Ralph P. Smith writes: "Most scholars prefer a date before Josiah's reform in 621 B.C. for Zephaniah's ministry because Zephaniah denounced syncretistic practices, Baal worship, and child sacrifice which were prevalent during Manasseh's reign (1:4-9, 11-12; 3:1-4). By denouncing such practices Zephaniah could have been a contributing influence in bringing about reform. . . . Kapelrud supports the traditional early date. He points to the reference to Nineveh (2:13-15) which had not yet fallen. Nineveh fell in 612 B.C. The syncretistic worshi reflected in 1:4-5 also points to a pre-reform date as does the references to Moab, Ammon and the Philistine cities. . . . In light of our present information it is probably best to see Assyria as the enemy and assign a date of ca. 627 B.C. to the book of Zephaniah." (Micah-Malachi, pp. 121-123)
Elizabeth Achtemeier writes: "But Judah also needed a religious renewal. Assyrian domination of the kingdom during the reigns of Josiah's predecessors Manasseh (698-642 B.C.) and Amon (642-640 B.C.) had brought with it foreign customs and pagan deities. Canaanite Baal worship flourished, with its abominable practices of sacred prostitution and child sacrifice, and those prophets who objected were persecuted or killed. Josiah therefore instituted a widespread religious reform based on the book of Deuteronomy in which all worship was centralized in Jerusalem and pagan cults and priests were removed. Deuteronomy became the law of the land, and the covenant with the Lord was renewed. The first two chapters of Zephaniah reflect the corruption in Judah before this reform. The last chapter reflects the reform's failure." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 742)
Jay G. Williams writes: "Chapter 1:1 also gives the genealogy of Zephaniah, the longest genealogy of any of the prophets. Probably the lineage given is as long as it is to make known that his great-great grandfather was none other than Hezekiah, the king. In other words, Zephaniah was a son of David. It is significant, therefore, that in his description of Judah's hope he says nothing about a Messianic Son of David." (Understanding the Old Testament, pp. 253-254)
James King West writes: "No Old Testament prophet, other than those anonymous figures whose words are now embodied within the Isaiah collection, qualifies more readily for a place among Isaiah's disciples than does Zephaniah. Among the more significant of their common elements are the portrayals of Assyria's evil and Yahweh's control over the pagan empire's destiny; the concentration on pride as the cardinal sin; the assurance that quietness, trust, and humility are the needful human graces; and the persistent hope for Zion and the remnant. Zephaniah's forceful oracles are proof enough that the brilliant gains established by eighth-century prophecy had survived without major loss the long period of prophetic quiescence." (Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 295-296)
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