Zephaniah (/ˌzɛfəˈnaɪ.ə/, Hebrew: צְפַנְיָה, Modern: Tsfanya, Tiberian: Ṣəp̄anyāh, "Concealed of/is YHWH") is the name of several people in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Tanakh; the most prominent one being the prophet who prophesied in the days of Josiah, king of Judah (640-609 BCE) and is attributed a book bearing his name among the Twelve Minor Prophets.[1] His name is commonly transliterated Sophonias in Bibles translated from the Vulgate or Septuagint. The name might mean "YHWH (YH), phonetically (IAH), has concealed", "[he whom] YH has hidden", or "YH lies in wait".

Icon of Zephaniah (17th c., North Russia, priv. coll.)
A 17th century icon of Zephaniah.

The prophet Zephaniah

An 18th-century Russian icon of the prophet Zephaniah in Kizhi, Karelia

The best known Biblical figure bearing the name Zephaniah is the son of Cushi, and great-great grandson of King[2] Hezekiah, ninth in the literary order of the Twelve Minor Prophets. He prophesied in the days of Josiah, ruler of the Kingdom of Judah (640-609 BCE), but before Josiah's reform in 621 BCE,[1] and was contemporary with Jeremiah, with whom he had much in common. The unique source containing the minimal knowledge of his personality and rhetorical and literary qualities is the short, three chapter book of the Old Testament which bears his name.[1] The scene of his activity was the city of Jerusalem, which he seems to know well.[1] The existence of two Zephaniahs linked to the book is considered purely hypothetical.[1]

Date of activity

Under the two preceding kings of Judah, Amon of Judah and Manasseh of Judah, the cult of other deities (especially Baal and Astarte) had developed in the Holy City,[3][4] bringing with it elements of alien culture and morals. Josiah, a dedicated reformer,[5] wished to put an end to perceived misuse of 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.

Boldly predicting the destruction of Judah for the evil committed by its occupiers,[1] the prophet spoke against the religious and moral corruption, when, in view of the idolatry which had penetrated even into the sanctuary, he warned that God would "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).

The age of Zephaniah was also a key historical period, because the lands of Western Asia were overrun by foreigners due to the migration of the Scythians in the last decades of the seventh century BC, and because Jerusalem was only a few decades before its downfall in 586 BC.[6] In light of these events, a message of impending judgment is the primary burden of this figure's preaching (1:7).

The Book of Zephaniah

Sophonie s'adressant au peuple
Zephaniah addressing people (France, 16th century).

The Book of Zephaniah contains the fundamental ideas of the preaching of Zephaniah. The scheme of the book in its present form is as follows:

(a) 1:2-2:3. Warnings about the "day of the Lord", a Dies irae, dies illa[7] of the Old Testament. The judgment of the Lord will descend on Judah and Jerusalem as a punishment for the awful degeneracy in religious life (1:4-7a); it will extend to all classes of the people (1:7b-13), and will be attended with all the horrors of a frightful catastrophe (1:14-18); therefore, repent and seek the Lord (2:1-3).

(b) 2:4-15. Not only Jerusalem, but the entire world is subject to judgment, including the Philistines, (4-7) Moabites, Ammonites, (8-11) Ethiopians, (12) Assyrians and Ninevites (13-15).

(c) 3:1-8. The Prophet focuses once again on Jerusalem: "Woe to the provoking, and redeemed city ... She hath not hearkened to the voice, neither hath she received discipline." The severest reckoning will be required of the leading classes of the civil community, and of the Prophets and priests as the directors of public worship.

(d) 3:9-20. With a prophetic glance at the Kingdom of God of the future, in which all the world unites and turns to God, the prosperity of the Messianic Kingdom will be enjoyed.

(e) 3:9-20. The last message of Zephaniah also has a Messianic coloring, although not to an extent comparable with that which may be found in the Book of Isaiah.

In Christianity

He is commemorated with the other minor prophets in the calendar of saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 31. On the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar and in the Roman Martyrology, he is commemorated on December 3.

His book is an inspiration for the hymn, Dies irae.

Other Zephaniahs in the Bible

Other individuals named Zephaniah include:

  1. The son of Maaseiah, the "second priest" in the reign of Zedekiah, often mentioned in Jeremiah as having been sent from the king to inquire (Jer. 21:1) regarding the coming woes which he had denounced, and to entreat the prophet's intercession that the judgment threatened might be averted (Jer 29:25, 26, 29; 37:3; 52:24). He, along with some other captive Jews, was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar II "at Riblah in the land of Hamath" (2 Kings 25:21).
  2. A Kohathite ancestor of the prophet Samuel (1 Chr 6:36).
  3. The father of Josiah, the kohen (priest) who dwelt in Jerusalem when Darius I issued the decree that the temple should be rebuilt ... (Zech 6:10).

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mason, Rex (2007). "35. Zephaniah". In Barton, John; Muddiman, John (eds.). The Oxford Bible Commentary (first (paperback) ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 604–607. ISBN 978-0199277186. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  2. ^ The Interpreter's Bible, Volume VI, p. 1014
  3. ^ ANE History: The End of Judah Copyright © Quartz Hill School of Theology
  4. ^ "2 Kings 21 - The Wicked Reigns of Manasseh and Amon".
  5. ^ "The Religious Reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah" at the Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archive
  6. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Sophonias (Zephaniah)".
  7. ^ "That day of wrath, that dreadful day," as described in Nelson's Compact Illustrated Bible Dictionary, pp. 283, 283, Thomas Nelson Publishers (1964). Pre-ISBN book, only later (1978) edition found in WorldCat, ISBN 978-0-8407-5636-7.


External links

Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah (born 15 April 1958) is a British writer, dub poet and Rastafarian. He was included in The Times list of Britain's top 50 post-war writers in 2008.

Book of Habakkuk

The Book of Habakkuk is the eighth book of the 12 minor prophets of the Bible. It is attributed to the prophet Habakkuk, and was probably composed in the late 7th century BC.

Of the three chapters in the book, the first two are a dialog between Yahweh and the prophet. The message that "the just shall live by his faith" (2:4) plays an important role in Christian thought. It is used in the Epistle to the Romans, Epistle to the Galatians, and the Epistle to the Hebrews as the starting point of the concept of faith. A copy of these chapters is included in the Habakkuk Commentary, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Chapter 3 may be an independent addition, now recognized as a liturgical piece, but was possibly written by the same author as chapters 1 and 2.

Book of Zephaniah

The Book of Zephaniah (Hebrew: צְפַנְיָה, Tsfanya) is the ninth of the Twelve Minor Prophets, preceded by the Book of Habakkuk and followed by the Book of Haggai. Zephaniah means "Yahweh has hidden/protected," or "Yahweh hides".

Charles Z. Platt

Charles Zephaniah Platt (July 22, 1773 – April 14, 1822) was an American politician.

Dewi Zephaniah Phillips

Dewi Zephaniah Phillips (24 November 1934 – 25 July 2006), known as D. Z. Phillips, Dewi Z, Dizzy, or simply DZ, was a Welsh philosopher. He was a leading proponent of Wittgensteinian philosophy of religion. He had an academic career spanning five decades, and at the time of his death he held the Danforth Chair in Philosophy of religion at Claremont Graduate University, California, and was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Swansea University.

Dies irae

Dies irae (Latin pronunciation: [ˈdi.ɛs ˈi.rɛ]; "Day of Wrath") is a Latin sequence attributed to either Thomas of Celano of the Franciscans (1200 – c. 1265) or to Latino Malabranca Orsini (d. 1294), lector at the Dominican studium at Santa Sabina, the forerunner of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome. The sequence dates from at least the thirteenth century, though it is possible that it is much older, with some sources ascribing its origin to St. Gregory the Great (d. 604), Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), or Bonaventure (1221–1274).It is a Medieval Latin poem characterized by its accentual stress and rhymed lines. The metre is trochaic. The poem describes the Last Judgment, trumpet summoning souls before the throne of God, where the saved will be delivered and the unsaved cast into eternal flames.

It is best known from its use in the Requiem (Mass for the Dead or Funeral Mass). An English version is found in various Anglican Communion service books. The melody is one of the most quoted in musical literature, appearing in the works of many composers.

Diocese of Ysabel

The Diocese of Ysabel is one of the nine current dioceses of the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

It is one of the four original founding dioceses of the Church, erected in 1975 and inaugurated on 1 March 1975 at Jejevo Primary School. The diocese is now divided into four regions and 28 districts or parishes and is based in Jejevo, Buala, a town in the Solomon Islands located on Santa Isabel Island.

Face (novel)

Face is a British novel by British-Jamaican author and poet Benjamin Zephaniah, published in 1999. It's about a teenage boy who suffers facial injuries in a joyriding accident. Face has also been adapted as a stage play.

Kingsley Plantation

Kingsley Plantation (also known as the Zephaniah Kingsley Plantation Home and Buildings) is the site of a former estate in Jacksonville, Florida, that was named for an early owner, Zephaniah Kingsley, who spent 25 years there. It is located at the northern tip of Fort George Island at Fort George Inlet, and is part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve managed by the U.S. National Park Service.

The plantation was originally 1,000 acres (4.0 km2), most of which has been taken over by forest; the structures and grounds of the park now comprise approximately 60 acres (242,811.385 m2). Evidence of Pre-Columbian Timucua life is on the island, as are the remains of a Spanish mission named San Juan del Puerto. Under British rule in 1765, a plantation was established that cycled through several owners while Florida was transferred back to Spain and then the United States. The longest span of ownership was under Kingsley and his family, a polygamous and multiracial household controlled by and resistant to the issues of race and slavery.

Free blacks and several private owners lived at the plantation until it was transferred to the State of Florida in 1955. It was acquired by the National Park Service in 1991. The most prominent features of Kingsley Plantation are the owner's house—a structure of architectural significance built probably between 1797 and 1798 that is cited as being the oldest surviving plantation house in the state—and an attached kitchen house, barn, and remains of 25 anthropologically valuable slave cabins that endured beyond the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865). The foundations of the house, kitchen, barn and the slave quarters were constructed of cement tabby, making them notably durable. Archeological evidence found in and around the slave cabins has given researchers insight into African traditions among slaves who had recently arrived in North America.

Zephaniah Kingsley wrote a defense of slavery and the three-tier social system that acknowledged the rights of free people of color that existed in Florida under Spanish rule. Kingsley briefly served on the Florida Territorial Council, planning the transition when Florida was annexed by the United States. During his time on the council, he attempted to influence Florida lawmakers to recognize free people of color and allow mixed-race children to inherit property. In addition to the architectural qualities, the site is significant as his home and that of his unique family.

Prophetic books

The prophetic books are a division in the Christian Old Testament, corresponding to the Latter Prophets of the Hebrew Nevi'im, with the addition of Lamentions and Daniel in the Major Prophets, which in the Tanakh are found in the Five Megillot and ungrouped books of Ketuvim.The Major Prophets in Christianity are:





DanielThe Minor Prophets are as in Judaism:













Z. Alexander Looby

Zephaniah Alexander Looby (April 8, 1899 – March 24, 1972) was a lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee who was active in the Civil Rights Movement. Born in the British West Indies, he immigrated to the United States at the age of 15, and earned degrees at Howard University, Columbia University Law School, and New York University.

He settled in Nashville, Tennessee, where he built a law practice and taught at Fisk University. He is noted for being part of the defense team for 25 black men charged in attempted murder for the Columbia race riot of 1946 and winning acquittals for most, in the aftermath of the first major racial confrontation in the United States after World War II. He participated in numerous other cases, including leading desegregation of schools in Nashville. He served as a Republican member of the Nashville City Council from 1951 to 1971. His house was bombed by segregationists on April 19, 1960.

Zephaniah Kingsley

Zephaniah Kingsley Jr. (December 4, 1765 – September 14, 1843), a Quaker born in England who moved as a child with his family to South Carolina, became a planter, slave trader, and merchant who built several plantations in the Spanish colony of Florida in what is now Jacksonville, Florida. He served on the Florida Territorial Council after Florida was acquired by the United States in 1821. Kingsley Plantation, which he owned and where he lived for 25 years, has been preserved as part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, run by the United States National Park Service.

Kingsley was a relatively lenient slaveholder, who allowed his slaves the opportunity to be hired out and earn their freedom. He took four enslaved African women as common-law wives, practicing polygamy. His first wife, Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley, was 13-years-old when Kingsley purchased her in Havana. He said that he had married her, which he never said of his three other common-law wives. He emancipated Anna Jai when she turned 18, and trusted her with running his plantation when he was away on business. He had a total of nine mixed-race children with his wives. He educated his children to high standards and worked to ensure he could settle his estate on them and his wives.

His interracial family and his business interests resulted in Kingsley being deeply invested in the Spanish system of slavery and society. As in the French colonies, certain rights were provided to a class of free people of color, and multiracial natural children were allowed to inherit property from white fathers. "In the Spanish Floridas free people of color ... enjoyed tremendously elevated status when compared to virtually any other person of African descent in North America."Kingsley became involved in politics when control of the Florida colony passed in 1821 from Spain to the United States. He tried to persuade the new territorial government to maintain the special status of the population of free people of color, who were mostly multi-racial. He was unsuccessful in this effort, and in 1828 he published a pamphlet that defended a system of slavery that would allow slaves to purchase their freedom, and give rights to free blacks and free people of color. Faced with American laws that forbade interracial marriage, and discouraged "free people of color" (see Free black#Free negroes unwelcome) being allowed to stay or settle in the state, between 1835 and 1837, Kingsley relocated his large family to Haiti. (At that time it controlled part of what is today the Dominican Republic.) After his death, his estate in Florida was the subject of dispute between his widow Anna Jai and other members of Kingsley's family, but she was successful in gaining the estate he had bequeathed to her.

Zephaniah Platt

Zephaniah Platt (May 27, 1735 – September 12, 1807) was an American politician and lawyer, and founder of the U.S. town of Plattsburgh, New York.

Zephaniah Skinner

Zephaniah Skinner (born 27 June 1989) is an Australian rules footballer who played for the Western Bulldogs in the Australian Football League.

A Yungngora man, Skinner was born at Noonkanbah Station, several hundred kilometres east of Broome, Western Australia. Skinner was taken at number 88 in the 2010 AFL Draft.Making his debut during the 2011 AFL season, Skinner retired from AFL football at the end of the 2012 season.

Zephaniah Swift

Zephaniah Swift (February 27, 1759 – September 27, 1823) was an eighteenth-century American author, judge, lawyer, law professor, diplomat and politician from Windham, Connecticut. He served as a U.S. Representative from Connecticut and State Supreme Court Judge. He wrote the first legal treatise published in America.

Zephaniah Swift Moore

Zephaniah Swift Moore (November 20, 1770 – June 29, 1823) was an American Congregational clergyman and educator. He taught at Dartmouth College during the early 1810s and had a house built in Hanover, New Hampshire, that now serves as Dartmouth's Blunt Alumni Center. He served as the President of Williams College between 1815 and 1821 and the first President of Amherst College between 1821 and 1823. He is most famous for leaving Williams in order to found Amherst, taking some of the faculty and 15 students with him. The rumor that Williams College library books were also taken to Amherst College was declared false in 1995 by Williams College President Harry C. Payne.

Moore died two years after Amherst was founded, and was succeeded by Heman Humphrey, a trustee of Williams College. Moore's departure from Williams College established the foundation for the intense Williams–Amherst rivalry that persists to the present. To this day, he is regarded with a measure of derision on the Williams campus.

Zephaniah Turner Jr.

Zephaniah Turner Jr. (1812–1876) was a Virginia politician. He represented Rappahannock County in the Virginia House of Delegates, and served as that body's Speaker from 1869 until 1871.

Zephaniah Williams

Zephaniah Williams (1795 – 8 May 1874) was a Welsh coal miner and Chartist campaigner, who was one of the leaders of the Newport Rising of 1839. Found guilty of high treason, he was condemned to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in Tasmania. Eventually he was pardoned, and his discovery of coal on that island earned him a fortune.

Zimbabwe at the 1984 Summer Olympics

Zimbabwe competed at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, United States. This was the fifth time that Zimbabwe had competed at an Olympic Games with the first three as Rhodesia. 15 competitors, 12 men and 3 women, took part in 18 events in 5 sports.

Prophets in the Hebrew Bible
Patriarchs / Matriarchs
Israelite prophets
in the Torah
Mentioned in the
Former Prophets
Virgin Mary
See also

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.