Introduction

Obadiah

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.

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