Handbook of Zephaniah
The Great Day of God at Hand
The Coming of a "Pure Language"
Zephaniah prophesied in the days of Josiah (1:1). He was a great-great grandson of Hezekiah (1:1), thus of royal blood, and kin to Josiah. Josiah (639-608 B.C.), preceded by the long wicked reign of Manasseh, wrought a great reformation (see under 2 Chronicles 34), in which Zephaniah was a prime mover. Thus this prophecy was uttered only a few years before Judah's Day of Doom struck.
Chapter 1:1-2:3. An Impending Day of Wrath for Judah
It is called The Great Day of God, mentioned over and over (1:7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18; 2:2, 3; 3:8). A day of terror, about to break on Judah and sorrounding nations: having partial reference, perhaps, to the Scythian Invasion (see under Jeremiah 4); but very definite, unmistakable reference to the Babylonian invasion and Judah's captivity, which followed 20 years later; possibly, also,being a short of symbolic delineation pf catastrophes to happen at the time of the end. "Chemarim" (1:4), idolatrous priests. "Host of heaven" (1:5), sun and star worship, Assyrian idolatry. "Malcam" (1:5), Milcom, or Moloch, the Ammonite god. "Maktesh" (1:11), probably a business district of Jerusalem.
Chapter 2:4-3:8. A Day of Wrath for the Nations
Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron: (4), cities of Philistines. "Cherethites" (5), another name for Philistines. Ethiopia (12), was south Egypt, whose rulers at that time controlled all Egypt. Assyria (15), with Nineveh, its proud capital, terror of the world. Within 20 years these lands all lay desolate under the heel of Babylon.
Chapter 3:9-20 The Coming of a "Pure Language"
The calm after the storm. Three times the prophet speaks of a remnant being saved (2:3, 7: 3:12-13), and twice of their return from captivity (2:7; 3:20), with the introduction into the earth of a "pure language" (9), that is, a Correct System of Thought about God.
Language is the vehicle and expression of Truth. Its is the prediction of a complete and perfect revelation of God to man (obviously meaning the Gospel of Christ), as result of which converts from among all nations would be brought to God, joyful with glad songs of redemption, all the earth resounding with the praise of God's people.