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The Prophets Before the Exile

(Category 8 of 16)

Watch our Read Scripture video on the book of Zephaniah, which breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. There is one Read Scripture video dedicated to the book of Zephaniah, which aims to help you see its unique contribution to the story of Jesus, but also how they work within the Bible’s overall framework.

In this book, Zephaniah announces God’s purifying judgment on Israel. It will remove evil and open up a new future where all people can flourish in peace.

Explore Zephaniah



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The book of


DURING Judah’s hectic political and religious history, reform comes from time
to time. Zephaniah’s forceful prophecy may be a factor in the reform that
occurs during Josiah’s reign—a “revival” that produces outward change, but does
not fully remove the inward heart of corruption which characterizes the nation.
Zephaniah hammers home his message repeatedly that the day of the Lord, Judgment
Day, is coming when the malignancy of sin will be dealt with. Israel and her
gentile neighbors will soon experience the crushing hand of God’s wrath. But after
the chastening process is complete, blessing will come in the person of the Messiah,
who will be the cause for praise and singing.
Tsephan-yah means “Yahweh Hides” or “Yahweh Has Hidden.” Zephaniah was
evidently born during the latter part of the reign of King Manasseh. His name may
mean that he was “hidden” from Manasseh’s atrocities. The Greek and Latin title
is Sophonias.


1 THE word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of aJosiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

The Great Day of the LORD

2 “I will 1utterly consume everything From the face of the land,” Says the LORD;
3 “Ia will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the 1stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the 2land,” Says the LORD.

4 “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 1I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, The names of the aidolatrous2 priests with the pagan priests—
5 Those awho worship the host of heaven on the housetops; Those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, But who also swear bby 1Milcom;
6 aThose who have turned back from following the LORD, And bhave not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him.”

7 aBe silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; bFor the day of the LORD is at hand, For cthe LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has 1invited His guests.

CHAPTER 1 References

1 a2 Kin. 22:1,
2; 2 Chr.
34:1–33; Jer.
1:2; 22:11
2 1Lit. make a
complete end
of, Jer. 8:13
3 aHos. 4:3
1Idols 2ground
4 a2 Kin. 23:5;
Hos. 10:5
1Fulfilled in
2 Kin. 23:4, 5
5 a2 Kin.
23:12; Jer.
19:13 bJosh.
23:7 1Or Malcam,
god, 1 Kin.
11:5; Jer. 49:1;
Molech, Lev.
6 aIs. 1:4; Jer.
2:13 bHos. 7:7
7 aHab. 2:20;
Zech. 2:13 bIs.
13:6 cDeut.
28:26; Is. 34:6;
Jer. 46:10;
39:17–19 1Lit.
set apart,
8 aJer. 39:6
9 a1 Sam. 5:5
10 a2 Chr.
33:14; Neh.
3:3; 12:39
11 aJames 5:1
1A market
district of
Jerusalem, lit.
12 aJer. 48:11;
Amos 6:1 bPs.
94:7 1Lit. on
their lees; like
the dregs of
13 aDeut. 28:39
14 aJer. 30:7;
Joel 2:1, 11

8 “And it shall be, In the day of the LORD’s sacrifice, That I will punish athe princes and the king’s children, And all such as are clothed with foreign apparel.
9 In the same day I will punish All those who aleap over the threshold, Who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.

10 “And there shall be on that day,” says the LORD, “The sound of a mournful cry from athe Fish Gate, A wailing from the Second Quarter, And a loud crashing from the hills.
11 aWail, you inhabitants of 1Maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down; All those who handle money are cut off.

12 “And it shall come to pass at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And punish the men Who are asettled1 in complacency , bWho say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil.’
13 Therefore their goods shall become booty, And their houses a desolation; They shall build houses, but not inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards, but anot drink their wine.”

14 aThe great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly.

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The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out.
15 aThat day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness,
16 A day of atrumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers.

17 “I will bring distress upon men, And they shall awalk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse.”

18 aNeither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD’s wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land.

A Call to Repentance


1 Gathera yourselves together, yes, gather together, O 1undesirable nation,
2 Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you!
3 aSeek the LORD, ball you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. cIt may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’s anger.

Judgment on Nations

4 For aGaza shall be forsaken, And Ashkelon desolate; They shall drive out Ashdod bat noonday, And Ekron shall be uprooted.
5 Woe to the inhabitants of athe seacoast, The nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O bCanaan, land of the Philistines: “I will destroy you; So there shall be no inhabitant.”

15 aIs. 22:5
16 aIs. 27:13;
Jer. 4:19
17 aDeut. 28:29
18 aEzek. 7:19

CHAPTER 2 References

1 a2 Chr. 20:4;
Joel 1:14; 2:16
1Or shameless
3 aPs. 105:4;
Amos 5:6 bPs.
76:9 cJoel
2:14; Amos
5:14, 15
4 aJer. 47:1, 5;
Amos 1:7, 8;
Zech. 9:5 bJer.
5 aEzek.
bJosh. 13:3
6 aIs. 17:2 1Underground
huts or cisterns,
7 a[Mic. 5:7, 8] bLuke 1:68
cJer. 29:14
1Lit. visit
8 aJer. 48:27;
Amos 2:1–3
bEzek. 25:3;
Amos 1:13
cJer. 49:1
9 aIs. 15:1–9;
Jer. 48:1–47
bAmos 1:13
cDeut. 29:23
1Lit. Possessed
nettles 2Or
10 aIs. 16:6
11 aMal. 1:11
bGen. 10:5
12 aIs. 18:1–7;
Ezek. 30:4, 5
bPs. 17:13
13 aIs. 10:5–27;
14:24–27; Mic.
5:5, 6
14 aIs. 13:21
bIs. 14:23;


6 The seacoast shall be pastures, With 1shelters for shepherds aand folds for flocks.
7 The coast shall be for athe remnant of the house of Judah; They shall feed their flocks there; In the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the LORD their God will bintervene1 for them, And creturn their captives.

8 “Ia have heard the reproach of Moab, And bthe insults of the people of Ammon, With which they have reproached My people, And cmade arrogant threats against their borders.
9 Therefore, as I live,” Says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Surely aMoab shall be like Sodom, And bthe people of Ammon like Gomorrah— cOverrun1 with weeds and saltpits, And a 2perpetual desolation. The residue of My people shall plunder them, And the remnant of My people shall possess them.”

10 This they shall have afor their pride, Because they have reproached and made arrogant threats Against the people of the LORD of hosts.
11 The LORD will be awesome to them, For He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; aPeople shall worship Him, Each one from his place, Indeed all bthe shores of the nations.

12 “Youa Ethiopians also, You shall be slain by bMy sword.”

13 And He will stretch out His hand against the north, aDestroy Assyria, And make Nineveh a desolation, As dry as the wilderness.
14 The herds shall lie down in her midst, aEvery beast of the nation. Both the bpelican and the bittern Shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars; Their voice shall sing in the windows; Desolation shall be at the threshold;

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For He will lay bare the ccedar work. 15 This is the rejoicing city aThat dwelt securely, bThat said in her heart, “I am it, and there is none besides me.” How has she become a desolation, A place for beasts to lie down! Everyone who passes by her cShall hiss and dshake his fist.

The Wickedness of Jerusalem


1 Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, To the oppressing city!
2 She has not obeyed His voice, She has not received correction; She has not trusted in the LORD, She has not drawn near to her God.

3 aHer princes in her midst are roaring lions; Her judges are bevening wolves That leave not a bone till morning.
4 Her aprophets are insolent, treacherous people; Her priests have 1polluted the sanctuary, They have done bviolence to the law.
5 The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. 1Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, But athe unjust knows no shame.

6 “I have cut off nations, Their fortresses are devastated; I have made their streets desolate, With none passing by. Their cities are destroyed; There is no one, no inhabitant.
7 aI said, ‘Surely you will fear Me, You will receive instruction’— So that her dwelling would not be cut off, Despite everything for which I punished her. But 1they rose early and bcorrupted all their deeds.

A Faithful Remnant

8 “Therefore await for Me,” says the LORD, “Until the day I rise up 1for plunder; My determination is to bgather the nations To My assembly of kingdoms, To pour on them My indignation, All My fierce anger; All the earth cshall be devoured With the fire of My jealousy.

14 cJer. 22:14
15 aIs. 47:8
bRev. 18:7
cLam. 2:15
dNah. 3:19

CHAPTER 3 References

3 aEzek. 22:27
bJer. 5:6; Hab.
4 aHos. 9:7
bEzek. 22:26;
Mal. 2:7, 8 1Or
5 aJer. 3:3 1Lit.
Morning by
7 aJer. 8:6
bGen. 6:12
1They were
8 aProv. 20:22;
Mic. 7:7; Hab.
2:3 bIs. 66:18;
38:14–23; Joel
3:2; Mic. 4:12;
Matt. 25:32
cZeph. 1:18
1LXX, Syr. for
witness; Tg.
for the day of
My revelation
for judgment;
Vg. for the
day of My resurrection
is to come
9 aIs. 19:18;
57:19 1Lit. lip
10 aPs. 68:31;
Is. 18:1; Acts
11 aIs. 2:12;
5:15; Matt. 3:9
12 aIs. 14:32;
Zech. 13:8, 9
13 aIs.
[Mic. 4:7] bIs.
60:21 cZech.
8:3, 16; Rev.
14:5 dEzek.
34:13–15, 28
14 aIs. 12:6
15 a[John 1:49] bEzek. 48:35;
[Rev. 7:15] 1So
with Heb.
mss., LXX,
Bg.; MT,Vg.
16 aIs. 35:3, 4
bJob 4:3; Heb.
17 aZeph. 3:5,
15 bDeut.
30:9; Is. 62:5;
65:19; Jer.
18 aLam. 2:6
19 a[Ezek.
34:16; Mic.
4:6, 7]

9 “For then I will restore to the peoples aa pure 1language, That they all may call on the name of the LORD, To serve Him with one accord. 10 aFrom beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, The daughter of My dispersed ones, Shall bring My offering.
11 In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds In which you transgress against Me; For then I will take away from your midst Those who arejoice in your pride, And you shall no longer be haughty In My holy mountain.
12 I will leave in your midst aA meek and humble people, And they shall trust in the name of the LORD.
13 aThe remnant of Israel bshall do no unrighteousness cAnd speak no lies, Nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; For dthey shall feed their flocks and lie down, And no one shall make them afraid.”

Joy in God’s Faithfulness

14 aSing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. aThe King of Israel, the LORD, bis in your midst; You shall 1see disaster no more.

16 In that day ait shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, blet not your hands be weak.
17 The LORD your God ain your midst, The Mighty One, will save; bHe will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

18 “I will gather those who asorrow over the appointed assembly, Who are among you, To whom its reproach is a burden.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the alame,

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And gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame In every land where they were put to shame.
20 At that time aI will bring you back,

20 aIs. 11:12;
Ezek. 28:25;
Amos 9:14
1Lit. a name

Even at the time I gather you; For I will give you 1fame and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I return your captives before your eyes,” Says the LORD.

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Praising the LORD in His House at Night

A Song of Ascents.

1 BEHOLD, bless the LORD, All you servants of the LORD, Who by night stand in the house of the LORD!

PSALM 134 References

2 a[1 Tim. 2:8]

2 aLift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless the LORD.
3 The LORD who made heaven and earth Bless you from Zion!




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