Study Guide

Zephaniah in The Twelve Minor Prophets

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Zephaniah’s classy ancestry is laid out right at the start: he’s descended from the Judean king Hezekiah. He lived during Jeremiah’s time, and was a fan of the reformist King Josiah. His language is elevated and poetic. Zephaniah is the Nahum of Judah, except this time, the prophet’s anger is equally directed at both the foreign invaders (the Babylonians) and God’s people themselves.

According to Zephaniah, God is an equal opportunity destroyer. God’s going to wipe out the Babylonians, but while he’s at it he’s going to wipe out the people of Judah as well.

Of course, that would leave no one alive to worship Yahweh, so it should come as no surprise that the prophet quickly backtracks on his take-no-prisoners approach to allow for the rescue of a small but faithful remnant.

At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.(NRSV 3:20)

From shameless wrongdoers to famous favorites, in just three chapters.

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