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Obadiah introduction

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background

it is addressed not to Israel but to a foreign people, Edom. The land of Edom was a small mountainous area east of the Dead Sea. Its people were descendants of Esau (Gen. 36).

This oracle is directed entirely against Edom, Judah’s neighbor to the southeast. The picture of Edom gloating over Jerusalem’s downfall—probably at the hands of the Babylonians

vs 1-14 It suggests that the prophet “saw” (mentally and spiritually) as well as heard what God communicated to him.

Concerning Edom … the LORD gave a message (or a report). It came through a representative He sent to the nations, telling them to unite in humiliating Edom. The nations that had a part in destroying the Edomites included the Nabateans, the Jews (under John Hyrcanus), and the Romans. This points up a truth seen throughout much of the Bible: God sovereignly employs nations to accomplish His will on earth.

Edom was noted in the Bible for its pride, treachery, greed, and violence (2 Chr. 20:10, 11; 25:14, 20; Jer. 49:16; Amos 1:9, 11; Obad. 3). Conflict between Israel and Edom was foreshadowed by conflict between the peoples’ progenitors, Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:21–34; 27:34–45). The incident that initiated and fed the conflict occurred on Israel’s journey from Egypt to Canaan (Num. 20:14–21). Thus, Edom and Israel fought through most of their history (1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:14; 2 Kgs. 8:20–22; 14:7). But Edom made themselves especially odious to the Jews when Babylon conquered and plundered Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar’s forces closed in on Jerusalem and the king of Judah attempted to flee (2 Kgs. 25:3–7), Edom apparently helped capture him. As a reward the Edomites were allowed to participate in the sack of Jerusalem (Ps. 137:7; Ezek. 25:12; 35:15; 36:5; Joel 3:19; Obad. 10–14).

Obadiah NKJV
The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom (We have heard a report from the Lord, And a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, “Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle”): “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” says the Lord. “If thieves had come to you, If robbers by night— Oh, how you will be cut off!— Would they not have stolen till they had enough? If grape-gatherers had come to you, Would they not have left some gleanings? “Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after! All the men in your confederacy Shall force you to the border; The men at peace with you Shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it. “Will I not in that day,” says the Lord, “Even destroy the wise men from Edom, And understanding from the mountains of Esau? Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, To the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau May be cut off by slaughter. “For violence against your brother Jacob, Shame shall cover you, And you shall be cut off forever. In the day that you stood on the other side— In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, When foreigners entered his gates And cast lots for Jerusalem— Even you were as one of them. “But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother In the day of his captivity; Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah In the day of their destruction; Nor should you have spoken proudly In the day of distress. You should not have entered the gate of My people In the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction In the day of their calamity, Nor laid hands on their substance In the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads To cut off those among them who escaped; Nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained In the day of distress. “For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head. For as you drank on My holy mountain, So shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, And they shall be as though they had never been. “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” For the Lord has spoken. The South shall possess the mountains of Esau, And the Lowland shall possess Philistia. They shall possess the fields of Ephraim And the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captives of this host of the children of Israel Shall possess the land of the Canaanites As far as Zarephath. The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad Shall possess the cities of the South. Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion To judge the mountains of Esau, And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.
The Bible Guide Introduction

The country of Edom lies south of the Dead Sea, and to the south-east of Judah. Its people are descended from Esau, just as the Israelites are descendants of Jacob. Esau and Jacob were twins. Esau was the elder brother and the rightful heir of the promises God made to his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham. However, Esau never took God seriously. Jacob, on the other hand, was determined to supplant Esau, and succeeded in cheating him of his inheritance. The story of Esau and Jacob is told in Genesis 25–36

The Bible Guide Introduction

Centuries later, when the Israelites asked Edom’s permission to use the ‘King’s Highway’ (the most direct route from Egypt to Canaan), they were refused. A long running enmity was established between Israel and Edom, which features frequently in the Old Testament story. Edom becomes a typical example of people who are insensitive to God and oppose his plans.

lists six such events: (1) Absalom’s revolt, (2) Shishak’s invasion, (3) the Philistine-Arabian invasion, (4) the Israelite invasion, (5) Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion in 597 B.C., and (6) Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion in 587 B.C. The last event is the most likely. A short time after the fall of Judah to the Babylonians (587 B.C.) fits the situation

The prophecy was likely delivered to the Jewish survivors of Jerusalem’s destruction. It should have been a great encouragement to know that Edom’s treachery against them would not go unpunished. In fact, all the enemies of God and His people would receive justice. Also, what seemed to be the end for God’s people would not be the end after all.

Obadiah NKJV
The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom (We have heard a report from the Lord, And a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, “Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle”): “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” says the Lord. “If thieves had come to you, If robbers by night— Oh, how you will be cut off!— Would they not have stolen till they had enough? If grape-gatherers had come to you, Would they not have left some gleanings? “Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after! All the men in your confederacy Shall force you to the border; The men at peace with you Shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it. “Will I not in that day,” says the Lord, “Even destroy the wise men from Edom, And understanding from the mountains of Esau? Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, To the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau May be cut off by slaughter. “For violence against your brother Jacob, Shame shall cover you, And you shall be cut off forever. In the day that you stood on the other side— In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, When foreigners entered his gates And cast lots for Jerusalem— Even you were as one of them. “But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother In the day of his captivity; Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah In the day of their destruction; Nor should you have spoken proudly In the day of distress. You should not have entered the gate of My people In the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction In the day of their calamity, Nor laid hands on their substance In the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads To cut off those among them who escaped; Nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained In the day of distress. “For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head. For as you drank on My holy mountain, So shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, And they shall be as though they had never been. “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” For the Lord has spoken. The South shall possess the mountains of Esau, And the Lowland shall possess Philistia. They shall possess the fields of Ephraim And the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captives of this host of the children of Israel Shall possess the land of the Canaanites As far as Zarephath. The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad Shall possess the cities of the South. Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion To judge the mountains of Esau, And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.
The Bible Guide Judgment on Edom (1–14)

At the time of Obadiah’s prophecy, Edom sits proud and strong in her high mountain setting. Her main cities are Bozrah and Sela (which means ‘rocks’). Petra is just such a city (although built later, in the 4th century BC) and is a favourite with tourists today. Obadiah warns Edom that nowhere is too high for God to reach. In fact Edom is about to be brought down to earth very decisively indeed. Her treasures will be ransacked, her allies will betray her, her wise people will be powerless and her warriors will be destroyed.

This catastrophe is to overtake Edom because she looked on and cheered when Jerusalem was sacked by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC. Family ties should have drawn Edom to help Judah, but in the event she sided with Babylon. Psalm 137 records the appalling betrayal

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