Composition of the Book of Zephaniah


Approximate date: 640-622 B.C.E. (Right, conservative-moderate, some Left); 400s-200s B.C.E. (some Left)

Time Period: required change for the people of Judah

Author(s): Zephaniah (Right, some conservative-moderate); Zephaniah and/or anonymous other(s) (some conservative moderate, some Left); Zephaniah and anonymous redactors (some Left)

Location of prophet/author(s): somewhere in Judah (Right, conservative-moderate, Left)

Target audience and their location: Southern Kingdom Israelites and Jerusalemites

Theological Summary: The Prophet Zephaniah was likely a person of considerable social status in Judah, as indicated by his ancestry (1:1), which designates him a fourth generation descendant of King Hezekiah. The meaning of Zephaniah’s name (Heb. Tzefanyah) is disputed, with some favoring “the LORD has hidden,” and others “watchman for the LORD.” Zephaniah demonstrates some knowledge of the political climate of the Southern Kingdom, and the prophetic works of Isaiah and Amos. Compared to Micah, whose prophecies focus on the plight of the common people of Judah, Zephaniah focuses his attention in more distinguished circles. Zephaniah could have known about a young Jeremiah.

Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of Josiah (640-609 B.C.E.), making him contemporary to Jeremiah, Nahum, and possibly Habakkuk, either just before or sometime during the Josianic reforms. Some find evidence that the Josianic reforms were already underway because of the reference to “the remnant of Baal” (1:4) and various allusions to the Book of Deuteronomy (1:13; cf. Deuteronomy 28:30; 1:17; cf. Deuteronomy 28:29). The Book of Zephaniah is the last pre-exilic text.

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages