Notes on


2024 Edition

Dr. Thomas L. Constable


Title and Writer

As is true of all the other prophetical books in the Old Testament, the title of this one evidently comes from the name of its writer. The name Obadiah means "Servant of Yahweh" or "Worshipper of Yahweh," depending on the form (vocalization) of his name in Hebrew, which is debated. There are 13 men who bear this name in the Old Testament, ranging from Davidic to postexilic times, assuming the writer was not one of the other 12. It appears that he was not, since attempts to identify him with one of the others have proved unsatisfying.

A few scholars have favored the view that this Obadiah was not the name of an individual but a symbolic title of the writer who was an unidentified servant or worshipper of the LORD (Yahweh). This seems unlikely since the other prophetical books bear the proper names of their writers. Some scholars believe that Malachi ("My Messenger") is also a title rather than a proper name.

Exactly who Obadiah was remains a mystery. Keil believed that the Obadiah who served King Ahab and who encountered Elijah (1 Kings 18:3-16) was the writer.[1] Usually something about the writer accompanies his name at the beginning of each prophetical book: generally his father's name, some of his ancestors, and/or his hometown. This descriptive information is absent in only two of the prophetical books: Obadiah and Malachi.

Whoever Obadiah was, he possessed significant literary talent. He employed the skills of imagery, rhetorical questions, irony, repetition, and various forms of parallelism in his brief prophecy.


Some scholars have contended that this small book—the shortest one in the Old Testament but not in the Bible—is a collection of prophecies that two or more unidentified prophets uttered. There are two reasons for this view: First, since the identity of Obadiah is obscure, some students of the book have concluded that Obadiah is a title that describes prophets in general, as servants of the LORD, rather than the name of one specific individual. Second, the content of the book may consist of from two to five oracles (divine pronouncements). Form critics have identified three types of oracles: oracles of judgment, oracles of repentance, and oracles of salvation.[2] This has led some scholars to posit two or more prophecies and two or more prophets.

However, since Obadiah was a common Hebrew name, and since the other prophetical books bear the names of their writers, it is more natural to assume that one prophet named Obadiah wrote the whole book. Furthermore, since many other writing prophets recorded several oracles, it is reasonable to assume that one prophet named Obadiah did the same in this book if, indeed, it consists of more than one oracle. The whole brief book fits together nicely as a single composition.[3]


Since we do not know anything about the writer, other than that his name appears to have been Obadiah, it is very difficult to date this book and to determine where Obadiah lived and ministered.

"This shortest book in the Old Testament, consisting of only twenty-one verses, bears the distinction of being the most difficult of all the prophecies to date."[4]

There are three clues concerning when the prophet wrote it: (1) references to historical events in the book, (2) the book's place in the Hebrew canon, and (3) possible quotations or allusions to the writings of other Old Testament prophets in Obadiah, and quotations or allusions to Obadiah in other Old Testament books. Discussion of each of these clues follows:

First, regarding references to historical events in the book, Obadiah referred to a time in the apparently recent past when the Edomites had gloated over a successful invasion of Jerusalem (vv. 10-14, 16). There are at least seven occasions during the ministry of the writing prophets when we know that Jerusalem, the capital city of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, experienced invasion and suffered a defeat. One of these may be the event he referred to:

1.      During Rehoboam's reign (930-913 B.C.; 1 Kings 14:25-26; 2 Chron. 12:2-9)

2.      During Jehoram's reign (853-841 B.C.; 2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chron. 21:8-10, 16-17; cf. Amos 1:6)

3.      During Amaziah's reign (796-767; 2 Kings 14:13-14; 2 Chron. 25:23-24)

4.      During Ahaz's reign (732-715 B.C.; 2 Chron. 28:16-18)

5.      During Jehoiakim's reign (609-598 B.C.; 2 Kings 24:1-4; 2 Chron. 36:6-7)

6.      During Jehoiachin's reign (598-597 B.C.; 2 Kings 24:10-16; 2 Chron. 36:10)

7.      During Zedekiah's reign (597-586 B.C.; 2 Kings 25:3-7; 2 Chron. 36:15-20; cf. Lam. 4:21-22; Ps. 137:7)

A few scholars have proposed that Obadiah's entire oracle awaits an earthly and eschatological (end times) fulfillment.[5] This view is not widely held.

Of these past invasions and defeats, the ones that seem to fit Obadiah's description of the Edomites' behavior were: the one in King Jehoram's reign, and the one in Zedekiah's reign, when Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C.[6] Most scholars believe that one of these times is in view, and most believe that the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. is in view.[7] The second most popular view is that the invasion of Jerusalem during Jehoram's reign is what Obadiah referred to.[8] This would make Obadiah a contemporary of Elijah and Elisha (cf. 2 Chron. 21:12-15).

The second clue to the date of Obadiah's prophecy is the place of the book in the Hebrew canon. The Minor Prophets are called minor, of course, because they are shorter than the Major Prophets.[9] The Jews put all 12 of the Minor Prophets on one scroll, for convenience sake and in order to keep them from getting lost. The order in which they appear in the Hebrew Bible is basically chronological, and this order continued in later translations of the Old Testament, including English translations. This would lead us to conclude that the ancient Jews regarded Obadiah as one of the earlier prophetical books.

But the order is not completely chronological. Hosea seems to have been put first because it is the longest of the pre-exilic Minor Prophets. The recurrence of similar themes and/or words also appears to have influenced the order, since Joel, rather than Amos, the second longest pre-exilic minor prophet, follows Hosea. Allen suggested that Obadiah may follow Amos because it "may have been viewed as a virtual commentary on Amos 9:12."[10] Stuart suggested that Obadiah follows Amos because Obadiah used the name "the Lord God" (Adonai Yahweh, v. 1), a not frequently used name for God in the prophets, which Amos also used.[11]

"In the arrangement of The Twelve in the Hebrew Bible the chronological principle which seems to have determined the over-all order was as follows: (1) the prophets of the Assyrian period were placed first (Hosea to Nahum); (2) then followed those of the Babylonian period (Habakkuk and Zephaniah); (3) the series closed with the three prophets of the Persian period after the exile (Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi)."[12]

The third clue concerning the date of Obadiah is evidence that one prophet depended on another. There are similarities between Obadiah 1-6 and Jeremiah 49:9 and 14-17, and between Obadiah 10-18 and Joel 1:15; 2:1, 32; 3:3-4, 17, and 19.[13] There are also similarities between Obadiah 9, 10, 14, 18, and 19 and Amos 1:2, 6, 11-12, and 9:13.[14] However, in all these instances it is really impossible to determine if Obadiah referred to the other prophets, if they referred to Obadiah, if they all depended on another common source, or if the Holy Spirit led each prophet independently to express himself in similar terms.

Fortunately, discovering the correct date of this prophecy is not crucial to understanding it.

Place of Composition and audience

Since Obadiah's concern was the Edomites' rejoicing over an invasion of Jerusalem, it seems most probable that the prophet lived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Most of the scholars agree on this.

Since Obadiah's concern was Jerusalem, and since it seems likely that he lived in Judah, the original people who received his prophecy were probably the residents of Judah.

Historical Background

The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, who displaced the Horites (also known as Hurrians) that we read about in the Book of Genesis. The Horites and the Amorites were the original inhabitants of Canaan.

During the Monarchy, David captured Edom, stationed a garrison there, and made Edom a vassal state (1 Chron. 18:12-13). Solomon later developed the port city of Ezion-geber (Elath; 1 Kings 9:26-28) in southern Judah near Edom. Hadad, a member of the Edomite royal family, opposed Solomon and set up a government in exile in Egypt (1 Kings 11:14-17). But Judah still governed Edom during the reign of King Jehoshaphat, who posted a governor in Edom (1 Kings 22:47-48). Edom gained her freedom from Judah, in 845 B.C., by rebelling against Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chron. 21:8-10, 16-17). King Amaziah of Judah partially recaptured Edom between 790 and 770 B.C. (2 Kings 14:7). King Uzziah of Judah recaptured the port of Ezion-geber (2 Kings 14:21-22). Aram (Syria) later took back Ezion-geber from Judah (2 Kings 16:5-6). After that the Edomites revolted and attacked Judah a second time, during the reign of King Ahaz of Judah (2 Chron. 28:17). Finally, when King Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judah, the Edomites assisted the Babylonians (Ps. 137:7; Jer. 49:7-22; Ezek. 25:12-14; 35:1-15).[15]

After the Babylonian invasion of Judah—and of their former ally against Judah, Edom—the Nabatean Arabs took over the capital city of Sela (Gr. Petra) and forced the remaining Edomites into southern Judah, where they settled. The Greeks named this area Idumea, and its inhabitants Idumeans, following Alexander the Great's conquest of Canaan in the 4th century B.C.

After the Romans replaced the Greeks as the dominant power in Canaan, they permitted the Idumeans to enjoy some sovereignty. King Herod the Great, who was in charge of Palestine when Jesus Christ was born, was an Idumean. The Idumeans later joined the Jews in revolting against the Romans in 68-70 A.D. Their defeat resulted in their scattering, and they ceased to exist as a people. This was the fulfillment of Obadiah's prophecy of judgment on their nation. In summary, Edom's history of antagonism against Israel was long and consistent.

Purpose and Uniqueness

Obadiah wrote to announce coming divine judgment on Edom, and to give the Israelites hope by reminding them of the future that God had promised them.

"Prophetic oracles against foreign nations, though full of the language of doom, are also implicitly messages of hope for God's people. Such oracles look forward to a time when the predicted demise of the nation under attack will open the way for the restored, purified Israel to blossom once again as the flower of all God's plantings. Obadiah's message fits this pattern and in some ways even typifies it."[16]

"What would be a single oracle against a foreign nation in one of the other prophetic books has in Obadiah become an independent book."[17]

Most Bible scholars see Edom as typical and representative of all the forces arrayed against Israel and Yahweh.[18] . Some scholars also see Edom as a type of the flesh, and Obadiah as a prophecy of its eventual destruction.[19]

"In a sense Obadiah is a miniature profile of the message of all the writing prophets."[20]

"Edom … was tenaciously and rather constantly hostile from beginning, i.e., after the exodus, to end, i.e., after the exile. This factor would itself be enough to cause such a small nation to receive such regular, even prominent mention in prophetic oracles against foreign nations. But Edom's prominence as an enemy was additionally noteworthy because of its historical position as a brother nation to Israel (Gen 25). There are, then, at least three factors that made Edom so prominent among Israel's enemies that it could sometimes function virtually as a paradigm for all of them: (1) the sheer chronological length of its enmity as alluded to in Ezek 35:5; (2) the consistency and intensity of its enmity (as in Obad 10-14); (3) the 'treasonous' nature of its enmity (as in Amos 1:11). No other nation quite shared these characteristics.[21]

"… of the ancient non-superpowers (i.e., leaving aside Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon) Edom is the subject of more separate oracles against foreign nations (seven [i.e., Isa. 21:11-12; Jer. 49:7-22; Ezek. 25:12-14; 35; Amos 1:11-12; Obad.; Mal. 1:2-5]) and more brief or passing hostile references (four [i.e., Isa. 11:14; Jer. 25:21; Lam. 4:21; Joel 3:19]) in the prophetical books than any other nation."[22]

"Edom receives attention in more books of the Latter Prophets than any other nation: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, and Malachi [i.e., 16 texts: Isa. 11:14; 21:11-12; 34; 63:1-6; Jer. 9:25-26; 25:21; 27; 49:7-22; Ezek. 25:12-14; 32:29; 35—36; Joel 3:19; Amos 1; 9:12; Obad.; Mal. 1]. However, this does not mean that Edom oracles occupy more space than oracles against any of the other nations. … This fact alone should caution us against overstating the case by claiming that the prophets hated Edom more than any other nation."[23]

There are more references to Edom in the Bible than to any other hostile nation except the superpowers.

"The Edomites played such a consistently adversarial role in Israel's history that the prophetic literary category of 'oracles against foreign nations' was bound to include predictions of judgments against Edom. Edom, indeed, becomes in the OT a kind of metonymy for 'hostile nations.'"[24]

Metonymy is a figure of speech in which the writer uses the name of one thing (Edom) for another that is associated with or suggested by it (all Israel's enemies).

Edom is the subject of the little Book of Obadiah as Assyria is of the larger Book of Nahum. Assyria is also the subject of the Book of Jonah, but Jonah focuses on the capital city, Nineveh, more than on the whole nation of Assyria.

The New Testament writers did not quote from or allude to the Book of Obadiah.

As with all the other prophetical books, references to God's covenants form an important background. People who lived in the ancient Near East were aware of the covenants that nations made with one another, the blessings of covenant faithfulness, and the curses that would come because of covenant unfaithfulness. This view of life is very prominent in all the prophetical books.


I.       Edom's coming judgment vv. 1-9

A.      The introduction to the oracle v. 1

B.      The breaching of Edom's defenses vv. 2-4

C.      The plundering of Edom's treasures vv. 5-7

D.      The destruction of Edom's leadership vv. 8-9

II.       Edom's crimes against Judah vv. 10-14

A.      The statement of the charge v. 10

B.      The explanation of the charge vv. 11-14

III.      The restoration of Israel's sovereignty vv. 15-21

A.      The judgment of Edom and the nations vv. 15-18

B.      The occupation of Edom by Israel vv. 19-21

Many competent commentators believed that the Book of Obadiah follows the covenant-lawsuit form of address that was common in the ancient Near East.[25] In this type of message, which many of the other writing prophets also used, there are certain formulaic sections. These are, most basically, a description of the scene of judgment and then the speech by the judge. This speech typically includes an address to the defendant (including reproach based on an accusation and a statement that the accused has no defense), the pronouncement of guilt, and the sentence. Niehaus outlined Obadiah as a covenant-lawsuit as follows:[26]

I.       Title (1a)

II.       Description of the scene of judgment (nations arise for battle, 1b)

III.      Speech by the Judge (2-21)

A.      Three sentences (2-9)

1.      First sentence (2-4)

2.      Second sentence (5-7)

3.      Third sentence (8-9)

B.      Three pronouncements of guilt (10-14)

1.      First pronouncement (10)

2.      Second pronouncement (11)

3.      Third pronouncement (12-14)

C.      Sentence on the nations (15-16)

D.      Promise of restoration (17-21)


The very fact that this book consists of only one chapter should alert us to its importance. If it were unimportant, God would not have preserved it, and it would have disappeared long ago. Its shortness also simplifies our task of discovering its message. Like all the Bible books, this one has a message that is vital for us today, as well as for its original readers centuries ago.

Obadiah reveals the culmination of sibling rivalry and the national antagonism that developed between the descendants of Jacob and Esau: the Israelites and the Edomites. The conflict between these two boys—and their respective descendants—began before they were born. The infants struggled in the womb of their mother Rebekah (Gen. 25:22). In describing this conflict, God said that He "loved" Jacob, but He "hated" Esau (Mal. 1:2-3). The terms love and hate reflect God's elective purpose for both sons. When God said He loved Jacob but hated Esau, He meant that He chose to bless Jacob in a way that He did not choose to bless Esau. The statement expresses polar opposites to make the difference clearer. Often when God wanted to say He chose to bless someone, in the Old Testament, He said He loved that person. This was covenant terminology in the ancient Near East, and people in that part of the world at that time understood that loving and hating had these connotations.

The line of Jacob finally produced Jesus Christ. The line of Esau produced the Herods. Both Jesus and the Herods were kings of the Jews. Jesus never spoke to Herod Antipas, even when questioned by him, though He did send him a message once (Luke 13:32), illustrating the antagonism that existed between them. This antagonism consistently marked the relationship between the Edomites and the Israelites.

Esau is in the foreground of the Book of Obadiah, and Jacob is in the background. Jacob and his descendants passed through suffering and chastisement, and their ultimate destiny is restoration and usefulness. Esau and his descendants were proud, rebellious, defiant, and their end was ultimate destruction. Ironically, Jacob was the more unattractive personality originally, and Esau was more appealing.

Yet God overruled what was natural, in order to produce what He wanted in the lives of both of these men, in view of their choices. Divine sovereignty and human choices are so intertwined that it is impossible for us to separate them. The Scriptures consistently present both as real and significant factors in the course of human affairs.

Obadiah tells the story of the destruction of Edom, the nation that descended from Esau. It also shows that God will destroy all that Edom stood for and represented. Edom is Esau projected into national proportions. In Obadiah, we see the essential evil of Esau, the supreme manifestation of that evil, and the inevitable result of that evil. But we also see a ray of hope even for "the mountain of Esau" (vv. 8, 9, 19, 21), Mt. Seir, the most notable geographical feature in Edom, that often represents the nation of Edom in the Old Testament (by metonymy).

The essential evil of Esau and Edom was pride. This comes through in verse 3: "The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, The one who lives in the clefts of the rock, On the height of his dwelling place, Who says in his heart, 'Who will bring me down to earth?'" The Edomites lived in a rocky, reclusive region around a town that later became known as Petra: near ancient Sela. The Nabateans, the Arabians who later drove the Edomites out, actually carved Petra out of solid rock.

The habitation of the Edomites, who occupied this region before the Nabateans took it over, says much about them. They were self-reliant isolationists and fiercely independent.

"This self-sufficiency was aggravated by the position of the country among several of the main routes of ancient trade."[27]

In some ways, the Edomites were like the survivalists of our own day. They preferred to be by themselves. They distrusted others. They wanted to control their own destiny. They took refuge in a part of the wilderness from which they thought they could defend themselves against all enemies. And they were very proud.

Pride is one of those sins that is most difficult to deal with. It is much easier to deal with lying, stealing, adultery and other blatant sins. Pride, on the other hand, is something that we can practice without too many people discovering it—if we are clever enough. In fact, we may be proud and not even know it ourselves. Pride is a root from which many more overt sins grow. Pride is an attitude that says: I (or We) can get along without God. The Edomites had their idols, and they did not bow to the true and living God. The Edomites thought they were invincible.

Esau had no use for the promises of God, and his descendants, too, thought that they could get along quite well without God. The New Testament calls Esau a "godless person" (Heb. 12:16), literally a person "against the temple." A godless person cares nothing for spiritual things, because he or she glories in his or her own animal abilities, and lives to satisfy those appetites. An extremely proud person acts as though he or she were independent of God: never prays, never worships, never thinks of heaven. Christians can live like this, too, of course.

The Edomites built their nests high, like the eagles—so high they appeared to be among the stars (v. 4). The eagle is often compared to deity in the Bible. In the Edomites' case, they had deified themselves and made themselves their god. They thought they could protect themselves from danger and enemies by building their homes high in the cliffs of the Edom wilderness. But God said that He would bring them down (v. 4).

If pride was Edom's essential sin, violence was the supreme manifestation of that sin. The Edomites not only protected themselves, but they did abused others, and rejoiced when they harmed others. Verses 10 and 11 say, "Because of violence to your brother Jacob, Shame will cover you, And you will be eliminated forever. On the day that you stood aloof, On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, And foreigners entered his gate And cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them." When the Edomites saw their brother Israelites suffering, they not only complacently did nothing, but they even rejoiced and added to those sufferings.

The Israelites represented faith in Yahweh. They stood for this ideal, though admittedly they failed to be consistent in their witness. Nevertheless, they continued to believe in Yahweh and to follow Him. The Edomites' unnatural violence against the Israelites revealed their hatred for what the Israelites stood for, not just the Israelites themselves. So when the Israelites suffered, the Edomites rejoiced. Even though they were the Israelites' brothers according to the flesh, they consistently opposed them for what the Israelites stood for. For example, the Edomites refused to allow the Israelites to pass through their territory on the way to the Promised Land.

The result of such godless pride, which leads to violence against the people of God, is divine retribution. The Edomites thought they were secure (v. 4), but God said that He would bring them down (v. 4). "'Will I not on that day,' declares the LORD, 'Eliminate wise men from Edom, And understanding from the mountain of Esau? Then your warriors will be filled with terror, Teman, So that everyone will be eliminated from the mountain of Esau by murder'" (vv. 8-9). The God, whom the Edomites thought they could disregard, would visit and destroy them. God is higher than even the eagles. He is the One who formed the mountains in which the Edomites foolishly trusted for safety.

God would bring down the Edomites by overruling the plans that the Edomites made. "All the people allied with you Will send you to the border, And the people at peace with you Will deceive you and overpower you" (v. 7). The Edomites also trusted in other nations for their security rather than in God. But the LORD would use the very objects of Edom's trust to destroy her. He often uses the false gods that people rely on, instead of directly intervening Himself, to do this. Allies in ungodliness turn out to be enemies eventually. For example, criminals sometimes become witnesses for the prosecution of other criminals to shorten their own sentences.

As usual, God would deal with Edom in poetic (talionic) judgment. (J. Sidlow Baxter called Obadiah "the prophet of poetic justice."[28]) What they had sowed they would reap (cf. Gal. 6:7-8). Esau had sowed to the flesh, and in the end the flesh became the instrument of the Edomites' destruction. God said, "Just as you have done, it will be done to you" (v. 15).

But this prophecy does not end with promises of Edom's destruction. It ends with promises of Israel's final triumph, and the vindication of Israel's God. Obadiah predicted that, first of all, despised Israel would be delivered from her proud enemy. "Then the house of Jacob will be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau will be like stubble" (v. 18). "Deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau" (v. 21). Then "the kingdom will be the LORD's" (v. 21).

The conflict between the people of the world and people of faith still continues, but the kingdom will eventually become the LORD's. This will happen when Jesus Christ returns to the earth and sets up His rule of righteousness. He will then put down all the proud, violent antagonists of His people, and all that they stand for.

The Edomites were the most "fleshly" enemies of Israel, to use a New Testament term. Therefore, this book shows us the ultimate destiny of all such enemies of God's people throughout history, as well as the Edomites. It is for that reason that we have this little book in our Old Testaments. The church has its Edomites. The Christian has his or her Edomites. This book gives us hope. God will eventually destroy all Edomite types, just as He has already destroyed the historic Edomites in fulfillment of Obadiah's prophecy.

This book also challenges Christian readers to examine their own hearts: What sort of person am I? Am I like Esau, or am I like Jacob? Jacob was far from perfect, but God transformed him into Israel: a prince with God eventually. The difference between these brothers, and the nations that followed them, was that Jacob valued God's promises concerning the future, but Esau preferred a pot of stew that made him feel good right away.

Jacob valued the spiritual; Esau valued the physical. What does the way you live your life, the way you spend your time, the places you go, and the people you like to "hang out" with say about what you value? Are you living with eternity's values consciously in view, or are you simply living for the present?

God will take Jacobs to the woodshed, as He did with Jacob at the Jabbok (Gen. 32:24-32), and as He did with Jacob's descendants throughout their history. But He will discipline His people because He has a future for us, and intends to prepare us for it. He does not bother to train up the Esaus of this world. He may allow them to become materially successful, to build secure nests, to soar like eagles, to be their own gods, to snub their noses at—and even violently persecute—believers, but He will eventually punish them.

A few Edomites abandoned the typical Edomite lifestyle, believed in Yahweh, and moved to Israel to become a part of the people of God. A few people from all of Israel's pagan neighbors did this. Ruth the Moabitess is an outstanding example. So there is hope for any individual. Judgment is not inevitable for individuals, as long as there is time to repent. Nevertheless, what the Edomites stood for as a nation fell under divine judgment, and they perished.

Many students of Obadiah have noted that this book is a summary of the essential message of all the prophetical books of the Old Testament. It deals with a major issue that lies behind all the prophetic writings, namely, pride. Pride is probably the biggest problem that every Christian has to deal with. We must remember how God views pride, and this book reminds us.[29]


I.      Edom's Coming judgment vv. 1-9

This section of the prophecy begins with an introductory statement and then describes Edom's destruction three ways.

A.     The Introduction to the Oracle v. 1

This verse contains the title of the book, which is the shortest title of any Old Testament prophetical book, and a summary of the LORD's decree against Edom. This revelation came as a vision (Heb. hazon; cf. 1 Sam. 3:1; Isa. 1:1; Nah. 1:1) to the prophet.

"The vision is to be sharply differentiated from common sight and things seen. It is the result of inspiration and is understood as having unique significance since it is given by God himself."[30]

The vision came to the prophet Obadiah, whose name means "Servant of Yahweh" or "Worshipper of Yahweh," As mentioned in the introduction to this exposition, nothing is known about Obadiah other than his name. We must infer where and when he lived and ministered from various clues in this book.

"Thus says the Lord GOD" is a common phrase in the Prophets. It is a strong claim that the corresponding oracle did not originate in the prophet's own imagination, but in the mind of God (cf. 2 Pet. 1:20-21). "Adonai (i.e., sovereign) Yahweh" (cf. Gen. 2:4; et al.) had made a pronouncement concerning the nation of Edom. This is an unusual titulary (combination title and name) for the LORD. It identifies the covenant God of Israel as sovereign of the world and history.

"Yahweh was truly Lord. This entire prophecy gives one specific example of the exercise of his lordship."[31]

According to Raabe, most commentators interpret the Hebrew preposition le as meaning "concerning." But he believed it should be translated "to." In other words, he believed the LORD was addressing this prophecy to Edom rather than to the Israelites.[32]

Edom was the nation that had grown out of the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (cf. Gen. 36:1). The Edomites occupied the territory east of the Arabah between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqabah south of the Zered River and north of Ezion-geber (Elath). Its eastern boundary was the Arabian Desert. Edom was also known as Seir after Mount Seir, the prominent tableland that occupied the northeastern part of Edom's territory.[33]

Those who had heard a report (message) from the LORD were God's people. Obadiah spoke to them and used an editorial "we." God was sovereignly and supernaturally summoning other nations against Edom, probably through natural means (i.e., the desire to defeat her and take over her territory). The messenger sent among the nations is probably a personification of the desire that God had placed in these nations to destroy Edom. That desire, from the spiritual viewpoint, was His messenger. Alternatively, the messenger could refer to a literal envoy sent by an authority figure to deliver a message.[34]

B.     The Breaching of Edom's Defenses vv. 2-4

Verses 2-9 contain three sections, which the phrase "declares the LORD" marks off (vv. 4, 8).

v. 2             Yahweh called Obadiah's hearers to see that He would make Edom, which was already despised because of her character, "small among the nations." That is, He would humble her further.

v. 3             The outstanding mark of Edom's national character was pride. The Hebrew word for pride (zadon) comes from a verb meaning to boil up (zid). It pictures pride as water that boils up as a result of heat in a cooking pot. Similarly the proud person is like a bubble that thrusts itself up but is hollow. Interestingly, the same Hebrew word occurs three times in the account of Esau, the father of the Edomites, squandering his birthright (Gen. 25:27-34).

"… the key that unlocks the central moral lesson of the book is found in these words in the third verse: 'The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee."[35]

"What is pride? Let me give you a definition of it: Pride of heart is the attitude of a life that declares its ability to live without God."[36]

"It is possible for Christians also to fall into the sin of pride. One has only to dismiss God from the reckoning, one has but to slip into the habit of neglecting his Bible, one has merely to fail to be alone with God daily in prayer, and he too may fall into the sin of making decisions and living his life on a secular basis without placing God and His will foremost."[37]

The Edomites thought they were superior to other people because they inhabited a lofty region: Mt. Seir. They thought they were secure because they occupied this militarily favorable location. In fact, they thought they were invincible.

"Edom's natural defenses were imposing. Its main centers of civilization were situated in a narrow ridge of mountainous land southeast of the Dead Sea … This ridge exceeded a height of 4,000 feet throughout its northern sector, and it rose in places to 5,700 feet in the south. Its height was rendered more inaccessible by the gorges radiating from it toward the Arabah on the west and the desert eastwards. … In addition to these natural fortifications, Edom was strongly defended by a series of Iron Age fortresses, particularly on the eastern frontier where the land descended more gradually to the desert."[38]

The rock (Heb. sela') in view is the granite and sandstone that made up Mt. Seir. Though Sela was also the name of an Edomite town (cf. 2 Kings 14:7), here the mountain home of the whole nation seems to be in view. The Greek translation of sela' is Petra, the modern name of a town in Jordan very close to ancient Sela.

"One could understand sela' as the place name Sela, an Edomite site captured by Judah in the early eighth century (2 Kgs 14:7). Frequently Sela has been identified with Petra, the subsequent Nabatean capital, and more specifically Umm el-Biyara in Petra. But another site has also been suggested, Khirbet Sil' located a few kilometers northwest of Buseira (Bozrah) in the northern part of Edom … Both sites are isolated rock massifs with steep slopes, and each has only one approach that can be easily defended. The archaeological evidence does not yet settle the question …"[39]

v. 4             Here the figure of an eagle, which was also in view in the previous verse, becomes explicit. Even if the Edomites would build their "nest" as high as the stars (hyperbole), God would bring them down. Hyperbole is overstatement for the sake of emphasis. King Sennacherib of Assyria and King Ashurnasirpal II of Assyria both used the same figure to boast of their security in their respective annals.[40]

"Most Edomite sites were located on the high plateau southeast of the Dead Sea, which was bordered by the deep-cut Wadi el-Hasa (biblical Zered) to the north, the Rift Valley of the Arabah to the west, the Wadi Hisma to the south, and the gentle slope of the Arabian desert in the east. This ridge reached heights of 4,000 to 5,600 feet. The heights are particularly impressing from a vantage point in the west."[41]

The Edomites might have been humanly unassailable, but they were not divinely unassailable. They had proudly boasted, "Who will bring me down to earth?" (v. 3), but Yahweh replied, "I will bring you down" (v. 4). He would burst their bubble. He Himself declared that He would do it.

"Edom is a type of Antichrist (Isa. 14:13; Dan. 8:10; 11:37)."[42]

Malachi, who wrote some 400 years later, mentioned that the Edomites were still in existence then (Mal. 1:3-4). By 312 B.C. the capital of Edom was in Nabatean hands, and Edom had ceased to exist as a nation, though Edomites continued to live. They became known as Idumeans. Herod the Great was an Idumean.

C.     The Plundering of Edom's Treasures vv. 5-7

vv. 5-6        Thieves robbed houses and grape harvesters stripped vineyards, yet both left a little behind that they did not carry away. However, Yahweh's destruction of Edom would be so complete that nothing at all would remain of her (cf. Jer. 49:9-10). There would be no remnant of Edom left, in contrast to the remnant that Yahweh promised elsewhere to leave in Israel (Isa. 17:6; 24:13;  et al.). The sound of the Hebrew words that make up this assurance is like the sound of an Israelite mourning. Concealed treasures of all kinds—human as well as material—would not escape Yahweh's omniscient eye (cf. v. 4).

v. 7             Edom's allies would treacherously betray their friend. Thus, Edom would not only deceive herself, but her trusted allies would also deceive her. They would do what, in the ancient Near East, was most despicable, namely, break a covenant with a covenant partner (cf. Ps. 55:20; Amos 1:9). Edom's allies would prove to be the worst of enemies: They would fail to assist her in her hour of greatest need. Three parallel descriptions of covenant disloyalty in this verse guarantee the treachery as certain. Moreover, this disloyalty would completely surprise ("ambush") the Edomites.

"Edom was a weak country militarily, its small population and its limited agricultural wealth precluding powerful armed forces. Therefore its ability to attack Judah's Negeb and help plunder Jerusalem had depended on its obsequious [servile, subservient] alliance with more powerful states, especially Babylon."[43]

The writer just quoted believed that Obadiah wrote after the Babylonians defeated Jerusalem.

D.     The Destruction of Edom's Leadership vv. 8-9

"Obadiah's discussion nicely interweaves the themes of divine intervention and human instrumentality."[44]

v. 8             The repetition of the phrase "declares the LORD," in verse 4, reemphasizes Yahweh's initiative in this judgment. "That day" points to a specific, though undefined, day when Yahweh would surely destroy Edom.

God would destroy Edom's famous wise men (cf. 1 Kings 4:30; Job 1:1; 2:11; 4:1; 15:17-19; Prov. 30:1; 31:1; Jer. 49:7; Lam. 4:21; Baruch 3:22-23), and their understanding, by allowing them to fail to detect the unfaithfulness of their allies (v. 7). They would also overestimate their own security (v. 3).

"Because of its communication with Babylon and Egypt and because of the information gleaned through the caravans going to and from Europe and India, Edom had gained an enviable reputation for wisdom."[45]

The "mountain of Esau" (cf. vv. 9, 19, 21) is Mt. Seir, the mountain that God gave Esau and his descendants to inhabit (Deut. 2:5).

v. 9             The "warriors" of Edom may be a synonym for the wise men (v. 8) or the nation's military warriors. Together with the wise men, the warriors form a merism, a figure of speech in which two parts stand for the whole, in this case: all the Edomites. Rather than feeling confident, the warriors, a chief resource of the nation, would feel dismayed when they realized that their covenant partners had proved traitorous.

Teman was both a prominent town in central Edom (possibly modern Tawilan in south Jordan),[46] and the region around the town (cf. Gen. 36:10-11). But its name stands for the whole nation (by metonymy). The end of all this deception and destruction would be the total termination of Edom.

II.     Edom's Crimes against Judah vv. 10-14

Verse 10 summarizes what verses 11-14 detail—in the same way that verse 1 did in relation to verses 2-9.

A.     The Statement of the Charge v. 10

Pride was not the only reason God would humble Edom. The Edomites had also cursed the people whom God had purposed to bless: the Israelites (cf. Gen. 27:40-41; Exod. 15:15; Num. 20:14-21; Deut. 2:4; Judg. 11:17-18; 1 Sam. 14:47-48; 2 Sam. 8:13-14; 1 Kings 11:15-16; 1 Chron. 18:11-13; Ps. 60; et al.). In doing this, they had incurred God's wrath (Gen. 12:3).[47] The meaning of the Hebrew word translated "violence" (hamas) includes both moral wrong and physical brutality. This violence was especially despicable since it was against Edom's "brother" Jacob (i.e., the Israelites). Consequently, great shame would cover Edom (cf. v. 2), and God would eliminate her forever" (cf. v. 9). Perhaps Obadiah used the name Jacob for Israel in order to make the offense of Esau, his twin brother, more striking.[48]

B.     The Explanation of the Charge vv. 11-14

v. 11           God cited one specific instance of Edom's violence against her "brother," but as I explained in the introduction, which instance is unclear. Edom's treachery against Judah had taken place on a particular "day" (occasion) in the past. Likewise, God's judgment would come on a particular "day" yet future (v. 8). "Day" does not always refer to a period of 12 or 24 hours in the Bible. It sometimes refers to a longer period of time but one that is distinguishable as a period of time (e.g., Gen. 2:4).

The Edomites' sin was that they failed to help the Israelites in their hour of need (cf. Luke 10:31-32). Instead, they stood aloof and watched gleefully as Israel's invader plundered Jerusalem. Enemies passing through a city's gate signified the loss of its self-rule.[49]

"Although different kinds of small objects could serve as lots, such as stones, bones, arrow shafts, sticks, and cube-shaped chunks of clay, the Hebrew noun goral probably refers to a small stone or pebble. Presumably the objects were marked in some way …"[50]

God considered the Edomites as guilty as Jerusalem's invaders—because the Edomites failed to help their brethren.

"In the sight of God, who looks not on the outward appearance but on the heart, there is little distinction in moral accountability between overt sin and an inner bias toward that sin that permits it to go unchecked (cf. Matt 5:21-32)."[51]

"… the Israelites are always commanded in the law to preserve a friendly and brotherly attitude towards Edom (Deut. ii. 4, 5); and in Deut. xxiii. 7 it is enjoined upon them not to abhor the Edomite, because he is their brother."[52]

vv. 12-13    God reinforced the seriousness of the Edomites' sin by condemning it in parallel terminology eight times (vv. 12-14). Compare the same parallel structure in verse 7, where there is a threefold positive reiteration. There is also a pun in the Hebrew text, since the word for disaster ('edam) is similar to the word Edom ('edom).

Hostile attitudes ("gloat," "rejoice," "boast"), more than physical violence, were Edom's greater sins against the Israelites on this occasion. Blood ties should have transcended even covenant ties. Edom's allies would break covenant ties with her (v. 7), but she had betrayed blood ties with Israel.

"Ridicule springs from pride. When we ridicule others we reveal the spirit in ourselves. To ridicule betrays a lack of brotherly love. It is often an evidence of real hate."[53]

"God sends heavy calamities on those who rejoice in the calamities of their enemies (Prov. 17:5; 24:17, 18). Contrast the opposite conduct of David and of the divine Son of David in a like case (Ps. 35:13-15)."[54]

v. 14           Physical violence eventually came into play too. As the Judean fugitives from Jerusalem left the city, the Edomites met them at some fork in the road, and murdered them, rather than helping them escape from the invader.

"The Edomites station themselves at the places where they can most easily capture the fugitives of Judah/Jerusalem before they get away and scatter in different directions (cf. Jer 48:12). In the case of a fork in the road, it would be easier to watch there than to cover two roads."[55]

Other Edomites imprisoned fleeing Judahites instead of giving them refuge. This could be poetic hyperbole, but there is nothing in the text that indicates overstatement. All the other descriptions of Edom's actions seem to be literal.

Some English translations render verses 12-14 as referring to the future, while others have interpreted them as referring to the past. Most commentators take the time as past; God was describing something that had already happened.[56] A few take it as future, describing something that would take place in the future.[57] Since this is a judgment oracle, it seems more likely that God was announcing judgment on Edom for something that she had already done rather than for something that she would do in the future. As she had been proud (v. 2), she had also been violent (v. 10).

Keil proposed that Obadiah referred to an event that had happened and to another that would happen again in the future—the past event being typical of future reoccurrences.[58]

The two most likely historical occasions that are in view in these verses are: first, the invasion by a coalition of Arabs and Philistines who carried off King Jehoram's family and his property during a period of tension with Edom (2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chron. 20:1-2; 21:8-17; 22:1). The second possible event was the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 24:13-16; 25:4-17; 2 Chron. 36:18, 20; cf. Ps. 137:7; Jer. 9:26; 25:21; 27:3; 40:11; Ezek. 25:12; 32:29; 35:3-9, 11-15; 36:2-7; Lam. 1:17; 2:15-17; 4:21-22). As discussed in the introduction to this exposition, reliable commentators are divided over which of these occasions is in view.

III.     The Restoration of Israel's sovereignty vv. 15-21

As is true of many of the prophetic books, this one also ends with a promise of Israel's restoration in the future.

A.     The Judgment of Edom and the Nations vv. 15-18

References to the work and word of the LORD frame this section. Obadiah announced that a reversal of fates was coming for Edom and all the nations.

v. 15           "The day of the LORD" here is a future day in which God will reverse the fortunes of Israel and the nations (cf. v. 8). "The day of the LORD," a common term used by the writing prophets, refers generally to any time when God intervenes in human affairs to accomplish His will. The day that Obadiah announced will be the day when God establishes His rule in human affairs, namely, when Jesus Christ returns to rule and reign on the earth. Obadiah said that day was approaching. As Edom and the other nations had done to Israel, so God would pay them back with precisely the same judgment on that day (cf. Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21; Gal. 6:7).

"The key verse is 15—'As thou has done, it shall be done unto thee.'"[59]

"God shows not only his sovereignty over all people by not permitting unrequited wickedness, but also his justice by not permitting punishment to exceed crime."[60]

Edom's punishments that resulted in her demise as a nation—before the Second Coming—were part of God's judgment on her, but the prophet saw all of God's judgments on Edom and the nations, which will culminate in the eschaton (end times). All the prophets had difficulty seeing the timing of the future events that they predicted in relation to one another (cf. 1 Pet. 1:11).

"The opening line of v. 15 therefore constitutes the core of Obadiah's prophecy. It provides a theological framework for the preceding verses: the localized disasters befalling Edom and Jerusalem are not merely isolated incidents in a remote and insignificant theater of war, for they mark the footsteps of the Lord himself as he approaches to set up a 'kingdom that will never be destroyed' (Dan 2:44). And the following verses are essentially a commentary on the implications of that impending 'day.'"[61]

"Edom is presented as the paradigm of all the nations."[62]

v. 16           Edom had her "day" on the LORD's holy mountain, Jerusalem, when she failed to help her brother, Israel.[63] Likewise, all the nations would have their "day" dominating Jerusalem and the Jews, during "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). We live in "the times of the Gentiles." This period of history began when Nebuchadnezzar removed Israel's sovereignty in 586 B.C., and it will end when Jesus Christ returns to the earth and restores Israel's sovereignty.

During "the times of the Gentiles," Israel is currently being "trampled underfoot by the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). Obadiah described Israel's enemies as drinking continually in celebration of their dominion over the Israelites (cf. Exod. 32:6; 1 Sam. 30:16). Though they would celebrate to the point of delirium, God would destroy them, and they would become as if they had never existed. They would drink the cup of His wrath (cf. Ps. 60:3; 75:8; Isa. 51:17-23; Jer. 25:17-26, 28-29; 49:12-13; Hab. 2:15-16).[64]

"The verse apparently precludes any trace of the nations remaining … yet there will be a remnant of various nations in the Millennium [the 1,000-year rule of Christ on earth] (Isa. 2:2-4; Amos 9:12; Mic. 4:1-3; Zech. 14:16-19). How are these two ideas to be reconciled? The answer perhaps lies in the difference between the concept of nations before and during the Millennium. Before the golden age of Messiah's rule on earth the nations consider themselves sovereign and fight to maintain their individual rights. When Christ returns, however, only those from the nations who have called on the Lord's name will enter. Also, they will be under one King and no longer a threat to Israel's existence. Therefore, the nations as we presently know them will exist no more once the Millennium begins. In any case, Obadiah dwells only on the destruction of the old order as far as the nations are concerned."[65]

v. 17           The future of Israel (restoration) contrasts with the future of Edom (destruction). In that future time of judgment (the Tribulation), there will be those who escape from Jerusalem, namely, many Jews (cf. Zech. 13:8; Rev. 12:13-17). Some writers viewed this as taking place during the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.[66] But Jerusalem did not become holy, and the house of Jacob did not possess their possessions after that event, as this verse predicts. The city would eventually become holy (at the Second Coming), and the house of Jacob, in contrast to the house of Esau, would then possess what God intended for them to have (in the Millennium).

v. 18           The Israelites would then consume the Edomites, like a fire burns up "stubble" (straw; cf. Exod. 15:7; Isa. 10:17; Joel 2:5; Zech. 12:6; Mal. 4:1; Matt. 3:12; Luke 3:17). Fire is often pictured as a tool of divine judgment in Scripture (cf. Deut. 28:24; 32:22). There would be no Edomites left (cf. vv. 8-9; Num. 24:18; Isa. 11:13-14; Ezek. 25:13-14; Amos 9:12), though Israelites would escape from Jerusalem (v. 17).

"Obadiah distinctly mentions the house of Joseph, i.e. of the ten tribes, in this passage and in this alone, for the purpose of guarding against the idea that the ten tribes are to be shut out from the future salvation."[67]

The house of Jacob, in contrast to the house of Joseph, refers to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. This prediction will find ultimate fulfillment during the judgment of the nations after the Second Coming, and before the messianic rule of Christ in the Millennium begins. Yahweh again guaranteed the accuracy of this prophecy with His own spoken word (cf. vv. 4, 8).

"Some passages, like v. 18, speak of a military participation by Israel in the judgment of the nations just prior to the Millennium (Zech. 12:1-9; Mal. 4:3 [MT 3:21]), while others depict the Lord carrying out the judgment on behalf of His people (Joel 3:12 [MT 4:12]; Zech. 14:3-5; cf. Matt. 25:31-46). It is difficult to reconstruct the precise order of events. In any case much of the material is evidently not strictly chronological."[68]

The Edomites' fortunes ebbed and flowed for centuries following Obadiah's prophecy. The Herods, including Herod the Great (Matt. 2:1-17), Herod Antipas (Luke 13:31-32; 23:7-12), and Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-11, 23), were all of Edomite descent. But in the second century B.C., the Jews and other enemies virtually consumed the Edomites. It was then that the Edomites lost their national identity and autonomy, which they never regained. So the final destruction of the nation of Edom by Israel took place long ago.

"… one could speak of a partial fulfillment of Obadiah's oracles when the Maccabeans and Hasmoneans reclaimed these areas for Israel."[69]

This reclamation took place in the second century B.C. However, Obadiah spoke of "all the nations" (v. 16), not just Edom. He foresaw the destruction of all Gentile powers that dominated the Israelites. Had the Jews accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah, He would have begun to rule shortly after His crucifixion and resurrection. Since they rejected Him, the final judgment of the nations that many of the prophets predicted is still future.

B.     The Occupation of Edom by Israel vv. 19-21

This pericope (section of text), like the former one, also has a framing phrase: "the mountain of Esau" (vv. 19, 21). This mountain, of course, contrasts with the LORD's holy mountain: Mount Zion (vv. 16-17).

vv. 19-20    Obadiah predicted that Jews living in various parts of Judah would possess parts of the Promised Land that other nations formerly occupied (cf. Isa. 66:8; Zech. 12:10—13:1; 14:1-9). These parts included Mt. Seir (Edom), Philistia, and territories to the north of Judah, including Ephraim and Samaria (the Northern Kingdom), and Transjordan (Gilead).

Formerly exiled Israelites, living to the north near Zarephath (in modern Lebanon) and in Sepharad (perhaps Sardis in modern Turkey, or a territory in Media or Spain[70]), would return and occupy the southern portions of the land: the Negev. The location of Sepharad remains a mystery.

"The reference to 'Zarephath' indicates that the term 'Canaanites' refers to the inhabitants along the coast north of Mount Carmel, that is, the Phoenicians. Although the Hebrew Bible normally uses the term 'Sidonians' for the Phoenicians, Obadiah employs 'Canaanites' in order to evoke Israel's settlement in the land during the premonarchic period. By using the verb yrs (to possess) and the names 'Philistines' and 'Canaanites,' Obadiah portrays the future restoration of Israel as another conquest-settlement period …"[71]

Israel would again conquer the land, but this time she would subdue it completely and occupy all the territory that God had promised Abraham (cf. Gen. 13:14-17; 26:2-5; 28:13-15; Deut. 1:7). Cities of the Negev were in the extreme south of Israel, and Zarephath was to its extreme north.

"… recent archaeological work has revealed a growing Edomite presence in the Negeb during the seventh—early sixth centuries … Perhaps Obad 20 anticipates Israel's future retrieval of the Negeb's towns from Edomite dominance."[72]

"Was Obadiah's prophecy fulfilled? By Malachi's time (approximately 450 B.C.), Edom had suffered a devastating defeat (see Mal. 1:1-4), though not of the magnitude envisioned by Obadiah. Obadiah's description of Edom's judgment is probably to some degree stylized and exaggerated. However, the cosmic dimension of the prophecy transcends historical developments and points to an end-time judgment of worldwide proportions. When viewed in this larger eschatological context, Edom serves as an archetype for all God's enemies, who will be crushed by his angry judgment (see also Isa. 34 and 63:1-6)."[73]

"Israel will occupy all the land that God promised to them. He had promised to Abraham a land that contains about three hundred thousand square miles. Even at their zenith, they occupied only about thirty thousand square miles."[74]

v. 21           In summary, those who deliver the Jews to their divinely intended destiny will ascend Mt. Zion and will judge Mt. Seir (cf. Judg. 3:9, 15). Edom will not prevail over Israel, but Yahweh will prove to be sovereign (cf. v. 1). His earthly kingdom will extend over the whole Promised Land, even the part that Israel's enemies formerly occupied, and over the people who formerly opposed them. The conquest of the land that Joshua began, but did not finish, will be complete then. Thus Obadiah's prophecy: this envisioned account of two mountains, ends on a climax with Yahweh's kingdom dominating all the nations, and with Yahweh as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (cf. Rev. 19:16; 20:4). The verse is clearly messianic.

"None of the prophets has a more exalted close than this … No man-ruled empire nor any nation of this world will endure forever. All will one day be merged into that eternal kingdom over which the Lord Jesus Christ will reign in solitary glory."[75]

Amillennial interpreters (those who do not believe that Christ will rule on the earth in the future) interpret New Testament references to Israel as references to the church. They see the fulfillment of Obadiah's prophecy, not in the restoration of Old Testament Israel to future sovereignty in the Promised Land, but in the final victory of the church over all her enemies.[76] Premillennialists (those who believe that Christ will rule on the earth in the future) reject this "replacement theology" (the church replaces Israel in God's program) because we believe that when God said Israel He meant Israel. It is incorrect, we believe, to conclude that because Christians are the spiritual seed of Abraham, the church is the spiritual seed of Israel.

As the nation of Edom opposed the Israelites, so the Edomites of Jesus' day (Herod the Great and his successors) opposed Jesus Christ and His followers. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who proved to be the fulfillment of all that the nation of Israel was to be, became the personal focus of Herod's hostility, who tried to kill Jesus in His infancy. Yet Herod was unsuccessful. Likewise, all the enemies of Israel, and of Israel's Messiah, will be unsuccessful in doing away with the Savior—and will experience destruction themselves for trying to do so.





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McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. 5 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Thru The Bible Radio; and Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1983.

Merrill, Eugene H. Kingdom of Israel: A History of Old Testament Israel. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987.

Morgan, G. Campbell. An Exposition of the Whole Bible. Westwood, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1959.

_____. Living Messages of the Books of the Bible. 2 vols. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1912.

_____. The Unfolding Message of the Bible. Westwood, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1961.

The Nelson Study Bible. Edited by Earl D. Radmacher. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.

The New American Standard Bible. La Habra, Cal.: The Lockman Foundation, 2020.

The New Bible Dictionary. Edited by J. D. Douglas. 1962 ed. S.v. "Sepharad," by D. J. Wiseman, p. 1160.

The New Scofield Reference Bible. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, William Culbertson, et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Niehaus, Jeffrey. "Obadiah." In The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expositional Commentary, 2:495-541. 3 vols. Edited by Thomas Edward McComiskey. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992, 1993, and 1998.

Oswalt, John N. "Is There Anything Unique in the Israelite Prophets?" Bibliotheca Sacra 172:685 (January-March 2015):67-84.

Payne, J. Barton. The Theology of the Older Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.

Pusey, E. B. The Minor Prophets. Barnes on the Old Testament series. 2 vols. Reprint ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973.

Raabe, Paul R. Obadiah. The Anchor Bible series. New York, et al.: Doubleday, 1996.

Rasmussen, Carl G. Zondervan Atlas of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.

Robinson, George L. The Twelve Minor Prophets. N.c.: Harper & Brothers, 1926; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974.

Smith, Billy K., and Frank S Page. Amos, Obadiah, Jonah. The New American Commentary series. N.c.: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995.

Smith, George Adam. The Book of the Twelve Prophets Commonly Called the Minor. 2 vols. Vol. 1: 10th ed. Vol. 2: 7th ed. The Expositor's Bible. Edited by W. Robertson Nicoll. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1903.

Stuart, Douglas. Hosea-Jonah. Word Biblical Commentary series. Waco: Word Books, 1987.

Student Map Manual: Historical Geography of the Bible Lands. Jerusalem: Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est., 1979.

Swindoll, Charles R. The Swindoll Study Bible. Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2017.

von Rad, Gerhard. Old Testament Theology. 2 vols. Translated by D. M. G. Stalker. New York and Evanston, Ill.: Harper & Row, 1962 and 1965.

Waltke, Bruce K. An Old Testament Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2007.

Watts, John D. W. Obadiah: A Critical Exegetical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1969.

Wiersbe, Warren W. "Obadiah." In The Bible Exposition Commentary/Prophets, pp. 371-75. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Cook Communications Ministries; and Eastbourne, England: Kingsway Communications Ltd., 2002.

Wood, Leon J. The Prophets of Israel. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979.

Young, Edward J. An Introduction to the Old Testament. Revised ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1960.

Young, Rodger C. "When Did Jerusalem Fall?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47:1 (March 2004):21-38.

[1]C. F. Keil, "Obadiah," in The Twelve Minor Prophets, 1:337.

[2]See Bruce K. Waltke, An Old Testament Theology, p. 828-32. Form critics are those scholars who analyze the biblical text on the basis of its literary arrangement and style.

[3]For further discussion of the book's unity, see especially John D. W. Watts, Obadiah: A Critical Exegetical Commentary, pp. 9-10; Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah, pp. 133-35; and Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 439-40.

[4]Gleason L. Archer Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 299.

[5]E.g., Mark A. Hassler, "The Setting of Obadiah: When Does the Oracle Concerning Edom Transpire?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 59:2 (2016):241-54.

[6]For arguments that Jerusalem fell in 587 B.C., see Rodger C. Young, "When Did Jerusalem Fall?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47:1 (March 2004):21-38.

[7]E.g., George Adam Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets Commonly Called the Minor, 2:172; Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Practical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, p. 802; Watts, pp. 8-9, 19, 27, 54; Allen, pp. 129-33; Douglas Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, pp. 403-4, 416; Thomas J. Finley, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, p. 340-42; Billy K. Smith, "Obadiah," in Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, p. 172; David W. Baker, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah: An Introduction and Commentary, p. 23; Carl E. Armerding, "Obadiah," in Daniel-Minor Prophets, vol. 7 of The Expositor's Bible Commentary, p. 337; Frank E. Gaebelein, Four Minor Prophets: Obadiah, Jonah, Habakkuk, and Haggai, pp. 13, 28; G. Herbert Livingston, "Obadiah," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 839; Roland K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 898, 902; John Bright, A History of Israel, pp. 356, 417; Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Interpreting the Minor Prophets, p. 110; idem. "A Theology of the Minor Prophets," in A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, p. 418; idem, Handbook on the Prophets, p. 403; The New Scofield Reference Bible, p. 939; Waltke, p. 845; Paul R. Raabe, Obadiah, pp. 51, 55.

[8]E.g., Keil, 1:341-49; Arno C. Gaebelein, The Annotated Bible, 2:3:144; Walter L. Baker, "Obadiah," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 1454; Hobart E. Freeman, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets, p. 136; Archer, pp. 299-303; Leon J. Wood, The Prophets of Israel, pp. 262-64; Eugene H. Merrill, Kingdom of Israel: A History of Old Testament Israel, p. 382; Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Toward an Old Testament Theology, p. 186; Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 277; Charles H. Dyer, in The Old Testament Explorer," pp. 765-66; Warren W. Wiersbe, "Obadiah," in The Bible Exposition Commentary/Prophets, p. 371; Kenneth G. Hanna, From Moses to Malachi, pp. 459-62. See especially Jeffrey Niehaus, "Obadiah," in The Minor Prophets, pp. 496-502.

[9]See John N. Oswalt, "Is There Anything Unique in the Israelite Prophets?" Bibliotheca Sacra 172:685 (January-March 2015):67-84.

[10]Allen, p. 129. Cf. B. K. Smith, p. 180.

[11]Stuart, p. 416. Quotations from the English Bible in these notes are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB), 2020 edition, unless otherwise indicated.

[12]Freeman, p. 135. See also Greg Goswell, "The Order of the Books in the Hebrew Bible," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51:4 (December 2008):673-88.

[13]For defense of the priority of Obadiah to Jeremiah, see Niehaus, p. 501. For defense of the priority of Jeremiah to Obadiah, see E. B. Pusey, The Minor Prophets, 1:345-50; Raabe, p. 22-31.

[14]See Pusey, 1:348-49.

[15]See the Appendix at the end of these notes for a chart of the Dates of the Rulers of Judah and Israel.

[16]Stuart, p. 408. Paragraph division omitted. See also Kaiser, p. 187; and Finley, p. 351.

[17]Longman and Dillard, p. 438.

[18]E.g., Archer, p. 302. Cf. v. 15.

[19]E.g., J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book, 4:142-43; Charles Lee Feinberg, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah, p. 124.

[20]W. Baker, p. 1453.

[21]Stuart, p. 404. For a synopsis of the relations between Edom and Israel, see Finley, pp. 345-48. Most commentaries and Bible encyclopedias contain a summary of Edom's history.

[22]Stuart, p. 404. This writer provided a helpful table of all the nations that the writing prophets referred to and the locations of their prophecies against these nations on pp. 405-6.

[23]Raabe, p. 33.

[24]Stuart, p. 421. Cf. Judg. 5:4; Isa. 63:1-6.

[25]See, for example, Herbert B. Huffmon, "The Covenant Lawsuit in the Prophets," Journal of Biblical Literature 78 (1959):285-95.

[26]Niehaus, p. 507.

[27]G. A. Smith, 2:180.

[28]Baxter, 4:140.

[29]Adapted from G. Campbell Morgan, Living Messages of the Books of the Bible, 1:2:213-25.

[30]Watts, p. 42.

[31]Ibid., p. 47.

[32]Raabe, p. 107.

[33]For other maps of Edom, see Barry J. Beitzel, The Moody Atlas of the Bible; the Hammond Atlas of the Bible Lands; and Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, revised edition.

[34]Raabe, pp. 113-14.

[35]F. Gaebelein, p. 48.

[36]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 3:729.

[37]F. Gaebelein, p. 52. This writer's discussion of the sin of pride in the light of today, on pp. 48-52, is worth reading.

[38]Armerding, pp. 342-43. Paragraph division omitted.

[39]Raabe, pp. 125-26.

[40]See Daniel D. Luckenbill, The Annals of Sennacherib, p. 36; and Albert K. Grayson, Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, 2:122.

[41]Raabe, p. 127. "Wadi" is an Arabic word that describes a valley, ravine, or channel that is dry except in the rainy season.

[42]Jamieson, et al., p. 803.

[43]Stuart, pp. 417-18.

[44]Finley, p. 362.

[45]Feinberg, p. 126.

[46]Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas, map 155; Student Map Manual: Historical Geography of the Bible Lands, map 9-2; Carl G. Rasmussen, Zondervan Atlas of the Bible, p. 300.

[47]See Stephen J. Bramer, "Suffering in the Writing Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi)," in Why, O God? Suffering and Disability in the Bible and the Church, p. 156.

[48]Jamieson, et al., p. 803.

[49]Niehaus, p. 529.

[50]Raabe, p. 175.

[51]Armerding, p. 348.

[52]Keil, 1:360.

[53]George L. Robinson, The Twelve Minor Prophets, p. 67.

[54]Jamieson, et al., p. 803.

[55]Raabe, pp. 184-85.

[56]E.g., Finley, p. 340.

[57]E.g., F. Gaebelein, pp. 5, 29.

[58]Keil, 1:363.

[59]Baxter, 4:140.

[60]D. Baker, p. 38.

[61]Armerding, p. 353.

[62]D. Baker, p. 39.

[63]Raabe, p. 204, believed that "you" refers to the Judahites here.

[64]See ibid., pp. 206-42, for an extended excursus on the "cup of wrath" figure.

[65]Finley, p. 372.

[66]E.g., Armerding, p. 354.

[67]Keil, 1:370.

[68]Finley, p. 373.

[69]Ibid., p. 374.

[70]See The New Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Sepharad," by D. J. Wiseman, p. 1160; Watts, p. 64; Raabe, pp. 267-68.

[71]Ibid., p. 265.

[72]Ibid., p. 268.

[73]Chisholm, Handbook on …, p. 406.

[74]McGee, 3:736.

[75]F. Gaebelein, pp. 46-47.

[76]E.g., Stuart, p. 422; Keil, 1:378; and Allen, p. 172.