Obadiah 1-21

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015


The history of Edom begins with the story of Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis 25:22-34 - 22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder [i.e. Esau] shall serve the younger [i.e. Jacob]. 24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. 27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 And Jacob sod pottage [i.e. cooked a stew]: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright [i.e. treated his birthright lightly or cared little for his birthright].

Another incident occurred in Genesis 27 .

Genesis 27:1-23 - 1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I. 2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: 3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; 4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee [i.e. Esau] before I die.

Rebekah overheard what Isaac said to Esau; so she conspired together with Jacob to have Jacob pretend to be Esau with the result that Isaac ended up blessing Jacob rather than Esau. As a result, Esau determined to murder Jacob as soon as Isaac died; so Jacob fled to Padanaram, where Rebekah had been raised.

Later Esau moved to the land of Seir, the red sandstone area southeast of the Dead Sea and south of Moab. The nation of Edom is also referred to as Mt. Seir.

When Moses was leading Israel out of Egypt toward the Promised Land, Edom refused to let them pass through their land. This would have occurred around 1405 B.C.

Numbers 20:14-21 - 14 And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us: 15 How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers: 16 And when we cried unto the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border: 17 Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king's high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders. 18 And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. 19 And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet. 20 And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.

Even though Israel was treated as an enemy by Egypt and by Edom, God told Israel not to hate the Edomites or the Egyptians.

Deuteronomy 23:7 - Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land (emphasis added).

Hostility between Israel and Edom continued for centuries.

The theme of Obadiah is the destruction of Edom. As has already been said, the Edomites were the descendants of Jacob's twin brother Esau but had fought constantly against Israel. They were bitter enemies of Israel.

Although there are twelve men named Obadiah in the Old Testament, none of them can be identified with the Obadiah who wrote this book of the Bible; so, nothing can be known for certain about this Obadiah beyond what can be learned from this book itself. Obadiah means servant of the Lord or worshiper of the Lord.

A date of around 840 B.C. seems to be the most likely date for the writing of Obadiah. It was a little less than 600 years after the Exodus.

The Edomites are pictured as having rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem.

Although it is possible that the invasion of Jerusalem referred to in Obadiah is the invasion by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C., it seems preferable to view it as an invasion in the reign of Jehoram who reigned over Judah from 848-841 B.C.

We see -


A. The nations are called upon to destroy Edom - Verse 1

The LORD is raising up nations to engage in battle against Edom. An envoy is pictured as having been sent by the LORD, inciting the nations to go to war against Edom.

Obadiah 1 1 The vision of Obadiah [Vision suggests that the prophet saw (i.e. mentally and spiritually) as well as heard what God communicated to him.]. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour [i.e. a message or a report] from the LORD [from Yahweh or from Jehovah], and an ambassador is sent [i.e. en envoy is sent by the LORD] among the heathen [i.e. among the nations], Arise ye [i.e. arise you nations], and let us rise up against her in battle [i.e. let's rise up against Edom for battle].

B. Edom's pride will be debased - Obadiah 2-4

In verses 2-4 we see the downfall of impregnable Sela, also known as Petra, the capital city of Edom.

Obadiah 2 2 Behold, I have made thee [i.e. Edom] small among the heathen: thou art [i.e. you, Edom are] greatly despised.

Edom prided herself in her great wealth, which she had obtained by trading, by looting, and by iron and copper mining. She regarded herself as being very safe because of her position. This is referring to the fortress city of Petra (also known as Sela), the capital of Edom. Some of the surrounding cliffs are 2,000 ft high.

The LORD, however had made Edom small among the nations and despised by them. He cut Edom down to size.

Obadiah 3 3 The pride of thine heart [i.e. the pride of your heart, Edom] hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? [The implication is that Edom thought no one could conquer her.]

Edom trusted in the natural protection provided by the clefts in the rocks. Some of the Edomites were living in caves so high above the ground level that she thought she was safe from attacks from her enemies. Edom's pride would be her undoing. She would deceive herself into thinking that no one could conquer her. However, her thinking was presumptuous. Although she thought no one could conquer her, she was wrong.

Obadiah 4 4 Though thou [i.e. although you, Edom] exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down [i.e. I will bring you down, Edom], saith the LORD.

Edom was strong like the eagle and built in inaccessible places like the stars, but it doesn't matter how high Edom thought she was. The LORD is going to bring Edom down. Is there a warning here for a nation like the United States which thinks of itself as the most powerful nation on the face of the earth?

C. Edom's wealth will be plundered - Obadiah 5-7

Obadiah 5 5 If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?

Edom will be totally plundered, totally devastated. Robbers would only have taken some of her wealth. Similarly, those who gather grapes would leave some grapes. The enemies God is sending against Edom won't leave anything.

Obadiah 6 6 How are the things of Esau searched out! [i.e. Esau is another name for Edom. It is a reference to the nation of Edom by the name of its founding father, just as Israel was sometimes referred to as Jacob] how are his hidden things sought up [i.e. sought after]!

Searched out suggests that things which have been hidden (perhaps hidden in caves) will be sought and found. Nothing will be left.

Obadiah 7 7 All the men of thy confederacy [i.e. Edom's own allies] have brought thee [i.e. Edom] even to the border [i.e. they will force you (or pursue you) to the border and overpower you]: the men that were at peace with thee [i.e. with you, Edom] have deceived thee [i.e. they have deceived you, Edom], and prevailed against thee [i.e. prevailed against you, Edom]; they that eat thy bread [i.e. your friends or your allies] have laid a wound under thee [i.e. they have laid an ambush against you, Edom]: there is none understanding in him [No one in Edom is even aware of the fact that Edom's allies attack her.].

Although Edom was known for her wise men, she will be totally ignorant of her allies' deceptive scheme.

It is suggested that the downfall referred to here probably occurred to in the late sixth or early fifth century B.C. when the Nabateans went to the Edomites who took them in for a banquet. Once welcomed inside Edomite territory, the Nabateans turned against their ally and killed the guards.

D. Edom's people will be slaughtered - Obadiah 8-9

Obadiah 8 8 Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?

Edom's wise leaders will be destroyed.

Teman (Edom's capital city) was noted for its wise men. Eliphaz the Temanite, one of Job's three friends, was a resident of the city of Teman in Edom according to Job 2:11 .

In Jeremiah 49:7-22 Jeremiah wrote a passage which is very similar to what we find in Obadiah. We don't have time to consider it in this message, but you would do well to study it on your own. That's Jeremiah 49:7-22 .

Obadiah 9 9 And thy mighty men [i.e. your warriors], O Teman [i.e. Edom's capital city], shall be dismayed [i.e. terrified or overcome by fear], to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter [i.e. slaughtered].

II. EDOM'S SINS - Obadiah 10-14

As I have already stated, although it is possible that the invasion of Jerusalem referred to in Obadiah 10-14 is the invasion by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C., it seems preferable to view it as an invasion in the reign of Jehoram who reigned over Judah from 848-841 B.C.

II Chronicles 21:16-17 - 16 Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians: 17 And they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king's house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.

Obadiah 10 10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob [i.e. for Edom's violence against Israel] shame shall cover thee [i.e. shame will cover Edom], and thou [i.e. you, Edom] shalt be cut off for ever.

Obadiah 11 11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side [i.e. Edom stood aloof from Judah rather than helping Judah on the day that Judah's enemies were attacking Jerusalem], in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces [it was in the day when foreigners carried Judah's soldiers and Judah's wealth into captivity], and foreigners entered into his gates [it was in the day that foreigners entered Jerusalem], and cast lots upon Jerusalem [it was in the day that foreigners cast lots to see who would plunder which parts of Jerusalem], even thou wast as one of them [Edom was like one of Judah's enemies.].

Obadiah 12 12 But thou shouldest not have looked [i.e. you, Edom, should not have gazed or looked with pleasure] on the day of thy brother [i.e. in the day of your brother Judah] in the day that he [i.e. Judah] became a stranger [i.e. a captive]; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction [Edom should not have rejoiced over the captivity of the inhabitants of Jerusalem]; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly [i.e. arrogantly] in the day of distress [i.e. in the day of Judah's distress].

Obadiah 13 13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people [i.e. into the gate of the Lord's people, i.e. into Jerusalem] in the day of their calamity [Edom participated in the sacking of the city]; yea, thou shouldest not have looked [i.e. gazed] on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance [i.e. you, Edom, should not have looted (or seized) their wealth] in the day of their calamity;

Obadiah 14 14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway [i.e. neither should you, Edom, have set up road blocks], to cut off those of his that did escape [i.e. they apparently killed some who were attempting to escape to keep them from escaping]; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain [i.e. neither should you, Edom, have handed over survivors] in the day of distress [i.e. in the day of their time of trouble].

The progression in Edom's crimes is detailed in these verses: first, Edom stood by while Jerusalem was invaded (v. 11); second, she rejoiced over the captivity of the sons of Judah (v. 12); third, Edom actively participated in the sacking of the city (v. 13); and, finally, she helped set up roadblocks to prevent the escape of the Jewish people (v. 14).


Obadiah 15 15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done [i.e. as you, Edom have done], it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

The day of the LORD refers to the time of Christ's second coming and the judgments on all the nations that accompany it. Edom's punishment, however, does not await that future time but has already been carried out. Edom's judgment foreshadows what the Lord will do to all nations who similarly mistreat Israel.

Galatians 6:7 - Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

When did all this happen? This probably took place when the Philistines and Arabians attacked Jerusalem in the days of Jehoram, Jehoshaphat's son (II Kings 8:20-22 ; 2 Chron. 21:16-17). Since there is no mention of the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which occurred when Nebuchadnezzar's forces captured Jerusalem in 586 B.C., Obadiah's reference to the invasion of Jerusalem most likely refers to an earlier destruction.

Obadiah 16 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain [i.e. Jerusalem], so shall all the heathen drink continually [i.e. like Edom, the nations which oppose Israel will drink of the cup of God's wrath], yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down [i.e. they will experience God's wrath], and they shall be as though they had not been [i.e. it will be as if they had never existed].

Their land will be occupied by Israelites in the Millennium.


Verses 17-21 speak of the future deliverance of Israel in the Day of the LORD.

Obadiah 17 17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their [i.e. Esau's] possessions.

Obadiah 18 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 [i.e. the Israelites] shall kindle in them [i.e. the Edomites], and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining [i.e. there will be no survivors] of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

There are no survivors today of the once mighty Edomites.

Verse 19 speaks of God's people, Israel -

Obadiah 19 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.

Obadiah 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, shall possess the cities of the south.

Verses 19-20 indicate that the boundaries of the Davidic kingdom will include the territory formerly occupied by Edom in the S, the plain of the Philistines (Gath, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza), the territory of Ephraim and Samaria, Gilead across the Jordan River, and as far N as Zarephath (between Tyre and Sidon). Sepharad is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible and is unidentified (some say it is Sardis in Asia Minor), but Obadiah is referring to a particular group of Jewish exiles.

Obadiah 21 21 And saviours [i.e. deliverers, most likely judges who will help rule in the millennial kingdom] shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.

Note: Much of the information in this message has been taken from the Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament.


This sermon is the 1st part of the series, Study of Obadiah. Other sermons in this series are: