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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Heb. Obadyah', עֹבִדְיָה , servant of Jehovah [1 Chronicles 3:21; 1 Chronicles 7:3; 1 Chronicles 8:38; 1 Chronicles 9:16; 1 Chronicles 9:44; Ezra 8:9; elsewhere the lengthened form, Obadya'hu, עֹבִדְיָהוּ ]; Sept. variously, Ἀβδίας, Ἀβδιάς, Ἀβδείας, Ἀβδία, Ἀβαδία, Ο᾿βδία, Ο᾿βδιά; v. r. Ἀβδειάς, Ο᾿βδιάς ), a frequent name among the Hebrews, corresponding to the Arabic Abdallah.
1. The second in order of the eleven lion-faced Gadites, captains of the host, who joined David's standard at Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:9). B.C. 1054.
2. The father of Ishmaiah, which latter was chief of the tribe of Zebulon in David's reign. (1 Chronicles 27:19). B.C. ante 1014.
3. According to the received text, the third named of the five sons of Izrahiah, a descendant of Issachar, and a chief man of his tribe (1 Chronicles 7:3). Four only, however, are mentioned, and the discrepancy is rectified in four of Kennicott's MSS., which omit the words "and the sons of Izrahiah," thus making Izrahiah the brother, and not father, of Obadiah. and both sons of Uzzi. The Syriac and Arabic versions follow the received text, but read "four" instead of "five" (Smith). The latter is the less probable reading, as the other can be readily explained as an error of repetition. The five "sons" are doubtless here descendants, of the time of David. B.C. cir. 1014.
4. The second named of five nobles ("princes") whom king Jehoshaphat sent as itinerant teachers in the cities of Judah (2 Chronicles 17:7). B.C. 909.
5. An officer of high rank in the court of Ahab, who is described as "over the house," that is, apparently, lord high chamberlain, or mayor of the palace (1 Kings 18:3). — B.C. cir. 904. His influence with the king must have been, great to enable him to retain his position, though a devout worshipper of Jehovah, during the fierce persecution .of the prophets by Jezebel. At the peril of his life he concealed a hundred of them ins caves, and fed them there with bread and. water. But he himself does not seem to have been suspected (1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 18:13). The occasion upon which Obadiah appears in the history shows the confidential nature of his office. In the third year of the terrible famine with which Samaria was visited, when the fountains and streams were dried up in consequence of the long- continued drought, and horses and mules were perishing for lack of water, Ahab and Obadiah divided the land between them, and set forth, each unattended, to search for whatever remnants of herbage might still be left around the springs and in the fissures of the river-beds. Their mission was of such importance that it could only be entrusted to the two principal persons in the kingdom. Obadiah was startled on his solitary journey by the abrupt apparition of Elijah, who had disappeared since the commencement of the famine, and now commanded him to announce to Ahab, "Behold Elijah!" He hesitated, apparently afraid that his long-concealed attachment to the worship of Jehovah should thus be disclosed and his life fall a sacrifice. At the same time he was anxious that the prophet should not doubt his sincerity, and appealed to what he had done in the persecution by Jezebel. But Elijah only asserted the more strongly his intention of encountering Ahab, and Obadiah had no choice but to obey (1 Kings 18:7-16). The interview and its consequences belong to the history of Elijah (q.v.). According to the Jewish tradition preserved in Ephrem Syrus (Assemani, Bibl. Or. Clem. p. 70), Obadiah the chief officer of Ahab was the same with Obadiah the prophet. He was of Shechem in the land of Ephraim, and a disciple of Elijah, and was the third captain of fifty who was sent by Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:13). After this he left the king's service, prophesied, died, and was buried. The "certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets" who came to Elisha (2 Kings 4:1) was, according to the tradition in Rashi, his widow.
6. The fifth named of the six sons of Azel (1 Chronicles 8:38; 1 Chronicles 9:44), and a descendant of Jonathan, son of Saul, in the tenth generation. B.C. cir. 720.
7. A Merarite Levite, who with Jahath was overseer of the workmen in the restoration of the Temple under Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:12). B.C. 623.
8. The fourth of the minor prophets, according to the arrangement of the Hebrew and English texts, and the fifth in that of the Septuagint. As we know nothing certain of him except what we can gather from the very short prophecy which bears his name, we shall find it most convenient; to consider him personally in connection with his book. In doing this we gather together whatever is available in the ancient testimony with the modern speculations upon it.
I. Date. — The attempts to identify him with one or other of the persons of the same name mentioned in Scripture are mere unfounded conjectures. Entirely baseless also is the suggestion of Augusti (Einleit. § 225) that עבדיה, in the title of this prophecy, is an appellative=a servant of Jehovah, or "some pious person; "for the word is never so used, and all the ancient versions give it as a proper name; nor is there any ground for the assertion of Abarbanel that he was an Idumnean, who, on becoming a proselyte to Judaism, took' the name of servant or worshipper of Jehovah (Praef. in Ezech. p. 153, Colossians 4; see also Jarchi on ver. 1 of the Prophecy). The: Targum on 2 Kings 4:1, and Josephus (Ant. 9:2), followed by Christians, e.g. Jerome, as well as Jews, e.g. Kimchi, Abarbanel, etc., identify this Obadiah with the husband of that woman "of the wives of the sons of the prophets" who sought the protection of Elisha for her two sons from their father's creditor (2 Kings 4:1); for of Obadiah, the governor of Ahab's house; it is said that he "feared the Lord greatly," and of the husband of this widow that he "did fear the Lord;" and it is supposed that the gift of prophecy was conferred on him as a reward for his singular faith and clemency.
The question of his date must depend upon the interpretation of the 11th and 20th verses of his prophecy. He there speaks of the conquest of Jerusalem and the captivity of Jacob. If he is referring to the well-known captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, he must have lived at the time of the Babylonian captivity, and prophesied subsequently to the year B.C. 588. If, further, his prophecy against Edom found its first fulfillment in the conquest of that country by Nebuchadnezzar in the year B.C. 583, we have its date fixed. It must have been uttered at some time in the five years which intervened between these two dates.
Jager (so also Jahn and others) argues at length for an earlier date. He admits that 2 Kings 4:11 refers to a capture of Jerusalem, but maintains that it may apply to its capture by Shishak in the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25; 2 Chronicles 12:2); by the Philistines and Arabians in the reign of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:16); by Joash in the reign of Amaziah (25:22): or by the Chaldaeans in the reigns of Jehoiakim and of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:2; 2 Kings 24:10). The Idumseans might, he argues, have joined the enemies of Judah on any of these occasions, as their inveterate hostility from an early date is proved by several passages of Scripture, e.g. Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11. He thinks it probable that the occasion referred to by Obadiah is the capture of Jerusalem by the Ephraimites in the reign of Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:22). The utmost force of these statements is to prove a possibility. Hengstenberg (Gesch. Bileams, p. 253), Havernick (Einleit. 2:321), and Caspari (Der Proph. Obadjah), while admitting that the prophecy relates to the time of the captivity, would assign an earlier date to its composition, placing that in the reign of Uzziah, and regarding the reference to the Chaldaean invasion as prophetic.
The only argument of any weight for the early date of Obadiah is his position in the list of the books of the minor prophets. Why should he have been inserted between Amos and Jonah if his date is about B.C. 585? Schnurrer seems to answer this question satisfactorily when he says that the prophecy of Obadiah is an amplification of the last five verses of Amos. and was therefore placed next after the book of Amos. The conclusion in favor of the later date assigned to him is that of most critics, including Pfeiffer, Schnurrer, Rosenmü ller, De Wette, Hendewerk, and Maurer, and the English commentators generally.
II. Originality. — The exceeding brevity of this prophecy gives no good reason to regard it (with Eichhorn and others) as only a fragment of a longer writing. It is a compact and complete composition, and has no appearance of having been detached from another work.
From a comparison of Obadiah 2 Chronicles 25:1-4 with Jeremiah 49:14-16; Obadiah Jeremiah 49:6 with Jeremiah 49:9-10; and Obadiah Jeremiah 49:8 with Jeremiah 49:7, it is evident that there was some connection between the two works. It is not easy observes Calmet, to decide whether one of the two was copied from the other, or whether both were borrowed from a common source (see Horne's Introd. 2:955, 10th ed.); but from the fact that Jeremiah had made use of the writings of other prophets also, it has generally been concluded that Obadial was the original writer (see Eichhorn, Einleit. § 512; Rosenmü ller, Scholia, and Jager, Ueb. die Zeit Obadiah's). That Obadiah borrowed from Jeremiah has been maintained by Credner, De Wette, and others. De Wette supposes (Introd. § 235) that Obadiah made use of Jeremiah from recollection; Bertholdt (Einl. 4:1627) that no prophet of the name ever lived. Those who give an early date to Obadiah thereby settle the question of borrowing, — Those who place him later leave the question open, as he would in that case be a contemporary of Jeremiah. Luther holds that Obadiah followed Jeremiah. — Schnurrer makes it more probable that Jeremiah's prophecy is an altered form of Obadiah's. Eichhorn, Schultz, Rosenmü ller, and Maurer agree with him. Whatever be the relation of Jeremiah to Obadiah, Obadiah is independent of Jeremiah. The verses common to the two form in Obadiah one compact, consecutive, progressive piece, in Jeremiah they are scattered and disjointed. This feeling was so powerful with Ewald that he could not regard Obadiah as the follower of Jeremiah, but concluded that Obadiah 1:1-10 and Obadiah 1:17-18 belonged to an earlier prophet, and had been appropriated bodily by Obadiah, i.e. the writer of the present book, and freely used by Jeremiah (Propheten, 1:399). Stahelin, too, under the same feeling, though he regards Jeremiah's original prophecy as having preceded Obadiah's, yet fancies that Jeremiah in his latest revision of his prophecies used Obadiah, and embodied much of him in his own work! (Einl. p. 312). Bleek, who also considers Jeremiah prior to Obadiah, yet comes to this conclusion because he fancies the day of Jacob's calamity can be no other than the Chaldaean conquest; still he does not bring the question to the test of a comparison of the two prophets (Einl. p. 537).
There are likewise remarkable coincidences between Obadiah and others of the minor prophets, especially Joel. Both call the treatment of Judah by Edom violence (Joel 4:19; Obadiah 1:10, comp. Amos 1:11); both complain of the carrying off a great spoil from Jerusalem (Joel 4:5; Obadiah 1:11); both say it was done by strangers (Joel 4:17; Obadiah 1:11): both use the formula, cast lots on Jerusalem (Joel 4:3; Obadiah 1:1; again in Nahum 1:10); both speak of the day of the Lord (Joel 4:14; 1:15; Obadiah 1:15); both make prominent the idea of requital in that day (Joel 4:4, 7; Obadiah 1:15); both speak of the remnant or refuge that shall be in that day (Joel 3:5; Obadiah 1:17), both saying it shall be on Mount Zion (Joel 3:5; Obadiah 1:17), and both that it shall be holy (Joel 4:17; Obadiah 1:17); both employ the simile of fire for a destroyer (Joel 2:3; Joel 2:5; Obadiah 1:18); and both clinch their predictions against Jerusalem's foes and invaders with the formula, For the Lord hath said it (Joel 4:8; Obadiah 1:18). The correspondences with Amos are fewer, consisting mainly in the similarity of their allusions to Edom, the absorption of which by Israel is predicted by both (Amos 9:12; Obadiah 1:21), an advance over Joel, who merely predicts Edom's destruction.
III. Contents, and their Verification. — The book of Obadiah is a sustained denunciation of the Edomites, melting, as is the wont of the Hebrew prophets (comp. Joel 3; Amos 9), into a vision of the future glories of Zion, when the arm of the Lord should have wrought her deliverance and have repaid- double upon her enemies. Previous to the captivity, the Edomites were in a similar relation to the Jews with that which the Samaritans afterwards held. They were near neighbors, and they were relatives. The result was that intensified hatred which such conditions are likely to produce, if they do not produce cordiality and good-will. The Edomites are the types of those who ought to be friends and are not — of those who ought to be helpers, but in the day of calamity are found "standing on the other side." The prophet first touches on their pride and self-confidence, and then denounces their "violence against their brother Jacob" at the time of the capture of Jerusalem. There is a sad tone of reproach in the form into which he throws his denunciation, that contrasts with the parallel denunciations of Ezekiel (25 and 35), Jeremiah (Lamentations 4:21), and the author of the 137th Psalm, which seem: to have been uttered on the same occasion and for the same cause. The Psalmist's "Remember the children of Edom, O Lord, in the day of Jerusalem, how they said, Down with it, down with it, even to the ground!" coupled with the immediately succeeding imprecation on Babylon, is a sterner utterance, by the side of which the "Thou shouldest not" of Obadiah appears rather as the sad remonstrance of disappointment. He complains that they looked on and rejoiced in the destruction of Jerusalem; that they triumphed over her and plundered her; and that they cut off the fugitives who were probably making their way through Idumaea to Egypt.
The last six verses are the most important part of Obadiah's prophecy. The vision presented to the prophet is that of Zion triumphant over the Idumaeans and all her enemies, restored to her ancient possessions, and extending her borders northward and southward and eastward' and westward. He sees the house of Jacob and the house of Joseph (here probably denoting the ten tribes and the two) consuming the house of Esau as fire devours stubble (Lamentations 4:18). The inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem, now captive at Sepharad, are to return to Jerusalem, and to occupy not only the city itself, but the southern tract of Judaea (Lamentations 4:20). Those who had dwelt in the southern tract are to overrun and settle in Idumaea (Lamentations 4:19). The former inhabitants of the plain country are also to establish themselves in Philistia (ibid.). To the north the tribe of Judah is to extend itself as far as the fields of Ephraim and Samaria, while Benjamin, thus displaced, takes possession of Gilead (ibid.). The captives of the ten tribes are to occupy the northern region from the borders of the enlarged Judah as far as Sarepta, near Sidon (Lamentations 4:20). What or where Sepharad is no one knows. The Sept., perhaps by an error of the copyist, reads Ε᾿φραθά . Jerome's Hebrew tutor told him the Jews held it to be the Bosporus. Jerome himself thinks it is derived from an Assyrian word meaning "bound" or "limit," and understands it as signifying "scattered abroad." So Maurer, who compares οἱ ἐν τῇ διασπορᾶ '/ of James 1:1. Hardt, who has devoted a volume to the consideration of the question, is in favor of Sipphara in Mesopotamia. The modern Jews pronounce for Spain. Schultz is probably righti in saying that it is some town or district in Babylonia, otherwise unknown.
The question is asked, Have the prophet's denunciations of the Edomites been fulfilled, and has his vision of Zion's glories been realized? Typically, partially, and imperfectly they have been fulfilled, but, as Rosenmü ller justly says, they await a fuller accomplishment. The first fulfillment of the denunciation on Edom in all probability took place a few years after its utterance. For we read in Josephus (Ant. 10:9, 7) that five years after the capture of Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar reduced the Ammonites and Moabites, and after their reduction made an expedition into Egypt. This he could hardly have done without at the same time reducing Idumaea. A more full, but still only partial and typical fulfillment took place in the time of John Hyrcanus, who utterly reduced the Idumaeans and only allowed them to remain in their country on the condition of their being circumcised and accepting the Jewish rites, after which their nationality was lost forever (Joseph. Ant. 13:9, 1). Similarly the return from the Babylonian captivity would typically and imperfectly fulfill the promise of the restoration of Zion and the extension of her borders. But "magnificentior sane est haec promissio quim ut ad Sorobabelica aut Macabaica tempora referri possit," says Rosenmü ller on James 1:21; and "necessitas cogit ut omnia ad praedicationem evangelii referamus," says Luther. The full completion of the prophetical descriptions of the glories of Jerusalem — the future golden age towards which the seers stretched their hands with fond yearnings — is to be looked for in the Christian, not in the Jewish Zion — in the antitype rather than in the type. Just as the fate of Jerusalem and the destruction of the world are interwoven and interpenetrate each other in the prophecy uttered by our Lord on the mount, and his words are in part fulfilled by the one event, but only fully accomplished in the other, so in figure and in type the predictions of Obadiah may have been accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar, Zerubbabel, and Hyrcanus,but their complete fulfillment is reserved for the fortunes of the Christian Church and her adversaries. Whether that fulfillment has already occurred in the spread of the Gospel through the world, or whether it is yet to come (Revelation 20:4), or whether, being conditional, it is not to be expected save in a limited and curtailed degree, is not to be determined here.
The book of Obadiah is a favorite study of the modern Jews. It is here especially that they read the future fate of their own nation and of the. Christians. Those unversed in their literature may wonder where the Christians are found in the book of Obadiah. But it is a fixed principle of rabbinical interpretation that by Edomites is prophetically meant Christians, and that by Edom is meant Rome. Thus Kimchi (on Obadiah) lays it down that "all that the prophets have said about the destruction of Edom in the last times has reference to Rome." So rabbi Bechai, on Isaiah 66:17; and Abarbanel has written a commentary on Obadiah resting on this hypothesis as its basis. Other examples are given by Buxtorf (Lex. Talm. in voc. אּדֵוֹם, and Synagoga Judaica). The reasons of this rabbinical dictum are as various and as ridiculous as might be imagined. Nachmanides, Bechai, and Abarbanel say that Janus, the first king of Latium, was grandson of Esau. Kimchi (on Joel 3:19) says that Julius Caesar was an Idumaean. Scaliger (ad Chron. Euseb. n. 2152) reports, "The Jews, both those who are comparatively ancient and those who are modern, believe that Titus was an Edomite, and when the prophets denounce Edom they frequently refer it to Titus." Aben-Ezra says that there were no Christians except such as were Idumaeans until the time of Constantine, and that Colstantine having embraced their religion, the whole Roman empire became entitled Idumaean. Jerome says that some of the Jews read רוּמָה, Rome, for דּוּמָה, Dumrah, in Isaiah 21:11. Finally, some of the rabbins, and with them Abarbanel, maintain that it was the soul of Esau which lived again in Christ. The color given to the prophecies of Obadiah, when looked at from this' point of view, is most curious. The following is a specimen from Abarbanel on Isaiah 21:1 :
"The true explanation, as I have said, is to be found in this: The Idumaeais, by which. as I have shown, all. the Christians are to be understood (for they took their origin from Rome), will go up to lay waste Jerusalem, which is the seat of holiness, and where the tomb of their God Jesus is, as indeed they have several times gone up already."
Again, on Isaiah 21:2 :
"I have several times shown that from Edom proceeded the kings who reigned in Italy, and who built up Rome to be great among the nations and chief among the provinces; and in this way Italy and Greece and all the western provinces became filled with Idumaeans. Thus it is that the prophets call the whole of that nation by the name of Edom." On Isaiah 21:8 :
"There shall not be found counsel or wisdom among the Edomitish Christians when they go up to that war."
On Isaiah 21:19: "Those who have gone as exiles into the Edomites', that is, into the Christians' land, and have there suffered affliction, will deserve to have the best part of their country and their metropolis as Mount Seir." On Isaiah 21:20: "Sarepta" is "France;" "Sepharad" is "Spain." The "Mount of Esau," in Isaiah 21:21, is "the city of Rome," which is to be judged; and the Saviors are to be "the [Jewish] Messiah and his chieftains," who are to be "Judges."
IV. Style, etc. — The language of Obadiah is pure; but Jahn and others have observed that he is inferior to the more ancient prophets in his too great addiction to the interrogatory form of expression (see Isaiah 21:8). His sentiments are noble, and his figures bold and striking (De Wette's Introd. Engl. transl.). De Wette's tradslator observes that his hatred towards other nations is not so deep and deadly as that of some of his younger contemporaries.
V. Commentaries. — The special exegetical helps on this prophecy are the following: Ephraem Syrus, Explanatio (in Svriac, in his Opp. v. 269); Jerome, Commentarius (in Opp. 2:145); Hugo a St. Vietore, Annotationes (in Opp. i); Luther, Enarratio (in Opp. 3:538); Regius, Commentariolus (Cellee, 1537, 4to; also in Opp. 3:100); Draconites, Commentariolus (Argent. 1538, 8vo; Rost. 1548, 8vo; 1598, 4to); Del Castillio, Commentarius (Romans 1556, 4to); Pontac, Commentarii [Rabbinic, includ. other books] (Par. 1566; Heb. oniy, Jena, 1678, 8vo); Grynaeus, Commentarius (Basil. 1-84, 8vo); De Leon, Commentarius [includ. Gal.] (Salmant. 1589, 4to); Drusius, Lectiones [includ. other books] (Lugd. 1595, 8vo); Leucht, Erklarung (Darmst. 1606, 4to); Reynolds, Application (Lond. 1613, 4to); Reuter, Commentarius (Fr. ad Od. 1617, 4to); Gesner, Commentarius (Hamb. 1618, 8vo); Zierlin, Erkldrung (Rotenb. 1620, 4to); Mercier, Commentarii [from the Rabbins, includ. other books] (Lugd. 1621, 4to); Tarnovius, Commentarius (Rost. 1624, 4to); Marbury, Commentarii (Lond. 1639, 4to); Ellis, Commentarius (ibid. 1641, 8vo); Konig, Dissertationes (Alt. 1647, 4to); Leusden, Commentarii [from the Rabbins, includ. Joel] (Ultraj. 1657, 8vo); Stephens, Raslzi's Comment. [in Heb., includ. other books] (Par. 1658, 4to); Pilkington, — Exposition [includ. Hag.] (Lond. 1662, 8vo; also in Works, p. 201); Pfeiffer. Commentarius (Vitemb. 1666, 1670, 4to); Croze, Commentarius [Rabbinical] (Brem. 1673, 4to); Wasmuth, Raslzi Comment. [in Heb.] (Jen. 1678, 8vo); Acoluthus, Annotationes [on the Armen.] (Lips. 1680, 4to); Leigh, Commentariius (Hafn. 1697, 4to); Heupel, Annotationes (Argent. 1699, 4to); Outhof, Verklaaring (Gron. 1700, 8vo; Dort, 1730; 4to); Zierold, Erkldruing (Frankf. and Leips.' 1719 4to); Abresch, Specim. philol. [on vers. 18] (Fr. ad M. 1757, 4to); Schror, Erlauterung (Bresl. and Leips. 1766, 8vo); Happach, Anmerk. (Coburg, 1779, 8vo); Kohlers, Anmerk. [on certain parts] (in Eichhorn's Repert. 15:250); Schnurrer, Dissertatio (Tubing. 1787, 4to; also in his Dissertatt. p. 383); Holzapfel, Er'laute'ru.g (Rinteln, 1796, 8vo); Plum, Observationes [includ. Hab.] (Gotting. 1796, 8vo),— Grimm, Editio [onn the Syriac, includ. Jonah]. (Duisi. 1799, 8vo); Venema, Lectt. (in Ousc. Ultraj. 1810); Krahmer, Obser-vationes [on parts] (Marb. 1834, 8vo); Hendewerk, Enucleatio (Regiom. 1836, 8vo); Jager, Zeitalter Ob. (Tubing. 1837, 8vo); Caspari, Auslegung (Leips. 1842, 8vo; also in Delitzsch and Caspari's Exeg, Handb.). (See PROPHETS, MINOR).
9. A descendant of David (1 Chronicles 3:21), probably the son of Arnan (as the Sept. and Vulg. have it, reading בְּנוֹ, "his son," instead of בְּנֵי, "sons of"); apparently the same with JUDA (Luke 3:26) and ABIUD (Matthew 1:13) of Christ's genealogy (q.v.). B.C. cir. 470.
10. The son of Jehiel, and descendant of Joab, who led back from captivity. under Ezra, a company containing two hundred and eighteen male kinsmen (Ezra 8:9). B.C. 459.
11. A Levite, son of Shemaiah, and descended from Jeduthun (1 Chronicles 9:16). He appears to have been a principal musician in the Temple choir in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:25). B.C. cir. 446. It is evident, from a comparison of the last-quoted passage with 1 Chronicles 9:15-17 and Nehemiah 11:17-19, that the first three names, "Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, and Obadiah," belong to Nehemiah 11:24, and the last three, "Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub," were the families of porters. The name is omitted in the Vat. MS. in Nehemiah 12:25, where the Codex Fred. Aug. has Ο᾿βδίας and the Vulg. Obedia. In Nehemiah 11:17 this Obadiah is called "ABDA, the son of Shammua."
12. One of the priests who joined in the covenant with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:5). B.C. 410.
Obadiah, a name common to many distinguished Jewish writers, of whom the following are especially noteworthy:
1. OBADIAH DI BOZZOLO, so called from his native place, Bozaolo, in Italy, flourished about the beginning of the 14th century, and wrote בְּאֵר מִיַם חִיַּים, cabalistic expositions and explanations of the Jewish ritual, consisting of four parts, of which the first part, entitled עֵצ חִיַּים, "the tree of life," treats of meals; the second, מְקוֹר חִיַּים, "the fountain of life," treats of what is to be done when going to bed; the third, חִיַּאּם דֶּרֶךְ, "the way of life," treats of the reading of the law in the original and in the Chaldee paraphrase; and the fourth part, entitled אוֹרִח חִיַּים, "the path of life," treats, of mystic thoughts during prayer. Only the first two parts were printed (Salonica, 1546), but the whole work is to be found in MS. in the Oppenheim Library. See First, Bibl. Jud. 1:129; Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. 1:375; 3:260; Jocher, Allgemeines GelehrtenLexikon, s, v.
2. OBADIAH BEN-DAVID, who flourished about 1322, and wrote פהַ קַדּוּשׁ הִחֹדֶשׁ לְהָר מבם, a commentary on that section of Maimonides's (q.v.) Jad ha-Cheraka which treats on the Jewish calendar and astronomy, reprinted in the-edition of the Jad ha-Cheraka ed. by D. N. Torres (Amst. 1702, fol, and often since). See Fiirst, Bibl. Jud. 3:43; Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. 1:938 sq.; 3:865 sq.; Jocher, Allgemeinnes Gelehrten-Lexikon, s.v.
3. OBADIAH DA BERTINORE, who flourished A.D. 1470-1520, was a native of Citta di Castello, in the Romagna, Italy. In the year 1488 he left his native place for Palestine, where he soon occupied a high position; having been appointed chief rabbi at Jerusalem. This eminent place he held until his death, which occurred in 1520. He is especially known in Jewish literature for his commentary on the Mishna, the מַשְׁנָה פֵּרוּשׁ עִל שַׁשָּׁהסַדְרֵי, which is generally reprinted in the editions of the Mishla, and which has also been translated into Latin by Surenhusius in his excellent edition of the Mishna. Obadiah also wrote a commentary on Ruth, entitled פֵּרוּשׁ עִל רוּת, printed at Cracow under the title מַדְרִשׁ רוּת, and reprinted in the collection מַקְרָא קֹדֶש ׁ (Venice, 1585). Besides, he wrote a super- commentary on Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch, entitled עֲמִר נְקֵא (Pisa, 1810; Sdilikow, 1837; Czernowitz, 1857). See Furst, Bibl. Jud. 1:113 sq.; Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. 1:938; 3:865; De Rossi, Dizionario storico degli autori Ebrei (Germ. transl. by Hamberger); Jost, Gesch. d. Judenth . u. sSekten, 3:129; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, viii,' 259 sq. (2d ed. Leips. 1875, p. 248 sq., 280); 9:28 sq.; Cassel, Leitfaden fuir jid. Geschichte u. Literatur (Berl. 1872), p. 91, 107; Coxforte, Kore ha-Dorot, p. 30 b; Miscellany of Hebrew Literature (Lond. 1872, 1:113-150), where two letters of Obadiah are given from a Hebrew. MS., containing his travels from Italy to Palestine.
4. OBADIAH BEN-JACOB DE SFORNO, who figured as physician, divine, and commentator, was a native of Cesena, in Italy, and was born about the year 1470. In the year 1498 we meet him at Rome, as the teacher of the famous Reuchlin, whom he instructed in the Hebrew language. He then settled at Bologna, where he practiced medicine until his death in 1550. He wrote אוֹר יי, A Commentary on the Pentateuch (Venice, 1567): — A Commentary on the Song of Songs and Koheleth (ibid. 1567): — A Commentary on Job, entitled מַשְׁפִּט צֶדֶק (ibid. 1590): A Commentary on the Psalms (ibid. 1586): — A Commentary on Ruth: — A Commentary on the Later Prophets (i.e. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel); all these commentaries are reprinted in the Rabbinical Bible, entitled קְהַלִּת משֶׁה, edited by Frankfurter (q.v.) (Amst. 1724-1727, 4 vols. fol.): — A commentary on the treatise Aboth, פֵּרוּשׁ עִל פַּרְקֵי אָבוֹת reprinted in the Machasor of Bologna, 1541: — A treatise on metaphysics, entitled סֵ אוֹר עִמַּים (Bologna, 1537), against. atheists and Epicureans. Of this treatise Sforno made a Latin translation, which, with the commentary on Ecclesiastes, he dedicated to king John II of France. Besides, he also wrote some other works which have not as yet been published. See Furst, Bibl. Jud. 3:319; De Rossi, Dizionario storico degli autori Ebrei, p. 295 (Germ. transl. by Hamberger); Wolf, Biblioth. Hebr. 1:938-40; 3:866 sq.; 4:939; Da Costa, Israel and the Gentiles, p. 487; Jost, Gesch. d. Juden. u. s. Sekten, 3:121; Gritz, Gesch. d. Juden, 9:50, 94, 235; Etheridge, Introduction to Hebrew Literature, p. 414; Steinschneider, Catalogus librosrum Hebr. in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, col. 2075; Kitto, Cyclop. s.v. Sforno; Jahrbuch der Gesch. d. Judeni u. d. Judenthums, 2:345. (B. P.)
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Obadiah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​o/obadiah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.