Obadiah 1

1 [The] Vision of Obadiah. The Lord God saith these things to Edom. We heard an hearing of the Lord, and he sent a legate, either a messenger, to heathen men. Rise ye, and together rise we against him into battle. (The vision, or the prophecy, of Obadiah. The Lord God saith these things about Edom. We heard a word from the Lord, and he sent a messenger to the heathen. And he said, Rise ye, let us rise up together against Edom in battle.)
2 Lo! I gave thee (to be) little in heathen men, thou art full much worthy to be despised. (Lo! I made thee, O Edom, to be the least among the heathen, and thou art very worthy to be despised.)
3 The pride of thine heart enhanced thee, dwelling in the crazings of stones, araising thy seat. Which sayest in thine heart, Who shall draw me down into earth? (The pride of thy heart exalted thee, or raised thee up, thou living in the chinks of stones, and making thy home high in the heights. Who sayest in thy heart, Who can ever pull me down to the ground?)
4 Though thou shalt be raised as an eagle, and thou shalt put thy nest among stars, from thence I shall draw thee down, saith the Lord. (But even though thou shalt be raised up like an eagle, and even if thou shalt put thy nest among the stars, I shall still pull thee down from there, saith the Lord.)
5 If night thieves had entered to thee, if outlaws by night, how shouldest thou have been still? whether they should not have stolen things enough to them? If gatherers of grapes had entered to thee, whether they should have left namely raisins, or clusters, to thee? (If night thieves come in upon thee, yea, outlaws by night, do they not steal only what they want for themselves? And if gatherers of grapes come in upon thee, do they not at least leave the raisins, or the clusters, for thee? But thy enemies have left thee with nothing!)
6 How sought they Esau, searched the hid things of him? (Yea, how they sought out Esau, and searched for all his hidden treasures, or all his riches!)
7 Till to the terms they sent out thee; and all men of thy covenant of peace scorned, either deceived, thee, men of thy peace waxed strong against thee; they that shall eat with thee, shall set ambush, either treasons, under thee; (and they shall say,) there is no prudence (left) in him. (And they sent thee out unto thy borders; and all thy allies mocked, or deceived, thee, yea, men at peace with thee grew strong against thee; those who ate with thee, set ambush for thee; and they said, There is no wisdom left in him.)
8 Whether not in that day, saith the Lord, I shall lose the wise men of Idumea, and prudence (out) of the mount of Esau? (On that day, saith the Lord, I shall destroy the wise men of Edom, and leave no wisdom on the mount of Esau!)
9 And thy strong men shall dread of midday, either south, that a man of the hill of Esau perish. (And thy strong men, O Teman, shall have fear, and everyone on the mount of Esau shall perish.)
10 For slaying and for wickedness against thy brother Jacob, confusion shall cover thee, and thou shalt perish [into] without end (For the killing and the wickedness done against thy brother Jacob, shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever.)
11 In the day when thou stoodest against him, when aliens took the host of him, and strangers entered into the gates of him, and sent lot on Jerusalem, thou were also as one of them. (For on the day when thou stoodest aside, and when foreigners took all of his wealth, and strangers entered into his gates, and cast lots for Jerusalem, thou were just like one of them.)
12 And thou shalt not despise in the day of thy brother, in the day of his pilgrimage, and thou shalt not be glad on the sons of Judah, in the day of perdition of them; and thou shalt not magnify thy mouth in the day of anguish, (And thou should not have had glory on the day of thy brother, on the day of his misfortune, and thou should not have been happy over the sons of Judah, on the day of their perdition; and thou should not have opened thy mouth in laughter, and mocking, on the day of their anguish,)
13 neither thou shalt enter into the gate(s) of my people, in the day of falling of them; and thou shalt not despise in the evils of him, in the day of his destroying; and thou shalt not be sent out against his host, in the day of his destroying; (nor should thou have entered into the gates of my people, on the day of their falling; and thou should not have seized their treasures, or their riches, on the day of their destruction; and thou should not have gone out against their host, or their army, on the day of their destruction;)
14 neither thou shalt stand in the going out [of the ways], that thou slay them that fled; and thou shalt not close together the residues, either left men, of him, in the day of tribulation, (nor should thou have stood in the going out of the ways, so that thou could kill those who fled; and thou should not have enclosed their remnants, or those who were left, on the day of their tribulation,)
15 for the day of the Lord is nigh on all heathen men. As thou hast done, it shall be done to thee; he shall convert thy yielding into thine head. (for the day of the Lord is near for all the heathen. As thou hast done, now it shall be done to thee; and what thou hast yielded, shall now return upon thy own head.)
16 For as ye drank on mine holy hill, all heathen men shall drink busily, and they shall drink, and they shall swallow up; and they shall be as if they be not. (For as ye drank on my holy hill, all the heathen shall busily drink, and they shall drink, and they shall swallow it all down; and then they shall be as if they had never been.)
17 And salvation shall be in the hill of Zion, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall wield them which wielded them. (And deliverance shall be upon Mount Zion/And those who escape shall be upon Mount Zion, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall rule those who once ruled them.)
18 And the house of Jacob shall be fire, and the house of Joseph shall be flame, and the house of Esau shall be stubble; and they shall be kindled in them, and they shall devour them; and remnants shall not be of the house of Esau, for the Lord spake (and no one of the house of Esau shall be left, for the Lord hath spoken).
19 And these that be at the south, shall inherit the hill of Esau; and they that be in the low fields, shall inherit Philistines; and they shall wield the country of Ephraim, and the country of Samaria; and Benjamin shall wield Gilead. (And then those who be at the south, or in the Negeb, shall inherit the mount of Esau; and those who be in the low lands, or in the Shephelah, shall inherit the Philistines; and they shall possess the countryside of Ephraim, and the countryside of Samaria; and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.)
20 And transmigration, either passing over, of this host of sons of Israel shall wield all places of Canaanites, till to Zarephath; and the transmigration of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall wield the cities of the south. (And this army of the exiles of the Israelites shall possess all the places of the Canaanites, unto Zarephath; and the exiles of Jerusalem, who be in Sardis, shall possess the cities of the south, or of the Negeb.)
21 And saviours shall go up into the hill of Zion, for to deem the hill of Esau, and a realm shall be to the Lord. (And the victors shall go up from Mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.)

Obadiah 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

The first part denounces the destruction of Edom, dwelling upon the injuries they inflicted upon the Jews. The second foretells the restoration of the Jews, and the latter glories of the church.

Destruction to come upon Edom. Their offences against Jacob. (1-16) The restoration of the Jews, and their flourishing state in the latter times. (17-21)

Verses 1-16 This prophecy is against Edom. Its destruction seems to have been typical, as their father Esau's rejection; and to refer to the destruction of the enemies of the gospel church. See the prediction of the success of that war; Edom shall be spoiled, and brought down. All the enemies of God's church shall be disappointed in the things they stay themselves on. God can easily lay those low who magnify and exalt themselves; and will do it. Carnal security ripens men for ruin, and makes the ruin worse when it comes. Treasures on earth cannot be so safely laid up but that thieves may break through and steal; it is therefore our wisdom to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Those that make flesh their trust, arm it against themselves. The God of our covenant will never deceive us: but if we trust men with whom we join ourselves, it may prove to us a wound and dishonour. God will justly deny those understanding to keep out of danger, who will not use their understandings to keep out of sin. All violence, all unrighteousness, is sin; but it makes the violence far worse, if it be done against any of God's people. Their barbarous conduct towards Judah and Jerusalem, is charged upon them. In reflecting on ourselves, it is good to consider what we should have done; to compare our practice with the Scripture rule. Sin, thus looked upon in the glass of the commandment, will appear exceedingly sinful. Those have a great deal to answer for, who are idle spectators of the troubles of their neighbours, when able to be active helpers. Those make themselves poor, who think to make themselves rich by the ruin of the people of God; and those deceive themselves, who call all that their own on which they can lay their hands in a day of calamity. Though judgment begins at the house of God, it shall not end there. Let sorrowful believers and insolent oppressors know, that the troubles of the righteous will soon end, but those of the wicked will be eternal.

Verses 17-21 There should be deliverance and holiness at Jerusalem, and the house of Jacob would again occupy their possessions. Much of this prophecy was fulfilled when the Jews returned to their own land. But the salvation and holiness of the gospel, its spread, and the conversion of the Gentiles, seem also to be intended, especially the restoration of Israel, the destruction of antichrist, and the prosperous state of the church, to which all the prophets bear witness. When Christ is come, and not till then, shall the kingdom be the Lord's in the full sense of the term. As none that exalt themselves against the Lord shall prosper, and all shall be brought down; so none that wait upon the Lord, and put their trust in him, shall ever be dismayed. Blessed be the Divine Saviour and Judge on Mount Zion! His word shall be a savour of life unto life unto numbers, while it judges and condemns obstinate unbelievers.

Chapter Summary


The title of this Book, in the Hebrew copies, is usually "Sepher Obadiah", the Book of Obadiah: the Vulgate Latin version calls it the Prophecy of Obadiah; and so the Arabic version: and in the Syriac version it is, the Prophecy of the Prophet Obadiah. His name signifies a "servant" or "worshipper of the Lord". Who he was, what his parentage, and in what age he lived, are things uncertain. The Seder Olam Zuta {a} places him in the reign of Jehoshaphat: and he is thought by some to be that Obadiah that was one of the princes he sent to teach the people, 2Ch 17:7. The ancient Jewish Rabbins take him to be the same with him that lived in the times of Ahab, and in his court, who hid the prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them, 1Ki 18:3,4; to which Aben Ezra objects, because he is not called a prophet, only one that feared the Lord; whereas to be a prophet is something greater. They also say he was an Edomite by birth, but was proselyted to the Jewish religion, and so a fit person to be employed in prophesying against Edom; and it is a tradition with them that his widow is the woman whose cruse of oil Elisha multiplied, 2Ki 4:1. Some have been of opinion that he was the captain of the third fifty, whose life Elijah spared in the times of Ahaziah; and who upon that left the king's service, and followed the prophet, and became a disciple of his; so Pseudo-Epiphanius {b}, and Isidorus Hispalensis {c}, who say that he was of Sychem, a city of Samaria, and of the field of Bethachamar, or Bethaccaron. Others would have him to be one of the overseers of the workmen in the house of the Lord, in the times of Josiah, 2Ch 34:12; to which Mr. Lively {d} inclines; though others, going according to the order of the books in the canon of Scripture, which is not to be depended on, place him earlier, and make him contemporary with Hosea, Joel, and Amos, as Grotius {e}, Huetius {f}, and Lightfoot {g}: but he seems rather to be contemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel, with whose prophecies this agrees, as may be observed by comparing it with Jer 49:1-39, Eze 25:1-17; and to have lived and prophesied after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; in which the Edomites, against whom he prophesies, had a concern; see Ob 1:11-14, Ps 137:7; though Dr. Lightfoot thinks these prophecies refer either to the sacking of Jerusalem by Shishak king of Egypt, 1Ki 14:25; or by the Philistines and Arabians, 2Ch 21:16,17; or by Joash king of Israel, 2Ch 25:21; so that, upon the whole, it is not certain; and, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi own, it is not known in what age this prophet lived: Bishop Usher {h} places his prophecy in the twelfth year of Jeconiah's captivity. However, there is no doubt to be made of the authenticity of the prophecy; as may be concluded, not only from the title of it, and the solemn manner in which it begins; but from the matter of it, and the accomplishment of what is contained in it; as well as from the testimony borne to it in the New Testament, in which not only the book of the minor prophets, in which this stands, is quoted, Ac 7:42; but a passage in it, Ob 1:8; is referred to in 1Co 1:19; as is thought by some learned men. I have only to observe, that, according to Pseudo-Epiphanius {i}, he died in Bethachamar, where he is said to be born, and was buried in the sepulchre of his ancestors; but, according to Jerom {k} and Isidore {l}, his sepulchre is in Sebaste or Samaria; which remained to the times of Jerom, near those of the Prophet Elisha and John the Baptist. Monsieur Thevenot {m} says that John Baptist here lies buried between the Prophets Elisha and Abdias.

{a} P. 103. {b} De Prophet. Vid. c. 15. {c} De Vita & Mort. Sanct. c, 44. {d} In loc. {e} In loc. {f} Demonstrat. Evangel. Prop. 4. p. 290. {g} Works, vol. 1. p. 96. {h} Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3417 or 587 B.C. {i} Ut supra. (De Prophet. Vid. c. 15.) {k} Comment. in loc. & in Epitaph. Paulae, fol. 59. M. {l} Ut supra. (De Vita & Mort. Sanct. c, 44.) {m} Travels, par. 1. B. 1. ch. 56. p. 216.


This prophecy of Obadiah is the least of the minor prophets, consisting but of one chapter; the subject of it is Edom, whose destruction is foretold, and is to be considered as a type of the enemies of Christ and his kingdom, and especially of the Roman antichrist. After the preface, the rumour of war, and preparation for it, which would issue in the ruin of Edom, are observed, Ob 1:1,2; because of their pride, confidence, and security, Ob 1:3,4; which should be complete and entire, Ob 1:5,6; notwithstanding their allies, who would deceive them; and the wisdom of their wise men, which should be destroyed; and the strength of their mighty men, who would be dismayed, Ob 1:7-9; and this should come upon them, chiefly because of their ill usage of the Jews at the time of Jerusalem's destruction, which is enlarged upon, Ob 1:10-14; and this would be when all the nations round about them would be destroyed, Ob 1:15,16; and then deliverance is promised to the Jews, who should not only enjoy their own possessions, but the land of the Edomites, wasted by them, Ob 1:17-20; and the book is concluded with a glorious prophecy of the kingdom of the Messiah, Ob 1:21.

Obadiah 1 Commentaries

Copyright © 2001 by Terence P. Noble. For personal use only.