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Bible Commentaries
Obadiah 1

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9


1. The Humiliation of Edom, v. 1-9.

2. The Chief Sin of Edom, v. 10-14.

3. The Judgment of Edom, v. 15, 16.

4. The Inclusion of Edom in the Coming Kingdom, v. 17-21.


Obadiah, the writer of this, the 31st book of the Old Testament, and the shortest of them all, with only one chapter of 21 verses, is one of twelve Obadiah’s mentioned in the Old Testament. What is in this book is all that is known of him. From v. 11, 12 it may be adduced that he prophesied during the reign of Zedekiah, when Jerusalem was burnt by the Babylonians, 586 B.C.


Obadiah prophecies of two things only:
1) First, of Edom’s coming down, and
2) Second, of Israel’s coming glory. These words were addressed jointly to the Edomites and the people of Israel. Other passages foretelling Edom’s doom are Isaiah 34:5-15; Jeremiah 19:7-15; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Ezekiel 35:1-15; Amos 1:11-12. These Edomites were descendants of Esau, bitter enemies of the Jews, perpetuating the hatred of Esau toward Jacob, to whom he sold his birthright, Genesis 25:23; Genesis 27:41. They had refused passage to Moses through Edom, and were always ready to aid armies attacking Israel, Numbers 20:4-21.


Judgment is pronounced upon Edom for her pride; persecution, and her aiding and abetting enemy nations in taking Israel and Judah captive and plundering her cities, palaces, and residences. The book concludes with a vision of Edom’s total destruction and Israel’s repossessing her possessions.


Opinions vary regarding the date of the prophecy, since there were four plunderings of Jerusalem, in which the Edomites took part:

1. In the reign of Jerobam, 850-843 B.C., 2 Chronicles 21:8; 2 Chronicles 21:17-18; Amos 1:6.

2. In the reign of Amaziah, 803-775 B.C., 2 Chronicles 15:11-12

3. In the reign of Ahaz, 741-726 B.C., 2 Chronicles 28:16-21.

4. In the reign of Zedekiah, 597-596 B.C., 2 Chronicles 36:11-21; Psalms 137:7.

It is the latter date that appears to be more likely the time of this prophet’s message, based on v. 11, 12.


Prophetic Fulfillments:

Verses 10, 16, 18 prophecied that Edom should be "cut off forever," "as though they had never been", and that Judah would be saved, and the kingdom of Judah would yet prevail, v. 17, 19, 21. Four years after Jerusalem was sacked, Edom was desolated, 582 B.C., by the same Babylonians they had helped against Jerusalem. Then the Nabataeans took over Edom. The few Edomites, not murdered then, were driven into and confined in south Judaea, for near four centuries. In 126 B.C. John Hyrcanus, a Maccabean ruler, forced all remaining Edomites to be circumcised, and they were absorbed into the Jewish state, B.C. 63; When Palestine was conquered by the Romans, the Herods and Edomite (laumeari) family were placed in control of Judah. This was the last of the Edomites. With Jerusalem’s destruction. A.D. 70. the last of the Edomites disappeared from history, as Ichabod.



Verses 1-9:

Verse 1 affirms that the vision Obadiah has seen and is about to relate is a Divine revelation from God, authentic, trustworthy, given through the Spirit of the Lord, Isaiah 21:10; Hebrews 1:1; 2 Peter 1:20-21. It is to be accepted as "true from the beginning," Psalms 119:160. The vision was "concerning Edom," who is Esau, the offspring of Esau, often found in prophecy, Genesis 36:1; Edom is also called Seir, Genesis 32:3; Genesis 36:8. It is located south of the Dead Sea, extending to the Gulf of Akaba. It includes the ruins of Petra, also located just south of Moab, east of the Dead Sea. It is the setting of the location of the end of Gentile powers and the Armageddon, as the "times of the Gentiles are fulfilled," Revelation 16:14; Luke 21:24; Psalms 137:7. See also Isaiah 34:1-15; Isaiah 63:1-6; Jeremiah 49:7-22; Ezekiel 25:12-13. The rumor of the ambassador, a judgment angel, was already sent to stir up the Assyrians and Chaldaeans in battle against Edom, Jeremiah 49:14.

Verse 2 is a Divine warning to Edom that God had made her small, in His determinate council, to punish her for her arrogant pride, as despised among other nations, as expressed Jeremiah 49:15-17. "I will make thee small among the heathen and despised among men. Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart. Also Edom shall be a desolation; every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof."

Verse 3 describes the pride of Edom, who dwelt in the clefts of the rocks, with habitations looking down on the lowlands below, as they boasted in their wicked hearts "who shall bring me down to the ground?" Little did they realize the pride that "goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall," Proverbs 16:18; Jeremiah 49:16; Isaiah 10:33. The Horites from Edom were dwellers in caves of the mountains, and in clefts of the pink sandstone mountains that circle Petra in particular.

Verse 4 warns that though Edom, in pride, vaunts herself in exaltation, like an eagle, and sets her nests above the stars, she shall be brought down in judgment, Job 20:6; Isaiah 14:14; Amos 9:2; Habakkuk 2:9. Edom is a type of the antichrist, or man of sin, who shall exalt himself and become abased, Isaiah 14:13; Daniel 8:10; Daniel 11:27; Luke 18:14 b; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8.

Verse 5 rhetorically asks if thieves will not, even at night when stealing, hurry away, at least leaving something of your property behind, not stealing everything. And grape-gatherers leave some of the vintage behind, on the vine, for gleanings, don’t they? The answer is "they do." The exclamation between the two questions "how art thou cut off!" refers to the utter or complete cutting off of Edom, to whom this is addressed, in contrast with Israel’s judgment, where at least a remnant or a gleaning of the people shall be preserved, Isaiah 17:6; Isaiah 24:13.

Verse 6 continues to describe with explanatory emotions, how Esau or the Edomites, his offspring would be searched out for destruction by hostile soldiers; He will not be hidden from destruction. His secret places of hiding will all be found in the judgment hour, with more intense pursuit than the grape-gatherers search out the vines, Jeremiah 49:9-10. Jeremiah, 287 years later, seems to have quoted this passage from Obadiah, giving credence to its inspiration. Both certified that the secret hiding caves of the mountains of Edom would not preserve her from Divine judgment.

Verse 7 discloses that all their confederates of other countries; Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Sidon had feigned peace, led them to the slaughter, promised help, then had, and would desert them, to destruction, which came under Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion; False friends desert in the hour of greatest need, Job 6:14-15; Psalms 41:9; Jeremiah 38:22. Even the poorer tribes of Edom’s desert areas feigned friendship, and ate her bread, while also cooperating with her enemies, to ensnare her whole land and people. She was now with no knowledge of God, given over to judgment.

Verse 8 asks if there is not a justification for His destroying the wise men out of Edom (those who posed as wise men) and those of understanding out of and away from the mount of Esau? Idumea was the most mountainous of the Edom range. Her leaders had once been known for knowledge for trade, from Babylon and Egypt, and between Europe and India, as caravans of men and camels passed through her lands, to and from these lands, sharing information with them. Yet none is so worldly wise as to disregard and disobey God, as Edom had, without punishment, Jeremiah 49:7; Job 5:12-13; Isaiah 19:3; Jeremiah 19:7; See also 1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 1:25; Isaiah 29:14-16.

Verse 9 is a direct address to the mighty men of Esau, called Teman; They are specifically told that they shall be dismayed, become distraught and that every one on the mount of Esau may come to be slaughtered in the hour of her judgment, Genesis 36:11; Psalms 137:7; 1 Chronicles 1:45; Jeremiah 49:7; Jeremiah 49:20; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Amos 1:11. This was also because of her transgression against Israel when they passed through her land.

Verses 10-14

The Primary, Foremost Sin Of Edom, v. 10-14

Verses 10-14:

Verse 10 indicts Edom again for her sin of violence against Jacob, a sin to be soon fully punished, Joel 3:19. The posterity of Esau had followed their father to do violence against the seed of Jacob, God’s chosen, Genesis 27:41; Deuteronomy 23:7 declared that Jacob was to entertain kindness toward the Edomites, "for he is thy brother." But the Edomites are now to be clothed with shame, or brought to shame-facedness for their ill treatment of Jacob, Psalms 35:26; Psalms 69:7. And be cut off forever, Isaiah 34:10; Ezekiel 35:9; As a nation Idumea was to be cut off forever, though the land was to be inhabited again, Malachi 1:4.

Verse 11 charges Edom with having stood treacherously against her brother, Jacob, giving aid to the Philistines and Arabians and the Syrians and Chaldaens, when they carried away captive forces of Jacob and entered in to take over their land, and even inhabitants of Jerusalem; Esau was therefore party to the plundering of Jerusalem when the invading armies came up upon her, Nahum 3:10; Joel 3:3; See also Psalms 38:11; 2 Chronicles 21:16; 2 Chronicles 24:24; Psalms 22:18.

Verse 12 relates three sins of Edom: 1) First, he looked on his brother Jacob with pleasure, or vengeful delight, when the heathen (strangers) carried them away from their land into bondage, 2) Second, he rejoiced over, found delight when Judah was destroyed, and 3) Third, Edom spoke proudly, with arrogant pride in the day of distress, Psalms 22:17; Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 24:17-18; Ezekiel 35:13; 1 Samuel 2:3; Revelation 13:6.

Verse 13 explains the Lord’s three complaints against Edom, three evil things he should not have done, sinned in doing: 1) First, Edom should not have entered the gate, betrayed Jacob in the day of his calamity, showing no compassion, 2) Second, he should not have looked on their calamity with pleasure, no concern for their trouble and sufferings, and 3) Third, he should not have joined in plunder of their cities and properties when they had been taken captive, v. 11.

Verse 14 continues two more complaints against the treachery of the Edomites toward Judah: First, when the Jews sought to flee by narrow mountain passes into Egypt, they were way-laid and delivered up as fugitives to their pursuing Assyrian foes. Second, for this kidnapping, thug-acting conduct the Edomites sought covetous spoils for their murderous deeds against their brother, Jacob.

Verses 15-16

Edom’s Judgment In The Day Of The Lord, v. 15, 16

Verses 15, 16:

Verse 15 announces that the "Day of the Lord," or Jehovah, is at hand, upon all the heathen. That is, even heathen nations can not sin against God or their fellowman without an accounting in chastening judgment, Zephaniah 1:15-18; Isaiah 2; Isaiah 1-22; Revelation 19:11-21. God will surely manifest Himself against Edom in judgment for wrong, for He is a Righteous Punisher of ungodly peoples, Joel 3:14. As Edom had done, it is affirmed, it shall be done to him, Leviticus 24:17; Matthew 7:2; Judges 8:19; Ezra 7:10; Isaiah 3:9-11.

Verse 16 affirms that as the Edomites had drunk with idolatrous revilry upon the Lord’s Holy Mountain (upon Jerusalem) the seat of the Temple, and Judah who was His covenant people, so would the heathen Edomites drink of the Lord’s judgment cup, Psalms 60:3; Jeremiah 49:12; 1 Peter 4:17. To swallow down the drink of judgment, means to take the bitter dregs, leaving nothing in the cup, Psalms 75:8. To be "as though they had not been," means not a trace of Edom’s national existence shall be left, when his judgment is full, Job 10:19; Psalms 37:36; Ezekiel 26:21.

Verses 17-21

Edom, Yet To Be In The Kingdom, v. 17-21

Verses 17-21:

Verse 17 then pledges deliverance or liberation for Zion, the city of God. They shall escape from their captivity and oppressive judgment, after many years, both in the literal and spiritual sense, Joel 2:32; Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 59:20; Romans 11:26. Zion shall be sanctified again, no more a victim of captivity, when a remnant of Jacob shall "possess their possessions." Foreign invaders and strangers (heathen) shall no more pass through her gates and streets to rape and pillage, Isaiah 52:1; Joel 3:17.

Verse 18 declares that at that time the house of Jacob, Judah and Israel shall be a flame, forming one kingdom again, with their former breach healed, their feud and bitterness gone forever, Isaiah 11:12-13; Ezekiel 37:16-17; Ezekiel 37:19; Ezekiel 37:22; Jeremiah 3:18; Hosea 1:11. But Esau their proud, hostile, treacherous brother shall be as stubble, consumed by their captivity under the Nabateans, never to rise as a nation again, as the Lord had spoken, v. 7; Ezekiel 24:14; Daniel 11:41; Malachi 4:1.

Verse 19 prophecies that they of the south (the Negev desert area) shall possess the mount of Esau (the Petra area). The Jews of the southern Beersheba area, in the golden millennial era, shall control all Edom, Amos 9:12. And those regathered Jews of the Philistine plains, of the south and southwestern Palestine, along the seacoast, between the hills and the sea, shall occupy the plains of the Philistines, Zephaniah 2:7. The rightful family lineage owners of the Israelites shall once again possess and occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria. While Benjamin shall possess Gilead, the region east of Jordan, formerly occupied by Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh. They too shall possess the adjoining territories of former Moab and Ammon.

Verse 20 certifies that the Israelites of the northern kingdom, upon their final liberation and return (the ten tribes), shall possess the territory of the Canaanites, north-west Palestine and Phoenicia, Judges 3:3. It extends southward to Zarephath, near Zidon on the seacoast, called Serepta, Luke 4:26. It was the place from which came the "woman of Canaan," Matthew 15:21-22, near Tyre and Sidon, Joel 3:3-4; Amos 1:9. And those from Judah and Jerusalem, wherever scattered in captivity, shall return to possess the cities of the south, the southern cities of Judah.

Verse 21 describes that reign of peace era, when Israel’s saviors (the ancient order of just judges) shall dispense justice in judgment again from Jerusalem, even over all the mount of Edom, her once arrogant, treacherous brother’s land, when the whole kingdom shall be the Lord’s, with Him in her midst, Psalms 22:28; Isaiah 1:26; Ezekiel 4:5; Zechariah 12:8; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Zechariah 14:9; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 19:6.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Obadiah 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/obadiah-1.html. 1985.
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