Obadiah 1:18
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 shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1:17-21 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.Having given, in summary, the restoration and expansion of Judah, Obadiah, in more detail, first mentions a further chastisement of Edom, quite distinct from the former. In the first, for which God summoned the pagan, there is no mention of Judah, the desolation of whose holy City, Jerusalem, for the time, and their own captivity is presupposed. In the second, which follows on the restoration of its remnant, there is no mention of pagan. Obadiah, whose mission was to Judah, gives to it the name of the whole, "the house of Jacob." It alone had the true worship of God, and His promises. Apart from it, there was no oneness with the faith of the fathers, no foreshadowing sacrifice for sin. Does the "house of Joseph" express the same in other words? or does it mean, that, after that first destruction of Jerusalem, Ephraim should be again united with Judah? Asaph unites, as one, "the sons of Jacob and Joseph" Psalm 77:15, Israel and Joseph Psalm 80:1; Israel, Jacob, Joseph Psalm 81:4-5.

Zechariah Zechariah 10:6 after the captivity, speaks of "the house of Judah" and "the house of Joseph," as together forming one whole. Amos, about this same time, twice speaks of Ephraim Amos 5:15; Amos 6:6 under the name of Joseph. And although Asaph uses the name of Joseph, as Obadiah does, to designate Israel, including Ephraim, it does not seem likely that it should be used of Israel, excluding those whose special name it was. While then Hosea and Amos foretold the entire destruction of the "kingdom" of Israel, Obadiah foretells that some should be there, after the destruction of Jerusalem also, united with them. And after the destruction of Samaria, there did remain in Israel, of the poor people, many who returned to the worship of God. Hezekiah invited Ephraim and Manasseh to the Passover 2 Chronicles 30:1 from Beersheba to Daniel 2 Chronicles Daniel 30:5 addressing them as "the remnant, that are escaped out of the hands of the kings of Assyria" 2 Chronicles 30:6.

The more part mocked 2 Chronicles 30:10; yet, "divers of Asher, Manasseh and Zabulon 2 Chronicles 30:11 came from the first, and afterward many of "Ephraim and Issachar" as well as "Manasseh and Zabulon" 2 Chronicles 30:18. Josiah destroyed all the places of idolatry in Bethel 2 Kings 23:15 and "the cities of Samaria" 2 Kings 23:19, "of Manasseh and Ephraim and Simeon even unto Naphtali" 2 Chronicles 34:6, "Manasseh, Ephraim, and all the remnant of Israel" gave money for the repair of the temple, and this was "gathered" by "the Levites who kept the doors" 2 Chronicles 34:9. After the renewal of the covenant to keep the law, "Josiah removed all the abominations out of all the countries, that" pertained "to the children of Israel and made all found in Israel to serve the Lord their God" 2 Chronicles 34:33.

The pagan colonists were placed "by the king of Assyria in Samaria and the cities thereof" 2 Kings 17:24, probably to hold the people in the country in check. The remnant of "the house of Joseph" dwelt in the open country and the villages.

And the house of Esau for stubble - At some time after the first desolation by Nebuchadnezzar, Esau fulfilled the boast which Malachi records, "we will return and build up the desolate places" Malachi 1:4. Probably during the oppression of Judah by Antiochus Epiphanes, they possessed themselves of the South of Judah, bordering on their own country, and of Hebron (1 Macc. 5:65), 22 miles from Jerusalem , where Judah had dwelt in the time of Nehemiah Neh 11:25. Judas Maccabaeus was reduced to (1 Macc. 4:61) "fortify Bethzur," literally "house of the rock," (20 miles only from Jerusalem) (Eusebius), "that the people might have a defense against Idumaea." Maresha and Adoraim, 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near the road to Gaza, were cities of Idumaea. (Josephus, Ant. xiii. 15. 4.) The whole of Simeon was absorbed in it. (Josephus, Ant. v. 1. 22.) Edom was still on the aggressive, when Judas Maccabaeus smote them at Arrabatene. It was (1 Macc. 5:3) "because they beset Israel round about," that "Judas fought against the children of Esau in Idumea at Arrabatene and gave them a great overthow."

His second battle against them was in Judaea itself. He (1 Macc. 5:65.) "fought against the children of Esau in the land toward the South, where he smote Hebron and her daughters, and pulled down its fortress and burned the towns thereof round about." About 20 years afterward, Simon had again to recover Bethzur (1 Macc. 11:65, 66), and again to fortify it, as still lying on the borders of Judah. (1 Macc. 14:33). Twenty years later, John Hyrcanus, son of Simon, (1 Macc. 13:53). (Josephus, Ant. xiii. 9, 1) "subdued all the Edomites, and permitted them to remain in the country, on condition that they would receive circumcision, and adopt the laws of the Jews." This they did, continues Josephus; "and henceforth became Jews." Outwardly they appear to have given up their idolatry. For although Josephus says , "the Edomites "account" (not, accounted) Koze a god," he relates that, after this forced adoption of Jewish customs, Herod made Costobar, of the sacerdotal family, prefect of Idumaea and Gaza. Their character remained unchanged.

The Jewish historian, who knew them well, describes them as "a tumultuous disorderly race, ever alive to commotions, delighting in change, who went to engagements as to a feast" : "by nature most savage for slaughter." 3, b.c. they took part in the sedition against the Romans , using, as a pretext probably, the Feast of Pentecost, to which they went up with those of Galilee, Jericho, the country beyond Jordan, and "the Jews themselves." Just before the last siege of Jerusalem, the Zealots sent for them, on pretext that the city was betrayed to the Romans. "All took arms, as if in defense of their metropolis, and, 20,000 in number, went to Jerusalem" . After massacres, of which, when told that they had been deceived, they themselves repented, they returned; and were, in turn, wasted by Simon the Gerasene . Simon took it. "He not only destroyed cities and villages, but wasted the whole country. For as you may see wood wholly bared by locusts, so the army of Simon left the country behind them, a desert. Some things they burnt, others they razed."

After a short space, "he returned to the remnant of Edom, and, chasing the people on all sides, constrained the many to flee to Jerusalem" . There they took part against the Zealots , "were a great part of the war" against the Romans, and perished , "rivals in phrensy" with the worst Jews in the thee of that extreme, superhuman, wickedness. Thenceforth, their name disappears from history. The "greater part" of the remmant of the nation had perished in that dreadful exterminating siege; if any still survived, they retained no known national existence. Arabian tradition preserves the memory of three Jewish Arab tribes, none of the Edomites.

18. fire—See the same figure, Nu 21:28; Isa 5:24; 10:17.

house of Jacob … Joseph—that is, the two kingdoms, Judah and Ephraim or Israel [Jerome]. The two shall form one kingdom, their former feuds being laid aside (Isa 11:12, 13; 37:22-28; Jer 3:18; Ho 1:11). The Jews returned with some of the Israelites from Babylon; and, under John Hyrcanus, so subdued and, compelling them to be circumcised, incorporated the Idumeans with themselves that they formed part of the nation [Josephus, Antiquities, 13.17; 12.11]. This was but an earnest of the future union of Israel and Judah in the possession of the enlarged land as one kingdom (Eze 37:16, &c.).

stubble—(Mal 4:1).

Besides what Nebuchadnezzar shall do upon his particular quarrel against Edom, bringing them to a very desolate condition, there shall, (though it be not owned,) intermixed, be the quarrel of God for Israel’s sake, which the Chaldeans shall avenge; or else, after the return out of captivity, and some settled state in their own land, Israel himself shall destroy the remnant of Edom, Joel 3:16, with Joel 3:19 Ezekiel 25:14.

The house of Jacob; either the kingdom of the two tribes, or else the whole twelve tribes, the residue of the ten tribes joined with the two in their return from Babylon.

The house of Joseph; the ten tribes, particularly here mentioned to comfort them. and assure them that they should not be cast off, though they were more notoriously guilty of idolatry, and a long apostacy.

The house of Esau for stubble; as unable to resist or secure themselves as stubble is to resist the flame.

They shall kindle in them: this was fulfilled in part by Hyrcanus and the Maccabees, /APC 1Ma 5:3; but more fully to be accomplished in the mystical sense, when the Lord shall make his church as a fire to all its enemies, and Jerusalem a burdensome stone to all nations.

Devour them; as flame eats up the stubble.

There shall not be any; no considerable number or body of them, or none shall continue Edomites, but turn Jews, and be circumcised, be added to the church.

For the Lord hath spoken it; however or whenever this is done, it shall be done, because the Lord hath spoken it; this assures us of the thing. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame,.... The former may denote the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the latter the ten tribes, which after the separation in Rehoboam's time were called Ephraim, and sometimes Joseph; though they may here signify one and the same, since all the tribes will be united, and become one people, at the time the prophecy refers to: the meaning is, that the people of Judah and Israel shall have strength and power to conquer and destroy their enemies, with as much ease, as flames of fire consume chaff or stubble, or any such combustible matter they light upon, as it follows:

and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; that is, the Israelites shall fall upon the Edomites, who will be no more able to withstand them than stubble can stand before devouring flames of fire, and shall utterly waste and destroy them:

and there shall not be any remaining of the house or Esau; they shall all be cut off by, or swallowed up among, the Jews; not so much as a torch bearer left, one that carries the lights before an army, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions; which versions, and the custom alluded to, serve very much to illustrate the passage. It was a custom with the Greeks, as we are told (d), when armies were about to engage, that before the first ensigns stood a prophet or priest, bearing branches of laurels and garlands, who was called "pyrophorus", or the "torch bearer", because he held a lamp or torch; and it was accounted a most criminal thing to do him any hurt, seeing he performed the office of an ambassador; for those sort of men were priests of Mars, and sacred to him, so that those that were conquerors always spared them: hence, when a total destruction of an army, place, or people, was hyperbolically expressed, it used to be said, not so much as a torch bearer or fire carrier escaped (e); hence this phrase was proverbially used of the most entire defeat of an army, or ruin of a people. So Philo (f) the Jew, speaking of the destruction of Pharaoh and his host at the Red sea, says, there was not so much as a torch bearer left, to declare the calamity to the Egyptians; and thus here, so general should be the destruction of the Edomites, that not one should be left, no, nor a person in such a post and office as described. The Targum of the whole is,

"and they of the house of Jacob shall be strong as fire, and they of the house of Joseph strong like a; flame, but they of the house of Esau shall be weak as stubble; and they shall have power over them, and kill them, and there shall be none left of the: house of Esau.''

This was fulfilled literally, either by Judas Maccabeus, when he went against the children of Esau in Idumea, and smote them, and took their spoil, in the Apocrypha:

"34 Then the host of Timotheus, knowing that it was Maccabeus, fled from him: wherefore he smote them with a great slaughter; so that there were killed of them that day about eight thousand men. 35 This done, Judas turned aside to Maspha; and after he had assaulted it he took and slew all the males therein, and received the spoils thereof and burnt it with fire.'' (1 Maccabees 5)

or rather by Hyrcanus, who took the cities of Idumea, subdued all the Edomites, but permitted them to live in their own country, provided they would be circumcised, and conform to the Jewish laws; which they did, as Josephus says (g), and coalesced and became the people with them, and were reckoned as Jews, and no more as Edomites. But this prophecy had its accomplishment spiritually, either in the first times of the Gospel, when the apostles, who were Jews and Israelites, went forth into the Gentile world, and among the enemies of Christ, preaching the word, which is like fire; and, when attended with the spirit of judgment and of burning, enlightens the consciences of men, melts their hearts, consumes their lusts, and is as a refiner's fire to them, for, their purification; or, if not, it irritates, provokes, torments, and distresses, as fire does; and is either the savour of life unto life, or the savour of death unto death; see Isaiah 4:4 Jeremiah 23:29; or rather it will have its full and final accomplishment in the destruction of antichrist, here signified by Esau and Edom, which will be by burning mystical Babylon, the whore of Rome; the beast and false prophet will be burnt with fire; the day of the, Lord will burn like an oven, and all the wicked will be as stubble, which will be burnt by it, root and branch, so that none will remain; see Revelation 17:16; compare with Zechariah 12:6. Kimchi, on Amos 9:12, says this shall be in the days of the Messiah, the Edomites shall be all consumed, and the Israelites shall inherit their land:

for the Lord hath spoken it; and therefore it shall most certainly be accomplished; what God has said shall be done, he will not alter the thing that is gone out of his lips; heaven and earth shall sooner pass away than one word of his.

(d) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 5. c. 5. (e) Herodot. Urania, sive l. 8. c. 6. (f) De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 630. (g) Antiqu. l. 13. c. 9. sect. 1.

And the house of Jacob shall be {n} a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

(n) God attributes this power to consume his enemies to his Church, which power properly belongs only to himself; Isa 10:17, De 4:24, He 12:29.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. The house of Jacob … the house of Joseph] Both are mentioned to shew that the remnant of the whole nation, not only of the two tribes, but of the ten, is included. The same names are used to describe the entire nation in Psalm 77:15 [Heb. 16]; Psalm 80:1 [Hebrews 2]; Psalm 81:4-5 [Hebrews 5, 6].

any remaining] “a survivor.” The punishment here denounced against Edom is quite distinct from that earlier punishment, of which the nations are summoned to be the instruments (Obadiah 1:1-2). It is that final destruction, which they suffered at the hands of Jews only, first of Judas Maccabæus, and then, in their total extermination, of John Hyrcanus. See Introduction, § III.Verse 18. - The last clause of the preceding verse is here expanded and more fully explained. The house of Jacob... the house of Joseph. The kingdoms of Judah and Israel, the two and the ten tribes united once more, In Psalm 77:15 the whole people are called "the sons of Jacob and Joseph." So elsewhere. The reunion of the tribes is mentioned in Hosea 1:11; Ezekiel 37:19; Zechariah 10:6. The future salvation is to be for all. For stubble, which the Israelites used rather than wood for lighting fires and heating ovens (Matthew 6:30). (For the image of fire consuming the ungodly as stubble, see Exodus 15:7; Isaiah 5:24; Nahum 1:10.) They shall kindle in them. This may mean, the Israelites "shall burn among" the Edomites; but more probably is merely a repetition of what has gone before: the Jews shall consume the Edomites. There shall not be any remaining. This refers to the total annihilation of the Edomites under John Hyrcauus (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 12:08. 6; 13:9, 1), and is a punishment quite distinct from their defeat at the hands of the Nabathaeans predicted in vers. 1-9 (see Introduction, § I.). The LXX. gives, οὐκ ἕσται πυροφόρος (τυρφόρος, Alex.); St. Jerome reads, πυροφόρος, which he translated frumentarius. Many of the Fathers read, πυρφόρος: thus, too, the Arabic and Coptic Versions. Schleusner, sub voce, thinks that the LXX. had in view the Greek proverb, οὐδέ πυρφόρος, which is used to express the idea that not even a single survivor remains (see Herod., 8:6). For the Lord hath spoken it (Joel 3:8). Ammon. - Amos 1:13. "Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have ripped up the pregnant women of Gilead, to widen their border, Amos 1:14. I kindle fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour its palaces, with the war-cry on the day of slaughter, in the storm on the day of the tempest. Amos 1:15. And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes all at once, saith Jehovah." The occasion on which the Ammonites were guilty of such cruelty towards the Israelites as is here condemned, is not recorded in the historical books of the Old Testament; possibly during the wars of Hazael with Israel, when they availed themselves of the opportunity to widen their territory by conquering back the land which had been wrested from them by Sihon king of the Amorites, and was then taken possession of by the Israelites, when he was overcome by them, - a thing which they had attempted once before in the time of Jephthah the judge (Judges 11:12.). We may see from Jeremiah 49:1. that they had taken possession of the territory of the tribe of Gad, which lay nearest to them, though probably not till after the carrying away of the tribes beyond Jordan by the Assyrians (2 Kings 15:29). The ripping up of the women with child (see at 2 Kings 8:12) is singled out as the climax of the cruelties which the Ammonites inflicted upon the Israelites during the war. As a punishment for this, their capital was to be burned, and the king, with the princes, to wander into exile, and consequently their kingdom was to be destroyed. Rabbâh, i.e., the great one, is the abbreviated name of the capital; Rabbah of the children of Ammon, which has been preserved in the ruins of Aurân (see at Deuteronomy 3:11). The threat is sharpened by the clause בּתרוּעה וגו, at the war-cry on the field of battle, i.e., an actual fact, when the enemy shall take the city by storm. בּסער וגו is a figurative expression applied to the storming of a city carried by assault, like בּסוּפה in Numbers 21:14. The reading מלכּם, "their (the Ammonites') king," is confirmed by the lxx and the Chaldee, and required by ושׂריו (cf. Amos 2:3), whereas Μαλχόμ, Melchom, which is found in Aq., Symm., Jerome, and the Syriac, rests upon a false interpretation.
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