For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

Zephaniah means Treasured of Jehovah.  If the Hezekiah, of whom he was the great-great-grandson, was, as many believe, the good king Hezekiah, then he was of royal descent, and a relative - possibly a distant cousin - of the good king Josiah, in whose reign he prophesied.  It is not clear beyond all doubt, however, that his ancestor Hezekiah was in fact a king, but the matter is of little importance since it has nothing to do with his message. In the fifty or so years between the reigns of these two good kings, Judah had suffered the misrule of the evil Manasseh and his equally evil son Amon, two of Israel’s most wicked kings.

The date of his writing is believed to have been 621-612 BC., scholars being divided in opinion as to whether his ministry began before or after the revival instituted by king Josiah.

His prophecy is set against the background of a measure of freedom enjoyed by Judah due to the declining power of Assyria (which had carried Israel, the ten northern tribes, into captivity 100 years earlier), and the emergence of Babylon, and the Medes, as major powers.  These latter two, in fact, united in 612 BC to destroy Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, thus virtually ending Assyria’s existence.

Most of the good that had been brought in by the righteous king Hezekiah had been undone by the evil Manasseh and his successor, his equally evil son Amon.  Under this iniquitous pair idolatry, including child sacrifice, had been reintroduced, altars to many of the false gods being set up in the Temple courts, and an idol even in the Temple itself, 2 Ki 21:6-7.  Amon’s servants, however, slew him, and then were themselves slain by the people, who then made his eight-year old son Josiah, king in his stead, and he at the age of only sixteen began to seek after the Lord, and started the reforms which resulted in the abolition of much, but not all, of the idolatry in the land.  Unfortunately, acceptance of his reforms by the majority of the people was outward, they in their hearts still preferring the licentious worship of their idols, hence the warnings by Zephaniah, and Jeremiah, of coming doom.

Concerning this period, the late Dr Harry Ironside has written, “... the prophecy of Zephaniah has much in common with the New Testament letter to the Philadelphian assembly, contemplating a condition of things answering in large measure to what we see at the present time - a day when many vaunt themselves in Laodicean pride while walking in utter indifference to the written Word of God and despising a feeble remnant who cling to that Word and seek to honor Him who gave it.”

As with all the chastisements foretold by the prophets, this one also points forward to a day still future, when the now imminent terrible Tribulation judgments will be poured out, which will destroy the present world order, but that will also lead a small remnant of Israel, and of the nations, to repentant faith in Christ, they becoming the nucleus of the Israel and of the Gentile nations that will inherit millennial blessing.

Since Zephaniah’s message will be better understood against the background of 2 Ki 18-23 and 2 Chr 31-35, it is suggested that the reader review those chapters before beginning his study of these present notes.

[Zephaniah 1]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough