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ZEPHANIAH (zĕf'a-nī'a, Heb. tsephanyâh, hidden of the Lord)

An ancestor of the prophet Samuel (1Chr.6.36).The author of the Book of Zephaniah. He was very probably related to the kings of Judah as follows (Zeph.1.1): Amariah and King Manasseh were brothers, Gedaliah and King Amon were cousins, Cushi and King Josiah were second cousins, and Zephaniah was third cousin of the three kings Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zechariah, thus putting the prophet into familiar relationship with the court, to which his message seems to be specially directed (e.g., Zeph.1.8). His principal work seems to have been early in Josiah’s reign, like that of his contemporaries Nahum and Habakkuk, and before the greater prophecies of his other contemporary, Jeremiah.A priest, son of Masseiah, whom Zedekiah sent to inquire of Jeremiah (2Kgs.25.18-2Kgs.25.21; Jer.21.1). The Babylonian captain of the guard took him to Riblah where Nebuchadnezzar had him executed.The father of a Josiah in the days of Darius to whom God sent the prophet Zechariah with a message of comfort and encouragement (Zech.6.9-Zech.6.15).

ZEPHANIAH zĕf’ ə nī’ ə (צְפַנְיָ֖הוּ, LXX Σοφονιας (indicating the vocalization of a participial form), meaning Yahweh has treasured or Yahweh has hidden). A cognomen for four individuals. 1. An ancestor of the Kohathites whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of Yahweh. Included in this ancestry are Heman and Samuel (1 Chron 6:36).

2. A prophet during the early part of the reign of Josiah whose prophecy is preserved in the book bearing his name (Zeph 1:1; see also Book of Zephaniah). He is the only prophet whose ancestry is traced back four generations. This unique feature indicates that his great grandfather, Hezekiah, was the famous king bearing that name. If so he was the only prophet of royal blood, a cousin of Josiah, and of the princes to whom he directed much of his prophecy. Apparently he lived in Jerusalem, for he referred to it as “this place” (Zeph 1:4) and described its topography with intimate knowledge (Zeph 1:10-13).

4. The father of Josiah II (Zech 6:10) and of Hen (Zech 6:14). By emending the text of Zechariah 6:14 to conform with 6:10, the RSV has him as father of only the former.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(tsephanyah, tsephanyahu, "Yah hath treasured"):

(1) The prophet.

See Book of Zephaniah.

(2) A Levite or priest (1Ch 6:36 (Hebrew 6:21)), called in some genealogies "Uriel" (1Ch 6:24; 15:5,11).

(3) Judean father or fathers of various contemporaries of Zechariah, the prophet (Zec 6:10,14).

(4) A priest, the second in rank in the days of Jeremiah. He was a leader of the "patriotic" party which opposed Jeremiah. Nevertheless, he was sent to the prophet as a messenger of King Zedekiah when Nebuchadnezzar was about to attack the city (Jer 21:1) and at other crises (Jer 37:3; compare 29:25,29; 2Ki 25:18). That he continued to adhere to the policy of resistance against Babylonian authority is indicated by the fact that he was among the leaders of Israel taken by Nebuzaradan before the king of Babylon, and killed at Riblah (2Ki 25:18 parallel Jer 52:24).