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by Karl Keil and Franz Delitzsch
As to the person and circumstances of Obadiah, nothing certain is known, since the heading to his prophecy simply contains the name עבדיה , i.e., servant, worshipper of Jehovah ( Ὀβδιού al. Ἀβδιού , sc. ὅρασις , lxx), and does not even mention his father's name. The name Obadiah frequently occurs in its earlier form ‛Obadyâhū . This was the name of a pious governor of the palace under king Ahab (1 Kings 18:3.), of a prince of Judah under Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:7), of a grave Gadite under David (1 Chronicles 12:9), of a Benjamite (1 Chronicles 8:38), of an Issacharite (1 Chronicles 7:3), of a Zebulunite (1 Chronicles 27:19), of several Levites (1 Chronicles 9:16, 1 Chronicles 9:44; 2 Chronicles 34:12), and of different men after the captivity (1 Chronicles 3:21; Ezra 8:9; Nehemiah 10:6). The traditional accounts of our prophet in the rabbins and fathers, some of whom identify him with Ahab's pious commander of the castle, others with the third captain sent by Ahaziah against Elisha (2 Kings 1:13), whilst others again make him an Edomitish proselyte (see Carpzov, Introd. p. 332ff., and Delitzsch, de Habacuci vita atque aetate, pp. 60, 61), are quite worthless, and evidently false, and have merely originated in the desire to know something more about him than the simple name (see C. P. Caspari, Der Proph. Ob. pp. 2, 3).
The writing of Obadiah contains but one single prophecy concerning the relation in which Edom stood to the people of God. It commences with the proclamation of the destruction with which the Lord has determined to visit the Edomites, who rely upon the impregnability of their rocky seat (Obadiah 1:1-1 Samuel :); and then depicts, as the cause of the divine judgment which will thus suddenly burst upon the haughty people, the evil which it did to Jacob, the covenant nation, when Judah and Jerusalem had been taken by heathen nations, who not only plundered them, but shamefully desecrated the mountain of Zion (Obadiah 1:10-2 Chronicles :). For this the Edomites and all nations will receive retribution, even to their utter destruction in the approaching day of the Lord (Obadiah 1:15, Obadiah 1:16). But upon Mount Zion there will be delivered ones, and the mountain will be holy. The house of Jacob will take possession of the settlement of the Gentiles, and, in common with Israel, will destroy the Edomites, and extend its territory on all sides (Obadiah 1:17-Psalms :). That portion of the nation which has been scattered about in heathen lands will return to their enlarged fatherland (Obadiah 1:20). Upon Mount Zion will saviours arise to judge Edom, and the kingdom will then be the Lord's (Obadiah 1:21). This brief statement of the contents is sufficient to show that Obadiah's prophecy does not consist of a mere word of threatening directed against Edom, or treat of so special a theme as that his châzōn could be compared to Ahijah's n e bhū'âh , and Yehdi's (Iddo's) châzōth against Jeroboam I (2 Chronicles 9:29); but that Obadiah takes the general attitude of Edom towards the people of Jehovah as the groundwork of his prophecy, regards the judgment upon Edom as one feature in the universal judgment upon all nations (cf. Obadiah 1:15, Obadiah 1:16), proclaims in the destruction of the power of Edom the overthrow of the power of all nations hostile to God, and in the final elevation and re-establishment of Israel in the holy land foretels the completion of the sovereignty of Jehovah, i.e., of the kingdom of God, as dominion over all nations; so that we may say with Hengstenberg, that “Obadiah makes the judgment upon the Gentiles and the restoration of Israel the leading object of his prophetic painting.” Through this universal standpoint, from which Edom is taken as a representative of the ungodly power of the world, Obadiah rises far above the utterances of the earlier prophets contained in the historical books of the Old Testament, and stands on a level with the prophets, who composed prophetic writings of their own for posterity, as well as for their own age; so that, notwithstanding the small space occupied by his prophecy, it has very properly had a place assigned it in the prophetic literature. At the same time, we cannot agree with Hengstenberg, who gives the following interpretation to this view of the attitude of Edom towards the people of God, namely, that Obadiah simply adduces Edom as an example of what he has to say with regard to the heathen world, with its enmity against God, and as to the form which the relation between Israel and the heathen world would eventually assume, and therefore that his prophecy simply individualizes the thought of the universal dominion of the kingdom of God which would follow the deepest degradation of the people of God, the fullest and truest realization of which dominion is to be sought for in Christ, and that the germ of his prophecy is contained in Joel 3:19, where Edom is introduced as an individualized example and type of the heathen world with its hostility to God, which is to be judged by the Lord after the judgment upon Judah. For, apart from the fact that Obadiah does not presuppose Joel, but vice versa, as we shall presently see, this mode of idealizing our prophecy cannot be reconciled with its concrete character and expression, or raised into a truth by any analogies in prophetic literature. All the prophecies are occasioned by distinct concrete relations and circumstances belonging to the age from which they spring. And even those which are occupied with the remote and remotest future, like Isaiah for example, form no real exception to this rule. Joel would not have mentioned Edom as the representation of the heathen world with its hostility to God (Joel 3:19), and Obadiah would not have predicted the destruction of Edom, if the Edomites had not displayed their implacable hatred of the people of God on one particular occasion in the most conspicuous manner. It is only in this way that we can understand the contents of the whole of Obadiah's prophecy, more especially the relation in which the third section (Obadiah 1:17-Ecclesiastes :) stands to the first two, and explain them without force.
The time of the prophet is so much a matter of dispute, that some regard him as the oldest of the twelve minor prophets, whilst others place him in the time of the captivity, and Hitzig even assigns him to the year 312 b.c., when prophecy had long been extinct. (For the different views, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, 88). That Obadiah does not belong to the prophets of the captivity, or to those after the captivity, but to the earlier prophets, may be generally inferred from the position of his book in the collection of the twelve minor prophets; for although the collection is not strictly chronological, yet it is so arranged as a whole, that the writings of the captivity and the times after the captivity occupy the last places, whereas Obadiah stands among older prophets. More precise information may be obtained from the contents of his prophecy, more especially from the relation in which it stands on the one hand to the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:7-22) concerning Edom, and on the other hand to the prophecy of Joel. Obadiah so thoroughly coincides with these in a number of characteristic thoughts and expressions, that the one must have known the other. If we examine, first of all, the relation which exists between Obadiah and Jeremiah ( l.c.), there can be no doubt, (and since the thorough investigations of Caspari p. 5ff. it has been admitted by every one with the exception of Hitzig,) that Obadiah did not use Jeremiah, but that Jeremiah read and made use of Obadiah. This might indeed be conjectured from the peculiar characteristic of Jeremiah, namely, that he leans throughout upon the utterances of the earlier prophets, and reproduces their thoughts, figures, and words (see A. Kueper, Jeremias librorum ss. interpres atque vindex, 1837). Thus, for example, nearly all his prophecies against foreign nations are founded upon utterances of the earlier prophets: that against the Philistines (Jeremiah 47:1-Judges :) upon Isaiah's prophecy against that people (Isaiah 14:28-Jonah :); that against the Moabites (Jeremiah 48) upon that of Isaiah in Isaiah 15:1-1 Samuel :, Isaiah 16:1-2 Chronicles :; that against the Ammonites (Jeremiah 49:1-Joshua :) upon the prophecy of Amos against the same (Amos 1:13-Ezra :); that against Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23-Daniel :) upon that of Amos against this kingdom (Amos 1:3-Deuteronomy :); and lastly, that against Babylon (Jeremiah 50-51) upon the prophecy of Isaiah against Babylonian Isaiah 13:1-14:23. To this we may add, (1) that the prophecy of Jeremiah against Edom contains a number of expressions peculiar to himself and characteristic of his style, not a single one of which is to be found in Obadiah, whilst nothing is met with elsewhere in Jeremiah of that which is common to Obadiah and him (for the proofs of this, see Caspari, pp. 7, 8); and (2) that what is common to the two prophets not only forms an outwardly connected passage in Obadiah, whereas in Jeremiah it occurs in several unconnected passages of his prophecy (compare Obadiah 1:1-Ruth : with Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:9-2 Samuel :, Jeremiah 49:14-Nehemiah :), but, as the exposition will show, that in Obadiah it is more closely connected and apparently more original than in Jeremiah. But if it be a fact, as this unquestionably proves, that Obadiah's prophecy is more original, and therefore older, than that of Jeremiah, Obadiah cannot have prophesied after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, but must have prophesied before it, since Jeremiah's prophecy against Edom belongs to the fourth year of Jehoiakim (see Caspari, p. 14ff., and Graf's Jeremias, pp. 558-9, compared with p. 506).
The central section of Obadiah's prophecy (Obadiah 1:10-Nehemiah :) does not appear to harmonize with this result, inasmuch as the cause of the judgment with which the Edomites are threatened in Obadiah 1:1-1 Samuel : is said to be their rejoicing over Judah and Jerusalem at the time of their calamity, when foreigners entered into his gates, and cast the lot upon Jerusalem; and they are charged not only with looking upon the destruction of the brother nation with contemptuous pleasure, but with taking part themselves in the plundering of Judah, and murdering the fugitives, or giving them up to their enemies. These reproaches unquestionably presuppose a conquest of Jerusalem by foreign nations; but whether it is the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, is by no means so certain as many commentators imagine. It is true that Caspari observes (p. 18), that “every one who reads these verses would naturally suppose that they refer to that catastrophe, and to the hostilities shown by the Edomites to the Judaeans on that occasion, to which those prophets who lived after the destruction of Jerusalem, viz., Jeremiah (Lamentations 4:21-Song of Solomon :), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 35:1-Ezra :), and the author of Psalms 137:1-1 Samuel :, refer to some extent in almost the same words in which Obadiah speaks of them.” But of the passages cited, Lamentations 4:21-Song of Solomon : cannot be taken into account at all, since it simply contains the thought that the cup (of affliction) will also reach to the daughter of Edom; and that she will be intoxicated and stripped, and that Jehovah will punish her guilt. The other two are no doubt similar. The Psalmist in Psalms 137:1-1 Samuel : utters this prayer in Psalms 137:7: “Remember, Jehovah, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem, who say, Strip, strip (i.e., demolish) even to the foundation thereof;” and Ezekiel threatens Edom with everlasting desolation, because it has cherished everlasting enmity, and given up the sons of Israel to the sword, בּעת אידם בּעת עון קץ (Obadiah 1:5), because it has said, The two nations (Judah and Israel) shall be mine, we will take possession of them (Obadiah 1:10); because it has cherished hatred toward the sons of Israel, and spoken blasphemy against the mountains of Israel, and said they are laid waste, they are given to us for food (Obadiah 1:12); because it has taken pleasure in the desolation of the inheritance of the house of Israel (Obadiah 1:15). There is a most unambiguous allusion here to the desolating of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem, and to the hostilities which the Edomites displayed when this calamity fell upon Judah. On the other hand, Obadiah does not hint at the destruction of Jerusalem in a single word. He neither speaks of the everlasting enmity of Edom, nor of the fact that it wanted to get possession of Judah and Israel for itself, but simply of the hostile behaviour of the Edomites towards the brother nation Judah, when enemies forced their way into Jerusalem and plundered its treasures, and the sons of Judah perished. Consequently Obadiah has before his eyes simply the conquest and plundering of Jerusalem by foreign, i.e., heathen foes, but not the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. Even Caspari is obliged to admit, that there is no necessity to understand most (or more correctly “any”) of the separate expressions of Obadiah as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; but, in his opinion, this allusion is required by “what is said in Obadiah 1:11-2 Chronicles : when taken all together, inasmuch as the prophet there describes the day of Jerusalem by the strongest possible names, following one upon another, as the day of his people's rejection, the day of their distress (twice), and the day of their calamity (three times).” But even this we cannot regard as well established, since neither יום נכרו nor יום אידו designates the calamitous day as a day of rejection; and יום אבדם cannot possibly denote the utter destruction of all the Judaeans, but simply affirms that the sons of Judah perished en masse. The other epithets, נכר איד צרה , do not enable us to define more precisely the nature of the calamity which befel Judah at that time; and the crowding together of these expressions simply shows that the calamity was a very great one, and not that Jerusalem was destroyed and the kingdom of Judah dissolved.
But before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, it was several times taken and plundered by foes: viz., (1) by Shishak king of Egypt in the fifth year of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25-Ezekiel :; 2 Chronicles 12:2.); (2) by the Philistines and Arabians in the time of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:16-Esther :); (3) by the Israelitish king Joash in the reign of Amaziah (2 Kings 14:13-2 Chronicles :; 2 Chronicles 25:23-Jeremiah :); (4) by the Chaldeans in the time of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1.; 2 Chronicles 36:6-Judges :); and (5) by the Chaldeans again in the reign of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:10.; 2 Chronicles 36:10). Of these different conquests, the first can have no bearing upon the question before us, inasmuch as in the time of Rehoboam the Edomites were subject to the kingdom of Judah, and therefore could not have attempted to do what Obadiah says they did; nor can the two Babylonian conquests under Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin, inasmuch as, according to the relation in which Obadiah stood to Jeremiah, as shown above, he must have prophesied before they occurred; nor can the conquest in the reign of Amaziah, because Obadiah describes the enemies as zârı̄m and nokhrı̄m (strangers and foreigners), which clearly points to Gentile nations (compare Joel 3:17; Lamentations 5:2; Deuteronomy 17:15), and does not apply to the citizens of the kingdom of the ten tribes. Consequently there only remains the taking of Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians in the time of Jehoram; and the relation in which Obadiah stood to Joel clearly points to this.
There is so remarkable a coincidence between Obadiah 1:10-Job : of Obadiah and Joel 2:32 and ch. 3, in a very large number of words, expressions, and thoughts, considering the smallness of the two passages, and especially of that of Obadiah, that the dependence of one upon the other must be universally acknowledged.
(Note: Compare מחמס אחיך יעקב in Obadiah 1:10 with מחמס בּני יהוּדה in Joel 3:19; ועל ירוּשׁלם ידּוּ גורל in Obadiah 1:11 with ואל־עמּי ידּוּ גורל in Joel 3:3; כּי־קרוב יום־יהוה על כּל־הגּוים in Obadiah 1:15 and גּמלך ישׁוּב בּראשׁך ibid. with כּי קרוב יום יהו בּעמק החרוּץ (Joel 3:14, compare Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1, and Joel 3:12, לשׁפּט את־כּל־הגּוים ) and אשׁיב גּמלכם בּראשׁכם in Joel 3:4, Joel 3:7; בּהר ציּון תּהיה פליטה and והיה קדשׁ in Obadiah 1:17 with כּי בּהר־ציּון וּבירוּשׁלם תּהיה פליטה in Joel 2:32, and והיתה ירוּשׁלם קדשׁ in Joel 3:17; and lastly, כּי יהוה דּבּר in Obadiah 1:18 and Joel 3:8.)
But this dependence is not to be sought for on the side of Obadiah, as Caspari and others suppose; for the fact that Joel bears the stamp of originality in a greater degree than any other prophet, and the circumstance that we meet with references to him in not a few of the later prophets from Amos onwards, furnish no evidence that will bear a moment's test. “The originality of Joel,” as Delitzsch observes, “is no disproof of this dependence; for, on the one hand, the reproduction of certain elements from Obadiah's prophecy does not in the least invalidate his originality, inasmuch as the reproduction is itself original; and, on the other hand, not one of the prophets with whom we are acquainted (not even Isaiah) is so original as that the prophecies of his predecessors are not echoed by him, just as Obadiah, even if he were original in relation to Joel, had the prophecies of Balaam as his original, and imitates them in several passages (compare Numbers 24:21, Numbers 24:18-Psalms : with Obadiah 1:4, Obadiah 1:18-Psalms :).” But the fact that Joel rests upon Obadiah is proved in the most decisive manner by the expression in Joel 2:32, “as the Lord hath said,” where the foregoing thought, which is common both to Joel and Obadiah, viz., “in Mount Zion ... shall be ph e lētâh ” (see Obadiah 1:17), is described as a well-known word of the Lord. Now Joel can only have taken this from Obadiah, for it occurs nowhere else; and the idea suggested by Ewald, that it is derived from an older oracle that has been lost, would only be feasible if the later date of Obadiah, or his dependence upon Joel, could not be demonstrated by conclusive arguments, which is not the case.
A correct determination of the relation in which Obadiah stood to Joel, especially if we compare the prophecies of Amos, who also alludes to Joel (compare Joel 3:16 with Amos 1:2, and Joel 3:18 with Amos 9:13), leads with the greatest probability to the conclusion that Obadiah reproaches the Edomites with the hostility which they displayed when Judah and Jerusalem were plundered by the Philistines and Arabians in the time of Jehoram. In the reign of Jehoram the Edomites threw off the Judaean supremacy (compare 2 Kings 8:20-Song of Solomon :, and 2 Chronicles 21:8-2 Samuel :); and in connection with this rebellion, they appear to have planned a great massacre upon the Judaeans, who were in their land at the time (compare Joel 3:19 with Amos 1:11). Libnah also fell away from Judah at the same time (2 Kings 8:22; 2 Chronicles 21:10), and Philistines and Arabians penetrated victoriously into Judah. This expedition of the Philistines and (Petraean) Arabians against Jerusalem was not merely “a passing raid on the part of certain of the neighbouring nations who had been made tributary by Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:11), and had rebelled in the time of Jehoram,” as Caspari says; but these hordes continued their ravages in the most cruel manner in Judah and Jerusalem. According to 2 Chronicles 21:17, they burst into the land, forced their way into Jerusalem, plundered the royal palace, and carried away the children and wives of the king, so that only the youngest son, Jehoahaz or Ahaziah, was left behind. We also learn from Joel 3:5 that they took away gold, silver, and jewels from the temple; and from Joel 3:3, Joel 3:6, that they carried on the vilest trade with the men and women of Judah, and sold the captives to the Greeks, and that, as we see from Amos 1:6, Amos 1:9, through the medium of the Phoenicians and Edomites. This agrees perfectly with Obadiah 1:10-2 Chronicles :. For, according to this passage also, the Edomites themselves were not the enemies who conquered Jerusalem and plundered its treasures, but simply accomplices, who rejoiced in the doings of the enemy (Obadiah 1:11.), held carousals with them upon the holy mountain Zion (Obadiah 1:16), and sought, partly by rapine and partly by slaying or capturing the fugitive Judaeans (Obadiah 1:14), to get as much gain as possible out of Judah's misfortune. We must therefore regard this event, as Hofmann and Delitzsch have done, as the occasion of Obadiah's prophecy, and that all the more, because the historical allusions which it contains can thereby be satisfactorily explained; whereas the other attempts at solving the difficulties, when we look at the thing more closely, prove to be either altogether untenable, or such as will not apply throughout.
Thus, for example, Ewald and Graf (on Jeremiah 49:7.) have endeavoured to reconcile the fact that Jeremiah had read the first part of Obadiah as early as the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and had made use of it in his prophecy, with the opinion that Obadiah 1:10-Nehemiah : (Ob.) refer to the Chaldean conquest and destruction of Jerusalem, by the hypothesis that the first part of Obadiah, as we possess it, was founded upon an earlier prophecy, which was adopted by the later editor of our book, and incorporated in his writings, and which had also been made use of by Jeremiah. In support of this hypothesis, the circumstance has been adduced, that Jeremiah's references to Obadiah only extend to Obadiah 1:9, that the introductory words in Obadiah, “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah concerning Edom,” do not stand in a close connection with what follows immediately after and thus appear to have been added at a later period, and that the rare word tiphlatst e khâ (Jeremiah 49:16), which is not met with anywhere else in Jeremiah, is wanting in Obadiah. But the first phenomenon may be explained very simply, from the fact that the remaining portion of Obadiah (Obadiah 1:10-Ecclesiastes :) furnished nothing which Jeremiah could make use of for his object, and that we have an analogy in the relation between Jeremiah 48 and Isaiah's prophecy concerning Moab (Isaiah 15-16), where in just the same manner certain portions, viz., Isaiah 16:1-Deuteronomy :, have not been made use of at all. Again, the want of any closer logical connection between the introduction, “Thus hath the Lord said with regard to Edom,” and what follows, “We have heard a rumour from Jehovah,” arises from the circumstance that these introductory words do not apply exclusively to what follows immediately after, but belong to the whole of Obadiah's prophecy (see at Obadiah 1:1). Moreover, these words could not have been wanting even in the supposed earlier or original prophecy, inasmuch as what follows would be unintelligible without them, since the name Edom, to which the suffixes and addresses in Obadiah 1:1-Deuteronomy : apply, would be altogether wanting. and lastly, the word tiphlatst e khâ , which is otherwise strange to Jeremiah, proves nothing in favour of an earlier source, which both Obadiah and Jeremiah employed; nor can we see any sufficient reason for its omission when the earlier oracle was adopted. The other arguments adduced in support of this hypothesis are entirely without significance, if not absolutely erroneous. The fact that from Obadiah 1:10 onwards, where Jeremiah ceases to make use of our prophecy, the connection between Obadiah and Joel commences, of which there is not the slightest trace in Obadiah 1:1-1 Samuel :, has its natural foundation in the contents of the two parts of Obadiah. The announcement of the judgment upon the Edomites in Obadiah 1:1-1 Samuel : could not be made use of by Joel, because, with the exception of the casual allusion in Joel 3:19, he does not treat of the judgment upon Edom at all. The contents of Obadiah 1:1-1 Samuel : also show the reason why no allusion whatever is made in these verses to Israel and Jerusalem. The judgment predicted here was not to be executed by either Israel or Judah, but by the nations. Graf's assertion, that Obadiah 1:7 contains an allusion to totally different circumstances from those referred to in Obadiah 1:10., as the verses mentioned relate to altogether disproportionate things, is decidedly incorrect. So also is Ewald's opinion, that half our present Obadiah, viz., Obadiah 1:1-2 Samuel :, and Obadiah 1:17 and Obadiah 1:18, “clearly points to an earlier prophet in contents, language, and colour.” Caspari has already replied to this as follows: “We confess, on the contrary, that we can discover no difference in colour and language between Obadiah 1:1-1 Samuel : and Obadiah 1:10-Ecclesiastes :. The latter has its ἅπαξ λεγόμενα and its rare words just like the former (compare חגוי סלע Obadiah 1:3, נבעוּ Obadiah 1:6, מצפּניו Obadiah 1:6, מזור Obadiah 1:7, קטל Obadiah 1:9, in the first paragraph; and נכרו Obadiah 1:12, תּשׁלחנה Obadiah 1:13, פּרק Obadiah 1:14, לעוּ Obadiah 1:16, in the second); and precisely the same liveliness and boldness which distinguished the first part of the prophecy, prevail in the second also. Not a single later word, nor a single form of more recent date, is met with to indicate the later origin of the second part.” Moreover, it is impossible to discover any well-established analogy in the prophetical writings of the Old Testament to support this hypothesis.
The attempt made by Caspari, Hengstenberg, and others, to reconcile the opinion, that Obadiah alludes in Obadiah 1:11. to the Chaldean destruction of Jerusalem, with the fact that Jeremiah has made use of our book of Obadiah in his prophecy against Edom, which was uttered in the reign of Jehoiakim, by the assumption that Obadiah is not describing something that has already happened, but giving a prophetic picture of the future, is wrecked on the wording of the verses in question. When Obadiah threatens Edom with shame and destruction on account of its wickedness towards its brother Jacob (Obadiah 1:10), and then describes this wickedness in preterites - “On the day of thy standing opposite when strangers had come into his gates and cast the lot upon Jerusalem” (Obadiah 1:11); and, “As ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so will all the heathen drink,” etc. (Obadiah 1:16) - no one would understand these preterites as used prophetically, i.e., as referring to what was not to take place till a far distant future, except on the most conclusive grounds. Such grounds, however, some imagine that they can find in Obadiah 1:12-2 Chronicles :, where the prophet warns the Edomites not to rejoice over their brother nation's day of calamity, or take part in the destruction of Judah. Hengstenberg and Caspari follow Theodoret, Michaelis, and others, in the opinion that Obadiah is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem, and that Obadiah 1:11 can only be interpreted prophetically, and cannot be taken as referring to an ideal past. For, as Caspari adds (p. 29), “I might very well be able to warn a person against an act, even though he were just about to perform it, and I were perfectly certain that he would perform it notwithstanding, and my warning would be fruitless, and though I merely warned him, that he might not perform it without warning; but to warn a person against an act which he has already performed would be a most marvellous thing, even though the warning were only given in the spirit and with the deed standing out as a present thing.” No doubt it is perfectly true that “such a warning after the deed was done would be quite out of place,” if it had reference merely to one isolated act, a repetition of which was not to be expected. But if the act already performed was but one single outbreak of a prevailing disposition, and might be repeated on every fresh occasion, and possibly had already shown itself more than once, a warning against such an act could neither be regarded as out of place, nor as particularly striking, even after the thing had been done. The warnings in Obadiah 1:12-2 Chronicles :, therefore, do not compel us to interpret the preterites in Obadiah 1:11 and Obadiah 1:16 prophetically, as relating to some future deed. Moreover, “the repeated warnings against so wicked a deed were simply the drapery in which the prophet clothed the prediction of the certain coming of the day of Jehovah, which would put an end to the manifestation of such a disposition on the part of Edom” (Delitzsch). There is still less ground for the further remark of Caspari, that the allusions to Joel in Obadiah's description of the day of calamity (not “of the destruction”) of Jerusalem, unquestionably preclude the supposition that he was an eye-witness of that event, and require the hypothesis that he wrote either before or a long time afterwards. For these allusions are not of such a nature that Obadiah simply repeats and still further develops what Joel had already prophesied before him, but, on the contrary, of such a nature that Joel had Obadiah before his mind, and has expanded certain features of his prophecy still further in Joel 3:3-Joshua :. The description of the hostilities of the Edomites towards Israel, Obadiah could not possibly take from either Joel, or Amos 9:12, or the sayings of Balaam in Numbers 24:18-Psalms :, as Caspari supposes; because neither of these prophets has depicted them any more fully, but can only have drawn it from his own experience, and from what he himself had seen, so that his prophecy is thereby proved to be the original, as compared with that of Joel and Amos.
All this leads to the conclusion, that we must regard Obadiah as older than Joel, and fix upon the reign of Joram as the date of his ministry, but without thereby giving him “an isolated position;” for, according to the most correct chronological arrangement of their respective dates, Joel prophesied at the most twenty years after him, and Hosea and Amos commenced their labours only about seventy-five years later. The calamitous event which burst upon Judah and Jerusalem, and gave occasion for Obadiah's prophecy, took place in the latter part of Joram's eight years' reign. Consequently Obadiah cannot have uttered his prophecy, and committed it to writing, very long before Jehoram's death. At the same time, it cannot have been at a later period; because, on the one hand, it produces the unquestionable impression, that the hostilities practised by the Edomites were still kept in the most lively remembrance; and on the other hand, it contains no hint of that idolatrous worship to which the ruthless Athaliah endeavoured to give the pre-eminence in Judah, after the one year's reign of Ahaziah, who succeeded Joram. For the commentaries on Obadiah, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, §88.
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18