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Obadiah 1:1

Context
God’s Judgment on Edom

1:1 The vision 1  that Obadiah 2  saw. 3 

The Lord God 4  says this concerning 5  Edom: 6 

Edom’s Approaching Destruction

We have heard a report from the Lord.

An envoy was sent among the nations, saying, 7 

“Arise! Let us make war against Edom!” 8 

Obadiah 1:10-14

Context
Edom’s Treachery Against Judah

1:10 “Because 9  you violently slaughtered 10  your relatives, 11  the people of Jacob, 12 

shame will cover you, and you will be destroyed 13  forever.

1:11 You stood aloof 14  while strangers took his army 15  captive,

and foreigners advanced to his gates. 16 

When they cast lots 17  over Jerusalem, 18 

you behaved as though you were in league 19  with them.

1:12 You should not 20  have gloated 21  when your relatives 22  suffered calamity. 23 

You should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah when they were destroyed. 24 

You should not have boasted 25  when they suffered adversity. 26 

1:13 You should not have entered the city 27  of my people when they experienced distress. 28 

You should not have joined 29  in gloating over their misfortune when they suffered distress. 30 

You should not have looted 31  their wealth when they endured distress. 32 

1:14 You should not have stood at the fork in the road 33  to slaughter 34  those trying to escape. 35 

You should not have captured their refugees when they suffered adversity. 36 

1 sn The date of the book of Obadiah is very difficult to determine. Since there is no direct indication of chronological setting clearly suggested by the book itself, and since the historical identity of the author is uncertain as well, a possible date for the book can be arrived at only on the basis of internal evidence. When did the hostile actions of Edom against Judah that are described in this book take place? Many nineteenth-century scholars linked the events of the book to a historical note found in 2 Kgs 8:20 (cf. 2 Chr 21:16-17): “In [Jehoram’s] days Edom rebelled from under the hand of Judah and established a king over themselves.” If this is the backdrop against which Obadiah should be read, it would suggest a ninth-century b.c. date for the book, since Jehoram reigned ca. 852-841 b.c. But the evidence presented for this view is not entirely convincing, and most contemporary Old Testament scholars reject a ninth-century scenario. A more popular view, held by many biblical scholars from Luther to the present, understands the historical situation presupposed in the book to be the Babylonian invasion of Judah in the sixth century (cf. Ps 137:7; Lam 4:18-22; Ezek 25:12-14; 35:1-15). Understood in this way, Obadiah would be describing a situation in which the Edomites assisted in the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem. Although it must be admitted that a sixth-century setting for the book of Obadiah cannot be proven, the details of the book fit reasonably well into such a context. Other views on the dating of the book, such as an eighth-century date in the time of Ahaz (ca. 732-716 b.c.) or a fifth-century date in the postexilic period, are less convincing. Parallels between the book of Obadiah and Jer 49:1-22 clearly suggest some kind of literary dependence, but it is not entirely clear whether Jeremiah drew on Obadiah or whether Obadiah drew upon Jeremiah, In any case, the close relationship between Obadiah and Jer 49 might suggest the sixth-century setting.

2 sn The name Obadiah in Hebrew means “servant of the Lord.” A dozen or so individuals in the OT have this name, none of whom may be safely identified with the author of this book. In reality we know very little about this prophet with regard to his exact identity or historical circumstances.

3 tn Heb “the vision of Obadiah” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); TEV “This is the prophecy of Obadiah.”

4 tn Heb “Lord Lord.” The phrase אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה (’adonay yÿhvih) is customarily rendered by Jewish tradition as “Lord God.” Cf. NIV, TEV, NLT “Sovereign Lord.”

5 tn The Hebrew preposition לְ (lÿ) is better translated here “concerning” (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV, NLT) or “about” (so NIV, NCV, TEV, CEV) Edom rather than “to” Edom, although much of the book does speak directly to Edom.

6 sn The name Edom derives from a Hebrew root that means “red.” Edom was located to the south of the Dead Sea in an area with numerous rocky crags that provided ideal military advantages for protection. Much of the sandstone of this area has a reddish color. The Edomites were descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob (Gen 25:19-26).

7 tn Although the word “saying” is not in the Hebrew text, it has been supplied in the translation because what follows seems to be the content of the envoy’s message. Cf. ASV, NASB, NCV, all of which supply “saying”; NIV, NLT “to say.”

8 tn Heb “Arise, and let us arise against her in battle!” The term “Edom” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation to specify the otherwise ambiguous referent of the term “her.”

9 tn Heb “from.” The preposition is used here with a causal sense.

10 tn Heb “because of the slaughter and because of the violence.” These two expressions form a hendiadys meaning “because of the violent slaughter.” Traditional understanding connects the first phrase “because of the slaughter” with the end of v. 9 (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NLT). It is preferable, however, to regard it as parallel to the reference to violence at the beginning of v. 11. Both the parallel linguistic structure of the two phrases and the metrical structure of the verse favor connecting this phrase with the beginning of v. 10 (cf. NRSV, TEV).

11 tn Heb “the violence of your brother.” The genitive construction is to be understood as an objective genitive. The meaning is not that Jacob has perpetrated violence (= subjective genitive), but that violence has been committed against him (= objective genitive).

12 tn Heb “your brother Jacob” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NCV “your relatives, the Israelites.”

13 tn Heb “be cut off” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV).

14 tn Heb “in the day of your standing”; NAB “On the day when you stood by.”

15 tn Or perhaps, “wealth” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). The Hebrew word is somewhat ambiguous here. This word also appears in v. 13, where it clearly refers to wealth.

16 tc The present translation follows the Qere which reads the plural (“gates”) rather than the singular.

17 sn Casting lots seems to be a way of deciding who would gain control over material possessions and enslaved peoples following a military victory.

18 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

19 tn Heb “like one from them”; NASB “You too were as one of them.”

20 tn In vv. 12-14 there are eight prohibitions which summarize the nature of the Lord’s complaint against Edom. Each prohibition alludes to something that Edom did to Judah that should not have been done by one “brother” to another. It is because of these violations that the Lord has initiated judgment against Edom. In the Hebrew text these prohibitions are expressed by אַל (’al, “not”) plus the jussive form of the verb, which is common in negative commands of immediate urgency. Such constructions would normally have the sense of prohibiting something either not yet begun (i.e., “do not start to …”) or something already in process at the time of speaking (i.e., “stop…”). Here, however, it seems more likely that the prohibitions refer to a situation in past rather than future time (i.e., “you should not have …”). If so, the verbs are being used in a rhetorical fashion, as though the prophet were vividly projecting himself back into the events that he is describing and urging the Edomites not to do what in fact they have already done.

21 tn The Hebrew expression “to look upon” often has the sense of “to feast the eyes upon” or “to gloat over” (cf. v. 13).

22 tn Heb “your brother” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV); NCV “your brother Israel.”

23 tn Heb “in the day of your brother, in the day of his calamity.” This expression is probably a hendiadys meaning, “in the day of your brother’s calamity.” The Hebrew word נָכְרוֹ (nokhro, “his calamity”)_is probably a word-play on נָכְרִים (nokherim, “foreigners”) in v. 11.

24 tn Heb “in the day of their destruction” (so KJV, NASB, NIV); NAB, NRSV “on the day of their ruin.”

25 tn Or “boasted with your mouth.” The Hebrew text includes the phrase “with your mouth,” which is redundant in English and has been left untranslated.

26 tn Heb “in the day of adversity”; NASB “in the day of their distress.”

27 tn Heb “the gate.” The term “gate” here functions as a synecdoche for the city as a whole, which the Edomites plundered.

28 tn Heb “in the day of their distress.” The phrase is used three times in this verse; the Hebrew word translated “distress” (אֵידָם, ’edam) is a wordplay on the name Edom. For stylistic reasons and to avoid monotony, in the present translation this phrase is rendered: “when they experienced distress,” “when they suffered distress,” and “when they endured distress.”

29 tn Heb “you, also you.”

30 tn Heb “in the day of his distress.” In this and the following phrase at the end of v. 13 the suffix is 3rd person masculine singular. As collective singulars both occurrences have been translated as plurals (“they suffered distress…endured distress” rather than “he suffered distress…endured distress”).

31 tc In the MT the verb is feminine plural, but the antecedent is unclear. The Hebrew phrase תִּשְׁלַחְנָה (tishlakhnah) here should probably be emended to read תִּשְׁלַח יָד (tishlakh yad), although yad (“hand”) is not absolutely essential to this idiom.

32 tn See the note on the phrase “suffered distress” in the previous line.

33 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word פֶּרֶק (pereq; here translated “fork in the road”) is uncertain. The word is found in the Hebrew Bible only here and in Nah 3:1, where it means “plunder.” In the present context it seems to refer to a strategic intersection or fork in a road where bands of Edomites apprehended Israelites who were fleeing from the attack on Jerusalem. Cf. NAB, NIV, NLT “crossroads”; NRSV “crossings.”

34 tn Heb “to cut off” (so KJV, NRSV); NASB, NIV “to cut down.”

35 tn Heb “his fugitives”; NAB, CEV “refugees.”

36 tn Heb “in the day of distress” (so KJV, ASV).



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