By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Prophets

  • Zephaniah’s name might be derived from two words: Zaphon and Yah. Yah is an abbreviation of Yahweh. Zaphon was an important Canaanite god. The combination might mean that the real God that some called Zaphon was really Yahweh. Then others think Zaphon is simply a word for north.
  • His name is thought to mean either “Yahweh hides” or “watchmen for the Lord.”
  • Some think he was a priest; others think he had royal status.
  • His name is common, used 10 times in the OT, but for at least four different people. Scholars argue whether any of those might be Zephaniah, the prophet, but no one knows for sure.
  • His father’s name was Cushi, generally thought to refer to Cush (Ethiopia). Still, people think he was thoroughly Hebrew. But maybe there was some foreign influence in his family.
  • He did prophesy during the days of Josiah, but no one knows whether it was early or late (most think it was early).
  • His primary message was re:the Day of the Lord.
  • This was to be a horrible day for Judah. Previously, they always thought of it as a day of judgment for everyone else, never for themselves.
  • No doubt, his message was none too popular in Judah.
  • But he provided a measure of hope at the end – for those who remained faithful.
  • He believed that that time would come “before their eyes,” meaning before they died.
  • Within fifty years, his predictions of judgment were fulfilled; restoration would take a little longer.


Craigie, Peter. "Twelve Prophets." Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1984.

Gaebelein, Frank. "Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah." Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1985.

Mills, Watson and Richard Wilson. Mercer Commentary on the Bible. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1995.

Smith, Ralph. "Micah-Malachi." Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1984.

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