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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Obadiah 1

 

 

Verses 1-4

Obadiah 1:1-4. The vision of Obadiah — The name of this prophet signifies, a servant, or a worshipper, of the Lord. Such he undoubtedly was, and also a prophet, but what he was in other respects we are not informed. It is not improbable that he had other visions, or revelations, from God, besides this which is here recorded, but this only has been preserved for the benefit of future ages. Thus saith the Lord — This declaration includes his commission and authority to prophesy, together with the certainty of what he declares; concerning Edom — Or, against Edom; that is, both the people and the country, so named from their progenitor Esau, called Edom, Genesis 25:30. This country, which was a part of Arabia Petræa, is called Idumea, Isaiah 34:5-6. We — That is, other prophets, as well as I, have heard a rumour — Not an uncertain report, but a true and important revelation from God. And an ambassador is sent among the heathen — Or nations. For an explanation of this and the three following verses, see notes on Jeremiah 49:14-16, where nearly the same words occur; only what Jeremiah speaks in the singular number, is expressed here in the plural, to intimate that Obadiah had received the same commission from God which was signified to Jeremiah before. I have made thee small among the heathen — Or, nations. Thou art contemptible in the sight of the Chaldeans and their confederates, who think they can easily subdue thee. “Idumea was a country, if compared with the dominions of flourishing states, very moderate in extent, and inconveniently situated. The land of Moab occupied the eastern part of the sea of Sodom. Next to this country Idumea turned toward the south; though it did not border on all Canaan southward, but only on its eastern part. The rest lay open to Arabia Petræa, by which Idumea was situated southward, made a part of it, and went far into it.” — Vitringa, on Isaiah 34:6. “The country of the Idumeans was properly circumscribed by that mountainous tract which enclosed Canaan to the south near the sea of Sodom, as appears from the whole sacred history: whence mount Hor, situated there, is said to have been on the edge, border, or extremity of the land of Edom, Numbers 20:23. It is true, that about the time of Solomon, the Idumeans occupied some part of the Elanitic gulf of the Red sea, whence a tract of that coast was called the land of Edom, 1 Kings 9:26. But all the prophets who speak of Edom about these times, restrain their lands to mount Seir, in the tract which I have marked out. Vitringa, on Isaiah 21:1.” — Archbishop Newcome. The pride of thy heart hath deceived thee, &c. — Thou valuest thyself too much upon the strength of thy situation, being placed among rocks which thou thinkest inaccessible by the enemy. That saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down? — Namely, from those lofty rocks in which I dwell? Who can climb up to them but myself? Or who can find out the way into the secret caverns where I have made my habitation? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, &c. — Upon the highest mountains, that seem to reach up to heaven; thence will I bring thee down From thy height of power and pre-eminence.


Verses 5-9

Obadiah 1:5-9. If thieves come unto thee — See note on Jeremiah 49:9. How are his hidden things sought up! — Those treasures and riches which he took all possible care to conceal, that they might not be discovered by the enemy. All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border — Thy confederates marched out with thee, until thou wast come to the borders of thy country, and then they perfidiously joined with the enemy’s forces, and thereby deceived thee. And prevailed against thee — Namely, treacherously. They that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee — Those that were maintained at thy cost, as thine allies, have given thee a secret blow. There is none understanding — Thou wast not aware of it. Shall I not, in that day, even destroy the wise men, &c. — At that time, when these evils shall come upon them, their prudence and skill shall altogether forsake them, and the wisest among them shall not know what to do, or shall give unsatisfactory, or foolish, counsel. When God designs a people for destruction, he causes such circumstances to arise, such a multiplicity of dangers, and so unexpectedly, to surround them, that their greatest wisdom is confounded, and the most skilful among them are quite at a loss how to act. See note on Jeremiah 49:7. And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, &c. — Teman was one of the grandsons of Esau, after whom some city and district in Idumea was named. Here it seems to be used to signify the whole country of Idumea. Certain it is that the Idumeans were looked upon as a strong and valiant people. Josephus says, they went as unconcernedly and as cheerfully into battle as to a banquet; but here it is threatened that a panic fear should seize upon this courageous nation, so that they should be entirely discouraged, and not able to stand against their enemies, or defend themselves; the consequence of which would be, a great slaughter of them.


Verse 10-11

Obadiah 1:10-11. For thy violence against thy brother Jacob — Because of the injury thou hast done to the people of Judea, who are descended from Jacob, the brother of Esau, your progenitor: see note on Amos 1:11. Shame shall cover thee — Contempt and reproach shall be cast upon thee by all that hear of thy conduct; and thou shalt be cut off for ever — So great a slaughter shall be made of thy inhabitants, that thou shalt never recover it; and at last thou shalt be quite dispossessed of thy country: see note on Ezekiel 35:7-9. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side Or, in the day that thou stoodest against him. That strangers carried away captive his forces — This may refer to the time when the Syrians spoiled Judea, overcame the Jewish forces, and made many captives of them. And foreigners entered into his gates — That is, into his cities. This seems to be spoken of the cities of Judea, which the Syrians took when they had spoiled the country, and laid siege to Jerusalem, as recorded in 2 Kings 16:5. And cast lots upon Jerusalem — Either this means that the Syrians and Israelites, whose armies were joined together, cast lots which of them should make the first assault on that city: or else, they cast lots about the spoils of Jerusalem, before they had taken it, making themselves quite sure of it, though the event proved they were mistaken. Or, as many learned men think, the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar is here referred to; an event at which, as we learn from Psalms 137., the Edomites rejoiced: and then probably lots were cast what captives should fall to the share of each of the commanders. Thou wast as one of them — Thou, that wast a brother by birth, wast as cruel and injurious in thy actions as these strangers, and joined with them in every thing against thy brother.


Verse 12

Obadiah 1:12. But thou shouldest not have looked upon the day of thy brother On his evil day. Thou oughtest not to have taken pleasure at the sight of thy brother’s calamity. So the expression of looking upon an enemy signifies, in many passages of Scripture, the beholding his fall with satisfaction: see the margin. In the day that he became a stranger — When he was driven from his own inheritance, and went captive into a strange land. Neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah, &c. — In the day when many of them were slain; nor have spoken proudly in the day of distress — Neither shouldest thou have insulted over them when they were in calamity, boasting of thy own felicity, while they were groaning under misery.


Verse 13-14

Obadiah 1:13-14. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people, &c. — Thou shouldest not have entered into the cities of my people by way of spoiling them, or of feasting thy eyes with the slaughter, when their enemies made themselves masters of them. Neither shouldest thou have stood in the cross-way — Or, in the goings forth; to cut off those that did escape — Thou shouldest not have posted thyself in the passages that were left unguarded by the enemy, in order to cut off those who endeavoured to escape by such ways. Neither have delivered up those —

Or shut up those, as the margin reads it, that did remain — The word סגר, here used, signifies to shut up all the ways of escaping to the conquered, in order to deliver them up to the enemy.


Verse 15-16

Obadiah 1:15-16. For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen — The sacred writers call that the day of any persons, in which they do or suffer any thing very remarkable. Thus, Obadiah 1:13, the day of thy brother, signifies that time in which he was remarkably afflicted. So the day of the Lord signifies that time in which he does something extraordinary; and here it means the time in which God would inflict a remarkable vengeance upon the enemies of Judah. By all the heathen, is meant all those nations who, together with the Idumeans, insulted over the calamities of the Jews, or had waged war against them without any just cause. As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee — As thou hast rejoiced at the calamities of others, so shall others rejoice at thine: and as thou hast spoiled and plundered thy neighbours, so shalt thou be served thyself: see the margin. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, &c. — Here is a sudden apostrophe to the Jewish people, who are here addressed. The sense is, As ye, who dwell on the mount which is sacred to me, have drunk of the cup of my indignation, or have suffered grievous calamities from my just displeasure, so also shall the nations among whom I am not known. They shall drink and swallow down — Or, they shall drink large draughts of it, even to the very dregs. By this is expressed their suffering calamities in an extraordinary degree. They shall be as though they had not been — They shall be utterly destroyed, so that there shall be no remains of them.


Verse 17-18

Obadiah 1:17-18. But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance — Literally taken, this refers to the Jews; mystically, to the gospel church. By deliverance here may be first meant an asylum, or place of refuge, to escape the evil; and it may be spoken with a reference to the invasion of Judea by Sennacherib, and his being prevented by God from taking Jerusalem, (though he took all the other fenced cities of Judah,) so that all persons of the neighbouring places found a deliverance, or an asylum, there; and so escaped falling into the enemies’ hands. It may also, perhaps, chiefly refer to the restoration of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon. But yet this promise was more remarkably verified in the time of the first preaching of the gospel, when God’s law went forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, Psalms 100:2; Isaiah 2:3; and when, through believing in Christ, and embracing the gospel, the Christians escaped the destruction that came upon the Jewish nation, concerning which see note on Joel 2:32. And there shall be another and more glorious completion of it at the restoration of the Jewish nation, which is foretold in this and the following verses, as it is in many other places. And there shall be holiness — So far as this refers to the Jews returned from captivity, it signifies that the temple, the city, and the people should be holy to the Lord. But the words more especially refer to gospel days; and are intended to express the holiness of the Christian Church, particularly after the conversion of the Jews, and during the millennium. The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions — Shall remain in possession of their own land or territories. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, &c. — This was fulfilled in part by the Jews under Hyrcanus and the Maccabees, who made great slaughter of the Idumeans; here expressed by the strong image of their being the fire and flame, and the Idumeans stubble. But the passage will be more fully accomplished when the Lord shall make his church as a fire to all its enemies.


Verse 19

Obadiah 1:19. And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau — The Jews that dwell in the southern parts of Judea, next Idumea, shall, after their return and victories over the Edomites, possess the mountainous part of their country, elsewhere called mount Seir: see Malachi 1:3. And they of the plain — The Jews who dwell in the plain country, lying toward that of the Philistines, shall possess their territories together with their own ancient inheritance. The Philistines were likewise ill neighbours to the Jews, who, it is here foretold, should at last conquer them and possess their land. The former part of this prediction was fully accomplished by Hyrcanus. And if this were the time of fulfilling the one, doubtless it was the time of fulfilling the other also. And they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, &c. — All the land which belonged to the ten tribes shall be possessed by the Jews after their restoration to their own country. And Benjamin shall possess Gilead — Benjamin, although one of the smallest tribes, shall enlarge his borders as far as the land of Gilead beyond Jordan. Here a larger possession is promised than ever they had before the captivity. But if Judah be considered as united with Benjamin, which perhaps it is, as those two tribes made but one people, all this was completely fulfilled in the time of Hyrcanus, as appears from Josephus, lib. 12.; 22. But no doubt the great enlargement of the church of Christ, in the times of the gospel, is mystically pointed out in this passage.


Verse 20-21

Obadiah 1:20-21. And the captivity of this host, &c. — Those of the ten tribes that were carried away captive by Shalmaneser; shall possess that of the Canaanites — That is, all the countries they anciently possessed, with this addition, that what the Canaanites held by force, and the Israelites could not take from them, shall now be possessed by these returned captives. Even unto Zarephath — Or Sarepta, a city near Sidon, in the northern borders of Judea, 1 Kings 17:9. The Canaanites, properly so called, were the ancient inhabitants of that district: see 1:32; Matthew 15:21-22. And the captivity of Jerusalem — The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, carried captive from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; which is in Sepharad — That is, as some suppose, a province of Babylon, in which the Jews resided during their captivity. Shall possess the cities of the south — All the cities which were once their own. And saviours shall come upon mount Zion, &c. — That is, deliverers. Taken literally, the expression may mean, the leaders of those captive troops who were to return from Babylon, such as Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. If understood mystically, these saviours are Christ, his apostles, and the other preachers of the gospel. To judge the mount of Esau — To avenge Israel upon the Edomites, or, figuratively speaking, the church of Christ upon all its enemies, here represented by Edom. Instead of saviours, the LXX., with a small alteration of the Hebrew points, read ανασωζομενοι, those that are saved, or escape: namely, the same with the remnant often mentioned in the prophets, and particularly Joel 2:32, where see the note. And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s — This will be fulfilled when the last of the four monarchies, foretold Daniel 2:7, are destroyed, and the stone which smote the image becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth; when the God of Israel shall be honoured, obeyed, and worshipped by all mankind.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Obadiah 1:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/obadiah-1.html. 1857.

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