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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Obadiah 1

Verse 1

Oba 1:1. The book of Obadiah is the shortest one in the Old Testament and is one of the minor prophets. There are two main subjects treated in the book; the denunciations against Edom and the return of Israel from the captivity. According to verse 11 the book is to be dated about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchad-nezzar. Vision of Obadiah means that he was shown a picture of the doom of Edom. Humour means an authentic message from the Lord, not merely some floating speculation as the word usually denotes. An ambassador is a herald or messenger who is sent out from an authoritative source to de-liver a decree. Such a messenger had been sent out among the nations concerning the land of Edom and Obadiah had heard about It. The gist of the rumour or message was that the nations were to rise up and be arrayed against the doomed people.

Verse 2

Oba 1:2. Among the heathen might imply that Edom was not one of the heathen as he is said to be among them. However, the word is also rendered “nation" in many places and It is so used In this one. The original word means any group or nation of people regardless of what religion they profess. This verse means that the Edomites were doomed by the Lord to become one of the smaller nations and to be looked down upon.

Verse 3

Oba 1:3, I shall make a quotation from an authentic work of reference concerning Edom: “Edom is emphatically a land of mountains. On the west, along the side of Arabah, is a line of tow limestone hills. Back of these rise higher, igneous bocks [emphasis mine, E. M. Z.J, surmounted by variegated sandstone, of peculiar color, 2,000 feet high. The eastern side of the mountain slopes gently away into the Arabian Desert. But., though rough, the land is rich, and the terraced hillsides have in ail ages been bright with vegetation, and its people have been prosperous . . . Mount Seir was first settled by the Horites, or Horim, like the inhabitants of Palestine a people of unknown origin. During the laler patriarchal age it was conquered and possessed by Esau, the brother of Jacob, and ever after occupied by his descendants, the Edomites . . . They joined the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar in the destruction of Jerusalem, for which the later prophecies and Psalms gave them hitter denunciations . . . The Edomites, or Idumeans, south of Palestine, were conquered by the Maceabean princes and incorporated with the Jews, b, c, 130, and the Naba- thean kingdom was annexed to the Roman Empire, a. i>. 105."-Rand-Mc- Nally Bible Atlas, page 45. This quotation will explain the phrase clefts of the rock in this verse, and it also will show the fulfillment of predictions in the other verses about the downfall of the Edomites. The reader will therefore do well to take notice of its contents, for it will be referred lo again.

Verse 4

Oba 1:4, The pride and self-exaltation of Edom is the subject of this verse. The Bord has no objection to a nation’s desire to be strong and selfsupporting. but He will not tolerate pride in either nations or individuals.

Verse 5

Oba 1:5. Moffatt’s translation renders the words in parenthesis by, ""What a downfall is yours’” The thought is that the ruin predicted to be coming on Edom Will be so great and complete that even the Lord is caused to make an exclamation. It will be even more complete than the Work of thieves in looting a place. They would at least have stopped when they had what they wanted for them-selves, and hence there would have been some [margin says “gleaning.”] grapes left. But when the Lord gets through with the chastisement of Edom there will be nothing left.

Verse 6

Oba 1:6. This verse is another prediction in the form of an exclamation, and corresponds with the thought of the preceding paragraph.

Verse 7

Oba 1:7. Men of thy confederacy has reference to the allies Of Edom. When the test comes they will turn against him and drive him to the border, which means that Edom will be driven to the last extremity. It frequently happens that the professed friends of a man will reverse themselves and become his enemies. The last two words of the verse are rendered "of it” in the margin, and both Moffatt and the American Revised version agree with it. The idea is that Edom’s professed friends were weaving a web around him and he did not have the good sense to realize it.

Verse 8

Oba 1:8. That day refers to the time when the overthrow- of Edom was to take place. The nation as a whole waB to be ruined, but also its wise men were to be shown to be unable to preserve the country by their leadership.

Verse 9

Oba 1:9. Tern an was a district located by or adjoining the land of Edom if not a part of it. Mount of Esau is equivalent to "Mount Seir” (Gen 14:6). The mighty men means the leaders upon whom the inhabitants of the country of Edom relied for guidance. Their apparent wisdom w-ill be exposed and they will be left overwhelmed with dismay.

Verse 10

Oba 1:10. The relation of brother to Jacob was a bodily one (Gen 25:25-26), and their descendants are referred to in history and prophecy as if they were meant personally. The two groups were always regarded as being in a state of hostility against each other; especially the Edomites against Israel.

Verse 11

Oba 1:11, The various works of reference differ as to whether this verse is history or prophecy. I do not believe it makes any difference as far as its truthfulness is concerned, for Obadiah was writing by inspiration (verse 1) of God, and with Him all is ail absolute “now” as to its surety. The truth of the matter is that Edom took pleasure from the misfortunes of his brother Jacob, and also participated to some extent in connection with those misfortunes. An important principle is expressed in this verse by the first and last groups of words: Tn the day that thou stoodest on the other side . . . even thou least as one of them. Even had Edom taken no physical part in the misfortunes of Israel, the fact of his standing on the side opposite him, the other side, would have included him among the enemies of his brother; this principle is taught by Jesus in Mat 6:24; Mat 12:30. There is no "neutral" ground in questions ot right and wrong, but every man is either for or against that which is right.

Verse 12

Oba 1:12. The date referred to in this verse is evidently the time recorded in 2 Kings 25. for then it was that the kingdom of Judah was destroyed. Became a stranger means the inhabitants of Judah were carried away into a strange land (Babylonia). Looked is from eaaii and among the many words with which it is rendered in the King James version are approve, enjoy, gaze, regard, respect and think. These translations together with the preceding verse, suggest that Edom looked with detight upon the miseries of his brother. That alone would have him the object of God's wrath, but we shall see that, he did not stop with the pleasure of his eyes at gazing at the misfortune of Israel.

Verse 13

Oba 1:13. Not entered . . . day of calamity. It is propel' to show a friendly spirit for one in distress, but his home should not be invaded at such a time by morbid curiosity seekers. The context indicates that Edom entered and looked on the affliction of Israel with eyes of satisfaction. But he did not stop at that; instead, he took advantage of the distressed state of affairs to seize upon some of the valuables present.

Verse 14

Oba 1:14. Edom further opposed Israel by blocking the road by which he might have escaped from the invader, And there were some who were remaining in the home land, whom Edom helped in some way to be taken over by the enemy forces.

Verse 15

Oba 1:15. AR the heathen implies that other people besides the Edomites were to feel the wrath of God. That was true in more than one sense, for in overthrowing that one nation, others were given an indication and warning of what was to he the fate of all kingdoms of the world that followed practices displeasing to God.

Verse 16

Oba 1:16. Drinking a cup figuratively means to partake of some experiences, either pleasant or unpleasant (Psa 23:5; Psa 116:13; Jer 25:15 : Mat 20:23; Mat 26:39). Edom was destined to drink the cup of God’s wrath because of his assaults upon His holy mountain, and also the other nations were to feel the wrath of the Lord.

Verse 17

Oba 1:17. This verse introduces the second of the main subjects mentioned with the comments on verse 1, the return of the people of Israel from captivity. Other verses following will continue to predict some of the returning fortunes of the nation, including its retaking of certain lost territory.

Verse 18

Oba 1:18. Fire and flame are used figuratively of the glowing recovery of the people of God from their depressed state, and of the downfall of their old enemy, the house of Esau which means the Edomites. This nation was to be utterly overthrown as a separate ruling power as already predicted in this book.

Verse 19

Oba 1:19. The mention of the south, mount of Esau, plain, the Philistines, etc., is to indicate the various settlements that were to be observed when the Jews repossessed the land of Palestine after the return from exile.

Verse 20

Oba 1:20, This verse continues the subject started in the preceding one.

Verse 21

Oba 1:21. It is not a rare thing for the prophets to pass from a prediction of favor to come to fleshly Israel, and prophesy some good fortune to come upon spiritual Israel. (See Isa 1:29 with 2:1-4; 4: 2, 4; 40; 1-4; Eze 21:24-27.) This is very understand-able, for even the New Testament system of religion was introduced into the world through the Jewish nation, and they were the first to accept the Gospel. So this verse is a prediction of the kingdom that was to be the Lord's and "stand for ever."
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Obadiah 1". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/obadiah-1.html. 1952.