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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Obadiah 1

 

 

Verse 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 :e., worshipper of Yahweh: Abdeel and Arabic Abdallah similarly mean 'servant of God.'

We - I and my people.

Have heard a rumour from the Lord - literally, a report or hearsay, resting on the authority of Yahweh, and therefore certain (Isaiah 21:10, "That which I have heard of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you").

And an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise against her in battle - yea, an ambassador is already sent-namely, an angel-to stir up the Assyrians (and afterward the Chaldeans) against Edom. The result of the ambassador's message on the pagan is, they simultaneously exclaim, "Arise ye, and let us (with united strength) rise," etc. Jeremiah 49:14 quotes this.


Verse 2

Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

Behold, I have made thee small - thy reduction to insignificance is as sure as if it were already accomplished: therefore the past tense is used. Edom then extended from Dedan of Arabia to Bozrah in the north (Jeremiah 49:8; Jeremiah 49:13). Calvin explains it, 'Whereas thou wast made by me an insignificant people, why art thou so proud?' (Obadiah 1:3.) But if this explanation were right, why should the pagan peoples be needed to subdue one so insignificant? Jeremiah 49:15 ("Lo, I will make thee small among the pagan, and despised among men"), evidently quoted from this passage of Obadiah, confirms the former view.


Verse 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?

Thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock - (Song of Solomon 2:14, "O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places the stairs;" Jeremiah 48:28, as to Moab, "Dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth"). The cities of Edom, and among them Petra (Hebrew, cela` (Hebrew #5553), meaning rock, 2 Kings 14:7, margin), the capital in the Wady Musa, consisted of houses mostly cut in the rocks. 'Petra is entirely shut out by the intervening rocks ... The great feature of the mountains of Edom is the mass of red bald-headed sandstone rocks, intersected, not by valleys, but by deep seams. In the heart of these rocks, itself invisible, lies Petra' (Stanley). Petra is unique. 'The whole Edomite country from Eleutheropolis to Petra and Selah hath small habitations (habitatiunculas) in caves; and on account of the oppressive heat of the sun, as being a southern province, hath underground cottages' (Jerome). Hence, the aborigines whom Edom expelled were called Horites -

i.e., dwellers in caves.


Verse 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.

Though thou exalt thyself - or supply from the second clause, "thy nest" (Maurer). (Compare Job 20:6; Jeremiah 49:16; Amos 9:2.)

And though thou set thy nest among the stars - namely, on the loftiest hills, which seem to reach the very stars. Edom is a type of Antichrist (Isaiah 14:13; Daniel 8:10; Daniel 11:37). The language implies a remembrance of Balaam's words to the Kenite, "Strong is thy dwelling-place, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock."

Thence will I bring thee down - in spite of thy boast (Obadiah 1:3), "Who shall bring me down?"


Verse 5

If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?

If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen until they bad enough? if the grape-gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes? The spoliation which thou shalt suffer shall not be such as that which thieves cause, bad as that is, for these, when they have seized enough, or all they can get in a hurry, leave the rest-nor such as grape-gatherers cause in a vineyard, for they, when they have gathered most of the grapes, leave gleanings behind-but it shall be utter, so as to leave thee nothing. The exclamation, "how art thou cut off!" bursting in amidst the words of the image, marks strongly excited feeling. The contrast between Edom, where no gleanings shall be left, and Israel, where at the worst a gleaning is left, is striking (Isaiah 17:6; Isaiah 24:13).


Verse 6

How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!

How are the things of Esau searched out! - by hostile soldiers seeking booty. Compare with Obadiah 1:5-6 here Jeremiah 49:9-10, "If grape-gatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy until they have enough. But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself;" quoted evidently from Obadiah, whose prophecies he thus gives the stamp of inspiration to.

How are his hidden things sought up! - "hidden things," or places. Edom abounded in such hiding-places as caves, clefts in the rock, etc. None of these should be left unexplored by the foe.


Verse 7

All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.

All the men of thy confederacy - i:e., thy confederates. Those confederates were probably Moab and Ammon, Tyre and Sidon, with whom the Edomites joined in resisting Nebuchadnezzar. These probably induced Zedekiah and Judah to rebel, and then turned against the Jews when Jerusalem was overthrown. But, rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar subsequently, they perished in the attempt.

Have brought thee even to the border - i:e., when Idumean ambassadors shall go to confederate states seeking aid, these latter shall conduct them with due ceremony to their border, giving them empty compliments, but not the aid required (Drusius). This view agrees with the context, which speaks of false friends deceiving Edom - i:e., failing to help him in need (cf. Job 6:14-15). Calvin translates, 'have driven,' i:e., shall drive thee; shall help to drive thee to thy border, on thy way into captivity in foreign lands. (See the note Obadiah 1:18, end.)

The men that were at peace with thee - literally, the men of thy peace. Quoted from Psalms 41:9; Jeremiah 38:22 (margin), 'The men of thy peace have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee,' where also the same formula occurs, "prevailed against thee."

They that eat thy bread - the poorer tribes of the desert, who subsisted on the bounty of Edom. Compare again Psalms 41:9, "Mine own familiar friend, which did eat of my bread," which seems to have been before Obadiah's mind, as his words were before Jeremiah's, in whom the connection is looser than in Obadiah. Have laid a wound under thee - "laid" implies that their intimacy was used as a SNARE, laid with a view to wound; also, these guest-friends of Edom, instead of the cushions ordinarily laid under guests at table, laid snares to wound-namely, had a secret understanding with Edom's foe for that purpose. Maurer translates, 'a snare.' But the English version agrees with the Hebrew [ maazowr (Hebrew #4204)], which means, literally, 'a bandage for a wound.'

There is none understanding in him - none of the wisdom for which Edom was famed (see Obadiah 1:8), to extricate him from his perilous position.

In him - instead of 'in thee.' The change implies the alienation of God from Edom: Edom has so estranged himself from God that He speaks now of him, not to him.


Verse 8

Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?

Shall I not ... saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom (Jeremiah 49:7 : cf. Job 5:12-13; Isaiah 19:3; Jeremiah 19:7).

In that day ... even destroy - heretofore Edom, through its contact with Babylon and Egypt, and from its means of information through the many caravans passing to and fro between Europe and India, has been famed for knowledge; but "in that day" at last, and in particular ("even") I will destroy its wise men.

Out of the mount of Esau - i:e., Idumea, which was a mountainous region.


Verse 9

And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.

Thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. Maurer translates, 'on account of the slaughter'-namely, that inflicted on Judea by Edom (cf. Obadiah 1:14). The Septuagint, the Syriac, and Vulgate connect these words with Obadiah 1:10, "for the slaughter, for the violence (of which thou art guilty) against thy brother Jacob," etc. The English version, "cut off by slaughter" (i:e., an utter cutting off), answers well to "cut off forever" (Obadiah 1:10). However, the arrangement of the Septuagint gives a better parallelism, in Obadiah 1:10, of the four clauses, the first answering to the fourth, and the second to the third [Dia teen sfageen, kai teen asebeian adelfou sou Iakoob kalupsei se aischunee kai exartheesee eis ton aioona.] "For the slaughter" (Obadiah 1:9)

(1) being balanced in just retribution by "thou shalt be cut off forever"

(4) as "For thy violence (not so bad as slaughter) against thy brother Jacob"

(2) is balanced by "shame (not so bad as being cut off) shall cover thee"

(3) Shame and extinction shall repay violence and slaughter (Matthew 26:52; Revelation 13:10). Compare as to Edom's violence, Psalms 137:7; Ezekiel 25:12; Amos 1:11.


Verse 10

For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

For thy violence against thy brother Jacob. Obadiah here confirms afresh Joel's prophecy (Joel 3:19), "Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah." This aggravates the sin of Esau, that it was against him, who was his brother by birth and by circumcision. The posterity of Esau followed in the steps of their father's hatred to Jacob by violence against Jacob's seed (Genesis 27:41).

Jacob - not merely his own brother, but his twin brother: hence, the name Jacob is here put emphatically, not Israel. Compare Deuteronomy 23:7 for the opposite feeling which Jacob's seed was commanded to entertain toward Edom's, "Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother."

Shame shall cover thee - (Psalms 35:26, "Let them be clothed with shame;" Psalms 69:7 , "Shame hath covered my face").

And thou shalt be cut off forever - (Isaiah 34:10; Ezekiel 35:9; Malachi 1:4). Idumea, as a nation, should be "cut off forever," though the land should be again inhabited.


Verse 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.

In the day that thou stoodest on the other side - in an attitude of hostility, rather than exhibiting the sympathy which became a brother, feasting thine eyes (see Obadiah 1:12) with the misery of Jacob, and eagerly watching for his destruction. So Messiah, the antitype to Jerusalem, abandoned by His kinsmen (Psalms 38:11).

In the day that the strangers - the Philistines; the Arabians in the reign of Jehoram, king of Judah, etc. (2 Chronicles 21:16); the Syrians in the reign of Joash of Judah (2 Chronicles 24:24); the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:1-23).

Carried away captive his forces - his "host" (Obadiah 1:20); the multitude of Jerusalem's inhabitants.

And cast lots upon Jerusalem - (Joel 3:3). So Messiah, Jerusalem's antitype, had his only earthly possessions cast lots for (Psalms 22:18).

Even thou wast as one of them. There is no "wast" in the Hebrew, 'Thou, too, as one of them!' Edom was not one of them, an alien to Jacob or Israel: nay, he was his twin brother. The prophet graphically sets before himself and us Edom among the plunderers of Jerusalem, and exclaims, marveling at the unnatural sight, 'What, thou too AS one of them!


Verse 12

But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

But thou shouldest not have looked on - with malignant pleasure and a brutal stare. So the antitypes, Messiah's foes (Psalms 22:17). Translate rather as margin, and as the Hebrew [ 'al (Hebrew #408)] always means, 'Do not look (gaze not with pleasure) upon thy brother in the day of his becoming a stranger-do not rejoice-do not speak proudly-do not enter into the gate-do not look on their affliction-nor lay hands on their substance-neither stand in the crossway-neither deliver those of his that remain!' It is a warning to Edom against his foreseen malice, which was about to be evinced at the then future and foretold capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

The day of thy brother - his day of calamity.

In the day that he became a stranger - i:e., was banished as an alien from his own land. God sends heavy calamities on those who rejoice in the calamities of their enemies (Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 24:17-18). Contrast the opposite conduct of David, and of the Divine Son of David, in a like case (Psalms 35:13-15).

Spoken proudly - literally, made great the mouth: proudly insulting the fallen (Ezekiel 35:13, margin, 'With your mouth ye have magnified against me, and have multiplied your words against me;' cf. 1 Samuel 2:3, "Talk no more so exceeding proudly: let not arrogancy come out of your mouth;" Revelation 13:6, "He (the beast) opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." Herein Edom is a type of Antichrist).


Verse 13

Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;

Their substance - translated "forces" in Obadiah 1:11.


Verse 14

Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.

Stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his (Judah's).

That did escape. The Jews naturally fled by the crossways (Maurer translates, 'narrow mountain passes') well known to them, to escape to the desert, and through Edom to Egypt; but the Edomites stood ready to intercept the fugitives, and either kill or 'deliver them up' to the foe.

Neither shouldest thou have delivered up - or 'shut up' - i:e., intercept, prevent the escape of, so as to deliver them up. Thus Edom, from malicious looks, proceeded on to malicious words, and from words to deeds-deeds of covetousness, spoliation, and murder.


Verse 15

For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

For - resumptive in connection with Obadiah 1:10, wherein Edom was threatened with cutting off forever.

The day of the Lord - the day in which He will manifest Himself as the Righteous Punisher of the ungodly peoples (Joel 3:14). The "all" shows that the fulfillment is not exhausted in the punishment inflicted on the surrounding nations by the instrumentality of Nebuchadnezzar; but, as in Joel 3:14, and Zechariah 12:3, "Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations," that the last judgment to come on the nations confederate against Jerusalem is referred fight against those nations," that the last judgment to come on the nations confederate against Jerusalem is referred to.

As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee. The righteous principle of retribution in kind (Leviticus 24:17; Matthew 7:2; cf. Judges 1:6-7; Judges 8:19; Esther 7:10).

Thy reward shall return upon thine own head - "thy reward," the reward of thy deed (cf. Isaiah 3:9-11).


Verse 16

For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain. A periphrasis for 'ye Jews' (Maurer), whom Obadiah now by a sudden apostrophe addresses. The clause, "upon my holy mountain," expresses the reason of the vengeance to be taken on Judah's foes-namely, that Jerusalem is God's holy mountain, the seat of His temple, and Judah His covenant-people. Jeremiah 49:12, which is copied from Obadiah, establishes this view (cf. 1 Peter 4:17).

As ye have drunk ... - namely, as ye Jews, the cup of wrath, being dispossessed of your goods and place as a nation by Edom and all the pagan; so shall all the pagan (Edom included) drink the same cup (Psalms 60:3; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 13:12-13; Jeremiah 25:15-33; Jeremiah 49:12; Jeremiah 51:7; Lamentations 4:21-22; Nahum 3:11; Habakkuk 2:16). Pusey, not so well, takes it, As ye Edomites have drunk (literal wine) in idolatrous revelry upon my holy mountain, so shall all the pagan drink continually (figurative wine, God's wrath and judgments).

Continually - whereas Judah's calamity shall be temporary (Obadiah 1:17). The foes of Judah shall never regain their former position (Obadiah 1:18-19).

Swallow down - so as not to leave anything in the cup of calamity; not merely "drink" (Psalms 75:8, "In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and He poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out"). 'To swallow up, and to be swallowed up in turn, is the world's history' (Pusey).

And they shall be as though they had not been - not a trace left of their national existence (Job 10:19; Psalms 37:36; Ezekiel 26:21).


Verse 17

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

But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance - both in the literal sense and spiritual sense (repeated, with the fresh stamp of inspiration, from Joel 2:32; Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 59:20; Romans 11:26). Maurer and Pusey, better, as margin, explain it, 'there shall be a remnant that shall escape;' 'an escaped remnant.' Compare Isaiah 37:32 : to the deliverance from Sennacherib there described Grotius thinks Obadiah here refers, 'Jerusalem shall not be taken, and many of the neighbouring peoples also shall find deliverance there.' Unlike Judah's pagan foes, of whom no remnant shall escape (Obadiah 1:9; Obadiah 1:16), a remnant of Jews shall escape when the rest of the nation have perished, and shall "possess" or regain their ancient "possessions" - literally, 'shall inherit their inheritances.'

There shall be holiness - i:e., Zion shall be sacrosanct, or inviolable; no more violated by foreign invaders (Isaiah 52:1; Joel 3:17, "Then shall Jerusalem be" holiness (margin), "and there shall no strangers pass through her anymore;" or 'IT,' i:e., the escaped remnant, 'shall be holinesss').


Verse 18

And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

The house of Jacob shall be a fire. See the same figure, Numbers 21:28; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 10:17.

House of Jacob ... Joseph - i:e., the two kingdoms, Judah and Ephraim or Israel (Jerome). The two shall form one kingdom, their former feuds being laid aside (Isaiah 11:12-13, "He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah ... The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim;" Ezekiel 37:16-17; Ezekiel 37:19; Ezekiel 37:22, "I will make them one nation ... and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms anymore at all;" Jeremiah 3:18; Hosea 1:11). The Jews returned with some of the Israelites from Babylon, and, under John Hyrcanus, so subdued and, compelling them to be circumcised, incorporated the Idumeans with themselves, that they formed part of the nation (Josephus, 13: 17, and 12: 11; who mentions that the idol which the Edomites, even in his day, accounted a god, was named Koze). This was but an earnest of the future union of Israel and Judah in the possession of the enlarged land as one kingdom, (Ezekiel 37:16, etc.)

And the house of Esau for stubble - (Malachi 4:1). About a century after Malachi the Nabatheans, a wholly different race from the Edomites, were in possession of Petra, the Edomite stronghold. The Nabatheans were of Aramaic origin, and were probably planted in Idumea by Nebuchadnezzar, to keep down the Edomites. Subsequently the Nabatheans expelled them; fulfilling Obadiah 1:7, "The men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border."


Verse 19

And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.

And they of the south - Hebrew, 'they of the Negeb.'

Shall possess the mount of Esau. The Jews, who in the coming time are to occupy the south of Judea, shall possess, in addition to their own territory, the adjoining mountainous region of Edom.

And they of the plain the Philistines. The Jews who shall occupy the low country (Hebrew, 'they of the Shepheelah') along the Mediterranean, south and southwest of Palestine, shall possess, in addition to their own territory, the land of "the Philistines," which runs as a long strip between the hills and the sea.

And they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria - i:e., the rightful owners shall be restored, the Ephraimites, to the fields of Ephraim. Pusey takes it, The Jews who returned from Babylon were to occupy then "the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria." But the context seems to me to point to the literal restoration of the ten tribes, as well as that of Benjamin and Judah, as foretold by the other prophets. Obadiah plainly means the former by "the house of Joseph" (Obadiah 1:18).

Benjamin shall possess Gilead - i:e., the region east of Jordan, occupied formerly by Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh. Benjamin shall possess, besides its own territory, the adjoining territory eastward, while the two and a half tribes shall, in the re-distribution, occupy the adjoining territory of Moab and Ammon.


Verse 20

And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.

And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel - i:e., the captives of this multitude of Israelites.

Shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath. Maurer translates, 'the captives ... whom the Canaanites carried away captive (into Phoenicia) even unto Zarephath, and the captivity of Jerusalem, which, etc., shall possess the cities of the south'-namely, shall possess Idumea as well as the south (Obadiah 1:19). Henderson, similarly, 'The captives that are among the Canaanites,' etc. But the corresponding clauses of the parallelism are better balanced in the English version, 'The ten tribes of Israel shall possess the territory of the Canaanites,' namely, northwest Palestine and Phoenicia (Judges 3:3). 'And the captives of Jerusalem (and Judah) shall possess the southern cities,' namely, Edom, etc. Each has the region respectively adjoining assigned to it: Israel has the northwest Canaanite region; Judah, the south. The Vulgate supports the English version; literally, 'that which (belonged to) the Canaanites; or ('shall possess that) which the Canaanites (possessed'). Pusey argues for 'the captives which are among the Canaanites,' on the ground of the Hebrew accents, the parallelism (but the English version makes a good parallelism, as shown above), and the uniform use of the accusative here.

Even unto Zarephath - near Zidon, and on the sea coast; called Sarepta in Luke 4:26. The name implies it was a Even unto Zarephath - near Zidon, and on the sea coast; called Sarepta in Luke 4:26. The name implies it was a place for smelting metals. From this quarter came the "woman of Canaan" (Matthew 15:21-22). Captives of the Jews had been carried into the coasts of Palestine or Canaan, about Tyre and Sidon (Joel 3:3-4; Amos 1:9). The Jews, when restored, shall possess the territory of their ancient oppressors.

Which is in Sepharad - i:e., the Bosphorus (Jerome, from his 'Hebrew Instructor'). Sephar, according to others (Genesis 10:30, "Sephar, a mount of the east.") The identification of Sepharad with the Bosphorus seems to be but a conjecture of Jerome. In the cuneiform inscription containing a list of the tribes of Persia ('Niebuhr tab.,' 31: 1), before Ionia and Greece, and after Cappadocia, comes the name CPaRad. It also occurs in the epitaph of Darius at Nakshi Rustam, 1: 28, before Ionia, in column 1 of the inscription of Bisutun, 1: 15. It was therefore a district of western Asia Minor, about Lydia, at a considerable distance from the Bosphorus. De Sacy and Lessen identify it with Sardis, the capital of Lydia, the Greeks omitting the "v" or "ph" and adding " - is", their own termination to the Asiatic name. It is made an appellative by Maurer, 'The Jerusalem captives of the dispersion' (cf. James 1:1), wherever they be dispersed, shall return and possess the southern cities. Sepharad, though literally a district of Lydia, represents the Jews' far and wide dispersion. Jerome says the name in Assyrian means a boundary - i:e., 'the Jews scattered in all boundaries and regions.'


Verse 21

And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and

Saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau - "saviours;" there will be in the kingdom yet to come no king, but a prince; there will return the sabbatic period of the judges, when there was no visible king, but God reigned in the theocracy (cf. the phrase so frequent in Judges, only once found in the times of the kings, 2 Chronicles 14:1, "In his (Asa's) days the land was quiet ten years;" "the land had rest"). Israelites, not strangers, shall dispense justice to a God-fearing people, (Isaiah 1:26; Ezekiel 45:1.) The judges were not such a burden to the people as the kings proved afterward, according to the forewarning of Samuel (1 Samuel 8:11-20). In their time the people more readily repented than under the kings (cf. 2 Chronicles 15:17) (Roos). Judges were from time to time raised up as saviours or deliverers of Israel from the enemy. These, and the similar deliverers in the long subsequent age of Antiochus, the Maccabees, who conquered the Idumeans (as here foretold, cf. 2 Maccabees 10:15; 2 Maccabees 10:23), were types of the peaceful period yet to come to Israel.

To judge ... Esau - to punish (so "judge," 1 Samuel 3:13, "I will judge his (Eli's) house forever, for the iniquity which he knoweth") Edom (cf. Obadiah 1:1-9; Obadiah 1:15-19). Edom is the type of Israel's and God's last foes (Isaiah 63:1-4).

The kingdom shall be the Lord's - under Messiah (Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:27; Zechariah 14:9; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 19:6, Alleluia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth"). Obadiah here quotes Psalms 22:28, "The kingdom is the Lord's."

Remarks:

(1) Obadiah gives no details of his personal history, desiring to be known in his prophetic rather than in his individual capacity. His prophecy was not the suggestion of his own imagination, but a "vision" of realities presented to his mind's eye, and afterward embodied in word-painting, for the edification of the Church, under the guidance of "the Lord God" (Obad). The prophet reported that which he heard from the Lord." How attentively, believingly, and obediently ought we to receive a message from God, so solemnly authenticated as is all Holy Scripture!

(2) God employs as His "ambassadors" all the powers in heaven and in earth. Not only the good, but even evil spirits and evil men, in spite of themselves, and often unconsciously, while seeking only their own bad aims, are constrained to be the fulfillers of God's purposes. So the Babylonians, moved by God's secret summons, "Arise," eagerly responded, stirring one another up against Edom, "Let us rise up against her in battle." Those great in their own eyes are "small" in the eyes of God, and shall at last be "made" so before all men (Obadiah 1:2). Those who proudly exalt themselves shall at last be "greatly despised."

(3) As the pride of Edom's heart had deceived him, so 'the men of his peace' also (Obadiah 1:7, margin) were about to deceive him. The deceit of Edom's confederates was the penal consequence of the self-deceit of his own heart through pride (Obadiah 1:3). His rock-dwellings, and his city of Petra, nestled on the summit of precipitous crags, seemed impregnable, and fostered his arrogant self-confidence. "Who shall bring me down?" is the language of the carnally secure "heart." How many there are still who, instead of sheltering "in the clefts of the rock" of ages (Song of Solomon 2:14), rest their confidence of security in the rocky clefts of natural abilities and resources, independent of God! However high these men "set their nest" "as the eagle," God can and will bring them down to the dust in a moment; as AEsop, when asked, 'What doeth God?' replied, 'He humbleth the proud and exalteth the humble.'

(4) In the coming day of the Lord, "the hidden things," not only "of Esau" (Obadiah 1:6), but of all men, shall be "searched out" and brought to light (1 Corinthians 4:5). Every hiding-place of lies shall be laid bare, and the sinner shall be stripped forever of the last rag of pride with which he heretofore has cloaked his shame.

(5) It is a special aggravation to one's fall, when one's own familiar friends not only do not try to avert, but hasten it. As Edom, though the natural friend of Jacob, as being his brother, had, nevertheless, persecuted Jacob, so, in just retribution, Edom's natural friends should be his destroyers. As Edom had turned peace into strife in relation to Judah, so those who were "at peace," and confederate, and who even ate at the same table with Edom, should take advantage of their familiarity to contrive Edom's ruin (Obadiah 1:7). Thus was fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, "When thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee" (Isaiah 33:1). Edom's vaunted "understanding" forsook him utterly at the time when it was most needed. Pride goes before a fall; and the proud often pass suddenly from the height of self-confidence to the depth of despair. Overweening self-reliance passes into unreasoning and unreasonable fear. No human sagacity for which Edom was famed can be relied on in an exigency, if men ignore God. The most clever plans often fail from some oversight utterly unaccountable, except on the principle that God can at any moment withdraw from the wise the wisdom on which success depends.

(6) Israel's conduct to Edom, according to the commandment of God, had been always regulated by the remembrance of the fraternal relation which subsisted between them. But Edom, on the contrary, had with violence helped the Babylonians in the overthrow of Jerusalem, and exulted in its downfall, thinking that thereby his own prosperity and safety were secured. How just, then, it was that the calamities which they had helped to inflict on their brother should be brought by God on themselves, through the very same Babylonians! The betrayers were in their turn betrayed; and they, who had excited over the fall of their brethren, were the object of exalting triumph to their former allies, who became their destroyers. "Shame and everlasting contempt" shall at last "cover" all who now glory over the sufferings of the people of God.

(7) Edom, though allied to Jacob, not the Babylonians, made himself "as one of them" (Obadiah 1:11). Therefore he should be treated as such, and have his eternal portion with the enemies, not with the people of God. Men must take their choice now. They cannot, like Edom, "gaze" with exultation upon the trials of the children of God, and "speak proudly" respecting them, and take advantage of their calamities to push forward their own selfish interests, and yet expect after all to share their final blessedness. Edom from malicious looks passed on to malicious words, and from malicious words to acts of selfishness, covetousness, robbery, and murder (Obadiah 1:12-13). Since we know not how soon it may be our own turn to suffer, we should, under any circumstances, feel compassion rather than exultation in the sufferings of any fellow-creature. Malice harboured in any form contains in itself the seed of all evil, and, if net overcome by grace, will at last ripen the sinner for hell, where malice reigns in all its virulence.

(8) There is at hand the great day of the Lord (Obadiah 1:15), which shall be the day of retribution, not to Edom alone, but to all who are aliens to God and to His people. Men's "reward shall then return upon their own head." Chastizements are inflicted upon the people of God for their good now, for a time; eternal punishment awaits their enemies. Let mourning believers and insulting oppressors know that the trials of the godly shall soon end, but the miseries of the ungodly shall be forever.

(9) In the worst times of the Church there is always reserved an "escaped remnant" (note Obadiah 1:17). "Holiness" is to be its final characteristic: and is even in part so now. "Upon mount Zion" Jesus hath already appeared for salvation to His people; and by virtue of His death and resurrection the Church goes forth to take spiritual "possession" of the world (Obadiah 1:17; Matthew 27:19). When He shall come again He shall consummate redemption visibly and manifestly to His saints; and the literal "house of Jacob shall possess their possessions" (Obadiah 1:17; Obadiah 1:19-20). "The mount of Esau" (Obadiah 1:21) shall be abased before mount Zion. God's mount of holiness shall then be exalted above every mountain of human pride. The transfigured saints, with Christ, the antitype to all former "saviours," shall judge the world (1 Corinthians 6:2), condemning the reprobates; and, as being king-priests, shall be the mediators of blessing to the nations in the flesh. The dominion long usurped by the prince of this world, and judicially permitted for a time, because of man's sin, shall then cease; "and the kingdom shall be the Lord's." What wise man then can hesitate whether to take his portion with the world and Satan, or with the Church and Christ?

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Obadiah 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/obadiah-1.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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