The reign of King Manasseh of Judah was the time of greatest corruption, injustice and paganism in Judah’s history. But Manasseh’s grandson King Josiah reasserted the nation’s faith and obedience to God and its independence from foreign empires. One reason for this seems to be that a member of his court stood up and warned that Judah’s breaking of the covenant had led it to the brink of destruction. The person who offered this warning was the prophet Zephaniah.
The book’s prologue identifies Zephaniah as the great-great-grandson of Hezekiah. No other prophet’s ancestry is traced back four generations, so this seems intended to associate Zephaniah with the great reforming king of Judah. It is likely that Zephaniah was of royal blood, since he was familiar with particular districts in Jerusalem and with specific activities in the capital.
This collection of prophecies has three main parts. First is a description of the day of the Lord that is coming against Judah and Jerusalem. Next is a call for national repentance, along with oracles of destruction against the Philistines, Moabites, Cushites (Ethiopians), Assyrians and Jerusalem itself. In the final section, Zephaniah promises that God will restore a humble remnant when he returns as a Mighty Warrior among his people.