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Bible Commentaries

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

Chapter 1

Book Overview - Obadiah

by Gary H. Everett


Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett


January 2013Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed, Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c 1925, morphology c 1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c 1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong"s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c 1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author's daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme - How to Serve the Lord with All Our Mind

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5


Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

Introductory Material- The introduction to the book of Obadiah will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. 1] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God's message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

1] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel's well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalm: (1) "a common setting in life," (2) "thoughts and mood," (3) "literary forms." In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses "Form/Structure/Setting" preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).


"We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible."

(J. Hampton Keathley) 2]

2] J. Hampton Keathley, III, "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah," ( [on-line]; accessed 23May 2012; available from; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the book of Obadiah will provide a discussion on its title, historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the Jewish tradition that Obadiah was the author of the book of Obadiah , with him and others recording his prophecies during his public ministry.

I. The Title

The Hebrew Bible entitles this book ( עבדיה) " Obadiah ," which can be found in the standard work Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. 3] The Latin Vulgate calls it "Prophetia Abdiæ" (Prophecy of Obadiah). 4]

3] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, eds. A. Alt, O. Eifelt, P. Kahle, and R. Kittle (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, c 1967-77).

4] Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatam Clementinam, ed. electronica (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2005), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

II. Historical Background

III. Authorship

A. Internal Evidence- There are some thirteen men who bear the name "Obadiah" in the Old Testament. The Scriptures themselves give no internal evidence of which one of these people was the author of this shortest book in the Old Testament. However, John Gill says ancient Jewish scholars attribute this Obadiah to the one mentioned in 1Kings 18, who hid the prophets of the Lord in caves. 5] This person feared the Lord and hid one hundred prophets of the Lord from the hands of King Ahab and Jezebeel, his wife.

5] John Gill, Obadiah , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Introduction to Obadiah.

1 Kings 18:3-4, "And Ahab called Obadiah , which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: For it was Song of Solomon , when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)"

He would have prophesied around 870 B.C. There is no evidence of this being the case, other than Jewish tradition. The ancient Jews also by tradition taught that his widow was the woman whom Elisha multiplied the cruse of oil in 2Kings 4. 6]

6] John Gill, Obadiah , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Introduction to Obadiah.

2 Kings 4:1, "Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen."

Some modern scholars make him a contemporary of Hosea , Joel and Amos (760 to 800 B.C.), while others place him with Jeremiah and Ezekiel (590 B.C), whose prophecies agreed with those of Obadiah concerning the destruction of Edom (note Jeremiah 49:1-39 and Ezekiel 25:1-17).

Jeremiah 49:7, "Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?"

Ezekiel 25:12, "Thus saith the Lord GOD Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them;"

Using this date, Obadiah would have prophesied after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (586 B.C), with whom the Edomites took great delight ( Psalm 137:7).

Psalm 137:7, "Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof."

B. External Evidence- If we look outside of biblical literature for clues to authorship and into other ancient Jewish literature from which much Jewish tradition is found, the Babylonian Talmud says that the men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel , the Twelve Prophets, Daniel , and the Book of Esther.

"And who wrote all the books? Moses wrote his book and a portion of Bil'am , xxii.], and Job. Jehoshua wrote his book and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch beginning: "And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died." Samuel wrote his book, Judges , and Ruth. David wrote Psalm , with the assistance of ten elders, viz.: Adam the First, Malachi Zedek, Abraham, Moses, Hyman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korach. Jeremiah wrote his book, Kings, and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah ,, Proverbs ,, Song of Solomon , and Ecclesiastes. The men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel , the Twelve Prophets, Daniel , and the Book of Esther. Ezra wrote his book, and Chronicles the order of all generations down to himself. [This may be a support to Rabh's theory, as to which, R. Jehudah said in his name, that Ezra had not ascended from Babylon to Palestine until he wrote his genealogy.] And who finished Ezra's book? Nehemiah ben Chachalyah." (Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra (Last Gate), 1.Mishna 5) 7]

7] Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45.

IV. Date

Dating the prophecy of Obadiah can be attempted by looking at the historical information contained in the book. There are numerous incidences found in Scripture that would occasion the Edomites to mock Israel. Thomas Constable gives a thorough list of the Scriptures that record defeats and sackings of the city of Jerusalem. 8]

8] Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Obadiah (Garland, Texas: Sonic Light, 2000) [on-line]; accessed 28 December 2008; available from; Internet, 2.

Shishak, king of Egypt, came up and spoiled Jerusalem during the reign of Rehoboam, king of Judah (930 to 913 B.C.):

1 Kings 14:25-26, "And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king"s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made." See also 2 Chronicles 12:2-5.

In the days of Joram, king of Judah (853to 841 B.C.), a revolt took place with the Edomites.

2 Kings 8:20-22, "In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. So Joram went over to Zair, and all the chariots with him: and he rose by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him about, and the captains of the chariots: and the people fled into their tents. Yet Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time." See also 2 Chronicles 21:8-10.

Also, in the days of Joram, king of Judah (853to 841 B.C.), the Philistines and Arabians besieged Jerusalem:

2 Chronicles 21:16-17, "Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians: And they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king"s house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons."

During the reign of Amaziah, king of Judah (796 to 767 B.C.), Joash, king of Israel defeated Judah in battle:

2 Chronicles 25:21-22, "So Joash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah. And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent."

Also, during the reign of Amaziah, king of Judah (796 to 767 B.C.), Israel tore down a wall of Jerusalem.

2 Kings 14:13-14, "And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits. And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king"s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria." See also 2 Chronicles 25:23-24.

During the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah (732to 715 B.C.), the Edomites smote Judah and took Jewish captives with them.

2 Chronicles 28:16-18, "At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him. For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives. The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Bethshemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof: and they dwelt there."

During the reigns of Jehoiakim (609 to 598 B.C.), Jehoiachin (598 to 597 B.C.), and Zedekiah (597 to 586 B.C.), kings of Judah, there were numerous times when the Babylonians came up against Jerusalem.

Many modern scholars seem to agree that Obadiah was prophesying after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, thus giving it a late date shortly after 586 B.C. In summary, it is not certain who this Obadiah is and in what period of Israel's history he lived. Little is known about him because a description of his ancestry or homeland is not recorded, as is the case of the books of Habakkuk and Malachi. These are the only three prophetic books in which there is no record of dating their prophecies.

V. Recipients

VI. Occasion


"Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew."

(Thomas Schreiner) 9]

9] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the kingdom of Israel, the author of the book of Obadiah chose to write using the literary style of the ancient prophetic literature. Thus, the book of Obadiah is assigned to the literary genre called "prophecy." Included in the genre of prophecy are the three books of the Old Testament major prophets and twelve minor prophets.


"Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework."

(Andreas Ksenberger) 10]

10] Andreas J. Ksenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the book of Obadiah , an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the book of Obadiah for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VII. Purpose

VIII. Thematic Scheme

Sailhamer says the underlying message of the book of Obadiah is the inclusion of the Gentile nations into the Messianic Kingdom of Israel. 11] He says that the name Edom means "humanity," so that this nation symbolizes the nations of the earth that will be subjugated to the Messiah in the future restoration of Israel's kingdom.

11] John H. Sailhamer, Introduction to Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, c 1995), 251.

IX. Literary Structure

X. Outline of Book

Edom's Judgment— Obadiah 1:1-18

Israel's Messianic Kingdom— Obadiah 1:19-21



Clarke, Adam. 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 31 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Constable, Thomas L. Notes on Obadiah (Garland, Texas: Sonic Light, 2009) [on-line]. Accessed 27 December 2008. Available from; Internet.

Gill, John. Obadiah. in John Gill's Expositor. In e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005.

Metzger, Bruce M, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker, eds. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007.


Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Eds. A. Alt, O. Eifelt, P. Kahle, and R. Kittle. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, c 1967-77.

Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatam Clementinam. Ed. Electronica. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2005. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

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.

Gunkel, Hermann. The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction. Trans. Thomas M. Horner. In Biblical Series, vol 19. Ed. John Reumann. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967.

Keathley, III, J. Hampton. "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah." ( [on-line]. Accessed 23May 2012. Available from; Internet.

Ksenberger, Andreas J. Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011.

Rodkinson, Michael L. New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol 13. New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902.

Sailhamer, John H. Introduction to Old Testament Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, c 1995.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011.

Suetonius. The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. Trans. Joseph Gavorse. New York: Modern Library, 1931.

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Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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