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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Obadiah 1

Verse 1

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

Obadiah 1:1 Word Study on “Obadiah” His name means, “servant of Yahweh,” or “worshipper of Yahweh.”

Obadiah 1:1 “The vision of Obadiah” Comments - This is considered the title of the book, according to Matthew Henry.

Obadiah 1:1 Comments The Dates of Obadiah’s Ministry - Adam Clarke tells us that Obadiah prophesied soon after 587 B.C., between the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and the destruction of the Edomites by the same prince.

Comments The Manner in which Divine Oracles were Delivered unto the Prophets - God spoke through the Old Testament prophets in various ways, as the author of the epistle of Hebrews says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…” (Hebrews 1:1). The Lord spoke divine oracles ( מַשָּׂא ) through the Old Testament prophets in three general ways, as recorded in the book of Hosea, “I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.” (Hosea 12:10) ( NKJV) In other words, the prophets spoke to Israel through the words they received, they described divine visions to the people, and they acted out as divine drama an oracle from the Lord.

(1) The Word of the Lord Came to the Prophets - God gave the prophets divine pronouncements to deliver to the people, as with Hosea 1:1. The opening verses of a number of prophetic books say, “the word of the Lord came to the prophet…” Thus, these prophets received a divine utterance from the Lord.

(2) The Prophets Received Divine Visions - God gave the prophets divine visions ( חָזוֹן ), so they prophesied what they saw ( חזה ) (to see). Thus, these two Hebrew words are found in Isaiah 1:1, Obadiah 1:1, Nahum 1:1, and Habakkuk 1:1. Ezekiel saw visions ( מַרְאָה ) of God.

(3) God Told the Prophets to Deliver Visual Aids as Symbols of Divine Oracles - God asked the prophets to demonstrate divine oracles to the people through symbolic language. For example, Isaiah walked naked for three years as a symbol of Assyria’s dominion over Egypt and Ethiopia (Isaiah 20:1-6). Ezekiel demonstrated the siege of Jerusalem using clay tiles (Ezekiel 4:1-3), then he laid on his left side for many days, then on his right side, to demonstrate that God will require Israel to bear its iniquities.

Obadiah 1:3 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?

Obadiah 1:4 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.

Obadiah 1:3-4 Comments The Pride of Man’s Heart - Obadiah 1:3-4 is similar to the passage in Isaiah 14:12-15. Satan was also deceived with the pride in his heart.

Isaiah 14:12-15, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

Obadiah 1:11 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.

Obadiah 1:11 Comments The ancient practice of casting lots was not restricted to the Jewish culture under the Mosaic Law. The books Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Nahum provide us with references in the Old Testament Scriptures to the custom of casting of lots by someone other than the people of Israel, being practiced among the Babylonians (Obadiah 1:11), the Ninevites (Nahum 3:10), and among the sailors (Jonah 1:7), which Adam Clarke suggests to be Phoenicians based on Ezekiel 27:12. [12]

[12] Adam Clarke, The Book of the Prophet Jonah, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Jonah 1:3.

Joel 3:3, “And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.”

Obadiah 1:11, “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.”

Nahum 3:10, “Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.”

Jonah 1:7, “And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.”

Ezekiel 27:12, “Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs.”

The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus Christ cast lots at the foot of the Cross (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:24). The Roman statesman Cicero (106-43 B.C.) makes numerous references to the widespread practice of casting lots among the ancient cultures in his work de divination. [13] The Jewish historian Josephus (A.D. 37-100) mentions the practice of casting lots among the Roman soldiers who had encompassed the city of Jerusalem under Titus. [14] The Roman historian Suetonius (A.D. 70-130) mentions this ancient practice among Roman leaders by appointing men to tasks by casting lots, as well as casting lots as a form of divination. [15]

[13] For example, Cicero writes, “But what nation is there, or what state, which is not influenced by the omens derived from the entrails of victims, or by the predictions of those who interpret prodigies, or strange lights, or of augurs, or astrologers, or by those who expound lots (for these are about what come under the head of art); or, again, by the prophecies derived from dreams, or soothsayers (for these two are considered natural kinds of divination)?” ( de divination 1.6) Cicero also writes, “What, now, is a lot? Much the same as the game of mora, or dice, l and other games of chance, in which luck and fortune are all in all, and reason and skill avail nothing. These games are full of trick and deceit, invented for the object of gain, superstition, or error.” ( de divination 2.41) See Cicero, The Treatises of M. T. Cicero on the Nature of the Gods; on Divination; on Fate; on the Republic; on the Laws; and on Standing for the Consulship, trans. C. D. Yonge (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), 146-147, 235.

[14] Josephus writes, “They also cast lots among themselves who should be upon the watch in the nighttime, and who should go all night long round the spaces that were interposed between the garrisons.” ( Wars 5.12.2)

[15] For example, Suetonius writes, “When later, on his way to Illyricum, he [Tiberius] visited the oracle of Geryon near Patavium, and drew a lot which advised him to seek an answer to his inquiries by throwing golden dice into the fount of Aponus, it came to pass that the dice which he threw showed the highest possible number and even to-day those very dice may be seen under the water.” ( Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Tiberius) Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, trans. Joseph Gavorse (New York: Modern Library, 1931), 130-131.

Obadiah 1:17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

Obadiah 1:17 Comments - We see in Obadiah 1:17 a progression that reflects God’s plan of redemption for Israel; deliverance describes justification, holiness describes sanctification, and possession describes glorification.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Obadiah 1". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/obadiah-1.html. 2013.