OBADIAH, BOOK OF
The shortest prophetic book of the Hebrew Scriptures. Written by Obadiah (concerning whom nothing but the name is known), this book contains a proclamation of Jehovah’s judgment against Edom, presents the reason for that judgment, and points forward to restoration for “the house of Jacob.” The extinction of the Edomites as a people and the restoration of the Israelites to their land confirm the accurate fulfillment of Obadiah’s prophecy.—Ob 17, 18; see EDOM, EDOMITES.
The occasion for the prophecy was the ‘unbrotherly’ treatment that the Edomites rendered to “the sons of Judah” when the latter suffered defeat. The Edomites, through their ancestor Esau, were related to the Israelites. The Edomites rejoiced over Judah’s calamity, shared in taking spoil from the Jews, prevented them from escaping out of the land, and even handed them over to the enemy. (Ob 12-14) As is evident from a comparison of Obadiah’s prophecy with the words of Jeremiah (25:15-17, 21, 27-29; 49:7-22) and Ezekiel (25:12-14; 35:1-15), this must have happened in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian armies and would, therefore, place the book’s composition about the year 607 B.C.E.
Since many of the things foretold in Obadiah’s prophecy were also foretold in the book of Jeremiah, this made the fulfillment of Jehovah’s word regarding Edom doubly certain.—Compare Ge 41:32.
[Box on page 519]
HIGHLIGHTS OF OBADIAH
Jehovah’s judgment against Edom and the promise of restoration for Jehovah’s people
Written about 607 B.C.E., the year the Babylonians desolated Jerusalem
Edom’s share in the violence done to the descendants of Jacob
When Jerusalem was conquered and her people were led into captivity, Edom stood off on the side (vss 10, 11)
She should not have rejoiced maliciously over Judah’s calamity, sharing in plundering God’s people and handing survivors over to the enemy (vss 12-14)
Calamity will come upon Edom
Jehovah calls upon the nations to rise up against her in battle (vs 1)
Despite her seemingly secure position, Edom will be brought down (vss 2-4)
Thieves or harvesters would take only what they wanted and leave something behind; when Edom falls, she will be completely plundered; she will be deceived by those with whom she entered into a covenant, and her wise and mighty ones will suffer destruction (vss 5-9)
The house of Jacob will be restored
Zion will become holy; the house of Jacob will be the fire that consumes the house of Esau like stubble (vss 17, 18)
Jehovah’s restored people will take possession of “the things for them to possess,” including “the mountainous region of Esau” (vss 19, 20)
The kingship will become Jehovah’s (vs 21)