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Obadiah 1:12-16

Context

1:12 You should not 1  have gloated 2  when your relatives 3  suffered calamity. 4 

You should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah when they were destroyed. 5 

You should not have boasted 6  when they suffered adversity. 7 

1:13 You should not have entered the city 8  of my people when they experienced distress. 9 

You should not have joined 10  in gloating over their misfortune when they suffered distress. 11 

You should not have looted 12  their wealth when they endured distress. 13 

1:14 You should not have stood at the fork in the road 14  to slaughter 15  those trying to escape. 16 

You should not have captured their refugees when they suffered adversity. 17 

The Coming Day of the Lord

1:15 “For the day of the Lord 18  is approaching 19  for all the nations! 20 

Just as you have done, so it will be done to you.

You will get exactly what your deeds deserve. 21 

1:16 For just as you 22  have drunk 23  on my holy mountain,

so all the nations will drink continually. 24 

They will drink, and they will gulp down;

they will be as though they had never been.

1 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.

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

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

4 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.

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

6 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.

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

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

9 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.”

10 tn Heb “you, also you.”

11 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”).

12 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.

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

14 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.”

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

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

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

18 sn The term יוֹם (yom, “day”) is repeated ten times in vv. 11-14 referring to the time period when Judah/Jerusalem suffered calamity which Edom exploited for its own sinful gain. In each of those cases יוֹם was qualified by a following genitive to describe Judah’s plight, e.g., “in the day of your brother’s calamity” (v. 12). Here it appears again but now followed by the divine name to describe the time of God’s judgment against Edom for its crimes against humanity: “the day of the Lord.” In the present translation, the expression בְּיוֹם (bÿyom; literally, “In the day of”) was rendered “When…” in vv. 11-14. However, here it is translated more literally because the expression “the day of the Lord” is a well-known technical expression for a time of divine intervention in judgment. While this expression sometimes refers to the final eschatological day of God’s judgment, it may also refer occasionally to historical acts of judgment.

19 tn Heb “near” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); NCV “is coming soon.”

20 sn God’s judgment would not be confined to Edom. Edom would certainly be punished in just measure for its wrongdoing, but “the day of the Lord” would also encompass judgment of the nations (v. 15).

21 tn Heb “your deed will return on your own head.” Verses 15 and 16 provide an example of ironic reversal, whereby the tables are turned and poetic justice is served. This is a motif that is common in prophetic oracles against foreign nations.

22 tn The identification of the referent of “you” in v. 16a is uncertain. There are three major options: (1) On the surface, it would appear to be Edom, which is addressed in v. 15b and throughout the prophecy. However, when Edom is addressed, second person singular forms are normally used in the Hebrew. In v. 16a the Hebrew verb “you drank” is a plural form שְׁתִיתֶם (shÿtitem), perhaps suggesting that Edom is no longer addressed, at least solely. Perhaps Edom and the nations, mentioned in v. 15a, are both addressed in v. 16a. However, since the nations are referred to in the third person in v. 16b, it seems unlikely that they are addressed here. (2) Another option is to take the final mem (ם) on the Hebrew verb form (שְׁתִיתֶם) as an enclitic particle and revocalize the form as a singular verb (שָׁתִיתָ, shatita) addressed to Edom. In this case v. 16a would allude to the time when Edom celebrated Jerusalem’s defeat on Mount Zion, God’s “holy hill.” Verse 16b would then make the ironic point that just as Edom once drank in victory, so the nations (Edom included) would someday drink the cup of judgment. However, this interpretation is problematic for it necessitates taking the drinking metaphor in different ways (as signifying celebration and then judgment) within the same verse. (3) Another option is that the exiled people of Judah are addressed. Just as God’s people were forced to drink the intoxicating wine of divine judgment, so the nations, including those who humiliated Judah, would be forced to drink this same wine. However, the problem here is that God’s people are never addressed elsewhere in the prophecy, making this approach problematic as well.

23 sn This reference to drinking portrays the profane activities of those who had violated Jerusalem’s sanctity. The following reference to drinking on the part of the nations portrays God’s judgment upon them. They will drink, as it were, from the cup of divine retribution.

24 sn The judgment is compared here to intoxicating wine, which the nations are forced to keep drinking (v. 16). Just as an intoxicating beverage eventually causes the one drinking it to become disoriented and to stagger, so God’s judgment would cause the panic-stricken nations to stumble around in confusion. This extended metaphor is paralleled in Jer 49:12 which describes God’s imminent judgment on Edom, “If even those who did not deserve to drink from the cup of my wrath have to drink from it, do you think you will go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, but you also will certainly drink from the cup of my wrath.” There are numerous parallels between Obadiah and the oracle against Edom in Jer 49:1-22, so perhaps the latter should be used to help understand the enigmatic metaphor here in v. 16.



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