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Bible Commentaries
Obadiah 1

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary




Edom Will be HumbledThe Coming Judgment of EdomIntroduction Title
Obadiah 1:1-9Obadiah 1:1-4Obadiah 1:1-4Obadiah 1:1aObadiah 1:1a
(vv. Obadiah 1:1) The Lord Will Punish EdomPrologue
Obadiah 1:1-9Obadiah 1:1b
(vv. Obadiah 1:1-4)Sentence Pronounced on Edom
Obadiah 1:1-4
(vv. Obadiah 1:1-2)
(vv. Obadiah 1:2-4)
(vv. Obadiah 1:3-4)
The Pillaging and Betrayal of Edom The Annihilation of Edom
Obadiah 1:5-9(vv. Obadiah 1:5)Obadiah 1:5-14(vv. Obadiah 1:5-7)Obadiah 1:5-9(vv. Obadiah 1:5)
(vv. Obadiah 1:6-7) (vv. Obadiah 1:6-7)
(vv. Obadiah 1:8-9) (vv. Obadiah 1:8-9)(vv. Obadiah 1:8)
(vv. Obadiah 1:9)
Edom Mistreated His Brother Reasons for Edom's PunishmentThe Guilt of Edom
Obadiah 1:10-14Obadiah 1:10-14 Obadiah 1:10-14Obadiah 1:10-15
(vv. Obadiah 1:10)
(vv. Obadiah 1:11)
(vv. Obadiah 1:12)
(vv. Obadiah 1:13)
The Day of the Lord and the Future The Day of the Lord's JudgmentGod Will Judge the Nations(vv. Obadiah 1:14-15)
Obadiah 1:15-21Obadiah 1:15-16Obadiah 1:15-18Obadiah 1:15-16The Day of Yahweh, Israel Revenged on Edom
Obadiah 1:16-18
Israel's Final Triumph The Victory of Israel(vv. Obadiah 1:16)
Obadiah 1:17-18 Obadiah 1:17-21(vv. Obadiah 1:17-18)(vv. Obadiah 1:17)
(vv. Obadiah 1:18)
The Division of the Land, and the Lord's Kingship The New Israel
Obadiah 1:19-21Obadiah 1:19-21(vv. Obadiah 1:19-21)Obadiah 1:19-21

* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions. In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspiredreaders have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives. Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Hebrew Grammatical Tems, Textual Criticism, and Glossary.

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Obadiah 1:1-9 1The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the LORD God concerning Edom We have heard a report from the LORD, And an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, “Arise and let us go against her for battle 2Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You are greatly despised. 3The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to earth?' 4Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD. 5If thieves came to you, If robbers by night O how you will be ruined! Would they not steal only until they had enough? If grape gatherers came to you, Would they not leave some gleanings? 6O how Esau will be ransacked, And his hidden treasures searched out! 7All the men allied with you Will send you forth to the border, And the men at peace with you Will deceive you and overpower you. They who eat your bread Will set an ambush for you. (There is no understanding in him.) 8Will I not on that day,” declares the LORD, “Destroy wise men from Edom And understanding from the mountain of Esau? 9Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, So that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.

Obadiah 1:1

NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB“vision” TEV“prophecy”

This refers to a divinely communicated message (sometimes in a trance state of sleep). These are not the thoughts of Obadiah but of God. This term is often associated with (1) “burden” or (2) “the word of YHWH came.”

The word “vision” (BDB 302) is related to the VERB “to see” (BDB 302). It can refer to

1. that which is seen (cf. Ezekiel 12:27; Ezekiel 13:16; Daniel 8:2, Daniel 8:15; Daniel 9:21)

2. that which is heard (cf. 1 Samuel 3:1; 1 Chronicles 17:15; Hosea 12:10; Habakkuk 2:1)

3. that which is written (cf. 2 Chronicles 32:32, Nahum 1:1; Habakkuk 2:2).

“Obadiah” This is “the servant of” or “the worshiper of” YHWH (BDB 715). This can either be a title or a name. It is a very common name in the OT (cf. Introduction I. C.)

“the LORD God” This is literally “Adonai YHWH.” These two words are usually translated “Lord God” (i.e., Genesis 15:2, Genesis 15:8; Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 3:24; Deuteronomy 9:26; Joshua 7:7; Judges 6:22; Judges 16:28). YHWH is used alone in the next line.

See Special Topic following.


“Edom” This term means “red.” There seems to be a play on (1) Jacob's red soup (cf. Genesis 25:30), for which Esau sold his birthright or (2) the reddish rocks of Edom's high plateau. This same play on the word “red” (BDB 10) can be seen in v. Obadiah 1:13, where the term “their calamity” (BDB 15) is used (cf. Ezekiel 35:5). The kingdom of Edom is made up of the descendants of Esau whose name means (1) “red” (BDB 10, cf. Genesis 25:25) and (2) “hairy” (BDB 972, cf. Genesis 25:25).

“We have heard” Many suppose that the prophet was from Judah because of this phrase. However, the Septuagint has “I heard” (cf. Jeremiah 49:14-16). Obadiah 1:1-4 is obviously related to Jeremiah 49:14-16. It is assumed in this commentary that Obadiah is using Jeremiah (see Introduction, V. A).

“envoy” This (BDB 851) is not the usual term “for messenger” (BDB 521). This is found in Isaiah 18:2 and is the exact term found in Jeremiah 49:14. The “envoy” is an official spokesman for YHWH (cf. TEV, NJB). YHWH is gathering the surrounding nations to attack Edom. In a sense this is “eye-for-eye” justice!

“Arise and let us go against her for battle” The VERB “arise” (BDB 877, KB 1086) is a Qal IMPERATIVE. It is repeated in the phrase, “let us go,” which is a Qal COHORTATIVE of the same VERB. The IMPERATIVE is found in Jeremiah 49:14, but not the COHORTATIVE .

The prophecy deals with God's judgment of Edom because of her prideful, vengeful attack on her kinsmen, Judah. It seems that she is betrayed by her political alliances, as was Judah.

Obadiah 1:2 “I will make you small among the nations” “Small” (BDB 892) is from Jeremiah 49:15. It has the connotation of insignificance and weakness, the opposite of their self-estimation! The opposite connotation is found in Isaiah 60:22 (from “small” to thousands).

The VERB (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal PERFECT) is exactly what is found in Jeremiah 49:15. It is a PROPHETIC PERFECT (there are several in these opening verses). A future event (i.e., Edom's judgment) is described as if it had already occurred because the word of YHWH is sure!

“You are greatly despised” The term “despised” (BDB 102, KB 117, Qal PASSIVE PARTICIPLE) also appears in Jeremiah 49:15. Obadiah adds the modifier “exceedingly” (BDB 547). This is a very common idiomatic way to intensify an idea. It is used in this way 298 times in the OT.

Edom's judgment seems to be related to three areas: (1) her pride, Obadiah 1:3, Obadiah 1:4; (2) her violence against her brother, Obadiah 1:10-14; and (3) her despising of YHWH, Obadiah 1:16.

Obadiah 1:3 “The arrogance of your heart” This same root (BDB 267 and 268) is used in the Genesis account to relate to Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a boiling bowl of soup (i.e., Genesis 25:29). This exact CONSTRUCT (BDB 268 and 524) is taken from Jeremiah 49:16.

“deceived you” This VERB, “deceive” or “beguile” (BDB 674, KB 728, Hiphil PERFECT, cf. Obadiah 1:7) is also found in Jeremiah 49:16. It is the same VERBAL form found in Genesis 3:13! Eve was seduced, but Edom seduced herself (shows the power and pervasiveness of Eve's rebellion).

“You who live in the clefts of the rock” The word “rock” (BDB 700 I) is the term sela, which seems to relate metaphorically to a capital of Edom, Petra (BDB 701 II, cf. 2 Kings 14:7). Edom was proud because of the geographical and topological security of her cities (i.e., located on a high plateau). Bozrah was the earlier capital of Edom (cf. Jeremiah 49:22).

“Who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to earth'“ Arrogance is often related to God's judgment (cf. Isaiah 14:0 and Ezekiel 28:0). Notice that in the Jeremiah 49:16 parallel, it is YHWH who brings Edom to destruction! The same VERB (BDB 432, KB 434, Hiphil IMPERFECT) is used in Amos 9:2.

Obadiah 1:4 “Though you set your nest among the stars” The first two lines of Obadiah 1:4 are in a synonymous parallel relationship. Edom was located on an easily defended high plateau. She thought no one could effectively attack her.

This line of poetry is a good example of hyperbole. Neither eagles nor men build nests/ homes among the stars. This is one of four parallel lines of poetry about Edom's false security based on her location (i.e., Obadiah 1:3, lines 2,3; Obadiah 1:4, lines 1,2).

Obadiah 1:5 “thieves. . .robbers. . .grape gatherers” These are used as metaphors of complete destruction and total loss (cf. Jeremiah 49:9). There is no compassion!

Notice the violence described in Obadiah 1:5:

1. thieves came, i.e., “attacked,” BDB 97, KB 112, Qal PERFECT (twice)

2. robbers, i.e., “deal violently with,” BDB 994, KB 1418, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE

3. you will be ruined, i.e., “cut off completely,” BDB 198, KB 225, Niphal PERFECT

4. steal, i.e., “steal everything,” BDB 170, KB 198, Qal IMPERFECT

5. grape gatherers, i.e., “cut off completely,” BDB 130, KB 148, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE (i.e., Edom known for its vineyard)

6. would they not leave. . .i.e., “they would leave nothing,” BDB 983, KB 1375, Hiphil IMPERFECT

Obadiah 1:6 “ransacked” Although this VERB (BDB 344, KB 341, Niphal PERFECT) does not occur in Jeremiah 49:0, the concept surely does in Jeremiah 49:10!

There are two VERBS in this verse that basically mean “searched out”:

1. “ransacked,” (above)

2. “searched out,” BDB 126, KB 141, Niphal PERFECT

The cities of Edom will be pillaged and destroyed!

“his hidden treasures” The term (BDB 861) occurs only here in the OT. Edom was a commercial center because of its copper mines, its rich soil, and its geographical location on a major trade route. This phrase may refer to its hidden, commercial storehouses (i.e., Diodorus Siculus).

Obadiah 1:7 “All the men allied with you” This verse seems to refer to the betrayal by political alliances who were supposedly friends. This is exactly what happened to Judah, at which Edom rejoiced. Now, this same betrayal turns to them (cf. Matthew 7:2, Galatians 6:7).

“ambush” This term (KB 565) occurs only here in the OT. There are two possible roots:

1. KB 565 I, sore, ulcer, boil, cf. Jeremiah 30:15

2. KB 565 II, ambush, trap, snare

3. BDB 561, to spread out (i.e., like a net)

This is a good example of how context must be the determiner of meaning. It is possible there is a manuscript problem, but often it is a lack of lexical information that makes the translation of ancient Hebrew difficult, especially on words:

1. used only once

2. same tri-lateral root has various meanings

This is why for ancient Hebrew the cognate languages of the ancient Near East and the ancient versions provide a guide on the meaning of rare words.

NASB“(There is no understanding in him)” NKJV“No one is aware of it” NRSV“there is no understanding of it” TEV“'where is all the cleverness he had'“ NJB“'He has quite lost his wits'“

Apparently Edom was totally surprised by these events.

Obadiah 1:8 “on that day” There is a play on the phrase “that day” throughout the remainder of the prophecy. It deals with the day of temporal judgment as an example of a coming day of eschatological judgment, which will surely come against all those who are against God and His people. See Special Topic: That Day.

“I will destroy” YHWH Himself (cf. Deuteronomy 8:20) will bring total destruction on Edom. The VERB (BDB 1, KB 2, Hiphil PERFECT) is also found in Jeremiah 46:8.

“wise men from Edom” Eliphaz, Job's friend, was from Teman, which was a major city of Edom (cf. Job 2:11). Apparently Edom was known for her traditional wisdom (Job was probably an Edomite). It is possible that Job himself was from this area, yet God removes their wisdom (cf. Obadiah 1:7, line 7; Jeremiah 49:7).

“the mountain of Esau” The Edomites originally displaced the Horites and the area became known as Mount Seir. In this prophecy the mountains (i.e., high plateau) of Esau are played off against the mountains of Zion.

Obadiah 1:9 “Teman” The word is literally “what is on the right hand,” i.e., the south (BDB 412 I). This city got its name from the grandson of Esau (BDB 412 II, cf. Genesis 36:11, Genesis 36:15, Genesis 36:42). In Obadiah's day it is both a city (cf. Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:20) and a name for a region in Edom (cf. Amos 1:12).

“by slaughter” This NOUN (BDB 881) appears only here in the OT. The Septuagint moves it to the beginning of Obadiah 1:10.

Verses 10-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Obadiah 1:10-14 10”Because of violence to your brother Jacob, You will be covered with shame, And you will be cut off forever. 11On the day that you stood aloof, On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, And foreigners entered his gate And cast lots for Jerusalem You too were as one of them. 12Do not gloat over your brother's day, The day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah In the day of their destruction; Yes, do not boast In the day of their distress. 13Do not enter the gate of My people In the day of their disaster. Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity In the day of their disaster. And do not loot their wealth In the day of their disaster. 14Do not stand at the fork of the road To cut down their fugitives; And do not imprison their survivors In the day of their distress.”

Obadiah 1:10 “Because of violence to your brother Jacob” Israel was commanded to be kind to Edom because they were relatives (cf. Deuteronomy 23:7). However, Edom violated this traditional kinship tie (for when see Introduction V.B).

“You will be covered with shame” This term (BDB 102) denotes the violation of expected group behavior. Edom and Israel were relatives. This demanded certain actions.

In the section of Jeremiah which condemns the surrounding actions it is used of

1. Israel's relatives

a. Moab, Jeremiah 48:1 (twice), 13(twice), Jeremiah 48:20, Jeremiah 48:39

b. Edom, in Obadiah 1:10

c. Ammon, not used in Jeremiah 48:1-6

2. Israel's enemies

a. Egypt, Jeremiah 46:24

b. Syria, Jeremiah 49:23

c. Babylon, Jeremiah 50:2; Jeremiah 50:2 (twice), Jeremiah 50:12; Jeremiah 50:12; Jeremiah 51:17, Jeremiah 51:47, Jeremiah 51:51

The term had serious emotional connotations in Near Eastern countries where loss of “face” was emotionally devastating!

“You will be cut off forever” This VERB (BDB 503, KB 500, Niphal PERFECT) means to be totally destroyed, completely cut off (i.e., Psalms 37:9, Psalms 37:22, Psalms 37:28, Psalms 37:34, Psalms 37:38; Proverbs 2:22).

For the theories on when and how this prophecy was fulfilled see Introduction VI. C.

Obadiah 1:11 “On that day” See note at Obadiah 1:8.

NASB, NRSV“carried off his wealth” NKJV“carried captive his forces” TEV“carried off Jerusalem's wealth” NJB“carried off his riches” JPSOA“carried off his goods”

The VERBAL (BDB 985, KB 1382, Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT) means “to take captive,” but what did they take? The OBJECT of the INFINITIVE (BDB 298) has several meanings:

1. strength

2. ability, efficiency

3. wealth (NASB, NRSV, TEV, NJB, REB)

4. force, army (LXX, PESHITTA, NKJV)

Number 3 fits best in Obadiah 1:13, where the same term is repeated, so it probably means the same in Obadiah 1:11.

“And foreigners entered his gate And cast lots for Jerusalem You too were as one of them” This seems to imply that Edom aligned themselves with an invading army and divided the booty of Judah (cf. Joel 3:3; Nehemiah 3:10).

The phrase “casting lots” (BDB 391, KB 388, Qal PERFECT, cf. Joel 3:3 and Nahum 3:10) was an ancient way of (1) dividing land and/or spoils or (2) determining divinely led choices.

Obadiah 1:12-14 There is a series of negated JUSSIVE forms:

1. “do not gloat,” Obadiah 1:12 (lit. “see,” cf. NKJV), BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal JUSSIVE (negated)

2. “do not rejoice,” Obadiah 1:12, BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense (negated)

3. “ do not boast,” Obadiah 1:12, BDB 152, KB 178, Hiphil JUSSIVE (negated)

4. “do not enter,” Obadiah 1:13, BDB 97, KB 112, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense (negated)

5. “do not gloat,” Obadiah 1:13, same as #1

6. “do not loot,” Obadiah 1:13, BDB 1018, KB 1511, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense (negated)

7. “do not stand,” Obadiah 1:14, BDB 763, KB 840, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense (negated)

8. “do not imprison,”Obadiah 1:14; Obadiah 1:14 (lit. “delivered up,” cf. NKJV), BDB 688, KB 742, Hiphil JUSSIVE (negated)

Obadiah 1:12 “Do not rejoice. . .do not gloat. . .do not boast” Apparently Edom rejoiced at Judah's calamity (cf. Psalms 137:7; Lamentations 2:15-17; Lamentations 4:12; Ezekiel 36:2-6; I Esdras 4:45, 50). What they did to Judah, YHWH will allow/send others to do to them! We reap what we sow! See note at Obadiah 1:15.

Obadiah 1:13 “their calamity” This (BDB 15) is a play on the Hebrew word for “red” (BDB 10, cf. Ezekiel 35:5). Bloodshed is coming!

Obadiah 1:14 The word translated “fork in the road” (BDB 830, KB 974) has two distinct usages:

Obadiah 1:1. Obadiah 1:14, “crossroads,” “fork in the road”

Obadiah 1:2. Nahum 3:1, “plunder”

The VERB's (KB 973) basic meaning is to “separate” or “divide” from the root's usage in Akkadian and Arabic. The Targums and Peshitta have “crossroads.” See note on word origins at Obadiah 1:7.

This refers to Edom's blockades or ambushes at the mountain passes which led to the desert to the south which the Judeans tried to use while fleeing from the invading enemy. No one escaped (cf. Lamentations 2:22)! Some scholars see this as referring specifically to 2 Kings 25:3-7 (i.e., the flight of King Zedekiah from the army of Nebuchadnezzar II).

Verses 15-21

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Obadiah 1:15-21 15”For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head. 16Because just as you drank on My holy mountain, All the nations will drink continually. They will drink and swallow And become as if they had never existed. 17But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, And it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions. 18Then the house of Jacob will be a fire And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau will be as stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, So that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,” For the LORD has spoken. 19Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, And those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain; Also, possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, And Benjamin will possess Gilead. 20And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel, Who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, And the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad Will possess the cities of the Negev. 21The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion To judge the mountain of Esau, And the kingdom will be the LORD's.

Obadiah 1:15 “For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations” Edom is used as a type of all nations who are against God's people. This is a moral universe and God will set all things straight one day (i.e., eschatological judgment)!!!

For “the day of the Lord,” see note at Obadiah 1:8. It is a recurrent theme, especially in Joel (cf. Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1, Joel 2:11, Joel 2:31) and Amos (cf. Amos 5:18, Amos 5:20).

“As you have done, it will be done to you” This is a spiritual principle. God is ethical-moral and so is His creation. Humans break themselves on God's standards. We reap what we sow. This is true for believers (but does not affect salvation) and unbelievers (cf. Job 34:11; Psalms 28:4; Psalms 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 32:19; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 2:6; Romans 14:12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 6:7-10; 2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 2:23; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 22:12).

Obadiah 1:16 “Because just as you drank on My holy mountain” The question is how many groups are being addressed in this verse:

1. Edom (Obadiah 1:15b), the invading nations (MASCULINE PLURAL, cf. Obadiah 1:15a)

2. Israel (line 1)

Edom (line 3)

All invading nations (lines 2,3)

If #1 is right, then line 1 must refer to Edom getting drunk in Jerusalem after the victory of the invading foreign army.

In context #2 fits best. Edom was part of a multi-national invading army (i.e., the Babylonian army). This reflects Psalms 2:0 and Zechariah 12:2-3. YHWH will one day judge all nations and all but His people will be destroyed (i.e., Isaiah 51:22-23; Matthew 5:5).

“All the nations will drink continually” The terms “drink” (BDB 1059, KB 1667, repeated three times) and “cup” (used in other places, i.e., Jeremiah 49:12; Jeremiah 44:26) refer to God's judgment (cf. Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:23; Jeremiah 25:15, Jeremiah 25:16, Jeremiah 25:27, Jeremiah 25:18; Obadiah 1:3 Matthew 20:22-23; Matthew 26:39, Matthew 26:42; John 18:11; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15).

“become” The VERB “to be” (BDB 224, KB 243) is repeated twice in Obadiah 1:16 and twice more in Obadiah 1:17. It is a role reversal emphasis. Edom was, but will cease to exist. Israel, though on the verge of non-existence, will blossom again!

Obadiah 1:17 “Mount Zion” Mount Zion was the site of the ancient Jebusite citadel (cf. 2 Samuel 5:7; 1 Chronicles 11:5). The temple was located on Mount Moriah (cf. Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:8, Genesis 22:14; 1 Chronicles 21:18-27; 2 Chronicles 3:1). However, the term “Mount Zion” came to be the designation for the entire city of Jerusalem (especially in Psalms and the Prophets), see ABD, vol. 6, pp. 1096-1097). See Special Topic: Moriah, Salem, Jebus, Zion, Jerusalem.

“holy” See Special Topic below.


“possess their possessions” Many see this as referring to a future day of abundance and restoration (cf. Isaiah 14:1-2; Amos 9:11-12, Amos 9:13-15). There is a possible alternate translation of “and the house of Jacob shall take for an inheritance those that took them for an inheritance” (cf. LXX, NRSV).

Obadiah 1:18 “the house of Jacob. . .the house of Joseph” This apparently refers to the unification of the tribes of Israel. The divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah (i.e., 922 B.C.) have become one again (cf. Obadiah 1:20)!

“the house of Esau will be as stubble” Fire is often a symbol of judgment (cf. Exodus 15:0; Exodus 7:0; Matthew 3:12; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).


“there will be no survivor of the house of Esau” See Jeremiah 11:23; Amos 1:8; and Malachi 1:2-5.

Obadiah 1:19-20 This verse describes how the defeated Israelites “will possess its inheritance” (Obadiah 1:17). The remnant will spread out and possess the land given to them by God (i.e. Deuteronomy).

This possession of the land by those to whom it was promised becomes a universal fulfilment in Obadiah 1:21. All the earth belongs to YHWH and one day He will be King over it all!

Obadiah 1:19 “the Negev” This (BDB 616) means “the dry land” and thereby “south country,” referring to the arid land south of Beersheba (cf. Joshua 15:21-32) extending into the area south and west of the Dead Sea. See Blaiklock and Harrison, The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, pp. 335-336. It is first mentioned in Genesis 12:9; Genesis 13:1, Genesis 13:3; Genesis 20:1; Genesis 24:62. In Obadiah 1:4 and 28:14 it is best translated “south” (cf. Exodus 26:18; Exodus 27:9; Exodus 36:23; Exodus 38:9; Exodus 40:24).

“shephelah” This (BDB 1050) means “lowlands” and refers, in this context, to the western foothills of the Judean plateau (cf. Joshua 15:33-34). The area is about ten miles wide and fifty miles long (ABD, vol. 5, p. 1204).

“the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria” This refers to the land area of the northern Ten Tribes.

Obadiah 1:20 “Zarephath” This refers to a city of the coastal plain north of Israel in Phoenicia (cf. 1 Kings 17:9-10). See Blaiklock and Harrison, The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, p. 483.

“Sephared” This (BDB 709) seems to be a metaphor for the farthest place of exile. There has been much discussion over its exact locale

1. the capital of Lydia because of the use of the term in Persian inscriptions (Blaiklock and Harrison, The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, p. 399)

2. the islands off of Libya

3. southwest Media because of the inscriptions of the Assyrian kings, Sargon and Esarhaddon

4. Spain (this is the interpretation of the Targums, the Rabbis and the Peshitta)

5. the Bosporus, which is the interpretation of the Vulgate

6. Sparta (the interpretation of Keil and Delitzsch based on I Maccabees, chapter 12 and 14). Obviously no one knows!

Obadiah 1:21 “the deliverers” The Septuagint has “those who have been saved” (cf. Isaiah 45:22). It refers to those set free from exile (cf. Isaiah 52:10). This term (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil PARTICIPLE) may refer to military leaders (cf. Nehemiah 9:27).

“the kingdom will be the LORD's” This refers to God's sovereignty over all history (cf. Psalms 22:28; Psalms 47:7-9; Psalms 67:4; Zechariah 14:9) and to the coming and reign of God's Messiah (cf. Ezekiel 34:23-24; Micah 5:2-5a). Even the NT denotes that the Messiah will eventually turn the Kingdom over to the Father (i.e., 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). See , see Special Topic: The Kingdom of God.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the central theme of the book of Obadiah?

2. Why was Edom judged so severely?

3. Why is Edom used as a symbol for all the nations?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Obadiah 1". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/obadiah-1.html. 2021.
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