ZEPHANIA.H (zeph'a-ni'ah), (Heb. tsef an-yaw').
1. The ninth in order of the minor prophets, who prophesied against Judah and Jerusalem in the time of King Josiah (Zeph. i:t ). (B. C. about 63o.) (1) Name. The name of this prophet has been variously explained. Contrary to usual custom the pedigree of the prophet is traced back for four generations—`the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah.' As there was at least another Zephaniah, a con spicuous personage at the time of the Captivity, the parentage of the prophet may have been re counted so minutely as to prevent any reader from confounding the two individuals. The Jews absurdly reckon that here, as in other superscrip tions, the persons recorded as a prophet's an cestors were themselves endowed with the pro phetic spirit. The so-called Epiphanius (De l'itis Prophet. cap. xix) asserts that Zephaniah was of the tribe of Simeon, of the hill Sarabatha. The existence of the prophet is known only from his oracles, and these have no biographical sketches; so that our knowledge of this man of God com prises only the fact and the results of his inspira tion. It may he safely inferred, however, that he labored with Josiah in the pious work of re-estab lishing the worship of Jehovah in the land.
(2) Age. It is recorded (ch. i.) that the word of the Lord came to him 'in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah.' We have rea son for supposing that he flourished during the earlier portion of Josiah's reign. In the second chapter (verses 13-15) he foretells the doom of Nineveh, and the fall of that ancient city hap pened about the eighteenth year of Josiah. In the commencement of his oracles also, he de nounces various forms of idolatry, and specially the remnant of Baal. The reformation of Josiah began in the twelfth, and was completed in the eighteenth year of his reign. So thorough was his extirpation of the idolatrous rites and hier archy which defiled his kingdom, that he burnt down the groves, dismissed the priesthood, threw down the altars, and made dust of the images of Baalim. Zephaniah must have prophesied prior to this religious revolution, while some remains of Baal were yet secreted in the land, or between the twelfth and eighteenth years of the royal re former. So Hitzig (Die 12 Klein Prophet.) and
Movers (Chronik. p. 234) place him; while Eich horn, Bertholdt, and Jaeger incline to give him a somewhat later date. At all events, he flour ished between the years B. C. 642 and B. C. 611 ; and the portion of his prophecy which refers to the destruction of the Assyrian empire, must have been delivered prior to the year B. C. 625, the year in which Nineveh fell (Henderson, On the Minor Prophets, p. 326). The publication of these oracles was, therefore, contemporary with a portion of those of Jeremiah, for the word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah. Indeed, the Jewish tradition is, that Zephaniah had for his colleagues Jere miah and the prophetess Huldah, the former fix ing his sphere of labor in the thoroughfares and market places, the latter exercising her honorable vocation in the college in Jerusalem (Carpzov, Introd. p. 41o). Koester (Die Propheten, iii.) endeavors to prove that Zephaniah was posterior to Habakkuk. His arguments from similarity of diction are very trivial, and the more so when we reflect that all circumstances combine in induc ing us to fix the period of Habakkuk in the reign of Jehoiakim (HABAKKUK), immediately before the Chaldxan invasion.
2. The son of Maaseiah (Jer. xxi:i), called (2 Kings xxv the second priest, while the priest Seraiali performed the functions of the high-priesthood, and was the first priest. It is thought Zephaniah was his deputy, to discharge the duty when the high-priest was sick, or when any other accident hindered him from performing his office. After the taking of Jerusalem by the Chald:eans, Seraiah and Zephaniah were taken and sent to Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, who caused them to be put to death ( Jer. 1ii :24, 27; 2 Kings xxv :18, 21). Zephaniah was sent more than once by Zedekiah to consult Jeremiah. (See chap. xxi: ; xxxvii :3.) (B. C. 588.) 3. A Kohathite Levitc, son of Tahath and fa ther of Azariah, ancestors of Samuel, the prophet (I Chron. vi:36) ; called URIEL Chron. vi :24).