Obadiah 1 – “Oracle Against Edom”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
God tells the people of Edom that Israel will destroy them.

II. Photo
God is angry: “The House of Jacob shall be fire, And the House of Joseph flame, And the House of Esau shall be straw; They shall burn it and devour it, And no survivor shall be left of the House of Esau — for the LORD has spoken.” (v. 18)

III. Select Verses    
3-4: Your arrogant heart has seduced you, You who dwell in clefts of the rock, In your lofty abode. You think in your heart, “Who can pull me down to earth?”  Should you nest as high as the eagle, Should your eyrie be lodged ’mong the stars, Even from there I will pull you down — declares the LORD.
8: In that day — declares the LORD – I will make the wise vanish from Edom, Understanding from Esau’s mount.
10-11: For the outrage to your brother Jacob, Disgrace shall engulf you, And you shall perish forever.  On that day when you stood aloof, When aliens carried off his goods, When foreigners entered his gates And cast lots for Jerusalem, You were as one of them.
12-14: How could you gaze with glee On your brother that day, On his day of calamity! How could you gloat Over the people of Judah On that day of ruin! How could you loudly jeer On a day of anguish! How could you enter the gate of My people On its day of disaster, Gaze in glee with the others On its misfortune On its day of disaster, And lay hands on its wealth On its day of disaster! How could you stand at the passes To cut down its fugitives! How could you betray those who fled On that day of anguish!
17-18: But on Zion’s mount a remnant shall survive, And it shall be holy. The House of Jacob shall dispossess Those who dispossessed them.  The House of Jacob shall be fire, And the House of Joseph flame, And the House of Esau shall be straw; They shall burn it and devour it, And no survivor shall be left of the House of Esau — for the LORD has spoken.

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b. Introduction
2-4. God will lower Edom
5-7a. There will be nobody left
7b-8. God will remove the wise ones
9. Edom’s annihilation
10-11. Rationale: Edom watched as others ransacked Israel
12-14. Challenge to Edom
15-21. Israel will avenge itself

V. Comment
In regards to the date of the book of Obadiah, Stuart writes: “A date for the composition of Obadiah can be established only in terms of likelihood, rather than certainty. There is a single question to be asked in this regard: What era does the apparent situation and perspective of the prophecy most likely reflect? A ninth-century date is difficult to sustain because of the paucity of information about the supposed occasion, the Edomite revolt against Jehoram (2 Kgs 8:20–22). Similarly, we know little about the fifth-century Nabatean conquest of Edom, which is at any rate the fulfillment of what is predicted in Obadiah rather than a thing narrated as a past event. It is the exilic period, particularly the early exile (580s or shortly thereafter) that meets the criterion best. Most importantly, four other OT passages from the same early sixth-century period reflect the same sort of situation and perspective found in Obadiah: Ps 137:7; Lam 4:18–22; Ezek 25:12–14; 35:1–15. These parallels echo the furious resentment expressed in Obadiah at the way the Edomites took advantage of Jerusalem’s subjugation by the Babylonians. They also display an anticipation of the reversal of the (then) present painful circumstances of Judah. 1 Esd 4:45 claims that “the Edomites burned the temple when Judah was devastated by the Chaldeans,” but this secondcentury BC (?) source contains much that is spurious. We know for sure only that the Edomites somehow aided and abetted the Babylonian conquest of 588–586 BC, and profited from it, perhaps almost entirely by taking southern Judean land. The exact extent of their involvement with Babylon against Judah is not clear in Obadiah or any other trustworthy source.” (403-404)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Stuart, Douglas K. Hosea-jonah. Waco, Tex: Word Books, 1987.
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