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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on Zephaniah

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1.1 : Title.

Zephaniah means “the LORD protects.” It is not sure that Hezekiah means the king of Judah of that name. Josiah reigned from about 640–609 B.C.E.

1.2–6 : The great doom that is to come.

A terrifyingly vivid portrayal of the end of Judah and of all living creatures.

2–3 :

Contrast with the creation in Gen. ch. 1 .

4–6 :

Judah and Jerusalem will be destroyed because of their idolatrous worship. Baal: the Canaanite fertility god. Host of heaven: stars personified as gods. Milcom: an Ammonite god, possibly the same as Molech (or Moloch) to whom human sacrifice was made (see Lev. 20.2–5; Jer. 32.35 ).

1.7–18 : The day of the LORD

is the future day when the LORD will execute judgment over the earth; see Joel 1.14–15 . Amos 5.18–20 implies that it was once thought to be a joyous day, but most of the prophets picture it as a time of terror.

7 :

Sacrifice: the LORD set apart those … invited, the Israelites, purifying them with punishment instead of ritual purifications; compare 1 Chr. 15.14; Job 1.5; Isa. 66.17 .

10–11 :

Various parts of Jerusalem are named; the Fish Gate (Neh. 3.3 ) was the northern gate in the Second Quarter, but the location of the Lower Town is uncertain.

15–18 :

These verses are the basis of the medieval Latin hymn Dies irae, dies illa (“a day of wrath will that day be”), which was for centuries (until Vatican Council II in the 1960s) part of the Catholic Requiem Mass.

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