The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.
The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.
If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?
How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!
All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.
Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?
And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;
Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.
For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.
For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.
But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.
And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.
And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.
 

Introduction to Obadiah

The one-chapter prophecy of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament. There is no clear evidence, either internal or external, concerning the date of writing. Most conservative scholars believe it is one of the earliest, perhaps the very first prophetic book. Others, especially liberals attribute it to the period after the destruction of Jerusalem.

Obadiah was presumably a prophet of Judah, although this is not absolutely certain. There are several other men named Obadiah (Servant of Jehovah) in the Bible, but none of them are the same as the author of the book.

The main theme of the book is a pronouncement of coming judgment on Edom, the nation descended from Esau, Jacob’s brother. Though closely related to the Israelites, the Edomites were almost perpetually at enmity with them, even participating with another (unnamed) enemy nation in an invasion and destruction of Jerusalem (Obadiah 11-15). Since there is no mention of the Babylonians in this situation, it is possible that the reference is to a much earlier invasion of Jerusalem by the Edomites (as described in II Chronicles 28:17) in the days of Ahaz.

In any case, the ultimate doom of Edom is pronounced in view of both her arrogant pride (Obadiah 3-4) and also because of her “violence against thy brother Jacob” (Obadiah 10). Although the complete judgment on Edom was long in coming, eventually Edom and the Edomites disappeared from history, whereas Israel has continued throughout all the ages.

1 Obadiah. Obadiah (“the servant of Jehovah”) is considered by many to be the first prophet chronologically (although his prophecy is the smallest chapter in the Old Testament), but there are at least a dozen Obadiahs mentioned in the Bible. None of the other men can be identified as the prophet Obadiah, so his identity and date of writing are unknown.

1 concerning Edom. Obadiah’s entire one-chapter prophecy deals with God’s coming judgment on Edom, the nation founded by Jacob’s twin brother, Esau. The fulfillment took place precursively later at the time of the Babylonian invasion, when Nebuchadnezzar decimated the Edomites and their land. The nation was eventually overrun by others and finally became desolate. However, the ultimate fulfillment will be when the confederacy invading Israel in the last days (Psalm 83; Ezekiel 38), which includes the Muslim Arabs now occupying Edom’s ancient land, is defeated and its influence destroyed.

3 clefts of the rock. Edom’s main city was the famous “rock city,” Sela, or Petra, considered almost impregnable because of the very narrow gorges which were its only access routes. Edom also controlled the chief trade routes between Asia and Egypt, becoming very prosperous.

10 against thy brother Jacob. Bible commentators have often written about Jacob and Esau as though Esau were the innocent victim of Jacob’s cupidity. However, a careful reading of the record will indicate that Esau and father Isaac were at fault in attempting to deprive Jacob of his God-ordained leadership of the chosen nation of Israel (see notes on Genesis 25–27). Esau’s resultant determination to slay Jacob, plus the influence of his pagan wives (Genesis 26:34-35; 27:41,46; 28:6-9), carried over into the attitude of all his descendants toward the children of Israel (note Ezekiel 35, especially verse 5). Finally, because of Edom’s continual harassment of Israel, God judged them with a decree of national extinction.

15 day of the LORD. If, as many scholars believe, Obadiah was the first of the writing prophets, this would be the first use of the important phrase, “the day of the LORD,” which is applied so frequently in Scripture to the judgments of the last days. Although Obadiah’s theme here is specifically the coming judgment on Edom, his vision goes far beyond that, applying it to “all the heathen”—that is, all the Gentile nations.

17 possess their possessions. The children of Esau, as well as those of Ishmael, Lot, and others, have thus far kept “the house of Jacob” from obtaining their divine inheritance, as promised by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as David. Eventually, however, God’s Word will be vindicated, and Israel will “possess their possessions” in the coming age of Christ’s kingdom.

21 mount of Esau. The “mount of Esau” was Mount Seir, whereas “Mount Zion” could be called the mount of Jacob. Thus the age-long enmity between Jacob and Esau could be personified as a rivalry between Mount Seir and Mount Zion. “Yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau” (Malachi 1:2-3). Such was God’s evaluation of this rivalry, leading finally to Esau’s (Edom’s) destruction.


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