The Book Of OBADIAH
Obadiah, one of the twelve Minor Prophets, announces judgment on the
nation of Edom for its sins against Judah and Jerusalem. Specifically,
the prophet denounces Edom for gloating over the destruction of
Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 B.C.E., and accuses Edom of looting
Jerusalem and handing over her fugitives. For these sins, says the
prophet, Edom itself will be destroyed. This prophetic book, the
shortest book in the Old Testament, ends by speaking of the "day of the
LORD," when the nations will be defeated, Israel will be restored, and
"the kingdom shall be the LORD's."
Though a very short book, Obadiah gives us the classic prophetic vision
of judgment and hope. Jerusalem has fallen; Edom and the other nations
seem to be victorious, but that is not the end of the story. The "day of
the LORD" is coming, when the nations will be judged, and Judah and
Israel will be restored. Such is a powerful vision of hope for a people
The book is attributed to a prophet named Obadiah, but we have no
biographical information about him. The name Obadiah seems to have been
fairly common, as eleven other people by that name are mentioned in the
Old Testament. None of them can easily be identified with the writer of
this exilic book.
The description of Jerusalem's fall in Obadiah 11-14 places the date for
the book's composition after 587 B.C.E. Given the detailed description
of the Edomites' actions during the calamity, it seems likely that
Obadiah was written not long after the events described, that is,
sometime during the Babylonian exile (587-538 B.C.E.).
The book of Obadiah recounts the downfall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E.,
condemns Edom for its part in the catastrophe, and holds out hope for
"the day of the LORD," when Israel and Judah will be restored, and Edom
will be destroyed.
Obadiah is a prophetic book, rooted in particular historical
circumstances but looking to a future time when God's reign will be
established on earth. You should read it, therefore, both with some
knowledge of its historical background and with an understanding of its
future vision. Obadiah is concerned both with the events of 587 B.C.E.
and with a coming age that is in God's hands. Like most prophetic books
then, Obadiah calls its readers to have faith in God as they find
themselves in an already-and-not-yet time, a time between what has
already happened and what God has promised is yet to come.
AUTHOR: Kathryn Schifferdecker, Associate Professor of Old Testament
The Book Of OBADIAH
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.
2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.
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?
thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the
stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.
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?
6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!
7 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; that they eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is
none understanding in him.
8 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?
9 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.
10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
11 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.
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.
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;
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.
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.
16 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.
17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
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.
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.
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.
21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD's.