Zephaniah“Jehovah Hides” Maria (7.2)
Background Josiah was the last good king to reign over Judah. At the age of sixteen he began to seek after Jehovah, the God of his father. His reform were among the most sweeping of any that were attempted by the kings who reigned over the southern kingdom. The sweeping reforms undertaken by Josiah reached their peak in the eighteenth year of his reign. The king was under prophetic influence most of his life.
Background The prophecy and work of Zephaniah had an influence upon Josiah, and may well have had a lot to do with the institution of reforms, and if indeed Josiah and Zephaniah were related, this prophet probably had a great deal of access and influence upon the young king. Zephaniah also predicts a coming Day of the Lord. Zephaniah's Day of the Lord plays an important role in the forming of the concept of the final judgment day.
Date Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of King Josiah (640–609 b.c.), making him a contemporary of Jeremiah, Nahum and perhaps Habakkuk. His prophecy is probably to be dated relatively early in Josiah’s reign, before that king’s attempt at reform (and while conditions brought about by the reigns of Manasseh and Amon still prevailed) and before the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal’s death in 627.
Personal The name Zephaniah means "Yahweh hides". Zephaniah was evidently born during the latter part of King Manasseh's reign (695 - 642 BC). His name may mean that he was 'hidden' from Manasseh's atrocities. Only Zephaniah among the prophetic books exhibits a lengthy genealogical note about the author. His genealogy is much longer than the usual prophetic pedigree and traces four generations. Zeph. 1:1 identifies him as the great-great-grandson of a man named Hezekiah, many scholars feel this was the good King Hezekiah (715 - 686 BC), thus making this prophet of royal blood. Others, however, insist this is not possible due to a lack of time from the days of King Hezekiah to the birth of Zephaniah. His reference to Jerusalem as "this place" seems to indicate that Jerusalem was his home.
God will judge those in Judah who practice pure paganism (1:4). • God will judge those in Judah who completely reject and turn away from the faith of their father (1:6). • God will judge those who choose to identify with the heathen (rather than thepeople of God) by their dress (1:8).