Notes on Obadiah

Version Date: July 31, 2022

Ob 1:1 "The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom, 'We have heard a report from the LORD stating among others that messengers are being sent among the nations with the message, "Arise, and let us rise up against her for war."'" This verse predicted a time when believers would hear from the Lord concerning an imminent attack against Edom. In view of other Scripture passages, it can be inferred that the messengers were sent by Babylon to nations under its control in order to raise an army (cf. Jer 25:9). The Hebrew text following שמועה שמענו מאת יהוה "we have heard a report from the LORD" is understood to refer to the content of the report. Since this text begins with וציר "and messenger," the conjunction "and" preceding "messenger" was taken as an indication that only a part of the report is described. So וציר "and messenger" was rendered "stating among others that messengers." Though ציר "messenger" and שלח "being sent" have the singular number, they were understood to be used collectively for all messengers that were being sent. Therefore, ציר ... שלח was translated "messengers are being sent." Note that שלח was not interpreted as a finite verb meaning "will be sent;" hearers of Obadiah from any generation that lived before the fall of Edom could say that "messengers will be sent among the nations." It was not translated either "has been sent," for hearers of Obadiah from any generation that lived after the fall of Edom could say that "messengers have been sent among the nations." Rather, שלח was parsed as a participle and was rendered "is being sent." The people that fulfilled Ob 1:1 were believers that heard from the Lord when he was about to overthrow Edom.

The circumstances of the fall of Edom are as follows. In Jer 9, when speaking about judgments on Judah, the Lord announced a time of judgment on those who were circumcised merely in the flesh, including Judah and Edom (Jer 9:25-26 (24-25)). The Lord spoke in more detail about it in Jer 25, in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 25:1). This was after Nebuchadnezzar defeated Jehoiakim the king of Judah (Dan 1:1), and after the beginning of a three-year period in which Jehoiakim served Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 24:1). In Jer 25:9, the Lord mentioned that the Babylonians would come and devastate Judah and the surrounding nations, and that the lands will remain desolate for a long time. Since the peoples of those lands were not going to be destroyed but serve the king of Babylon for 70 years (Jer 25:11), the implication was that the Babylonians would deport them. The Lord also mentioned that the cup of the wine of wrath (Jer 25:15) would be given to many nations (Jer 25:17-26), including Edom (Jer 25:21), and that they would be unable to rise because of the sword sent against them (Jer 25:27). For a while, it seems that some of the surrounding nations served the Babylonians, for they raided Judah when Jehoiakim stopped serving Babylon (2Ki 24:2). However, since Edom is not mentioned in 2Ki 24:2, it may be that they were not on the side of Babylon. When envoys from the surrounding nations, including Edom, came to Zedekiah the king of Judah, the Lord warned these nations that they should serve Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 27:3). This took place during the Hebrew year in which the fourth year of reign of Zedekiah began (Jer 28:1). The Lord warned them that the nation that does not serve Nebuchadnezzar would face the sword, famine, and pestilence (Jer 27:8). Their only way to remain in their lands was by serving Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 27:11). The Lord also warned them that their advisers were giving them bad counsel (Jer 27:9-10). Sometime after the fall of Jerusalem (see the note below on Ob 1:14 for the time of Eze 33:21,) the Lord mentioned again that he would bring judgment on Edom (Eze 35). The Lord mentioned in Eze 36:5 a time1 when the Edomites, being confined, (note the Hebrew phrase אדום כלא "Edom being confined"2) would take for themselves land from Israel, implying in this way the Edomites confined to the land of Israel, outside of their land. It follows that after the fall of Edom, the remaining Edomites had to move to the land of Israel, leaving Edom desolate and fulfilling in this way Eze 35:3-4, 7, 9, which predicted that Edom would be desolate. That Edom became desolate can be seen also in Mlc 1:3. By the time of Malachi, many of the Edomites were not prospering (Mlc 1:4), for the Lord mentioned attempts of the Edomites to return to their land and rebuild Edom. Such attempts were probably motivated also by the shame that the Edomites were bearing, for the Lord said that the nations that were around the land of Israel (at the time when the prophecy was spoken3) would bear their shame (Eze 36:7). The Lord said that these attempts to rebuild Edom would fail (Mlc 1:4) and that those hearing Malachi would see them failing (Mlc 1:5). As for the time of the fall of Edom, in view of the word of the Lord through Jeremiah, it could be concluded that it happened sometime after the fall of Jerusalem during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.

The book of Obadiah is related to the passage in Jer 49:7-22 about the fall of Edom. In particular, Jer 49:14-15 is phrased like Ob 1:1-2. Jer 49:14 states, "I have heard a report from the LORD, and among other things, messengers are being sent among the nations with the message, 'Gather yourselves together and go against her; arise for war.'" Note the participle form שלוח "being sent" indicating that the messengers were being sent when the prophecy was spoken. It follows that Ob 1:1 was being fulfilled when Jer 49:7-22 was spoken. The same conclusion is reached when noticing that the Lord phrased his words in Jer 49:7-22 so as to remind the hearer of the prophecy of Obadiah. One difference between the book of Obadiah and Jer 49:7-22 is that only the former mentions the fall of Jerusalem. While the book of Obadiah preceded it and predicted it, the fall of Jerusalem preceded the time when Jer 49:7-22 was spoken. That the fall of Jerusalem preceded the time of Jer 49:7-22 can be seen by noting that the war against Edom did not begin right after the fall of Jerusalem and that Jer 49:7-22 was spoken when preparations were made to attack Edom. It follows that the book of Obadiah was written a long time before Jer 49:7-22. The fact that Jer 49:14-15 is phrased like Ob 1:1-2 indicates that Jer 49:14 is part of the fulfillment of Ob 1:1. In Hebrew, in view of the context of Jer 49:14, the one saying "I have heard a message from the LORD" is God. Since God the Son carries out the decisions of God the Father, the one speaking in Jer 49:14 is God the Son. At the time when the prophecy was spoken, God the Son had received instructions from God the Father concerning the fall of Edom and he was implementing them. At that time he was ensuring that an army would be gathered to fight against Edom, for messengers were being sent.

"We have heard a message from the LORD" is not understood as being fulfilled in the sense that the people were aware of Obadiah's prophecy, but in the sense that they heard from the LORD when he was about to fulfill Obadiah's prophecy about the fall of Edom. As for שלוח "being sent," this refers to what had to take place before the messengers departed to the nations. Since the first people hearing Jer 49:14 were hearing that "messengers are being sent among the nations," they could tell others the news that "we have heard a message from the LORD stating among others that messengers are being sent among the nations," fulfilling Ob 1:1. Note that the form שלח of Ob 1:1 was translated "is being sent" just like שלוח of Jer 49:14.

The following table compares Jer 49:14 and Ob 1:1.

(Ob 1:1) ... a report ...

(Ob 1:1) ... שמועה ...

(Jer 49:14) שמועה ...

(Jer 49:14) A report ...

(Ob 1:1) ... we have heard ...

(Ob 1:1) ... שמענו ...

(Jer 49:14) ... שמעתי ...

(Jer 49:14) ... I have heard ...

(Ob 1:1) ... from the LORD and messenger among the nations ...

(Ob 1:1) ... מאת יהוה וציר בגוים ...

(Jer 49:14) ... מאת יהוה וציר בגוים ...

(Jer 49:14) ... from the LORD and messenger among the nations ...

(Ob 1:1) ... being sent ...

(Ob 1:1) ... שלח ...

(Jer 49:14) ... שלוח ...

(Jer 49:14) ... being sent ...

(Jer 49:14) ... התקבצו ובאו עליה ...

(Jer 49:14) ... Gather yourselves together and go against her ...

(Ob 1:1) ... Arise ...

(Ob 1:1) ... קומו ...

(Jer 49:14) ... וקומו ...

(Jer 49:14) ... and arise ...

(Ob 1:1) ... and let us rise up against her ...

(Ob 1:1) ... ונקומה עליה ...

(Ob 1:1) ... for war.

(Ob 1:1) ... למלחמה

(Jer 49:14) ... למלחמה

(Jer 49:14) ... for war.

Ob 1:2 "'Behold, I have appointed thee to be small among the nations. Thou shalt be greatly despised.'" The prediction was that the nations would attack Edom in order to carry out the Lord's decision that Edom should be small among the nations. The decision of the Lord is explained in subsequent verses. Now בזוי אתה מאד could be translated "thou art greatly despised" or "thou shalt be greatly despised." Understanding בזוי אתה מאד to be related to the fact that Edom would become small, since Edom was not yet small, it was translated as referring to a future time.

It is interesting to note that Ob 1:2 is nearly identical to Jer 49:15; the Lord reinstated in Jer 49:15 what he said in Ob 1:2. Note בזוי באדם תפלצתך "despised among the men in which thou inspirest fear" in Jer 49:15-16, adding more detail on בזוי אתה מאד "thou shalt be greatly despised" of Ob 1:2. The following table compares the two verses.

(Jer 49:15) כי ...

(Jer 49:15) For ...

(Ob 1:2) Behold, I have appointed thee to be small among the nations, being despised ...

(Ob 1:2) הנה קטן נתתיך בגוים בזוי ...

(Jer 49:15) הנה קטן נתתיך בגוים בזוי ...

(Jer 49:15) ... behold, I have appointed thee to be small among the nations, being despised ...

(Ob 1:2) ... thou greatly.

(Ob 1:2) ... אתה מאד

(Jer 49:15-16) ... באדם תפלצתך ...

(Jer 49:15-16) ... among the men in which thou inspirest fear. ...

Ob 1:3 "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee; to you I speak, O dwellers of rock clefts. From the height of his dwelling place, he saith in his heart, 'Who shall bring me down to the ground?'" The mindset of the Edomites prior to the predicted war is described in this verse. The reason for the predicted disaster of Edom is not given here but is stated later in Ob 1:10-14. In this translation, מרום was parsed as consisting of the noun רום "height" and the preposition מן "from."

Now the first part of Ob 1:3 appears also in Jer 49:16. In particular, שכני בחגוי סלע "O dwellers of rock clefts" appears as שכני בחגוי הסלע תפשי מרום גבעה "O dwellers of the rock clefts who hold the heights of the hills." Note that the word מרום of Jer 49:16 was not parsed the same way as in Ob 1:3; in Jer 49:16, it was parsed as a noun meaning "height." The two verses are compared in the following table.

(Ob 1:3) The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee ...

(Ob 1:3) זדון לבך השיאך ...

(Jer 49:16) ... השיא אתך זדון לבך ...

(Jer 49:16) ... The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee ...

(Ob 1:3) ... dwellers of rock clefts ...

(Ob 1:3) ... שכני בחגוי סלע ...

(Jer 49:16) ... שכני בחגוי הסלע ...

(Jer 49:16) ... dwellers of the rock clefts ...

(Jer 49:16) ... תפשי מרום גבעה ...

(Jer 49:16) ... holding the heights of the hills ...

(Ob 1:3) ... From the height of his dwelling place, he saith in his heart, "Who shall bring me down to the ground?"

(Ob 1:3) ... מרום שבתו אמר בלבו מי יורדני ארץ

Ob 1:4 "If thou risest high like the eagle, and if thou makest thy nest between the stars, from there will I bring thee down, saith the LORD." The content of this verse appears also in the second half of Jer 49:16, however, somewhat differently. While Ob 1:4 has אם תגביה כנשר "if thou risest high like the eagle," Jer 49:16 has כי תגביה כנשר קנך "because thou hast raised thy nest high like the eagle." So by the time of Edom's fall, the Edomites took hold of the heights of the hills, as could be seen in Jer 49:16. Apparently, this was not the case during the time of Obadiah. As for the statement "if thou makest thy nest between the stars," one looking up from the base of a hill to its top would have seen the dwelling places at the top between the stars. The following table has a comparison of the two verses.

(Ob 1:4) If ...

(Ob 1:4) אם ...

(Jer 49:16) ... כי ...

(Jer 49:16) ... because ...

(Ob 1:4) ... thou risest high like the eagle ...

(Ob 1:4) ... תגביה כנשר ...

(Jer 49:16) ... תגביה כנשר ...

(Jer 49:16) ... thou hast raised high like the eagle ...

(Ob 1:4) ... and if thou makest between the stars ...

(Ob 1:4) ... ואם בין כוכבים שים ...

(Ob 1:4) ... thy nest ...

(Ob 1:4) ... קנך ...

(Jer 49:16) ... קנך ...

(Jer 49:16) ... thy nest ...

(Ob 1:4) ... from there will I bring thee down, says the LORD.

(Ob 1:4) ... משם אורידך נאם יהוה

(Jer 49:16) ... משם אורידך נאם יהוה

(Jer 49:16) ... from there will I bring thee down, says the LORD.

Ob 1:5-6 "How shalt thou be destroyed! If thieves came to thee, plunderers of the night, would they not steal only as much as they wanted? If grape gatherers came to thee, would they not leave gleanings? How Esau will be searched out and his hidden things sought out!" In this translation, נבעו "sought out" has been parsed as a 3mp niphal perfect of a rarely used verb בעה "to ask, inquire" that appears twice in Is 21:12. A less likely possibility would be to parse נבעו as a 3mp qal perfect of נבע "to flow," which would imply that the hidden treasures were found and taken away. This possibility is less likely because there is no example showing that נבע could be used with hidden treasures. Additionally, נבע "to flow" is not similar in meaning with חפש "to search out," which appears in the first half of Ob 1:6.

The content of Ob 1:5 is stated also in Jer 49:9, though not in the same order. Moreover, Ob 1:6 is similar to Jer 49:10. By examining these verses in Hebrew, it seems quite obvious that in Jer 49 the Lord was making a reference to his words in Obadiah. For the most part, the Lord used the same words in Ob 1:5-6 and Jer 49:9-10, and in one instance, when he used a different verb (חשף "to strip bare" in Jer 49:10 instead of חפש "to search out" in Ob 1:6,) he still chose a verb that is written almost the same way as the one in Obadiah. Now Jer 49:9-10 has, "If grape gatherers come to thee, they will not leave gleanings. If thieves come by night, they will destroy as much as they want. For I will strip Esau bare. I will reveal his secret places and he will be unable to hide ... ." Both Ob 1:5 and Jer 49:10 predict the plundering of Edom by means of illustrations involving grape gatherers and thieves. Ob 1:5 mentioned that the plundering of Edom would not be partial, that it would not be as when grape gatherers leave some gleanings, or as when thieves steal only as much as they need. Jer 49:10 states the same thing somewhat differently. Edom's enemies were about to plunder the land like grape gatherers that did not leave any gleanings. The prediction that they would be like thieves that destroyed (not just stealed) as much as they wanted indicated that the Edomites would be unable to defend their possessions. Jer 49:9-10 and Ob 1:5-6 are compared in the following table.

(Ob 1:5) If thieves ...

(Ob 1:5) אם גנבים ...

(Jer 49:9b) ... אם גנבים ...

(Jer 49:9b) ... If thieves ...

(Ob 1:5) came to thee ...

(Ob 1:5) ... באו לך ...

(Jer 49:9b) ... בלילה ...

(Jer 49:9b) ... come by night ...

(Ob 1:5) ... if plunderers of the night; how shalt thou be destroyed! Would they not ...

(Ob 1:5) ... אם שודדי לילה איך נדמיתה הלוא ...

(Ob 1:5) ... steal as much as they wanted? ...

(Ob 1:5) ... יגנבו דים ...

(Jer 49:9b) ... השחיתו דים

(Jer 49:9b) ... they will destroy as much as they want.

(Ob 1:5) ... If grape gatherers came to thee ...

(Ob 1:5) ... אם בצרים באו לך ...

(Jer 49:9a) אם בצרים באו לך ...

(Jer 49:9a) ... If grape gatherers come to thee ...

(Ob 1:5) ... would they not leave ...

(Ob 1:5) ... הלוא ישאירו ...

(Jer 49:9a) ... לא ישארו ...

(Jer 49:9a) ... they will not leave ...

(Ob 1:5) ... gleanings?

(Ob 1:5) ... עללות

(Jer 49:9a) ... עוללות ...

(Jer 49:9a) ... gleanings.

(Ob 1:6) How Esau will be searched out ...

(Ob 1:6) איך נחפשו עשו ...

(Jer 49:10) כי אני חשפתי את עשו ...

(Jer 49:10) For I will strip Esau bare ...

(Ob 1:6) ... his hidden things will be sought out.

(Ob 1:6) ... נבעו מצפניו

(Jer 49:10) ... גליתי את מסתריו ונחבה לא יוכל ...

(Jer 49:10) ... I will reveal his hiding places and he will be unable to be hidden ...

Ob 1:7 "All the men of thy covenant will send thee to the border; they will deceive thee. The men on which thou hast relied for plentiful food will prevail against thee; they will set a trap under thee. There will be no understanding in him." At the end of this verse, "him" is understood to refer to Edom, since the passage is about this nation. This can be seen also from the next verse. The statement that "there will be no understanding in him" corresponds to Jer 49:7, which implies that the condition of Edom testified to their lack of wisdom. In the phrase אנשי שלמך לחמך "the men of thy peace of thy food," לחם "food" was understood to modify שלם "peace, prosperity." Thus, the phrase was translated "the men on which thou hast relied for plentiful food." The word מזור, translated above "trap," was derived from זור "to press, tighten," as referring to something causing one to have little room, that is, a trap. In other passages, מזור has been understood with the meaning "wound," being derived from זור "to press, tighten" in the sense of something caused to be pressed and bound with a bandage. However, the meaning "wound" does not seem to fit easily this passage.

The statement that Edom would be sent to the border indicated that they would flee from the enemy. Thus, Eze 25:13 predicted that מתימן ודדנה בחרב יפלו "from Teman and towards Dedan they will fall by the sword," indicating in this way that some would flee towards Dedan. (For the time of Eze 25:13, see the note below on Ob 1:14.) Related is also Jer 49:8, predicting that the men of Dedan would not help Edom in their time of adversity but flee away. Jer 49:8 is not understood here as giving counsel to the men of Dedan (it seems unlikely that they heard the prophecy,) but as describing something that the Lord knew that would happen. The Dedanites were traders (Eze 27:15, 20) and traveled in caravans (Is 21:13). They must have been afraid of the Babylonians just like the other peoples mentioned in Ob 1:7, for fear is the likely reason they turned against Edom.

Ob 1:8-10 "Is it not on that day, says the LORD, that I will also make the wise perish from Edom and understanding from the mountains of Esau? (9) And thy strong men will be shattered, O Teman, so that the men from the mountains of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. (10) Because of violence done to Jacob thy brother, shame will cover thee and thou wilt be cut off for a long time." In Ob 1:10, לעולם was translated "for a long time." The Scripture makes it clear that Edom will be present again in the end times (Dan 11:41, Is 34:4-5, 63:1). Now Jer 49:7, spoken shortly before nations were called to attack Edom, speaks of the fulfillment of Ob 1:8. Additionally, Eze 25:13, 35:8 are related to Ob 1:9; for the time of these prophecies in Ezekiel, see the note below on Ob 1:14. Now הר עשו "mountain of Esau" was translated "mountains of Esau." Note that הר "mountain, mount" denotes collectively all mountains and mounts on the territory of Edom. A similar phrase appearing in other Old Testament passages is הר אפרים "mountain of Ephraim." It has been interpreted the same way, being commonly translated "hill country of Ephraim."

Considering again the prophecy of Eze 25:13 that "from Teman and towards Dedan they will fall by the sword," the phrase "from Teman" indicated that Teman would fall towards the beginning of Edom's destruction. This could be seen also in the judgment stated in Am 1:12: ושלחתי אש בתימן ואכלה ארמנות בצרה "And I will send fire in Teman, and it will consume the fortresses of Bozrah." See the note below on Ob 1:14 for a discussion of the passage in Amos. Additionally, in view of Ob 1:9, it could be concluded that the fall of Teman was very important for the defeat of Edom.

It is important to note that the Lord announced not just judgments but also mercy on Edom. The Lord was planning for Edomite believers, for he said, "let thy widows trust in me" (Jer 49:11), "thou wilt know that I am the LORD" (Eze 35:4), and "ye will know that I am the LORD" (Eze 35:9). He mentioned that this would happen after the fall of Edom.

Ob 1:11 "For on the day when thou wilt stand from a distance, looking, on the day foreigners carry away his wealth and strangers enter his gate and cast lots on Jerusalem, thou also wilt be like one of them." As written, the Hebrew text has שערו "his gate," not שעריו "his gates" (see the Kethiv). So שער "gate" appears at the singular number in this verse just as in Ob 1:13. Though one possibility would be that "gate" is used collectively for all gates of the city, it could be emphasized that Jer 39:3 mentions a specific gate. While Jerusalem was under siege, all city gates were blocked. When the Babylonians broke through the city walls, they probably cleared first one of the gates of the city. If more cleared gates were needed, they probably cleared them later. Now the word חיל was translated here "wealth," as in Ob 1:13. The verb שבה, normally translated "to take into captivity," has been used also in reference to the plundering of possessions (2Ch 21:17, 1Ch 5:21, 2Ch 14:14-15 (13-14)). Thus, חיל "wealth" fits as an object of this verb. An alternative translation of חיל "wealth" is "army." However, the meaning "army" does not fit the context of casting lots over Jerusalem, which suggests plundering. When enemies entered a conquered city, they were by far more concerned about plunder than about taking people into exile. Ob 1:12-14 predicted things happening soon after the fall of Jerusalem, so plundering fits better than exile. As for the accounts of the fall of Jerusalem, they never mention that the army was taken into exile. Rather, the accounts state that the army fled from the Babylonians (Jer 39:4, 52:7, 2Ki 25:4) and some escaped by hiding in the fields (Jer 40:7). Finally, the form מנגד was translated "from a distance, looking." Elsewhere, it has been used in the context of people looking from afar (2Ki 2:7, 15), and for people who keep their distance (Ps 38:11(12)).

Ob 1:12 "Do not gloat on the day of thy brother, on the day of his trouble, and do not rejoice over the sons of Judah on the day of their destruction, and do not enlarge thy mouth on the day of adversity." The fact that the verse has commands indicates that the passage predicted what Edom would do to Judah. The text was written before Edom did these things to Judah. That the Edomites delighted in the destruction of Jerusalem can be seen also in Ps 137:7 and Lam 4:21. One reason Edom rejoiced is that they hoped to take possession of the land (Eze 35:10, 12, 15, where the Eze 35 was spoken after the fall of Jerusalem; see the note below on Ob 1:14.)

Ob 1:13 "Do not enter the gate of my people on the day of their calamity. Do not gloat also thou over his trouble on the day of his calamity. And ye, Edomite women, do not send for the plundering of his possessions on the day of his calamity." The emphasis of the passage on the time of trouble of Judah predicted that Edom's triumph over Judah would be temporary, taking place only during that time of adversity of Judah. Note the phrases used to denote the time of adversity: יום נכרו "day of his trouble" (Ob 1:12), יום אבדם "day of their destruction" (Ob 1:12), יום צרה "day of adversity" (Ob 1:12, 14), יום אידם "day of their calamity" (Ob 1:13), יום אידו "day of his calamity" (twice in Ob 1:13). Related are also עת אידם "time of their calamity" and עת עון קץ "time of the inquity of the end" in Eze 35:5. In Ob 1:13, unlike to the other verbs of the passage that have a masculine gender, the form תשלחנה has the feminine gender. Therefore, אל תשלחנה "do not send" was rendered "ye, Edomite women, do not send." Now the form תשלחנה "send" appears without a direct object. Since there are many instances in which שלח "to send" is used as an intransitive verb, אל תשלחנה does not have to be translated "do not be sent," but can simply be translated "do not send."

Ob 1:14 "And thou, Edomite man, do not stand at the crossroads to destroy his remnants, and do not pursue his survivors to kill them in the day of adversity." The phrase "Edomite man" was added in translation to indicate explicitly that unlike to the last verb of the previous verse, which had the feminine plural gender, the verb forms of this verse have the masculine singular gender. Though a verb form meant to apply to a subject of any gender is masculine (see for example Nu 6:2 and De 17:2), men must be meant in Ob 1:14. The form שרידיו, involving the plural of שריד "remnant," was translated "his remnants" as referring to groups of fugitives. Examples in which the singular form שריד means "remnant" and refers to more than one person can be found in Jdg 5:13, Is 1:9, Job 20:26. An example in which the plural form שרידים could be translated "remnants" is Joel 2:32 (3:5), which must refer to various remnants, both from the tribes of Israel and from the nations. The translation "pursue ... to kill" of סגר can be explained as follows. In other passages, the verb סגר "to close, shut" has been used in several ways. When a person is the object of this verb, that person may be "shut up" in the sense that he is in a situation from which he cannot escape (see for example Jos 20:5, 1Sa 17:46, 23:12, 24:19, 2Sa 18:28.) In the context of the first half of Ob 1:14, the survivors where not "shut up" so as to be enslaved or handed over to others, but so as to be destroyed. Consequently, the prediction was that the Edomites would pursue them until they could no longer escape.

This passage is closely related to Am 1:6, 9, 11, where Am 1:6, 9, 11 is understood here to predict events that took place during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. This interpretation of Am 1:6, 9, 11 could be justified as follows. Edom was not a powerful kingdom; it could not harm the Israelites unless they were in a major time of trouble. Edom was subject to Judah from king David (1Ch 18:13) to king Jehoram (2Ch 21:10). After it became free, Edom remained weaker than Judah (2Ch 25:11-12). Now during the reign of Ahaz, which was after the time of the prophecy of Amos, there was one instance in which the Edomites took captives from Judah (2Ch 28:17). Nonetheless, Am 1:11 speaks about Edom pursuing Israelites with the sword, not about Edom taking captives. Though the passage of Am 1:6, 9 does not state who the captives were, the context is that of the Israelites (Am 1:3, 11, 13). Given the distance between Tyre and Edom, and since the kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel were in between Tyre and Edom, it would seem unlikely that Tyre would deliver captives to Edom while the kingdom of Judah was standing. Rather, Am 1:6, 9 are verses that appear to speak of refugees from Judah after the fall of Jerusalem. Apparently, some took refuge in Gaza and Tyre. When the Edomites pursued them, Gaza and Tyre decided to hand them over to the Edomites. This would explain גלות שלמה "complete group of captives" in Am 1:6, 9 as referring to the fact that Gaza and Tyre captured and handed over to the Edomites all the refugees that they had.

The Lord mentioned also in Eze 25:12 that the Edomites would avenge themselves. Eze 25:12 is a prediction, just like Ob 1:14. Indeed, understanding the time of Eze 26:1 to be the 1st day of the 1st month of the 11th year of exile, the time of Eze 25 preceded the fall of Jerusalem on the 9th day of the 4th month of the 11th year of Zedekiah (see also Jer 39:2, 52:4, Eze 24:1-2.)4 Related is also Eze 35:5, a verse in which the Lord speaking towards Edom said: " ... thou hast given over the sons of Israel to the sword ... ." These passages do not state that absolutely all Edomites took revenge; note that Jer 40:11 mentions fugitives that were able to take refuge in Edom. Now Eze 35:5 took place after one who escaped from the fall of Jerusalem arrived to the place where Ezekiel was exiled; the fugitive arrived on the 5th day of the 10th month of the 12th year (Eze 33:21, 24:26), approximately 6 months after the fall of Jerusalem.5 Thus, Eze 35:5 mentioned something that had already taken place. Since Eze 35:6-9 is stated as a prediction, Eze 35 was given before the fall of Edom.

Ob 1:15-16 "For the day of the LORD is near on all nations. According to thy deeds it will be done to thee; thy recompense will be given on thine own head in return for thy deeds. (16) For as you will drink on my holy mountain, so also all the nations will drink continually; and they will drink, swallow, and will be as if they will not be." The statement that "you will drink on my holy mountain" predicted irreverent men on the temple mount, men that were not supposed to be there. The passage also warned about what will happen in the end: the place they despised will be holy, as stated in the next verse, and the irreverent will be as if they will not be. Indeed, since the text has "they will drink, swallow," it is clear that the word גוי "nation" refers here to people, not to a national identity. It is not that national identities will be as if they will not be, but that persons from every nation will be as if they will not be. So insignificance is part of the cup from which they will drink continually. The statement that "all the nations will drink continually" is not speaking of entire nations, for there are also people who believe. Rather, it predicts that a major portion of every nation will not be in God's kingdom. Now היו כלא היו "will be as if they will not be" is related to כאשר לא הייתי אהיה "I should have been as though I had not been" in Job 10:19, in which Job wished that he died at or before birth. It does not say that some will cease to exist but that they will exist and be as insignificant as if they did not exist.

Ob 1:17 "And on Mount Zion will be deliverance, and the mountain will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess their own possessions." The text speaks here about what will happen in the end, as could be seen also from Joel 2:32 (3:5). The contrast between what will happen to Israel and to Edom can be seen also in Lam 4:22. The fact that on Mount Zion will be deliverance implies that the people there will be delivered (saved). Note that the word פליטה means "deliverance," as in Ge 45:7, 32:8(9). It has been used also figuratively for delivered people in verses such as Jdg 21:17, 2Ch 30:6, Ne 1:2.

Ob 1:18-19 "And it will happen before this that the house of Jacob will be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau as stubble; and they will burn among them, and consume them, and there will be no remnant for the house of Esau, for the LORD has spoken. (19) And those in the south will possess the mountains of Esau, and those of the low land the Philistines. And the house of Jacob will possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria. And Benjamin will possess Gilead." After the Israelites of the northern kingdom of Israel were deported by the Assyrians, other peoples took possession of their land. Nonetheless, this passage predicted that in the end the Israelites would possess again their land, including Gilead, and that they would also possess land that their enemies were possessing (the land of Philistines and the land of Edom.) The statement that "the house of Jacob will possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria" does not say that this is the only land that the house of Jacob will possess, but emphasizes that they will repossess lands that others occupied after their deportation. Similarly, the statement that "Benjamin will possess Gilead" does not say that this is the only land that Benjamin will possess. In fact, their main inheritance will be south of Jerusalem (Eze 48:22-23). That Israel will possess Edom is stated also in Is 11:14, in the context is the Lord's reign on earth (Is 11:1-9). Now the word שריד was translated "remnant," as referring to more than one person; see the note above on Ob 1:14. As for translating הר עשו as "the mountains of Esau", see the note above on Ob 1:8-10.

Related to this passage is Eze 25:14. Understanding Eze 25:14 to take place some time after Eze 25:13, it is clear that it does not refer to the same events as Eze 25:13. Thus, Eze 25:14 could be associated with of Ob 1:18. Now Ob 1:18 does not appear to speak of the Edomites that will live outside of Edom far from the borders of Israel. Thus, in view of Lam 4:22, it could be inferred that the house of Esau will have a remnant from the Edomites living outside of the borders of Edom. Without question, in the time of the end, those choosing to live in Edom will not believe the prophecies of the Bible. In view of Ob 1:18, there will be no remnant for the Edomites who will be living in Edom after the exile mentioned in Lam 4:22. Another related passage is Eze 35:11-15. Note that Eze 35:11-15 is not seen here as repeating the judgments mentioned in Eze 35:2-9, but as predicting judgments happening some time after Eze 35:2-9. Indeed, note that the judgments of Eze 35:2-9 and Eze 35:11-15 were justified differently. The former were a consequence of the extreme enmity of Edom towards Israel (Eze 35:5). However, the judgments of Eze 35:11-15 were a consequence of Edom's attitude towards the remnants of the two Israelite nations that were still in the land and towards the land, though they knew that the Lord had been there (Eze 35:10). Thus, in view of Eze 35:11-15, the text predicted that some time after the Babylonians would lay waste Edom (Eze 35:2-9), the Edomites would return, rebuild it, and then the land would become again desolate. The Edomites were unable to return and rebuild Edom by the time of Mlc 1:4. That Eze 35:11-15 speaks of the time of the end can be seen when considering the following statements about Edom (at the second person) and the Israelites (at the third person): "I will make myself known to them when I judge thee" (Eze 35:11); "when all the land of Israel will rejoice, I will have made a desolation for thee" (Eze 35:14). Though the statement of Eze 35:15 that "they will know that I am the LORD" could be applied to all believers, the context emphasizes those knowing the prophecies about Edom, such as any Edomite believers that will live at that time.

Ob 1:20 "And the offspring of this common-use land for the sons of Israel that are Canaanites will possess as far as Zarephath, and the offspring of Jerusalem in Sepharad will possess the cities of the south." The word גלת is translated "spring" in Jos 15:19 and Jdg 1:15. However, the word is used figuratively in this passage and was translated "offspring." Note the similar metaphor of Is 48:1 in which the phrase ממי יהודה "from the waters of Judah" is used when referring to descendants of Judah. The phrase לבני ישראל אשר כנענים "for the sons of Israel that are Canaanites" must refer to Canaanites that will be reckoned as sons of Israel because of their faith. Note that Zarephath belonged to Sidon (1Ki 17:9). The word חל, translated here "common-use land," describes land that is not related to the temple and its service in Eze 48:15. It appears in phrases that contrast the holy with the common, such as in להבדיל בין הקדש ובין החל ובין הטמא ובין הטהור "to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean" (Lev 10:10).

Ob 1:21 "And saved persons will go to Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom will be the LORD's." The word מושעים is understood here as a masculine plural hophal participle of ישע "to save." Literally translated it means "those being caused to be saved." Thus, it was translated "saved persons." Note that "saved men" might not be the best translation since a plural masculine Hebrew form can refer either to men or to a group of men and women (see for example the two instances of ישתחוו in Ge 33:7.) The passage emphasizes salvation, for Ob 1:17 states that בהר ציון תהיה פליטה "on Mount Zion will be deliverance." The leaders of the people living in the territory of Edom will be saved and will go to Mount Zion, for the Lord will rule from Jerusalem. As for translating הר עשו as "the mountains of Esau", see the note above on Ob 1:8-10.

As mentioned in Joel 3:19 (4:19), אדום למדבר שממה תהיה "Edom will be a desolate wilderness." This does not mean that the land will be unused, but that its cities will not be rebuilt and no other major cities will be there. There will be people governing the mountains of Esau because the land will not remain unused. There will be also a portion of Edom through which nobody will travel and from which smoke will come out for a long time (Is 34:10).6 That part of land will become a natural reservation (Is 34:11, 13-17). Note that Is 34:4-17 is speaking of end-time judgments on the area of Bozrah in the land of Edom (Is 34:6), not on the entire land of Edom.



Endnotes:

(1) Eze 36:5 is understood here as predicting that the Edomites and the remnant of the nations would take for themselves possessions from the land of Israel, which was under the authority of Babylon. It is not understood as stating that this thing had already happened. The interpretation here is that sometime after this passage was spoken, Babylon attacked Edom, then Edom fell, then the Edomites were deported and confined to a part of the land of Israel. As they took possession of the land, they fulfilled the prediction of Eze 36:5. This interpretation is consistent with the facts that Eze 36:1-15 is part of the same message as Eze 35 and that at the time of Eze 35:10 the Edomites were only contemplating taking possession of the land; they were not in possession of it. [Back]

(2) Though the phrase אדום כלא of Eze 36:5 has been commonly translated "all of Edom," it literally means "Edom being confined," for כלא is from the verb כלא "to shut up, restrain." [Back]

(3) Eze 36 was spoken sometime between the fall of Jerusalem and the fall of Edom. This can be seen by noting that (a) Eze 36:1-15 is part of the same message as Eze 35; (b) the fall of Edom was predicted in Eze 35; (c) Eze 33:21 preceded in time Eze 35; (d) Eze 33:21 took place several months after the fall of Jerusalem (see the note above on Ob 1:14.) [Back]

(4) That the 11th year of exile was the same as the 11th year of Zedekiah can be seen by comparing Jer 52:4 and Eze 24:1-2. [Back]

(5) Since Hebrew years begin with the 7th month, the 5th day of the 10th month of the 12th year was approximately 6 months after the 9th day of the 4th month of the 11th year. [Back]

(6) The word עולם of Is 34:10 was understood to denote a long period of time, not an unending interval of time. [Back]


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