Zephaniah 1

Day of Judgment on Judah

1 The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of 1Josiah son of 2Amon, king of Judah:
2 "I will completely 3remove all things From the face of the [a]earth," declares the LORD.
3 "I will remove 4man and beast; I will remove the 5birds of the sky And the fish of the sea, And the [b]6ruins along with the wicked; And I will cut off man from the face of the [c]earth," declares the LORD.
4 "So I will 7stretch out My hand against Judah And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will 8cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, And the names of the 9idolatrous priests along with the priests.
5 "And those who bow down on the 10housetops to the host of heaven, And those who bow down and 11swear to the LORD and yet swear by [d]12Milcom,
6 And those who have 13turned back from following the LORD, And those who have 14not sought the LORD or inquired of Him."
7 [e]15Be silent before * the Lord [f]GOD! For the 16day of the LORD is near, For the LORD has prepared a 17sacrifice, He has 18consecrated His guests.
8 "Then it will come about on the day of the LORD'S sacrifice That I will 19punish the princes, the king's sons And all who clothe themselves with 20foreign garments.
9 "And I will punish on that day all who leap on the temple threshold, Who fill the house of their [g]lord with 21violence and deceit.
10 "On that day," declares the LORD, "There will be the sound of a cry from the 22Fish Gate, A wail from the [h]23Second Quarter, And a loud crash from the 24hills.
11 "Wail, O inhabitants of the [i]Mortar, For all the [j]people of 25Canaan will be silenced; All who weigh out 26silver will be cut off.
12 "It will come about at that time That I will 27search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are [k]28stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, 'The LORD will 29not do good or evil!'
13 "Moreover, their wealth will become 30plunder And their houses desolate; Yes, 31they will build houses but not inhabit them, And plant vineyards but not drink their wine."
14 Near is the 32great 33day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! [l]In it the warrior 34cries out bitterly.
15 A day of wrath is that day, A day of 35trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of 36darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness,
16 A day of 37trumpet and battle cry Against the 38fortified cities And the high corner towers.
17 I will bring 39distress on men So that they will walk 40like the blind, Because they have sinned against the LORD; And their 41blood will be poured out like dust And their 42flesh like dung.
18 Neither * their 43silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD'S wrath; And 44all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will 45make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.

Zephaniah 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

Zephaniah excites to repentance, foretells the destruction of the enemies of the Jews, and comforts the pious among them with promises of future blessings, the restoration of their nation, and the prosperity of the church in the latter days.

Threatenings against sinners. (1-6) More threatenings. (7-13) Distress from the approaching judgments. (14-18)

Verses 1-6 Ruin is coming, utter ruin; destruction from the Almighty. The servants of God all proclaim, There is no peace for the wicked. The expressions are figurative, speaking every where desolation; the land shall be left without inhabitants. The sinners to be consumed are, the professed idolaters, and those that worship Jehovah and idols, or swear to the Lord, and to Malcham. Those that think to divide their affections and worship between God and idols, will come short of acceptance with God; for what communion can there be between light and darkness? If Satan have half, he will have all; if the Lord have but half, he will have none. Neglect of God shows impiety and contempt. May none of us be among those who draw back unto perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Verses 7-13 God's day is at hand; the punishment of presumptuous sinners is a sacrifice to the justice of God. The Jewish royal family shall be reckoned with for their pride and vanity; and those that leap on the threshold, invading their neighbours' rights, and seizing their possessions. The trading people and the rich merchants are called to account. Secure and careless people are reckoned with. They are secure and easy; they say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; that is, they deny his dispensing rewards and punishments. But in the day of the Lord's judgment, it will clearly appear that those who perish, fall a sacrifice to Divine justice for breaking God's law, and because they have no interest by faith in the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice.

Verses 14-18 This warning of approaching destruction, is enough to make the sinners in Zion tremble; it refers to the great day of the Lord, the day in which he will show himself by taking vengeance on them. This day of the Lord is very near; it is a day of God's wrath, wrath to the utmost. It will be a day of trouble and distress to sinners. Let them not be laid asleep by the patience of God. What is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? And what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Let us flee from the wrath to come, and choose the good part that shall never be taken from us; then we shall be prepared for every event; nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Cross References 45

  • 1. 2 Kings 22:1, 2; 2 Chronicles 34:1-33; Jeremiah 1:2; Jeremiah 22:11
  • 2. 2 Kings 21:18-26; 2 Chronicles 33:20-25
  • 3. Genesis 6:7; Jeremiah 7:20; Ezekiel 33:27, 28
  • 4. Isaiah 6:11, 12
  • 5. Jeremiah 4:25; Jeremiah 9:10
  • 6. Ezekiel 7:19; Ezekiel 14:3, 4, 8
  • 7. Jeremiah 6:12; Ezekiel 6:14
  • 8. Micah 5:13
  • 9. 2 Kings 23:5; Hosea 10:5
  • 10. 2 Kings 23:12; Jeremiah 19:13
  • 11. Jeremiah 5:2, 7; Jeremiah 7:9, 10
  • 12. 1 Kings 11:5, 33; Jeremiah 49:1
  • 13. Isaiah 1:4; Hosea 7:10
  • 14. Isaiah 9:13
  • 15. Habakkuk 2:20; Zechariah 2:13
  • 16. Zephaniah 1:14
  • 17. Isaiah 34:6; Jeremiah 46:10
  • 18. 1 Samuel 16:5; Isaiah 13:3
  • 19. Isaiah 24:21; Habakkuk 1:10
  • 20. Isaiah 2:6
  • 21. Jeremiah 5:27; Amos 3:10
  • 22. 2 Chronicles 33:14; Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 12:39
  • 23. 2 Chronicles 34:22
  • 24. Ezekiel 6:13
  • 25. Zephaniah 2:5; Zechariah 14:21
  • 26. Job 27:16, 17; Hosea 9:6
  • 27. Jeremiah 16:16, 17; Ezekiel 9:4-11; Amos 9:1-3
  • 28. Jeremiah 48:11; Amos 6:1
  • 29. Ezekiel 8:12; Ezekiel 9:9
  • 30. Jeremiah 15:13; Jeremiah 17:3
  • 31. Amos 5:11; Micah 6:15
  • 32. Jeremiah 30:7; Joel 2:11; Malachi 4:5
  • 33. Ezekiel 7:7, 12; Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 1:15; Joel 3:14; Zephaniah 1:7
  • 34. Ezekiel 7:16-18
  • 35. Isaiah 22:5
  • 36. Joel 2:2, 31; Amos 5:18-20
  • 37. Isaiah 27:13; Jeremiah 4:19
  • 38. Isaiah 2:12-15
  • 39. Jeremiah 10:18
  • 40. Deuteronomy 28:29
  • 41. Ezekiel 24:7, 8
  • 42. Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 9:22
  • 43. Ezekiel 7:19
  • 44. Zephaniah 3:8
  • 45. Genesis 6:7; Ezekiel 7:5-7

Footnotes 12

  • [a]. Lit "ground"
  • [b]. Or "stumbling blocks"
  • [c]. Lit "ground"
  • [d]. Or "their king;" M.T. "Malcam," probably a variant spelling of Milcom
  • [e]. Lit "Hush"
  • [f]. Heb "YHWH," usually rendered LORD
  • [g]. Or "Lord"
  • [h]. I.e. a district of Jerusalem
  • [i]. I.e. a district of Jerusalem
  • [j]. Or "merchant people will"
  • [k]. Lit "thickening on their lees"
  • [l]. Lit "There"

Chapter Summary


This book in some Hebrew copies is called "Sepher Zephaniah", the Book of Zephaniah. Its title, in the Vulgate Latin version, is, the Prophecy of Zephaniah; and, in the Syriac version, the Prophecy of the Prophet Zephaniah; and so the Arabic version calls him a prophet; and he is the last of the minor prophets that prophesied before the Babylonish captivity. The time of his prophesying, as well as his, parentage, are expressed Zep 1:1, and therefore need not be inquired into; only the sad mistake of Hobbes {a} may be observed, who makes him to be the most ancient of the prophets, and to be contemporary with Amaziah and Uzziah, kings of Judah, when he is expressly said to prophesy in the days of Josiah. Pseudo-Epiphanius {b} calls him a prophet of Sarabatha, of a mountain of that name, and says he was of the tribe of Simeon; and in this Isidore {c} agrees with him; and both affirm that he died and was buried in his own native place; but the author of the Cippi Hebraici {d} says he was buried at Geba, in Mount Lebanon, in the midst of a cave shut up, where his school continues; and from which place the clouds never depart, and where also are flowing fountains. His name, according to Jerom, signifies either "the Lord's watch tower", or "watchman"; or else "the secret of the Lord"; or, "his hidden one"; deriving his name, either from hpu, which signifies to "look out", as a watchman from his tower; or from Npu, "to hide"; which latter derivation is best; and some interpret it "a revealer of the secrets", or "hidden things, of the Lord"; and take it to be much the same with Zaphnathpaaneah, the name given to Joseph by Pharaoh, Ge 41:45, and is of the same signification: but Hillerus {e} interprets the name of Zephaniah, "the Lord hid himself"; which agrees with the times in which he lived. That this prophecy was wrote by himself, there need be no doubt of; nor of the authenticity of it, being always received by the Jewish synagogue as authentic; and as it appears to be from its style and manner of composition; from the subject matter of it agreeing with other parts of Scripture, especially with Jeremiah and Ezekiel; and from the accomplishment of various prophecies in it. There are indeed some spurious things which have been ascribed to him, as the "analepsis" or assumption of Zephaniah the prophet, and the prophecy of Zephaniah, consisting of six hundred verses; but these are apocryphal, and have no likeness to this prophecy; in which he foretells the destruction of the Jews by the Chaldeans for their sins, which he inveighs against, and calls them to repentance for them, as also the ruin of many other nations, all which came to pass; as well as he prophesies of the calling of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Jews, and of the comfortable state of the church in Gospel times, and especially in the latter day.

{a} Leviathan, c. 33. {b} De Prophet. Vita & Interitu, c. 19. {c} De Vita & Morte Sanct. c. 48. {d} P. 50. Ed. Hottinger. {e} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 471, 952.


After the title of the book, Zep 1:1, follows the Lord's threatening of the land of Judea with an utter consumption of it, and of all creatures in it, for the sins of its inhabitants, especially their idolatry and apostasy, Zep 1:2-6, and this is represented under the notion of a sacrifice, to which guests are bid; and which even princes, and those of the blood royal, should not escape, nor ministers of state, or such who filled their masters' houses with violence, Zep 1:7-9. Some particular places are mentioned, where there should be a great noise of crying and howling, and especially Jerusalem, which should be diligently searched, and its goods become a booty, and its houses desolate, Zep 1:10-13. This destruction is spoken of as near at hand, and is described as very terrible and distressing, Zep 1:14-17 and as inevitable; nothing would be able to deliver from it, Zep 1:18.

Zephaniah 1 Commentaries

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