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by John Gill
INTRODUCTION TO OBADIAH
The title of this Book, in the Hebrew copies, is usually "Sepher Obadiah", the Book of Obadiah: the Vulgate Latin version calls it the Prophecy of Obadiah; and so the Arabic version: and in the Syriac version it is, the Prophecy of the Prophet Obadiah. His name signifies a "servant" or "worshipper of the Lord". Who he was, what his parentage, and in what age he lived, are things uncertain. The Seder Olam Zuta a places him in the reign of Jehoshaphat: and he is thought by some to be that Obadiah that was one of the princes he sent to teach the people, 2 Chronicles 17:7. The ancient Jewish Rabbins take him to be the same with him that lived in the times of Ahab, and in his court, who hid the prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them, 1 Kings 18:3; to which Aben Ezra objects, because he is not called a prophet, only one that feared the Lord; whereas to be a prophet is something greater. They also say he was an Edomite by birth, but was proselyted to the Jewish religion, and so a fit person to be employed in prophesying against Edom; and it is a tradition with them that his widow is the woman whose cruse of oil Elisha multiplied, 2 Kings 4:1. Some have been of opinion that he was the captain of the third fifty, whose life Elijah spared in the times of Ahaziah; and who upon that left the king's service, and followed the prophet, and became a disciple of his; so Pseudo-Epiphanius b, and Isidorus Hispalensis c, who say that he was of Sychem, a city of Samaria, and of the field of Bethachamar, or Bethaccaron. Others would have him to be one of the overseers of the workmen in the house of the Lord, in the times of Josiah, 2 Chronicles 34:12; to which Mr. Lively d inclines; though others, going according to the order of the books in the canon of Scripture, which is not to be depended on, place him earlier, and make him contemporary with Hosea, Joel, and Amos, as Grotius e, Huetius f, and Lightfoot g: but he seems rather to be contemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel, with whose prophecies this agrees, as may be observed by comparing it with
Jeremiah 49:1; and to have lived and prophesied after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; in which the Edomites, against whom he prophesies, had a concern; see Obadiah 1:11; though Dr. Lightfoot thinks these prophecies refer either to the sacking of Jerusalem by Shishak king of Egypt, 1 Kings 14:25; or by the Philistines and Arabians, 2 Chronicles 21:16; or by Joash king of Israel,
2 Chronicles 25:21; so that, upon the whole, it is not certain; and, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi own, it is not known in what age this prophet lived: Bishop Usher h places his prophecy in the twelfth year of Jeconiah's captivity. However, there is no doubt to be made of the authenticity of the prophecy; as may be concluded, not only from the title of it, and the solemn manner in which it begins; but from the matter of it, and the accomplishment of what is contained in it; as well as from the testimony borne to it in the New Testament, in which not only the book of the minor prophets, in which this stands, is quoted, Acts 7:42; but a passage in it, Obadiah 1:8; is referred to in 1 Corinthians 1:19; as is thought by some learned men. I have only to observe, that, according to Pseudo-Epiphanius i, he died in Bethachamar, where he is said to be born, and was buried in the sepulchre of his ancestors; but, according to Jerom k and Isidore l, his sepulchre is in Sebaste or Samaria; which remained to the times of Jerom, near those of the Prophet Elisha and John the Baptist. Monsieur Thevenot m says that John Baptist here lies buried between the Prophets Elisha and Abdias.
a P. 103. b De Prophet. Vid. c. 15. c De Vita & Mort. Sanct. c, 44. d In loc. e In loc. f Demonstrat. Evangel. Prop. 4. p. 290. g Works, vol. 1. p. 96. h Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3417 or 587 B.C. i Ut supra. (De Prophet. Vid. c. 15.) k Comment. in loc. & in Epitaph. Paulae, fol. 59. M. l Ut supra. (De Vita & Mort. Sanct. c, 44.) m Travels, par. 1. B. 1. ch. 56. p. 216.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17