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Obadiah 1:15-17

The Coming Day of the Lord

1:15 “For the day of the Lord 1  is approaching 2  for all the nations! 3 

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

You will get exactly what your deeds deserve. 4 

1:16 For just as you 5  have drunk 6  on my holy mountain,

so all the nations will drink continually. 7 

They will drink, and they will gulp down;

they will be as though they had never been.

1:17 But on Mount Zion there will be a remnant of those who escape, 8 

and it will be a holy place once again.

The descendants 9  of Jacob will conquer 10 

those who had conquered them. 11 

1 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.

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

3 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).

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

8 tn Heb “will be a fugitive.” This is a collective singular. Cf. NCV “some will escape the judgment.”

9 tn Heb “house” (so most English versions); NCV, TEV “the people of Jacob.” The word “house” also occurs four times in v. 18.

10 tn Heb “dispossess.” This root is repeated in the following line to emphasize poetic justice: The punishment will fit the crime.

11 tc The present translation follows the reading מוֹרִשֵׁיהֶם (morishehem; literally, “those dispossessing them”; cf. NAB, NRSV, CEV) rather than מוֹרָשֵׁיהֶם (morashehem, “their possessions”) of the MT (cf. LXX, Syriac, and Vg, followed by KJV, ASV, NASB).

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