Introduction

This shortest book of the Old Testament produces a quick and elusive response to one of the many adversarial acts of the Edomites against Israel in the midst of battle. Because the book is so short and lacking in great historical detail, many scholars vigorously debate everything from the historical situation to the date of the book even to the author. But for the intents and purposes of this study, we are going to consider it the earliest of the minor prophetic writings.

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About Obadiah the prophet

Little is known about this prophet. If the early date is accepted, the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was Ahaziah while the king of Judah, probably Obadiah�s home nation, was Jehoshaphat. His name means �Servant of Yahweh� and it is a common name in the Old Testament. No other biographical information is known about him. Many scholars have tried to link him with other people with the same name in the Hebrew Scriptures, but this would be like trying to figure out which �Jim� we�re talking about. We know that he had the faith to see God�s kingdom in the midst of a horrible experience, the sacking of Jerusalem.

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Two possible dates and historical situations

The first possible situation places Obadiah around 845 BC in the midst of a brutal uprising by the nations surrounding Judah. The Philistines and their allies were attempting to sack Jerusalem, a rarity in antiquity. The Edomites were involved up to the point that as a neighboring nation, they did not even lift a finger to help the Israelites in their struggle. In fact, Obadiah states that they were complicit in collaborating with the demise of Jerusalem. For this reason, he prophesies about their coming doom that would happen after another sacking of Jerusalem around 586 BC where Babylon carried off the Israelites and scattered the Hebrews. Edom does have record of a rebellion against King Jehoram in 2 Kings 8:20-22. The history between these two nations of conflict is long and contains many such skirmishes.

The second possible situation focuses in on the sacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Instead of coming to the aid and rescue of the Hebrews, the Edomites even helped to ransack the city and supported the entire endeavor. In the near future, the people of the Negeb. Nabonidus has a possible reference in his chronicle that details his burning and pillaging of the land of Edom in 552 BC, shortly after Jerusalem�s fall to the Babylonians in 586 BC. This would be the fulfillment of Obadiah�s prophecy.

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Obadiah outline

  1. God will deal with the Edomites because of their sins against Israel (1-14).
    1. The Lord will destroy Edom quickly using another nation (1-9).
      1. God will humble the Edomites through ravaging war (1-4).
      2. The enemies of Edom will leave no resource untouched (5-7).
      3. God will destroy them from greatest to least (8-9).
    2. Because of their arrogance and deception, Edom will fall (10-14).
      1. The Edomites stood idly by while Israel was ransacked (10-11).
      2. Obadiah warns the Edomites against haughty sayings (12-14).
  2. God will reign with order in the midst of this chaos (15-21).
    1. The Day of the Lord will come upon all nations (15-18).
      1. Retribution will be paid to the prideful nations (15-16).
      2. Israel will be strong while Edom is weak (17-18).
    2. The Kingdom of God will inhabit Israel�s enemies (19-21).
      1. Edom will fall to the people of the Negeb (19).
      2. Israel will take back its lands (20).
      3. The Lord will reign over the earth (21).

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