Obadiah 1:20

20 And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad,[a] shall possess the cities of the south.

Obadiah 1:20 Meaning and Commentary

Obadiah 1:20

And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel
[shall possess] that of the Canaanites, [even] unto Zarephath
That is, the host or army, the great number of the children of Israel, that have been carried captive, upon their return shall possess that part of the land of Israel which was inhabited formerly by the Canaanites, even as far as to Zarephath, said to belong to Zidon, ( 1 Kings 17:10 ) ; and called Sarepta of Sidon; see ( Luke 4:26 ) . It is mentioned by Pliny F8 along with Sidon, where glass was made; and perhaps this place might have its name from the melting of glass in it, from (Pru) , which signifies to melt metals, glass it is called by Josephus F9 Sarephtha; who says it was not far from Sidon and Tyre, and lay between them: according to an Arabic geographer F11, it was twenty miles from Tyre, and ten from Sidon. Here the Prophet Elijah dwelt for a time; and in the times of Jerom F12 was shown a little tower, said to be his habitation, which travellers visited. Mr. Maundrell F13 speaks of this place as three hours' journey from Sidon, and is now called

``Sarphan, supposed (he says) to be the ancient Sarephath, or Sarepta, so famous for the residence and miracles of the Prophet Elijah; the place shown us for this city consisted of only a few houses on the tops of the mountains, within about half a mile of the sea; but it is more probable the principal part of, the city stood below, in the space between the hills and the sea, there being ruins still to be seen in that place, of a considerable extent?''
It was once a place very famous for wine; the wine of Sarepta is often made mention of by writers F14; perhaps vines might grow upon the hills and mountains about it; and this being a city of Phoenicia, on the northern border of the land of Israel, is very fitly observed as the limit of the possession of the Israelites this way; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which [is] in Sepharad, shall possess
the cities of the south;
the Jews, who were carried captive into Babylon, to Sepharad; some place, though unknown, perhaps in the land of Babylon. Calmet F15 conjectures it may be Sippara or Sipparat, in Mesopotamia, a little above the division of the Euphrates: and the Septuagint version renders it Ephratha; which perhaps is a corruption, of the Euphrates in the present copies: the Vulgate Latin version translates it Bosphorus; and so Jerom, who says that the Hebrew that taught him assured him that Bosphorus was called Sepharad; whither Adrian is said to carry the Jews captive. Kimchi and Aben Ezra interpret it of the present captivity of theirs by Titus, who upon their return to their land shall possess the, southern part of it, which originally belonged to the tribe of Judah, ( Joshua 15:20 Joshua 15:21 ) . If Sepharad, in the Assyrian language, signifies a border, as Jerom says it does, it denotes, as some think, that part of Arabia which borders on the south of Judea, that shall be inhabited by the Jews. Some render the words, "the captivity of Jerusalem shall possess that which is in Sepharad, and the cities of the south": but this is contrary to the accents, unless the words "shall possess" be repeated, and so two clauses made, "the captivity of Jerusalem [shall possess] that which is in Sepharad; they shall possess the cities of the south". The Targum and Syriac version, instead of Sepharad, have Spain; and so the Jewish writers generally interpret it. By the Canaanites they think are meant the Germans, and the country of Germany; by Zarephath, France; and by Sepharad, Spain; so Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, fancying that they who are now captives in these countries shall one day possess them: but the prophecy only respects their settlement in their own land, and some parts adjacent to it; or rather the enlargement of the church of Christ in the world. A late learned writer F16, is of opinion that some respect may be had to this passage in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in which the former makes mention of "five brethren" that he had, ( Luke 16:28 ) ; and are by the said writer thus reckoned: 1. the house of Jacob; 2. the house of Joseph, which are said to possess the south, with the mountains of Esau, and the plain; 3. Benjamin, which shall possess Gilead; 4. the captives from the Assyrian captivity; 5. the captives from the Jerusalem captivity, namely, by Titus Vespasian, who shall possess the cities of the south.

F8 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 19.
F9 Antiqu. l. 8. c. 13. sect. 2.
F11 Scherif Ibn Idris apud Reland. Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. l. 3. p. 935.
F12 Epitaph. Paulae, fol. 51. M.
F13 Journey from Aleppo p. 48. Ed. 7.
F14 Vid. Roland. ut supra.
F15 Dictionary, in the word "Sepharad".
F16 Teelmanni Specimen, & Explic. Parabol. p. 517.

Obadiah 1:20 In-Context

18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.
19 And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
20 And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.
21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. which...: or, shall possess that which is in
The King James Version is in the public domain.