Zephaniah

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Zephaniah or Tzfanya (Hebrew: צְפַנְיָה, Modern Tsfanya Tiberian Ṣəp̄anyā ; "Concealed of/is Lord") is the name of several people in the Bible Old Testament and Jewish Tanakh. He is also called Sophonias as in the New Catholic Encyclopaedia and in Easton's [Bible] Dictionary. The name might mean "Yah(weh) has concealed", "[he whom] Yah(weh) has hidden", or ""Yah(weh) lies in wait"".

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The prophet Zephaniah

The most well-known Biblical figure bearing the name Zephaniah is the son of Cushi, and great-grandson of Hezekiah, ninth in the literary order of the minor prophets. He prophesied in the days of Josiah, king of Judah (B.C. 641-610), and was contemporary with Jeremiah, with whom he had much in common. The only primary source from which we obtain our scanty knowledge of the personality and the rhetorical and literary qualities of this individual is the short book of the Old Testament (containing only three chapters), which bears his name. The scene of his activity was the city of Jerusalem. (Zeph 1:4-10; 3:1, 14)

Date of activity

Zephaniah is the only one of the few prophets whose chronology is fixed by a precise date in the introductory verse of the book. Under the two preceding kings, Amon and Manasseh, idolatry had been introduced in the most shameful forms (especially the cult of Baal and Astarte) into the Holy City,[1][2] and with this foreign cult came a foreign culture and a great corruption of morals. Josiah, a dedicated reformer,[3] wished to put an end to the horrible devastation in the holy places. One of the most zealous champions and advisers of this reform was Zephaniah, and his writing remains one of the most important documents for the understanding of the era of Josiah.

The prophet spoke boldly against the religious and moral corruption, when, in view of the idolatry which had penetrated even into the sanctuary, he threatened to "destroy out of this place the remnant of Baal, and the names of the ... priests" (Zeph 1:4), and pleaded for a return to the simplicity of their fathers instead of the luxurious foreign clothing which was worn especially in aristocratic circles (1:8).

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