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Obadiah 1:1-14

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 

1:2 The Lord says, 9  “Look! I will 10  make you a weak nation; 11 

you will be greatly despised!

1:3 Your presumptuous heart 12  has deceived you –

you who reside in the safety of the rocky cliffs, 13 

whose home is high in the mountains. 14 

You think to yourself, 15 

‘No one can 16  bring me down to the ground!’ 17 

1:4 Even if you were to soar high like an eagle, 18 

even if you 19  were to make your nest among the stars,

I can bring you down even from there!” says the Lord.

1:5 “If thieves came to rob you 20  during the night, 21 

they would steal only as much as they wanted! 22 

If grape pickers came to harvest your vineyards, 23 

they would leave some behind for the poor! 24 

But you will be totally destroyed! 25 

1:6 How the people of Esau 26  will be thoroughly plundered! 27 

Their 28  hidden valuables will be ransacked! 29 

1:7 All your allies 30  will force 31  you from your homeland! 32 

Your treaty partners 33  will deceive you and overpower you.

Your trusted friends 34  will set an ambush 35  for 36  you

that will take you by surprise! 37 

1:8 At that time,” 38  the Lord says,

“I will destroy the wise sages of Edom! 39 

the advisers 40  from Esau’s mountain! 41 

1:9 Your warriors will be shattered, O Teman, 42 

so that 43  everyone 44  will be destroyed 45  from Esau’s mountain!

Edom’s Treachery Against Judah

1:10 “Because 46  you violently slaughtered 47  your relatives, 48  the people of Jacob, 49 

shame will cover you, and you will be destroyed 50  forever.

1:11 You stood aloof 51  while strangers took his army 52  captive,

and foreigners advanced to his gates. 53 

When they cast lots 54  over Jerusalem, 55 

you behaved as though you were in league 56  with them.

1:12 You should not 57  have gloated 58  when your relatives 59  suffered calamity. 60 

You should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah when they were destroyed. 61 

You should not have boasted 62  when they suffered adversity. 63 

1:13 You should not have entered the city 64  of my people when they experienced distress. 65 

You should not have joined 66  in gloating over their misfortune when they suffered distress. 67 

You should not have looted 68  their wealth when they endured distress. 69 

1:14 You should not have stood at the fork in the road 70  to slaughter 71  those trying to escape. 72 

You should not have captured their refugees when they suffered adversity. 73 

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 The introductory phrase “the Lord says” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation to clarify the identity of the speaker.

10 tn The Hebrew perfect verb form used here usually describes past events. However, here and several times in the following verses it is best understood as portraying certain fulfillment of events that at the time of writing were still future. It is the perfect of certitude. See GKC 312-13 §106.n; Joüon 2:363 §112.h.

11 sn Heb “I will make you small among the nations” (so NAB, NASB, NIV); NRSV “least among the nations”; NCV “the smallest of nations.”

12 tn Heb “the presumption of your heart”; NAB, NIV “the pride of your heart”; NASB “arrogance of your heart.”

13 tn Heb “in the concealed places of the rock”; KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “in the clefts of the rock”; NCV “the hollow places of the cliff”; CEV “a mountain fortress.”

sn The word rock in Hebrew (סֶלַע, sela’) is a wordplay on Sela, the name of a prominent Edomite city. Its impregnability was a cause for arrogance on the part of its ancient inhabitants.

14 tn Heb “on high (is) his dwelling”; NASB “in the loftiness of your dwelling place”; NRSV “whose dwelling (abode NAB) is in the heights.”

15 tn Heb “the one who says in his heart.”

16 tn The Hebrew imperfect verb used here is best understood in a modal sense (“Who can bring me down?”) rather than in the sense of a simple future (“Who will bring me down?”). So also in v. 4 (“I can bring you down”). The question is not so much whether this will happen at some time in the future, but whether it even lies in the realm of possible events. In their hubris the Edomites were boasting that no one had the capability of breaching their impregnable defenses. However, their pride caused them to fail to consider the vast capabilities of Yahweh as warrior.

17 tn Heb “Who can bring me down?” This rhetorical question implies a negative answer: “No one!”

18 sn The eagle was often used in the ancient Near East as a symbol of strength and swiftness.

19 tc The present translation follows the reading תָּשִׂים (tasim; active) rather than שִׁים (sim; passive) of the MT (“and your nest be set among the stars,” NAB). Cf. LXX, Syriac, Vg.

20 sn Obadiah uses two illustrations to show the totality of Edom’s approaching destruction. Both robbers and harvesters would have left at least something behind. Such will not be the case, however, with the calamity that is about to befall Edom. A virtually identical saying appears in Jer 49:9-10.

21 tn Heb “If thieves came to you, or if plunderers of the night” (NRSV similar). The repetition here adds rhetorical emphasis.

22 tn Heb “Would they not have stolen only their sufficiency?” The rhetorical question is used to make an emphatic assertion, which is perhaps best represented by the indicative form in the translation.

23 tn Heb “If grape pickers came to you.” The phrase “to harvest your vineyards” does not appear in the Hebrew, but is supplied in the translation to clarify the point of the entire simile which is assumed.

24 tn Heb “Would they not have left some gleanings?” The rhetorical question makes an emphatic assertion, which for the sake of clarity is represented by the indicative form in the translation. The implied answer to these rhetorical questions is “yes.” The fact that something would have remained after the imagined acts of theft or harvest stands in stark contrast to the totality of Edom’s destruction as predicted by Obadiah. Edom will be so decimated as a result of God’s judgment that nothing at all will be left

sn According to the Mosaic law, harvesters were required to leave some grain behind in the fields for the poor (Lev 19:9; 23:22; see also Ruth 2); there was a similar practice with grapes and olives (Lev 19:10; Deut 24:21). Regarding gleanings left behind from grapes, see Judg 8:2; Jer 6:9; 49:9; Mic 7:1.

25 tn Heb “O how you will be cut off.” This emotional interjection functions rhetorically as the prophet’s announcement of judgment on Edom. In Hebrew this statement actually appears between the first and second metaphors, that is, in the middle of this verse. As the point of the comparison, one would expect it to follow both of the two metaphors; however, Obadiah interrupts his own sentence to interject his emphatic exclamation that cannot wait until the end of the sentence. This emphatic sentence structure is eloquent in Hebrew but awkward in English. Since this emphatic assertion is the point of his comparison, it appears at the end of the sentence in this translation, where one normally expects to find the concluding point of a metaphorical comparison.

26 tn Heb “Esau.” The name Esau here is a synecdoche of part for whole referring to the Edomites. Cf. “Jacob” in v. 10, where the meaning is “Israelites.”

27 tn Heb “How Esau will be searched!”; NAB “How they search Esau.” The Hebrew verb חָפַשׂ (khafas, “to search out”) is used metonymically here for plundering the hidden valuables of a conquered people (e.g., 1 Kgs 20:6).

28 tn Heb “his” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); this is singular agreeing with “Esau” in the previous line.

29 tn Heb “searched out” (so NASB, NRSV); NIV “pillaged”; TEV “looted”; NLT “found and taken.” This pictures the violent action of conquering warriors ransacking the city in order to loot and plunder its valuables.

30 tn Heb “All the men of your covenant”; KJV, ASV “the men of thy confederacy.” In Hebrew “they will send you unto the border” and “all the men of your covenant” appear in two separate poetic lines (cf. NAB “To the border they drive you – all your allies”). Since the second is a noun clause functioning as the subject of the first clause, the two are rendered as a single sentence in the translation.

31 tn Heb “send”; NASB “send you forth”; NAB “drive”; NIV “force.”

32 tn Heb “to the border” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV).

33 tn Heb “the men of your peace.” This expression refers to a political/military alliance or covenant of friendship.

34 tn Heb “your bread,” which makes little sense in the context. The Hebrew word can be revocalized to read “those who eat bread with you,” i.e., “your friends.” Cf. KJV “they that eat thy bread”; NIV “those who eat your bread”; TEV “Those friends who ate with you.”

35 tn Heb “set a trap” (so NIV, NRSV). The meaning of the Hebrew word מָזוֹר (mazor; here translated “ambush”) is uncertain; it occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible. The word probably refers to something “spread out” for purposes of entrapment, such as a net. Other possibilities include “trap,” “fetter,” or “stumbling block.”

36 tn Heb “beneath” (so NAB).

37 tn Heb “there is no understanding in him.”

38 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV, NIV); NAB, NASB, NRSV “on that day.”

39 tn Heb “Will I not destroy those who are wise from Edom?” The rhetorical question functions as an emphatic affirmation. For the sake of clarity this has been represented by the emphatic indicative in the translation.

40 tn Heb “understanding”; NIV “men of understanding.” This undoubtedly refers to members of the royal court who offered political and military advice to the Edomite kings. In the ancient Near East, such men of wisdom were often associated with divination and occultic practices (cf. Isa 3:3, 47:10, 13). The Edomites were also renown in the ancient Near East as a center of traditional sagacity and wisdom; perhaps that is referred to here (cf. Jer 49:7).

41 tn Heb “and understanding from the mountain of Esau.” The phrase “I will remove the men of…” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness. Here “understanding” is a synecdoche of part for whole; the faculty of understanding is put for the wise men who possess it.

42 sn Teman, like Sela, was a prominent city of Edom. The name Teman is derived from the name of a grandson of Esau (cf. Gen 36:11). Here it is a synecdoche of part for whole, standing for all of Edom.

43 tn The Hebrew word used here (לְמַעַן, lÿmaan) usually expresses purpose. The sense in this context, however, is more likely that of result.

44 tn Heb “a man,” meaning “every single person” here; cf. KJV “every one.”

45 tn Heb “cut off” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NIV, NLT “cut down”; CEV “wiped out.”

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

47 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).

48 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).

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

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

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

52 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.

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

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

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

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

57 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.

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

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

60 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.

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

62 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.

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

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

65 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.”

66 tn Heb “you, also you.”

67 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”).

68 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.

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

70 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.”

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

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

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

TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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