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Obadiah 1:19-20

Context

1:19 The people of the Negev 1  will take possession 2  of Esau’s mountain,

and the people of the Shephelah 3  will take

possession 4  of the land of 5  the Philistines.

They will also take possession of the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria,

and the people of Benjamin will take possession 6  of Gilead. 7 

1:20 The exiles of this fortress 8  of the people of Israel

will take possession 9  of what belongs to

the people of Canaan, as far as Zarephath, 10 

and the exiles of Jerusalem 11  who are in Sepharad 12 

will take possession of the towns of the Negev.

1 tn Heb “the Negev”; ASV “the South”; NCV, TEV “southern Judah.” The Hebrew text does not have the words “the people of,” but these words have been supplied in the translation for clarity. The place name “the Negev” functions as a synecdoche (container for contents) for the people living in the Negev.

sn The Negev is a dry, hot, arid region in the southern portion of Judah.

2 sn The verb יָרַשׁ (yarash, “to take possession of [something]”) which is repeated three times in vv. 19-20 for emphasis, often implies a violent means of acquisition, such as through military conquest. Obadiah here pictures a dramatic reversal: Judah’s enemies, who conquered them then looted all her valuable possessions, will soon be conquered by the Judeans who will in turn take possession of their valuables. The punishment will fit the crime.

3 tn The Hebrew text does not have the words “the people of,” but they are supplied in the translation since “the Shephelah” functions as a synecdoche referring to residents of this region.

sn The Shephelah as a region refers to the Palestinian foothills that rise from the coastal plain. In much of Old Testament times they served as a divide between the people of Judah and the Philistines.

4 tn The phrase “will take possession” does not appear in this clause, but is implied from its previous use in this verse. It is supplied in the translation for the sake of smoothness.

5 tn The words “the land of” are not present in the Hebrew text. They are supplied in the translation for clarity.

6 tn The phrase “will take possession” does not appear in this clause, but is implied from its previous use in this verse. It is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

7 sn Gilead is a mountainous region on the eastern side of the Jordan River in what is today the country of Jordan.

8 tn Or “army” (TEV); KJV, NAB, NASB “host”; NIV “company.” Some text critics suggest revocalizing MT הַחֵל (hakhel, “the fortress”) to the place- name הָלָה (halah, “Halah”; so NRSV), the location to which many of the Israelite exiles were sent in the 8th century (2 Kgs 7:6; 18:11; 1 Chr 5:26). The MT form is from הַיִל (hayil, “strength”), which is used elsewhere to refer to an army (Exod 14:17; 1 Sam 17:20; 2 Sam 8:9), military fortress (2 Sam 20:15; 22:33), leaders (Exod 18:21) and even wealth or possessions (Obad 1:11, 13).

9 tn The Hebrew text has no verb here. The words “will possess” have been supplied from the context.

10 sn Zarephath was a Phoenician coastal city located some ten miles south of Sidon.

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

12 sn The exact location of Sepharad is uncertain. Suggestions include a location in Spain, or perhaps Sparta in Greece, or perhaps Sardis in Asia Minor. For inscriptional evidence that bears on this question see E. Lipinski, “Obadiah 20,” VT 23 (1973): 368-70. The reason for mentioning this location in v. 20 seems to be that even though it was far removed from Jerusalem, the Lord will nonetheless enable the Jewish exiles there to return and participate in the restoration of Israel that Obadiah describes.



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