In Christian tradition, the Prophet Zephaniah is one considered one of the twelve Minor Prophets. He lived in the 7th century BC and belonged to the Simeon tribe. Zephaniah prophesied in the days of Josiah, king of Judah. Living at the royal court, he prophesied repentance and helped the king in his struggle against paganism. The Book of Zephaniah contains a prophesy about disasters that would strike Judah and the neighboring kingdoms (Zephaniah 1: 2–4, 14–18; Zephaniah 2: 13). Zephaniah also prophesied about the coming of the Messiah (Zephaniah 3: 14–15), or, to be exact, about the Entry of the Lord to Jerusalem.

The prophet Zephaniah is traditionally depicted as a gray-haired old men wearing a blue chiton, ochrous or wine-colored himation and sandals. He is depicted as a younger man on a miniature of a 10th century Interpretations of the Book of the Prophets (The National Library, Turin). In iconography the Prophet Zephaniah is represented on icons of the prophet tier of iconostases (the Assumption Cathedral of the Cyril of Belozersk Monastery, 1497, State Russian Museum; the Nativity of the Theotokos Cathedral of the St. Therapont Monastery, 1502 Dionysius). An icon of the Prophet Zephaniah from the State Russian Museum collections is believed to have been painted by Andrei Rublev and Daniil Cherny in 1408-1410 for the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir.

The Prophet Zephaniah is commemorated on December 16 (December 3, the old style).

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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