Christian Churches of God

No. F031





Commentary on Obadiah




(Edition 2.0 20140906-20210206)


This text refers to the fate of Edom in the Last Days and is actually a reference to the combined group of Edom and Judah in the Last Days from the dispersion to the Return of the Messiah and the advent at Jerusalem.



Christian Churches of God

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Commentary on Obadiah


The name Obadiah means servant of the Lord. It is the name of twelve different people in the OT. We are unsure of who this prophet was.


It is unsure of when this was written and the first verses of 1-9 draw on the prophecies stated in Jeremiah 49:7-22 especially at 49:9, 14-16 where it is verbatim (cf. Soncino).  The work is dominated by the themes of justice and judgment for Edom.  


The struggles and hatred of Edom for his twin brother was experienced from the struggles in the womb and has continued on over history in a conflict not seen among brothers.


The conflicts occurred also with David both under Saul and later in his reign and down to the war with the Hasmoneans ca 130 BCE and the prophets continually cry for vengeance against Edom or exult in its overthrow.


Amos condemns Edom because he kept his wrath against Israel forever (Amos 1:11). 

(Other texts are noted by the Soncino as at Isa. ch. 34; Ezek. 35; Ps. 137:7; Lam. 4:21.)


John Hyrcanus ca 130 BCE defeated and subjugated the Edomites and Idumeans and they were brought into Second Century BCE Judaism and also became part of the Phoenician trading alliance. Herod the Great consolidated his position with Rome at the Battle of Actium and became ruler of Judea. From this time the Southern kingdom of the Judeans contained a large number of Idumeans or Edomites. The Galileans contained far less of them. The two people Edom and Judah scorned and hated each other. While many Jews joined the Christian faith Judah itself came to have a significant number of Edomites and the Jews of today contain perhaps far less that 18 percent Jews and some 10 percent Edomites and the rest are neither Jews nor Edomites and almost 70 per cent are not even Semitic. A portion are Arabs converted to Judaism after the dispersion. The rest are Hamites from North Africa or Canaan or Hittites from the fall of the Hittite empire at Troy, capital of Wilusia or Khazars, from the conversions in 730 CE.


With that aspect in mind it must be realised that these latter prophecies concerning Edom refer also to the occupations of Palestine in the last days by Zionists. These are the people that Christ refers to in Revelation 3:9 who are of the synagogue of Satan and who say they are Jews but are not. They will be made to bow down and do obeisance to the Philadelphian Church of the Last Days.


The prophecies concerning true Israel are in the works of the other prophets such as Nahum, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the other prophets concerning the last days. The DNA break up of modern Judaism is contained in the papers Genetic Origin of the Nations (No. 265) and Descendants of Abraham Part V: Judah (No. 212E).


Obadiah Chapter 1

1The Vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom: We have heard tidings from the Lord, and a messenger has been sent among the nations “Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”

The terms thus saith the Lord God are either a repeat of Jeremiah acknowledging the text as God hath said or a repeat at the order and authority of God directly. There seems little doubt that Obadiah is speaking with the direct authority of God. The use of we may refer to the other prophets or to we the Hebrew people. The singular is found in Jeremiah. The term messenger is sent or as the MT is translated sometimes an ambassador is sent obscures the use of the concept of God raising up the nations against Edom in battle to punish Esau as Edom. 


2Behold, I will make you small among the nations, you shall be utterly despised.

This text was accomplished by 70 CE with the dispersal and it flowed into the Jewish people by default after 135 CE after Hadrian’s dispersion. God is to make them insignificant in numbers as they became among Judaism and they were already despised.


3The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, whose dwelling is high, who say in your heart, "Who will bring me down to the ground?"

The capital of Edom was Petra and the city was a fortress entered by a narrow passage, and was used to kill their captives by hurling from the cliffs. They had remarkable isolation and stores of wealth. Their security was in a maze of cliffs, caves and rocks that afforded them protection. The Maccabees had their power destroyed. Their understanding was completely destroyed by the Pharisees after the fall of the Temple as was that of Judaism.


4Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, thence I will bring you down, says the LORD.

Although secure from man it is God that brings them down to destruction (cf. also Amos 9:2 for the concept. The phrase make (lit. set) the nest occurs in Numbers 24:22; cf. Soncino). 


5If thieves came to you, if plunderers by night -- how you have been destroyed! -- would they not steal only enough for themselves? If grape gatherers came to you, would they not leave gleanings?

The meaning is that normal thieves and robbers would have left something whereas the pillagers of Edom took everything.  Thus it is requited on their own heads with none to support them. God’s Law forbade the gleaners to go through a second time leaving something for the poor (Deut. 24:21). The parasites of Edom took everything. 


6How Esau has been pillaged, his treasures sought out!

The hidden places involved the storage of Edom’s treasures obtained from the trade routes and their thefts. It may be translated as hidden treasures.


7All your allies have deceived you, they have driven you to the border; your confederates have prevailed against you; your trusted friends have set a trap under you -- there is no understanding of it.

The betrayals in the year 70 CE with the destruction of the Temple by the Romans and the ruin of Jerusalem by the warring factions saw Edomites leave the precincts as is explained in the paper War with Rome and the Fall of the Temple (No. 298).


The Romans kept on and destroyed all who opposed them and ended with the siege and fall of the Masada.


The general theme of verses 6-7 is that whereas they had a secure fortress they were undone by treachery. The simple perfects pose a real problem for the translators and the rabbinical commentators. Was verse 7 simply a matter of simple perfects and had the overthrow of the Edomites already been accomplished, (which did not happen until their overthrow under John Hyrcanus) or are these prophetic perfects indicating a future overthrow?  The problem with the rabbinical commentators is that they know even under John Hyrcanus the overthrow involved the absorption of Edom into Judah and thus may involve a prophetic sanction of Judah and that is the real meaning and was to go on for centuries and the final phase is in the Last Days in modern Israel (cf. also Soncino fn. to v. 7, p. 130). Some interpretations are that the allies went with Edom to the borders and there deserted them leaving them to the enemy (so Metsudath David). Trusted friends were They that eat thy bread made snare under thee.  (RV margin) The Hebrew is literally thy bread (cf. Ps. 41:10 per Soncino). The proverbial cunning of the Edomites (Jer. 49:7) failed to discern the unreliability of their allies.


The next passages are considered to apply to verse 15ff. as a prophecy concerning God’s Judgment on Edom in the final days rather than with the preceding verses (cf. Soncino fn. to vv. 8-9).  In that day refers to the Last Days (v. 15ff.) and could refer to the coming of the Messiah or even as far forward as the Second Resurrection. It probably refers to the activities of Messiah prior to the Millennial system as that also involves Judah in Ezekiel’s Temple. The problem is that Edom is contained within Judaism and that means there are other problems about to hit modern Israel in the Last Days (the Holocaust was one of them). Thus Edom is a term for the people within modern Judaism.


The reference in the next section to Teman refers to the northern district of Edom (cf. also Amos 1:12)

8Will I not on that day, says the LORD, destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of Mount Esau? 9And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman, so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.

 (Compare Zeph. 1:9,10; 3:16; Hag. 2:23).  Edom was renowned for its wise men (Jer. 49:7).


This text may well refer to the subjugation of Edom by John Hyrcanus when they were living in the Negeb. It was inflicted as a punishment as we see. They ceased to exist as an independent nation from the dispersion onwards.

 10For the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off for ever. 11On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.


The law says that you shall not abhor an Edomite for he is your brother (Deut. 23:7). Edom sought to destroy and profit from the captives each time Judah was sent into captivity and was judged and condemned for that fact. They stood back and let the others do the fighting and sought to profit from the spoil. Many did the same in WWI and WWII but paid for it (cf. also Ps. 137:7; Isa. 34:5-7; 63:1-6; Lam. 4:21; Ezek. 25:12-14; Mal. 1:2-5); and Amos 1:11-12 in the earlier period of the prophets.


Judah was sent into captivity twice for their false religion and disobedience. The last time was to the Romans and although they sought to escape, Edom went into captivity with Judah and remained there.

12But you should not have gloated over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; you should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; you should not have boasted in the day of distress. 13You should not have entered the gate of my people in the day of his calamity; you should not have gloated over his disaster in the day of his calamity; you should not have looted his goods in the day of his calamity. 14You should not have stood at the parting of the ways to cut off his fugitives; you should not have delivered up his survivors in the day of distress.

This is an eight fold indictment of Edom given in a forceful manner. Thus Edom is judged but we see this is now far forward into the Last Days. So this text can only be speaking of modern Judah in Israel. As Judah has corrupted the Holy Mountain of God and corrupted His days of worship and His calendar so too will he be judged and dealt with under the witnesses Elijah and Enoch and under Messiah at the head of the Host and under the Vials of the Wrath of God.


15For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you, your deeds shall return on your own head. 16For as you have drunk upon my holy mountain, all the nations round about shall drink; they shall drink, and stagger, and shall be as though they had not been.

The reference in verse 15 is a reference also to Joel 4:14. Note here that Mt Zion will be established and made holy and this can only be in the restorations under the Messiah referred to in Ezekiel and in Zechariah (cf. also Jer. 25:15;  49:12; Ezek. 35:15 for the Wrath of God) . 


Verses 17-21 refer to the restoration of Israel. Verse 17 refers to the situation we see in Joel 4:17.

17But in Mount Zion there shall be those that escape, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.


18The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor to the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken.

The reference to the lack of survivors to Esau and the triumph of Jacob and Joseph refers to the complete eradication of modern Judaism and their false Hillel Calendar and their corruption of the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There is to be a complete restoration and unification of the nation of Israel.


We then go on to see what becomes of the land which is modern Israel. Those of the South will possess Mount Esau which is Southern Jordan. After the exile of Judah to the Babylonians, the Edomites took possession of the Negeb and it was from there that they were defeated by John Hyrcanus.  Thus the remnant of the Edomites in Judah will, after the restoration, be sent back to Mount Esau. The Philistines occupied the area of the Shephe’lah or lowlands which was the coastal plain.

19Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau, and those of the Shephe'lah the land of the Philistines;

The lands of the coastal plain will be re-occupied as part of the lands of Jacob. Joseph will possess the area of Samaria and the North and Benjamin will cross the Jordan and occupy Gilead on the East Bank which was formerly one of the other tribal areas belonging to Manasseh, father of Machir, father of Gilead. Thus Benjamin seems to inherit part of Manasseh’s inheritance also. Jordan as Ammon and Moab will become part of Israel also.


19bthey shall possess the land of E'phraim and the land of Sama'ria and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.

Thus the exiles of Israel will return to the lands of Israel and recapture his territories.


The text of verse 20 is better translated according to the AV and RV margins as “And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that which belongeth to the Canaanites even unto Zarephath” etc., and the Soncino agrees with that translation and says: “The meaning then is that the exiles of the Northern Kingdom will reconquer the North and the exiles of Judah the South.”


20The exiles in Halah who are of the people of Israel shall possess Phoenicia as far as Zar'ephath; and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sephar'ad shall possess the cities of the Negeb.

The Hebrew text is uncertain but Halah is in Northern Mesopotamia (cf. 2Kgs. 17:6; cf. fn. to Annotated Oxford RSV). So the Northern exiles return. Zar’ephath is a Phoenician town in the coastal plain between Tyre and Sidon in the Lebanon (cf. Soncino) and establishes the Northern limits of the Restored Kingdom from Lebanon into Mesopotamia at the Euphrates. This text with that of Joel shows why the OT Scriptures are attacked by Arab pseudo-Muslims. 


21Saviours shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD's. (RSV)                                                   

The reference to Saviours going up to Mount Zion is a reference to the Messiah and his Host. This refers theologically to the dominion of Messiah as King over all nations (cf. Pss. 22:28,47; 99:1-2). Some rabbinical scholars (e.g. Metsudath David) acknowledge that this is the meaning of the text and it is Messianic.         


Bullinger’s Notes on Obadiah (for KJV)


Chapter 1

Verse 1

Obadiah = Servant of Jehovah. Compare 1 Kings 18:3.

Thus saith, &c. The words of this prophecy, therefore, are not Obadiah"s, but Jehovah"s. Compare verses: Obadiah 1:1Obadiah 1:8Obadiah 1:18.

the Lord GOD. Hebrew Adonai Jehovah. App-4.

concerning Edom. See notes on p. 1244.

We have heard. The rhetorical difficulty may be removed by regarding these words as the words of Edom"s foes.

a rumour = tidings.

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4. Supply the logical Ellipsis (App-6): "from Jehovah [that Edom is to be attacked]".

and: or, and [already].

heathen = nations.

Arise ye. These are the words of the embassage.

in battle = the war.


Verse 2

Behold. Figure of speech Asterismos. App-6. Calling attention to the words of Jehovah.


Verse 3

the clefts, &c. Referring to the natural position of the Edomites. Compare 2 Kings 14:7.


Verse 4

Though, &c. The words of Jehovah.

set thy nest. Reference to Pentateuch (Numbers 24:21). App-92. Compare Habakkuk 2:9.

among the stars. Figure of speech Hyperbole. App-6.

saith the LORD = [is] Jehovah"s oracle.


Verse 5

if the grape gatherers. Some codices, with Aramaean, Septuagint, and Syriac, read "or if", &c.

would they not. ? Reference to Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 24:21). App-92. Compare Isaiah 17:6Isaiah 24:13.


Verse 6

How . . . ! Figure of speech Erotesis. App-6.

searched out: i.e. discovered by the enemies. Ginsburg thinks it should be read "stripped bare".


Verse 7

men. Plural of "enosh. App-14.

confederacy. See Psalms 83:5-8.

the men, &c. = the men who were wont to salute thee.

and. Some codices, with three early printed editions and Syriac, read this "and" in the text.

they that eat. The Ellipsis is thus correctly supplied.

wound = snare.

understanding in him: or, no discernment of it: in spite of their renown for wisdom. Compare Obadiah 1:8Jeremiah 49:7.


Verse 8

that day: i.e. the day of the fulfillment of the prophecy. Copmare Obadiah 15:16, and Isaiah 63:1-6Jeremiah 49:13,

mount = hill country.


Verse 9

Teman. Compare Jeremiah 49:7.


Verse 10

thy violence, &c. Reference to Pentateuch (Genesis 27:41-44Deuteronomy 23:7). App-92.


Verse 11

in the day. See App-18. Note the Figure of speech Repetitio (App-6) in verses: Obadiah 1:12-14.

strangers = aliens.

gates. Hebrew text = gate; but Hebrew margin, with some codices and two early printed editions, read "gates"(plural)


Verse 12

thou shouldest not have looked on, &c. All these are Prohibitives in Hebrew: i.e. they are addressed to Edom as from a spectator looking on and saying; "Look not thou, "&c.

children = sons.

spoken proudly. Hebrew enlarged thy mouth [with laughter]. Compare Psalms 35:21Isaiah 57:4Ezekiel 35:13.


Verse 14

stood in the crossway. Referring to some antecedent event by Figure of speech Hysteresis (App-6).

crossway = fork of the roads, or a mountain pass.


Verse 15

the day of the LORD. See note on Isaiah 2:11Isaiah 2:17. The prophecy is now enlarged, and includes all the nations who were Israel"s enemies.

as = according as. This prophecy was fulfilled, so far as Edom was concerned, later on (see 1 Macc. 5.465. Josephus, De Bell. iv. 5); likewise will the judgment on "all the nations" be literally fulfilled.


Verse 16

holy. See note on Exodus 3:5.

continually. Some codices, with four early printed editions (one Rabbinic in margin), read "round about",

swallow down: or, stagger. Only elsewhere in Job 6:3.

as though, &c. Solemn and note worthy words.


Verse 17

upon mount Zion. Compare Isaiah 46:13Joel 2:32.

shall be. Compare Jeremiah 46:28Joel 3:16Amos 9:8.

deliverance = a delivered remnant. Compare Joel 2:32.

and there shall be, &c. Compare Isaiah 1:26Isaiah 4:3Isaiah 4:4Joel 3:17.

shall possess, &c. Reference to Pentateuch (Numbers 24:18Numbers 24:19), App-92. Compare Isaiah 14:1Isaiah 14:2Joel 3:19-21Amos 9:11-15.


Verse 18

there shall not be. Compare verses: Obadiah 1:9-10Obadiah 1:9Obadiah 1:16.

any remaining = him that remaineth. Twenty-four centuries ago this prophecy was written, and to-day no Edomites can he identified. Compare Obadiah 1:14, and Numbers 24:19 (the same word). There will be a restored Edom, "in that day", or Isaiah 63:1-6Jeremiah 49:7-22 could not be fulfilled.


Verse 19

the south = the south [country], the Negeb. See note on Psalms 126:4. Compare Amos 9:12.

the plain = the lowlands, the Shephelah [shall possess]. Compare Zephaniah 2:7.

they = they [of the mountain], or [of the centre].

fields = territory.

and Benjamin = and [they of] Benjamin.


Verse 20

captivity = the captives: "captivity" being put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Adjunct), App-6, for the captives.

this host: i.e. the whole of the twelve tribes.

shall possess. Supply the Ellipsis thus: "they who are scattered among [the Canaanites]".

even, &c. Supply "[shall possess] as far as".

Zarephath = Sarepta, belonging to Sidon and Tyre. Sepharad is mentioned with Ionia and Greece (in the west) in the inscriptions of Behistun, vol. 1, line 15. See App-57. Jews were sold as slaves, and were taken to Spain by the Phoenicians to work in the mines near the great city of Ampuria, now being unearthed, near Figueras, in the province of Gerona. The "Jews" houses" are still shown at Besalu.

the cities, &c. Jewish tradition declares for Spain.

south. After Obadiah 1:20, supply the logical Ellipsis of thought thus: "[yea. My People shall enlarge their borders on all sides], and saviours", &c.


Verse 21

saviours = deliverers: i.e. earthly and human, as in Judges 3:9Judges 3:15. Compare Micah 5:4Micah 5:5. See the Structure, above.

the kingdom shall be the LORD"S. Compare Psalms 22:28Daniel 2:44Daniel 7:14Daniel 7:27Zechariah 14:9Revelation 11:15Revelation 19:6.