Book of Zephaniah
The Book of Zephaniah, often called simply, Zephaniah, is an ancient Jewish writing canonized into the Minor Prophets section of the Nevi'im while Christians place it in their old testament. The text was written in prophetic style in Biblical Hebrew around 680-580 BCE. The text says the prophecy came from Zephaniah but doesn't explicitly say Zephaniah is the author, though Hebrew tradition attributes the work to him. In the book, Yahweh says he will murder anyone who doesn't worship him and follow his commandments.
Authorship and Dating
This text is usually attributed to Zephaniah, although it doesn't actually say that he wrote the text, only that the prophecy initially came from him. A male lineage of Zephaniah is given back to his great-grandfather Hezekiah, which some people, without evidence, assume is King Hezekiah. This uniquely distinguishes him from the other Zephaniahs mentioned in Jewish texts all pf whom have different lineages. The only evidence that Zephaniah is responsible for the prophecy is this text.
There are no surviving original works, and the text doesn't include any major historical events, so dating is based solely on the writing style. Those historians who think the text is written in the post-monarchical style date it around 580 BCE, but those who view the style as during the Jewish monarchy date it around 620-680 BCE.
The writing is written in the style of prophecy. It's basically gratuitous xenophobic threats of death and destruction to all who refused to exclusively worship Yahweh and follow his bizarre commandments.
I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read the NIV translation.
- The only good thing I can say about this prophecy is that it didn't come true. The world is still here, as are the various cities and peoples Yahweh said he would destroy.
- Yahweh's destruction of the entire world is rather provincial. He specifically targets locations of a city: Fish Gate, New Quarter, market district (1:10-11), and later says which specific cities will be obliterated (2:4-5).
- Yahweh says he will punish anyone wearing the clothes of a foreigner (1:8).
- Although religious people tend to admire the ending where Yahweh tells his true followers to rejoice for they will be safe and protected (3:12-20), they seem to forget that Yahweh's "protection" means the violent murder of anyone who makes him angry, and it's really easy for anyone, even his chosen people, to make him angry. How horrifying!
- Like other "prophecies" of antiquity, this text doesn't contain any specific verified predictions. This text doesn't even contain any specific claims at all.
- The text contains a couple words whose definitions have been lost like makshelah and karah.
- The book begins with Yahweh saying he will destroy everyone and everything living on the earth (1:2-3). Later he says his fiery jealousy will consume the whole world, ending all life on the planet (1:18, 3:8)! Not a good start for an all-loving god.
- The only justification Yahweh gives for murdering his chosen people is that some of them don't worship him exclusively. The justification he gives for wiping out all of the surrounding regions, is that they insult the very same chosen people he's about to murder.
- Yahweh says he will destroy all the gods of the foreign lands until everyone everywhere worships him (2:11).