The Book of Zephaniah is the ninth of the twelve minor prophets, preceded by Habakkuk and followed by Haggai. The name Zephaniah means “Yahweh has hidden/protected,” “Yahweh hides,” or “Yahweh is my secret.”
The book’s superscription attributes its authorship to “Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah” (1:1, NRSV). All that is known of Zephaniah comes from the text.
The name “Cushi,” Zephaniah’s father, means “Cushite” or “Ethiopian,” and the text of Zephaniah mentions the sin and restoration of Ethiopians. While some have concluded from this that Zephaniah was a black Jew, Ehud Ben Zvi maintains that, based on the context, “Cushi” must be understood as a personal name rather than an indicator of nationality. Abraham ibn Ezra interpreted the name Hezekiah in the superscription as King Hezekiah of Judah, though that is not a claim advanced in the text of Zephaniah.
Book of Zephaniah: