouds.” (v. 15)

III. Select Verses

1: The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, during the reign of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah.

3: I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the sky And the fish of the sea. I will make the wicked stumble, And I will destroy mankind From the face of the earth — declares the LORD.

5-6: And those who bow down on the roofs To the host of heaven; And those who bow down and swear to the LORD But also swear by Malcam; And those who have forsaken the LORD, And those who have not sought the LORD And have not turned to Him.

12: At that time, I will search Jerusalem with lamps; And I will punish the men Who rest untroubled on their lees, Who say to themselves, “The LORD will do nothing, good or bad.”

18: Moreover, their silver and gold Shall not avail to save them. On the day of the LORD’s wrath, In the fire of His passion, The whole land shall be consumed; For He will make a terrible end Of all who dwell in the land.

IV. Outline

1. Genealogical introduction

2-3. Yahweh will destroy all life

4-6. Yahweh will wipe out the idolaters in Judah

7-9. The day of Yahweh: a feast and punishment

10-11. The sounds of pain

12-13. The skeptics will be punished

14-16. The great and awesome day approaches

17. Punishment for sin

18. The wealthy will not be saved


V. Comment

According to the text, Zephaniah was active during the time of Josiah (640-609 B.C.E.). John M. Berridge writes in the ABD VI 1075 (“Zephaniah (Person)”) that “A bulla which dates from the early 6th century and which is inscribed lyrmyhw bn ṣpnyhw bn nby[ʾ?] has been found at Lachish. Although certain identification is impossible, the inscription may refer to the prophet Zephaniah. If this is the case, Zephaniah was the father of Jeremiah (the owner of the seal), who appears to have been a member of a prophetic guild.”

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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