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Bible Commentaries
Obadiah 1

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

Verse 1

Book Comments

parWalking Thru The Bible



The book of Obadiah is not well known but it contains some powerful lessons for our day. It is the only one-chapter book in the Old Testament and contains only 21 verses.

The occasion of the book is some recent sack of Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians in which Edom had aided and abetted. She had encouraged Judah’s foes, enjoyed Judah’s fall, and enslaved Judah’s fugitives. The book warns Edom of her own coming destruction for her sins against her brother.


The Edomites were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, and hence a "cousin" nation to Judah and Israel. Yet the Edomites were in constant conflict with them. Edom was a narrow strip of mountainous country to the south of the Dead Sea. So rugged is the terrain that the valley in which Petra, one of their capital cities, is located can only be reached through a narrow canyon guarded by towering mountain walls 200-500 feet high (Obadiah 1:3-4).


Edom is condemned for her pride and her cruelty. Her crimes are described in progressive stages: (1) Edom stood by while Jerusalem was invaded Obadiah 1:11; (2) She rejoiced over the captivity of sons of Judah Obadiah 1:12; (3) She actively participated in looting Jerusalem Obadiah 1:13; and (4) Edom set up road blocks to prevent the citizens from escaping Obadiah 1:14 and sold them into slavery.

She is condemned for her cruelty and unbrotherliness: (1) cruelty of the feet, Obadiah 1:11 "she stood afar off"; (2) cruelty of the eyes, Obadiah 1:13 "looked on in his disaster; (3) cruelty of the heart, Obadiah 1:12 she rejoiced in Jerusalem’s destruction; (4) cruelty of the tongue, Obadiah 1:12; she spoke proudly; (5) cruelty of the hands, Obadiah 1:13, laid hands on Judah’s substance and cut off escape.


1. The Doom of Edom -- Obadiah 1:1-9

2. The Denunciation of Edom -- Obadiah 1:10-14

3. The Destruction of Edom -- Obadiah 1:15-21

Time Frame: c.845 BC when Philistines and Arabians sacked Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 21:16-17; 2 Kings 8:20.

The prophecy of judgment against Edom’s began fulfillment in 2 Chronicles 25:12 with Amaziah @ 790 BC.

NOTE in verses11-14 how Edom’s crime is described in a progressive manner.

1) v.11 Edom stood by while Jerusalem was invaded.

2) v.12 She rejoiced over the captivity of the sons of Judah.

3) v.13 She actively participated in looting Jerusalem.

3) v.14 She set up road blocks to prevent escape.

Edom encouraged the foes of Jerusalem, Obadiah 1:11

Edom enjoyed the fall of Jerusalem, v.

Edom enslaved the fugitives of Jerusalem, Obadiah 1:13 & Obadiah 1:14.

The Condemnation of Unbrotherliness

Edom is charged with cruelty to a brother, Obadiah 1:10

1) Cruelty of the feet, Obadiah 1:11, she stood afar off.

2) Cruelty of the eye, Obadiah 1:12, she looked on in his day of disaster.

Obadiah 1:13, she looked on in the day of his affliction

3) Cruelty of the heart, Obadiah 1:12, she rejoice in his destruction.

4) Cruelty of the tongue, Obadiah 1:12, she spoke proudly.

5) Cruelty of the hands, Obadiah 1:13, she laid hands on his substance, and cut of his escape.

[*** Be sure to see Windell Gann’s Bible Book of the the Month lessons on Obadiah. ]





Nestled in the cliffs high above the plains they likened them-

selves to the eagle which made its nest in the heights of the mountains. The entrance into the city was through a narrow canyon more than a mile in length with vertical walls of six and seven hundred feet high and often not more than six to thirty feet apart. Here just a few men could hold off an entire army. The Edomites thought their city was impregnable! They thought they would never be brought down!

Verses 3-4. Because of their smug, secure position they became filled with pride. The boasted, "who shall bring me down to the ground?" But the prophet said that their pride had deceived them! They thought that they could deal with their enemies; the powerful nations of the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. The only problem is that they were not now dealing with the powers of the world but with the power of God.

The destiny, doom, and deliverance of nations are in the hands of God; it is He who determines "their appointed seasons and bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). He alone has the power to build up or to debase and cast down.


At this time Edom was the center of caravan routes from Egypt to the north, and from the eastern deserts to the ports on the Mediterranean. She used the numerous caves in Petra as storehouses for the merchandise that was traded.

The prophet points to how thoroughly Edom would be ravaged (v.5) without anything left and how her treasures would be searched out and carried away (v.6).

A nation may have many treasures and natural resources which are blessings from God, but they can be depleted and the nation come to poverty.


The time would come when the confederates of Edom would expel her ambassadors. The nations that she had peace treaties with would deceive her and turn against her.

One of the greatest problems in the political world is trying to figure out who your "real" friends are. America is learning you can’t buy friends.

Well, who can we trust? Where can we find friends that we can count on? In time of trouble, where can we go? Edom was deceived by trusting in human help who would desert her in time of need.


The Edomites were known for their wisdom and cunning. At the time of Jesus’ birth the land of Judea was ruled by Herod the Great who was of Edomite descent, and called Idumaean. The Lord referred to the Herod who killed John the Baptist as "that Fox" (Luke 13:32) which was a reference to the wisdom and cunning the Idumaeans were noted for.

But the Lord says there would come a time when such wise men and wisdom would be destroyed among them, and they could not be counted on to bring Edom deliverance.

Aren’t we also living in a time when we think our "wise men" and science, our wisdom and knowledge gives us an edge in the world?

5. EDOM TRUSTED IN HER "MIGHTY MEN" (warriors) (v.9)

In the final analysis Edom trusted that her mighty army of strong warriors would be able to defend her against any and every foe. Obadiah calls out that "Teman," one of the mighty cities of the Edomites, would be dismayed in seeing her mighty men slaughtered.

It appears that Edom thought she was prepared for any foe, and overlooked the truth that when God was ready to bring her down, He could. It didn’t matter what size army or how brave they were, when the Lord is ready to chastise a nation He can do it!


No human effort can save the guilty nation from God’s destructive power. Rock fortresses, impregnable mountains, narrow mountain gorges, dependable allies and proud warriors cannot avail. When the Lord has decreed a nations’ humiliation nothing will change that except repentance.

We must remember that our hope is in God. Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 29:23.

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Verse Comments

Obadiah 1:1

cf. Freeman’s Introduction to the Prophets

c. 845 B.C. 249 words in Hebrew = 647 English words. cf. Jeremiah 49:16

Key Verse: Obadiah 1:15

The books seems occasioned by a recent sack of Jerusalem by Philistines and Arabs, during the time of Jehoram, c. 845 B.C. cf. 2 Chronicles 21:16-17;

Obadiah -- "Servant" or "Worshipper" of YAHWAH.

Thus saith the Lord -- Divine authorship.

Edom -- Genesis 36:1; Esau = Edom.

Tidings -- KJ rumour, message, report.

2 Chronicles 21:8; 2 Chronicles 21:16

Vs. 1-9 What is going to happen to Edom.

Vs. 10-16 Why it is going to happen.

Vs. 17-21 How the Lord will bless His people.

Obadiah stands as a comfort to God’s people; justice will be done; it stands as a warning to Edom and other nations.

Verse 2

Obadiah 1:2

Prophetic Perfect: The prophecy is so sure to come true that it is spoken off as already happening.

Verse 3

Obadiah 1:3

cf. Jeremiah 49:16 Parallel verse. Jeremiah seems to be quoteing Obadiah, or else God’s prophetic revelation to them is the same.

Pride of heart -- Note five things that contibuted to Edom’s pride of heart.

1. Her fortifications - Obadiah 1:3-4

2. Her treasures and wealth -Obadiah 1:5-6

3. Her confederates - Obadiah 1:7

4. Her wisdom and wise men - Obadiah 1:8

5. Her mighty men - Obadiah 1:9

Edom thought she had:

1) Security

2) Substance

3) Supporters

4) Statesmen

5) Soldiers

The rock -- Region or name of her chief city. (A play on words.) Edom’s habitation is liken to that of an eagle.

Verse 4

Obadiah 1:4

Zephaniah 1:12

If the Lord wants to bring a nation down (for whatever reason) He can do it!

Verse 5

Obadiah 1:5

Gleanings --

Verse 6

Obadiah 1:6

Searched -- Pillaged, ransacked,

Verse 7

Obadiah 1:7

Confederacy -- Her ambassadors to other nations would be sent home. Those nations she thought were her friends would turn against her.

Lay a trap -- Ambush; By not rendering expected aid.

Verse 8

Obadiah 1:8

Oba 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?Obadiah 1:8

Wise men -- Edomites were noted for their cunning wisdom. cf. Luke 13:32 Jesus’ remark about Herod Antipas, when the Lord was told that Herod wanted to kill him, "Go and tell that fox .."

Jeremiah 49:7

Verse 9

Obadiah 1:9

Teman -- Another prominent city of Esau, apparently named after Esau’s grandson, Genesis 36:10-11.

Mount of Esau -- Seir.

Verse 10

Obadiah 1:10

Vs. 10-16 Why the Lord’s judgment is coming upon Edom.

1. Because of her cruelty - Obadiah 1:10

2. Because of her callousness - Obadiah 1:11-12

3. Because of her covetousness - Obadiah 1:13-14

Violence -- Wickedness,

Thy brother -- Deuteronomy 23:7 Edom was considered a brother nation to Israel. But Esau hated Jacob, Genesis 27:41.

Cut off forever -- Note also Obadiah 1:18. The last mention in history of Edomites is in Josephus, when some come into Jerusalem at the time of Rome’s siege and destruction of the city in A.D. 70.

Verse 11

Obadiah 1:11

Stood -- Stood aloof, afar off; without coming to her aid.

Strangers -- foreigners. Philistines and Arabs, cf. 2 Chronicles 21:16-17; 2 Kings 8:20

Forces -- ASV "substance", cf. RSV Obadiah 1:12-13

Thou wast as one of them -- Edom aided and abbetted Israel’s enemies.

Verse 12

Obadiah 1:12

Thy brother --

Spoken proudly --

Verse 13

Obadiah 1:13

KJV Past tense.

Laid hands on their subsance -- Edom took spoils from Jerusalem.

Verse 14

Obadiah 1:14

Stood in the crossway -- Edom hindered escape.

Delivered up -- Edom captured those trying to escape and sold them back to the enemy.

Verse 15

Obadiah 1:15


The Day of the LORD -- The day of God’s judgment and wrath upon evil.

As thou had done -- lex taleonis. Galatians 6:7-8

Verse 16

Obadiah 1:16

Ye have drunk -- Probably, literally drunk and feasted on the spoils of Jerusalem.

But now also a metaphor of "drinking the cup of God’s wrath."

Ye -- All -- The prophets goes from just talking about Edom, to speaking of all of His people’s enemies. What would happen to Edom should be a lesson for all. The lessons goes from one specific, to all in general.

How do we go from speaking about Edom to all nations? Edom becomes a type of the world’s wickedness and God’s enemies.

Verse 17

Obadiah 1:17

Deliverance -- The remnant; deliverance, salvation. Joel 2:32.

Possess their possessions -- The return of what had been lost. Their blessings would be full. [Good title for a sermon.]

Isaiah 51:22-23

Verse 18

Obadiah 1:18

The Doom of Edom.

cf. 17 ff. cf. Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:15-18; Revelation 14:8, Revelation 4:10

Verse 19

Obadiah 1:19

Faithful Judah would have it all!

The south -- The Negev.

(Alexander the Great captured Samaria and gave it to the Jews.

Verse 20

Obadiah 1:20

See RSV v.20

Zarephath -- is between Tyre and Sidom. (City of the Phoecian widow that gave food to Elijah.)

Verse 21

Obad 1.21

Saviours -- Judges. The ultimate Savior being Jesus Christ. It all points to Him, and God’s spiritual kingdom! The Word of God and the Lord’s apostles going forth from Mt. Zion, Jerusalem, making known God’s kingdom (his church) to the world!

In context the saviours could be Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel.

The kingdom shall be LORDS -- All would know!

The O.T. prophets with one sweep covers from historical to eternal aspects of the kingdom!

The judgment on Edom came to fulfillment in 2 Chronicles 25:12.

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Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Obadiah 1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/obadiah-1.html. 2021.
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