Obadiah 1 – Edom’s Destruction & Edom

Throughout the Bible and even in our regular history books you can see that a lot of cities, kingdoms, and even nationalities stop existing.  The only thing that never changes and has been here since the beginning of our time and before our time is You.

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Is 44:6).

“For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever” (Deut 32:40).

That was the only chapter of this book so tomorrow we will look at…

Obadiah 1
Edom’s Destruction

1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumor from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.

Landscapes of Edom. This is of Wadi Murjib, Jordan.

“We” – either (1) the editorial “we,” or (2) the prophet’s association of Israel with himself, or (3) other prophets’ pronouncements against Edom.  In any case, the rest of the verse sets the stage for Obadiah’s prophetic message.

2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

“Rumor’ – an envoy had been sent to the nations, calling them to battle against Edom.  Perhaps a conspiracy was under way between some of Edom’s allies.  Although Edom feels secure (trusting in her mountain fortresses and her wise men), Obadiah announces God’s judgment on her for her hostility to Israel.

3 The 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?

“Rock” – Sela was the capital of Edom.  Perhaps the later Petra (both Sela and Petra mean “rock” or “cliff”), this  rugged site is located some 50 miles south of the southern end of the Dead Sea.

4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.

5 If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grape-gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?

“If thieves…If the grape-gathers” – for a similar oracle against Edom see Jer 49:9.

6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!

Little Petra
Because of its resemblance to Petra, this site is often known as “Little Petra.” It is entered through a narrow, winding canyon (“siq”) known as the “cold Siq” (Siq al-Barid) because the high walls prevent sunlight from entering the canyon and warming it. The Siq is 350 meters long with three wider areas inside. Like its larger neighbor to the south, carved into the sandstone of Siq al-Barid are residences, storage areas, and tombs.

“Hid things” – the ancient Greek historian Diodonus Siculus indicates that the Edomites put their wealth – accumulated from trade – in vaults in the rocks.

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; they that 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.

“Teman” – a reference to all Edom, as in Jer 49:7, 20.  Teman means “south,” and the name probably refers to Edom as the southland.  Some identify Teman with Tawilan, a site about three miles east of Petra.

10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever.

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.

12 But 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.

12-14 – a rebuke of Edom’s hostile actions.  The eight rebukes in this section proceed from the general to the particular.  See Eze 35:13 and Ps 137 for examples of Edom’s reaction to Judah’s misfortunes.

“The day” of Jacob’s abuse by Edom is matched by “that day” when Edom’s judgment will come.

Beidha, Neolithic Site
Beidha is one of the oldest excavated Neolithic villages. Much has eroded, but remains are preserved from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (c. 7200-6500 BC). The earliest houses were round and built partly underground. Slots in the walls held wooden beams which supported the roof. After the site was destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt with rectangular and circular houses. The site was abandoned in 6500 B.C. and never again inhabited.

13 Thou 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;

14 Neither 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.

15 For 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.

“As ye have drunk” – as the Edomites profaned the holy mountain by carousing, so the nations will drink and drink.  Their drinking however is that of the bitter potion of God’s judgment – which they will be compelled to keep on drinking.

17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

“Upon mount Zion shall be deliverance” – beginning with this verse the blessings on the house of Jacob are mentioned.  Eschatological references are twofold: judgment on Gods enemies, blessing on God’s people.

18 And 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.


Sela
The term “Sela” is used 65 times in the Hebrew Bible, usually meaning “rock,” but 6 times it is used as a place name. Four or five of the references are apparently to a site that preserves this name near Bozrah. As part of a condemnation of Edom, Obadiah 3 states, “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock [Sela], in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’” (ESV).
“Jacob…Joseph” – previously it was stated that the Lord would destroy Edom using other nations; now it is to be done by God’s people.

19 And 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.

“They…shall possess” – with Edom annihilated, others will occupy Edomite territory.  Although not expressly identified, these are most likely the remnant of Israel.  The 97-99% of the Jews of today is not part of that remnant, they are of the Synagogue of Satan (Rev 2:9, 3:9).

20 And 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.

“Sepharad” – usually taken to refer to Sardis in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), though some think that Sparta (the city in Greece) might be meant.

21 And saviors shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.

“The kingdom shall be the LORD’S” – the conclusion of the prophecy – and the final outcome of history.  The last book of the Bible echoes this theme (Rev 11:15).  Positioned before Jonah, the phrase effectively reminds the readers that God’s kingdom includes even the Gentiles.

Edom

Edom was located south of the Dead Sea and north of the Gulf of Aqaba. The region boasts numerous mains over 5,000 feet (1,524 m) in height, some pasturage and a few oases.

Bozrah, Capital of Edom
The modern city of Buseirah preserves the name and location of ancient Bozrah, the ancient capital of the Edomites (cf. Isa 34:6; 63:1; Jer 49:13). The earliest significant remains at Buseireh are from 800 B.C. It has the largest Iron Age buildings found in Transjordan, among which was perhaps the king’s palace.

Many Edomite dwellings were cut into the faces of these high, craggy mountains and gave rise to Obadiah’s description of the Edomites as people “who live in the clefts of the rocks” and “soar like the eagle”.  Some such ancient abodes are still visible.

Edom prospered through its control of the major north-south caravan route, the “King’s Highway,” as well as through the mining of iron and copper.

A pre-Edomite Early Bronze agricultural civilization flourished in this region, organized under seminomadic clan chiefs. Pharaohs were involved in Edom’s copper mines from the 14th to the 12th centuries B.C., and thus the area is mentioned often in Egyptian documents.

As descendants of Esau, the twin brother of the patriarch Jacob, the Edomites were considered “brothers” by Israel. Moses unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate passage for the Israelites through the territory of the king of Edom.

Saul fought against the Edomites, but David conquered Edom. His high general, Joab, killed many adult males during a six-month occupation, although Hadad, a royal heir, escaped to Egypt (1Kgs 11:14-22).

Nahal Zered, Edom
The Zered River is believed by most to be Wadi al-Hesa. There are some difficulties with this identification, but most follow it. It is 35 miles (55 km) long and 3.5 to 4 miles (5.5 to 6.5 km) wide, and drains into the Dead Sea near the southeastern corner. The Zered forms the southern border of Moab and the northern border of Edom. The Israelites crossed the Zered 38 years after they first left Kadesh Barnea (Deut 2:13-14).

Edom revolted from under Joram (c. 851 B.C.), but later Amaziah (c. 800 B.C.) captured its capital, Sela, and renamed it Joktheel. Edomites sometimes raided Judah.

From 734 B.C. until the fall of Jerusalem, Edom was under Assyrian domination. Assyrian records mention three Edomite kings as tributaries: Qaus-malaku (732 B.C.), Aiarammu (701 B.C.) and Qaus-gabri (629 B.C.).

Edom prospered under Assyrian control, and its population increased considerably. Evidence of Edomite settlement during this period appears at several sites in southern Judah.  Obadiah indicates that the Edomites participated in the 586 B.C. destruction of Jerusalem.

During the postexilic period Edom proper was overrun by Arabs until the Nabateans became established there. Edomites (who were during the postexilic period called Idumeans) established Hebron as their capital.

John Hyrcanus forcibly converted the Idumeans to Judaism in approximately 120 B.C. Antipater, an Idumean, became governor of Judea, and his son Herod ruled the region as king. After the Roman destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.) Idumea and the Idumeans disappeared from history. 

…the Book of Jonah.