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Book of Abdias

Summary of the Book of Obadiah

This summary of the book of Obadiah provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of Obadiah.

Author

The author's name is Obadiah, which means "servant (or worshiper) of the Lord." His was a common name (see 1Ki 18:3-16; 1Ch 3:21; 7:3; 8:38; 9:16; 12:9; 27:19; 2Ch 17:7; 34:12; Ezr 8:9; Ne 10:5; 12:25). Neither his father's name nor the place of his birth is given.

Date and Place of Writing

The date and place of composition are disputed. Dating the prophecy is mainly a matter of relating vv. 11-14 to one of two specific events in Israel's history:

    1. The rebellion of Edom against Judah during the reign of Jehoram (853-841 b.c.); see 2Ki 8:20-22; 2Ch 21:8-15. In this case, Obadiah would be a contemporary of Elisha.
    2. The Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem (605-586). Obadiah would then be a contemporary of Jeremiah. This alternative seems more likely.

The striking parallels between Ob 1-6 and Jer 49:9-10,14-16 have caused many to suggest some kind of interdependence between Obadiah and Jeremiah, but it may be that both prophets were drawing on a common source not otherwise known to us.

Unity and Theme

There is no compelling reason to doubt the unity of this brief prophecy, the shortest book in the OT. Its theme is that Edom, proud over her own security, has gloated over Israel's devastation by foreign powers. However, Edom's participation in that disaster will bring on God's wrath. She herself will be destroyed, but Mount Zion and Israel will be delivered, and God's kingdom will triumph.

Edom's hostile activities have spanned the centuries of Israel's existence. The following Biblical references are helpful in understanding the relation of Israel and Edom: Ge 27:41-45; 32:1-21; 33; 36; Ex 15:15; Nu 20:14-21; Dt 2:1-6; 23:7-8; 1Sa 22 with Ps 52; 2Sa 8:13-14; 2Ki 8:20-22; 14:7; Ps 83; Eze 35; Joel 3:18-19; Am 1:11-12; 9:11-12.
Since the Edomites are related to the Israelites (v. 10), their hostility is all the more reprehensible. Edom is fully responsible for her failure to assist Israel and for her open aggression. The fact that God rejected Esau (Ge 25:23; Mal 1:3; Ro 9:13) in no way exonerates the Edomites. Edom, smug in its mountain strongholds, will be dislodged and sacked. But Israel will prosper because God is with her.

Outline

  • Title and Introduction (1)
  • Judgment on Edom (2-14)
    • Edom's Destruction Announced (2-7)
      1. The humbling of her pride (2-4)
      2. The completeness of her destruction (5-7)
    • Edom's Destruction Reaffirmed (8-14)
      1. Her shame and destruction (8-10)
      2. Her crimes against Israel (11-14)
  • The Day of the Lord (15-21)
    • Judgment on the Nations but Deliverance for Zion (15-18)
    • The Lord's Kingdom Established (19-21)

From the NIV Study Bible, Introductions to the Books of the Bible, Obadiah
Copyright 2002 © Zondervan. All rights reserved. Used with permission.