Book of Obadiah – Servant of God

Who is it about?
What’s going to happen?
When does it take place?
Where does it take place?
Why does it happen?
How does it happen?

…and more

Shortest book in the Old Testament

Obadiah the man: Not much known about

At least a dozen different Obadiah’s. There may be crossover

No hard and fast evidence that any of these other individuals can be identified with this particular prophet. It is very difficult to know when Obadiah was written because there is nothing in the heading or introduction of the book to pinpoint the date.

Extra-biblical source: It is assumed that he was a native of Judah. Others feel he may also have been among the circle of prophets attached to the Jerusalem Temple. The Jewish Talmud states Obadiah was not Jewish, but rather an Edomite proselyte God used to rebuke his own people.

Even when this is written is in dispute; Internally it is not evident

Obadiah “bears the distinction of being the most difficult of all the prophecies to date” (Gleason Archer). His work is ascribed to periods ranging from 845 to 400 BC. There are two major theories:

  1. 585 BC — This is the view held by most liberal scholars. It places this prophecy about a year after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
  2. 845 BC — This is the view held by “a good majority of the evangelical scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries” (Archer). It places the prophecy during the days of King Jehoram (848 – 841 BC) when Jerusalem was attacked by the Philistines and Arabians (with probable cooperation from the Edomites — II Kings 8:20; II Chron. 21:8-10, 16-17).

This is one of seven Old Testament books which is not quoted in the pages of the New Testament. However, there are obvious relationships with several other Old Testament books: Such as Joel, Jeremiah and Isaiah

What are we to do with this lack of information?

Concentrate on the message from God and not the man, who was a messenger and servant

The time setting for this is the Day of the Lord. This will answer some questions as we go along. We will confirm it as well later on in the chapter

Verses 1-4: The WHO (the prophecy is about)

Obadiah 1:1 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”):

The vision of Obadiah.

A vision – can you imagine

Obadiah means servant of God.

Could be a title or a name; or both as God names things as they are

Its about message and not the messenger (to focus on the messenger can be distracting; Balaam’s ass)

Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom

Who is Edom?

Genesis 36:8 So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. Esau is Edom.
Genesis 36:9 And this is the genealogy of Esau the father of the Edomites in Mount Seir.

Deuteronomy 2:12 The Horites formerly dwelt in Seir, but the descendants of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which the LORD gave them.)

  • Mount Seir in Jordan
  • Edom is also modern day Turkey
  • Ottoman = Teman; grandson of Esau

This prophecy is against the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob.

Jacob (Israel) are God’s people, so this implies that Esau is emblematic of those that are not God’s people at this time, the Gentiles, though they will be in future (Amos 9:12).

(We have heard a report from the LORD, And a messenger [KJV: ambassador] has been sent among the nations, saying, “Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle”)

God has many ways or means by which He can do this: either by God, a prophet, or an angel, or an impulse upon the minds of the people stirring them up to action against the Edomites:

Obadiah 1:2 “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised.

Behold, I

This is God. Keep in mind that it is God that is doing this. Even though God may do this through an agent He is the one behind it, so it is just and equitable

I will make you

Obadiah 1:2 Behold, I have made thee ….

Prophetic past tense

Obadiah 1:3 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?’

The pride of your heart has deceived you

Because of their numbers, past successes, and where they lived they developed a misplaced pride.

We know what the Bible says about this in Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

One of the reasons for this pride was You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high

Note where the Edomites lived:

Deuteronomy 2:12 The Horites [this word means cave dweller] formerly dwelt in Seir, but the descendants of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which the LORD gave them.)

They lived in Petra and places like that around there. [Expound on Petra and its impenetrability and why they felt and said:] You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?

Invincible; rough territory; invulnerable

Who will bring me down to the ground?

The answer if not obvious is in the next verse.

Obadiah 1:4 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.

Though you ascend as high as the eagle

Jeremiah 49:16 Your fierceness has deceived you, The pride of your heart, O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Who hold the height of the hill! Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there,” says the LORD.

Eagles put their nests in inaccessible spots. This may still a reference to their habitations and how they thought they were untouchable and had the unassailable high ground. But God says EVEN if “you set your nest among the starsH3556” He could and would still bring you down. You can’t go high enough or far enough to escape the reach of God.

I will bring you downH3381 from there,” says the LORD.

Very similar to the passage in Isaiah 14 to Lucifer

Isaiah 14:13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the starsH3556 of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
Isaiah 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
Isaiah 14:15 Yet you shall be brought downH3381 to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

In both cases they had the same wronful and prideful spirit that was the root cause. They both thought too highly of themselves and “their” accomplishments.

God humbles the proud and exalts the humble: WHOEVER they are!

James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

Verses 5-9: The HOW ( Edom will be brought to justice)

Obadiah 1:5 “If thieves had come to you, If robbers by night— Oh, how you will be cut off! [connotation: destroyed]— Would they not have stolen till they had enough? If grape-gatherers had come to you, Would they not have left some gleanings?

Obadiah 1:6 “Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after!

The punishment will be thorough and wide reaching. By contrast, when a robber robs he doesn’t take everything, its not worth the trouble or the value for work is not there. He also has a limited time and they dont want to get caught. Neither is the intent of a thief to punish you, it is purely a selfish motivation.

With the harvesters they would normally leave food behind that is not practical to get or not up to standards. Either that or they leave the corners of the field for charity.

Would they not have stolen till they had enough? …Would they not have left some gleanings?

By implication God is saying that this will not be the case when judgment is brought upon the people of Edom.

Speaking of Edom:

Jeremiah 49:9 If grape-gatherers came to you, Would they not leave some gleaning grapes? If thieves by night, Would they not destroy until they have enough?
Jeremiah 49:10 But I have made Esau bare; I have uncovered his secret places, And he shall not be able to hide himself. His descendants are plundered, His brethren and his neighbors, And he is no more.

Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after!

Not only will the obvious things be taken or destroyed but the their valuables that they thought were protected and hidden. God will leave NO ONE and NO THING behind

A side note: Obadiah seems to feel for them when he says: “Oh, how you will be cut off!” in :5 and “Oh, how Esau will be searched out!” in :6

Some have used this to speculate that Obadiah was himself an Edomite perhaps because he was not as vicious as they thought a Jew would have been.

In what must be the clearest indication yet what Jews think of Gentiles, nearly one million Israelis—or 16 percent of the Jewish population of that country—attended the funeral of the openly Gentile-hating former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Ovadiah Yosef.

[We are going to come back to this chapter in Jeremiah again in a few minutes]

Obadiah 1:7 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 [or, wound youfor you. No one is aware of it.

All the men in your confederacy

confederacyH1285 ber-eeth’ covenant. The same word that is used in Psalm 83

Psalm 83:5 For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You:
Psalm 83:6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites;
Psalm 83:7 Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Psalm 83:8 Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah

  • Edom – Turkey
  • Ishmael — Saudi-Arabia
  • Moab — Jordan, perhaps also Western Iraq
  • Hagrites [mainly Syria]Gebal [Lebanon]
  • Ammon [Jordan and the PLO]
  • Amalek [the PLO]
  • Philistia [Palestinians from the Gaza Strip]
  • Tyre [Babylonian system – Beast power]

Obviously the prophecy of Obadiah will occur after the one in Psalm 83 because of the utter destruction that will come on Edom. It may be some of those that Edom is allied with in Psalm 83 that will turn on them.

It appears that Edom believes they have an amicable relationship with their allies and are blithely unaware of the plot against them.

Extra-biblical sources talk about the renowned wisdom of the Edomites in matters of politics and war and such. One of Jobs “friends and counselors” was Eliphaz a Temanite. Teman was a grandson of Esau. Some historians considered them the greatest people of commerce and mercantilism of their time and were professionals in many fields – verse 8 talks a little more about this:

Obadiah 1:8 “Will I not in that day,” says the LORD, “Even destroy the wise men from Edom, And understanding from the mountains of Esau?

Will I not

Again we see that it is God that is doing this

In that day

On it’s own this might not be construed as the day of the Lord, but later on in :15 this is confirmed

“Even destroy the wise men from Edom, And understanding from the mountains of Esau?

God is presumably starting with the leaders of Edom – with them gone, so goes the nucleus of understanding and discernment that they had. Now notice the repercussions of this

Jeremiah 49:7 Against Edom. Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Is wisdom no more in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom vanished?

That is for what it is worth. The wisdom of man is as foolishness by comparison to God’s.

They are blind and prideful and the wisdom they have does not protect them in the end.

Edom does not see the calamity that will imminently befall them.

Obadiah 1:9 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.

Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed

This has left the military prostratebroken down, either (literally) by violence, or (figuratively) by confusion and fear:

They are afraid, discouraged, dismayed, scared, and terrified.

To the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau May be cut off by slaughter.

So once the leaders fall, followed by the debilitation of the “mighty men”, after this then what chance do the people of Edom have. What they relied upon, the wisdom and might of man, is now gone and there is no one to save them. So their end will come

Verses 10-14: The WHY (Edom will be annihilated.)

Obadiah 1:10 “For violence against your brother Jacob, Shame shall cover you, And you shall be cut off forever.

For violence against your brother Jacob

As we will see there was antagonistic relationship between these two brothers from the VERY beginning – that has continued to this day.

Jacob and Esau were “at odds with each other” within the womb of Rebekah (Gen. 25:22). In the next verse the Lord tells her, “Two nations are in your womb.”

Genesis 25:22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.
Genesis 25:23 And the LORD said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”
Genesis 25:24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.
Genesis 25:25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.
Genesis 25:26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

There was conflict over the taking of the birthright by Jacob from Esau (Gen. 25:27-34).

Genesis 25:27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.
Genesis 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Genesis 25:29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.
Genesis 25:30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.
Genesis 25:31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”
Genesis 25:32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”
Genesis 25:33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.
Genesis 25:34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Jacob tricked Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau (Genesis 27)

Genesis 27:34 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, O my father!”
Genesis 27:35 But he said, “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.”
Genesis 27:36 And Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
Genesis 27:37 Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?”
Genesis 27:38 And Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me—me also, O my father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
Genesis 27:39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, And of the dew of heaven from above.
Genesis 27:40 By your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; And it shall come to pass, when you become restless, That you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
Genesis 27:41 So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

This was only the beginning of the enmity that is to last between their respective descendants.

Numbers 20:18 Then Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through my land, lest I come out against you with the sword.”
Numbers 20:19 So the children of Israel said to him, “We will go by the Highway, and if I or my livestock drink any of your water, then I will pay for it; let me only pass through on foot, nothing more.
Numbers 20:20 Then he said, “You shall not pass through.” So Edom came out against them with many men and with a strong hand.
Numbers 20:21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory; so Israel turned away from him.

Ezekiel 35:1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Ezekiel 35:2 “Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir and prophesy against it,
Ezekiel 35:3 and say to it, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O Mount Seir, I am against you; I will stretch out My hand against you, And make you most desolate;
Ezekiel 35:4 I shall lay your cities waste, And you shall be desolate. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel 35:5 “Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end,
Ezekiel 35:6 therefore, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you.
Ezekiel 35:7 Thus I will make Mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it the one who leaves and the one who returns.

Ezekiel 35:15 As you rejoiced because the inheritance of the house of Israel was desolate, so I will do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom—all of it! Then they shall know that I am the LORD.” ‘

And because the Edomites continued to escalate this all the way to the end time, God makes the pronouncement that:

you shall be cut off forever.

Define forever: long duration, long time

This means that the animosity would be forever halted because their physical life would be taken from them. Of course we know that they will have a chance in the second resurrection

As we read the next 4 verses, let’s keep in mind that it is a future event spoken of as though it has already happened.Prophetic past tense

Obadiah 1:11 In the day that you stood on the other side— In the day that strangers carried captive his forcesH2428 [translated substance later in :13], When foreigners entered his gates And cast lots for Jerusalem— Even you were as one of them.

Cast… Nahum 3:10; Joel 3:3; Revelation 18:13

It was the same as if you had been there alongside the invading army.

They will stand by while their brother was being taken into slavery, but worse yet they rejoiced:

Obadiah 1:12 “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.

“He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 17:5).

Not only will they stand by and rejoice, they also will take advantage of the situation and help themselves to some of the spoils:

Obadiah 1:13 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 substanceH2428 In the day of their calamity.

And then to add insult to injury the Edomites will impede their flight and will catch their brothers, their blood kin, and turn them in:

Obadiah 1:14 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. [Great Tribulation]

This is why God has something against them. They cut off their path of escape instead of aiding them. As twins they should have been as close as family members could be, but instead they went to the other extreme.

It is also reminiscent of what happened in the past, so it is not a real surprise that this will happen in the future

Verses 15-16: The WHEN (Day of the Lord)

Obadiah 1:15 “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 the day of the LORD

So now we definitively see the time setting for this prophecy.

upon all the nations is near

Joel 3:12 “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
Joel 3:13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow— For their wickedness is great.”
Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

This is a warning not only to Edom but all the nations that would

As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap!” (Gal. 6:7)

It is because of all that Edom had done to his brethren

Obadiah 1:16 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.

For as you drank on My holy mountain,

Jeremiah 49:12 For thus says the LORD: “Behold, those whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunk. And are you the one who will altogether go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, but you shall surely drink of it.

So shall all the nations drink continually

Judah’s punishment will be temporary as we know and will be reinforced in the next verse. But the same cannot be said for the enemies of Judah

Yes, they shall drink, and swallow,

The word used for swallow means gulp. So much so that figuratively Edom and the rest of the nations take upon themselves the rest of the cup of calamity. Their punishment will be so complete that it shall be as though they had never been.

We see that there is no escaping the judgment of God.

The concept of being invulnerable is an illusion!

Verses 17-21: The WHAT (Israel’s complete triumph over Edom.)

Obadiah 1:17 “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

But on Mount Zion [In Jerusalem] there shall be deliverance

By contrast to what was going on in :16

God provides a way out for those who that turn to Him

A reversal of fortunes; their substance that was taken away shall be returned

The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

Last 3 verses of Joel

Joel 3:19 “Egypt shall be a desolation, And Edom a desolate wilderness, Because of violence against the people of Judah, For they have shed innocent blood in their land.
Joel 3:20 But Judah shall abide forever, And Jerusalem from generation to generation.
Joel 3:21 For I will acquit them of the guilt of bloodshed, whom I had not acquitted; For the LORD dwells in Zion.

Obadiah 1:18 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 house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame;

Jacob and Joseph represents all Israel including Judah here

When God delivers them and backs them the people of Esau will be as stubble or straw as many translations have it.

Ezekiel 25:12 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because of what Edom did against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them,”
Ezekiel 25:13 therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword.
Ezekiel 25:14 I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance,” says the Lord GOD.

Just as straw against fire or a flame Edom will have no chance and there will be no survivors of this nation.

What does no survivors mean? All will have a chance later in 2nd resurrection. Also, they will have the opportunity to become spiritual Israelites and partake in the same promises God made to Abraham thus leaving their identity of Edom behind.

Obadiah 1:19 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.

Here we find that they are getting back what God had already promised and had given them, But what was no longer in their possession.

The interesting aspect of these 2 verses is that the South Lowland Benjamin Sepharad are all already possessed by the Jews. AND the areas that they are to possess

“The South [negeb, the Negev, is a southern desert region occupied by the Israelis]

shall possess the mountains of Esau [Petra and surrounding mountainous regions and may go as far North as the southern part of the West Bank]

[Wiki] Lowland [the Shephelah, is a designation usually applied to the region in south-central Israel of 10-15 km of low hills between the central Mount Hebron and the coastal plains of Philistia within the area of the Judea, at an altitude of 120-450 metres above sea level. The area is fertile, and a temperate Mediterranean to climate prevails there. Shephelah was one of the regions allotted to the biblical Tribe of Judah and is mentioned several other places in the Bible] shall possess Philistia [most of which is now the Gaza Strip].

They [Shephelah peoples] shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria [the approximate area of the northern West Bank].

Benjamin [the area around Jerusalem, presently held by the Israelis] shall possess Gilead [northern Jordan].”

They will once again inhabit these places

Obadiah 1:20 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.

the captives of … the children of Israel

a concept that many cannot imagine happening

Shall possess the land of the Canaanites As far as Zarephath.

Between Tyre and Sidon in Southern Lebanon (the North)

The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad [unknown area; word only appears once in the Bible]

Jerusalem, where the modern day house of Judah, these captives will occupy their original region in the South

Obadiah 1:21 Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion To judge the mountains of Esau, And the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.


Not in the sense that it takes anything away from Christ and His sacrifice, but that this represents the time shortly after the first resurrection when we will be working with our Elder Brother as co-heirs of the Kingdom of God on Earth. [another indication of when all this is going to happen: from the DOL until the return of Christ]

Daniel 7:21 I beheld, and the same horn [Roman church] made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
Daniel 7:22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

This is not only a lesson for the descendants of Esau but for the other nations as well that will be involved in this wrong-doing.

There are also many lessons for us on a personal level regarding pride and sin and the effects thereof, about God keeping His immutable word, as well as executing justice.

In the end God will prevail!