Obadiah 1:20
And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even to Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Obadiah 1:20-21. And the captivity of this host, &c. — Those of the ten tribes that were carried away captive by Shalmaneser; shall possess that of the Canaanites — That is, all the countries they anciently possessed, with this addition, that what the Canaanites held by force, and the Israelites could not take from them, shall now be possessed by these returned captives. Even unto Zarephath — Or Sarepta, a city near Sidon, in the northern borders of Judea, 1 Kings 17:9. The Canaanites, properly so called, were the ancient inhabitants of that district: see Jdg 1:32; Matthew 15:21-22. And the captivity of Jerusalem — The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, carried captive from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; which is in Sepharad — That is, as some suppose, a province of Babylon, in which the Jews resided during their captivity. Shall possess the cities of the south — All the cities which were once their own. And saviours shall come upon mount Zion, &c. — That is, deliverers. Taken literally, the expression may mean, the leaders of those captive troops who were to return from Babylon, such as Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. If understood mystically, these saviours are Christ, his apostles, and the other preachers of the gospel. To judge the mount of Esau — To avenge Israel upon the Edomites, or, figuratively speaking, the church of Christ upon all its enemies, here represented by Edom. Instead of saviours, the LXX., with a small alteration of the Hebrew points, read ανασωζομενοι, those that are saved, or escape: namely, the same with the remnant often mentioned in the prophets, and particularly Joel 2:32, where see the note. And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s — This will be fulfilled when the last of the four monarchies, foretold Daniel 2:7, are destroyed, and the stone which smote the image becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth; when the God of Israel shall be honoured, obeyed, and worshipped by all mankind. 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.And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel - , (it must, I believe, be rendered,) "which are among the Canaanites, as far as Zarephath, and the captivity of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the South." Obadiah had described how the two tribes, whose were the promises to the house of David, should spread abroad on all sides. Here he represents how Judah should, in its turn, receive into its bosom those now carried away from them; so should all again be one fold.

Zarephath - (probably "smelting-house," and so a place of slave-labor, pronounced Sarepta in Luke) Luke 4:26. belonged to Sidon 1 Kings 17:9, lying on the sea about halfway between it and Tyre. . These were then, probably, captives, placed by Tyrians for the time in safe keeping in the narrow plain between Lebanon and the sea, intercepted by Tyre itself from their home, and awaiting to be transported to a more distant slavery. These, with those already sold to the Grecians and in slavery at Sardis, formed one whole. They stand as representatives of all who, whatever their lot, had been rent off from the Lord's land, and had been outwardly severed from His heritage.

20. the captivity of this host—that is, the captives of this multitude of Israelites.

shall possess that of the Canaanites—Maurer translates, "the captives … whom the Canaanites (carried away captive into Phœnicia) even unto Zarephath, shall possess the south," namely, Idumea as well as the south (Ob 19). Henderson, similarly, "the captives that are among the Canaanites," &c. But the corresponding clauses of the parallelism are better balanced in English Version, "the ten tribes of Israel shall possess the territory of the Canaanites," namely, Western Palestine and Phœnicia (Jud 3:3). "And the captives of Jerusalem (and Judah) shall possess the southern cities," namely, Edom, &c. Each has the region respectively adjoining assigned to it; Israel has the western Canaanite region; Judah, the southern.

even unto Zarephath—near Zidon; called Sarepta in Lu 4:26. The name implies it was a place for smelting metals. From this quarter came the "woman of Canaan" (Mt 15:21, 22). Captives of the Jews had been carried into the coasts of Palestine or Canaan, about Tyre and Zidon (Joe 3:3, 4; Am 1:9). The Jews when restored shall possess the territory of their ancient oppressors.

in Sepharad—that is, the Bosphorus [Jerome, from his Hebrew Instructor]. Sephar, according to others (Ge 10:30). Palæography confirms Jerome. In the cuneiform inscription containing a list of the tribes of Persia [Niebuhr, Tab. 31.1], before Ionia and Greece, and after Cappadocia, comes the name CPaRaD. It was therefore a district of Western Asia Minor, about Lydia, and near the Bosphorus. It is made an appellative by Maurer. "The Jerusalem captives of the dispersion" (compare Jas 1:1), wherever they be dispersed, shall return and possess the southern cities. Sepharad, though literally the district near the Bosphorus, represents the Jews' far and wide dispersion. Jerome says the name in Assyrian means a boundary, that is, "the Jews scattered in all boundaries and regions."

The captivity of this host of the children of Israel, those of the ten tribes that were carried away captive by Shalmaneser, one hundred and thirty years before Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar,

shall possess that of the Canaanites; all the country they anciently possessed, with this addition also, that what the Canaanites held by force, and the Israelites could not take from them, shall now be possessed by these returned captives.

Zarephath, called Sarepta, Luke 4:26, near Sidon.

The captivity of Jerusalem; the two tribes, carried captive when Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar.

In Sepharad; the modern Jews call Spain Sepharad, but without any good ground, nor was it so called anciently, nor doth the Chaldee paraphrase so interpret it; nor do I meet with any thing better than a tacit confession, that most believe it is a city of Chaldea or Assyria, and toward the northern and farthest bounds of it, but where it was exactly they know not.

Shall possess the cities of the south; all the cities, which were once their own, in Judea, which lay southward from this Sepharad, where the captives dwelt, and whence they return. And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath,.... That is, the host or army, the great number of the children of Israel, that have been carried captive, upon their return shall possess that part of the land of Israel which was inhabited formerly by the Canaanites, even as far as to Zarephath, said to belong to Zidon, 1 Kings 17:10; and called Sarepta of Sidon; see Luke 4:26. It is mentioned by Pliny (h) along with Sidon, where glass was made; and perhaps this place might have its name from the melting of glass in it, from which signifies to melt metals, glass, &c. it is called by Josephus (i) Sarephtha; who says it was not far from Sidon and Tyre, and lay between them: according to an Arabic geographer (k), it was twenty miles from Tyre, and ten from Sidon. Here the Prophet Elijah dwelt for a time; and in the times of Jerom (l) was shown a little tower, said to be his habitation, which travellers visited. Mr. Maundrell (m) speaks of this place as three hours' journey from Sidon, and is now called

"Sarphan, supposed (he says) to be the ancient Sarephath, or Sarepta, so famous for the residence and miracles of the Prophet Elijah; the place shown us for this city consisted of only a few houses on the tops of the mountains, within about half a mile of the sea; but it is more probable the principal part of, the city stood below, in the space between the hills and the sea, there being ruins still to be seen in that place, of a considerable extent?''

It was once a place very famous for wine; the wine of Sarepta is often made mention of by writers (n); perhaps vines might grow upon the hills and mountains about it; and this being a city of Phoenicia, on the northern border of the land of Israel, is very fitly observed as the limit of the possession of the Israelites this way;

and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south; the Jews, who were carried captive into Babylon, to Sepharad; some place, though unknown, perhaps in the land of Babylon. Calmet (o) conjectures it may be Sippara or Sipparat, in Mesopotamia, a little above the division of the Euphrates: and the Septuagint version renders it Ephratha; which perhaps is a corruption, of the Euphrates in the present copies: the Vulgate Latin version translates it Bosphorus; and so Jerom, who says that the Hebrew that taught him assured him that Bosphorus was called Sepharad; whither Adrian is said to carry the Jews captive. Kimchi and Aben Ezra interpret it of the present captivity of theirs by Titus, who upon their return to their land shall possess the, southern part of it, which originally belonged to the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:20. If Sepharad, in the Assyrian language, signifies a border, as Jerom says it does, it denotes, as some think, that part of Arabia which borders on the south of Judea, that shall be inhabited by the Jews. Some render the words, "the captivity of Jerusalem shall possess that which is in Sepharad, and the cities of the south": but this is contrary to the accents, unless the words "shall possess" be repeated, and so two clauses made, "the captivity of Jerusalem shall possess that which is in Sepharad; they shall possess the cities of the south". The Targum and Syriac version, instead of Sepharad, have Spain; and so the Jewish writers generally interpret it. By the Canaanites they think are meant the Germans, and the country of Germany; by Zarephath, France; and by Sepharad, Spain; so Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, fancying that they who are now captives in these countries shall one day possess them: but the prophecy only respects their settlement in their own land, and some parts adjacent to it; or rather the enlargement of the church of Christ in the world. A late learned writer (p), is of opinion that some respect may be had to this passage in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in which the former makes mention of "five brethren" that he had, Luke 16:28; and are by the said writer thus reckoned:

1. the house of Jacob; 2. the house of Joseph, which are said to possess the south, with the mountains of Esau, and the plain; 3. Benjamin, which shall possess Gilead; 4. the captives from the Assyrian captivity; 5. the captives from the Jerusalem captivity, namely, by Titus Vespasian, who shall possess the cities of the south.

(h) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 19. (i) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 13. sect. 2.((k) Scherif Ibn Idris apud Reland. Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. l. 3. p. 935. (l) Epitaph. Paulae, fol. 51. M. (m) Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 48. Ed. 7. (n) Vid. Roland. ut supra. (o) Dictionary, in the word "Sepharad". (p) Teelmanni Specimen, & Explic. Parabol. p. 517.

And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the {p} Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.

(p) By the Canaanites, the Jews mean the Dutchmen, and by Zarephath, France, and by Sepharad, Spain.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. Two ways of rendering this verse are given in our English Bibles, one in the text, the other in the margin. The latter of these fully expressed would be: “And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that (i.e. the land) of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem shall possess that which is in Sepharad; they shall possess the cities of the south.” But a third rendering of the verse is possible and appears to be more satisfactory than either of these:—“And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel which the Canaanites (have carried captive) even unto Zarephath and the captivity of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad (these) shall possess the cities of the south.” The prophet having assigned their dwelling-place to the main body of the people, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin who returned from Babylon, now bethinks him of their brethren, who in the general disruption of the Chaldean invasion had been carried captive in other directions. He mentions two such bodies of captives, whether as including or as representing all Jews who were in such a case, and for them he finds a home in the regions of the south. Another rendering is adopted in R.V.

this host of the children of Israel] It is suggested in the Speaker’s Commentary, that the word “this” here “indicates the body (of exiles) to which Obadiah himself belonged, and of which he formed one. We know nothing,” it is said, “of Obadiah’s history; he may well have been one of the many inhabitants of Judah who had to flee before the Babylonish inroad, and were afterwards spread as homeless exiles through the cities of Palestine and Phœnicia. If this be so, a touching personal interest attaches itself to the prophet’s words. He comforts his brother-exiles in Canaan by telling them that they, as well as the exiles in Sepharad, should return, and take possession of the cities of the south.” The suggestion is interesting, but it is more natural to understand the expression, “this host of the children of Israel,” of the entire body of the Jews, uprooted and doomed to exile as Obadiah saw them when he wrote. Of this whole captive host, he says, that portion which has been carried into Phœnicia shall be thus provided for. In this sense the word “host” (“forces”) is perhaps used in Obadiah 1:11. See note there.

even unto Zarephath] The Sarepta of the New Testament (Luke 4:26) famous in the history of Elijah, 1 Kings 17:9-24. It was a considerable town, as its ruins now shew, on the coast road between Tyre and Sidon. Its modern representative, Sarafend, is a small village on the hill above.

in Sepharad] Great difference of opinion exists as to the meaning and reference of this word. The conjecture of Jerome that it is not a proper name, but the Assyrian word for “boundary,” which the prophet has adopted, is accepted by some. It would then mean, “who are scattered abroad in all the boundaries and regions of the earth.” Comp. James 1:1. It is more probable, however, that like Zarephath in the other clause of the verse, Sepharad is the name of a place, though it is not easy to determine what place is intended by it. The modern Jews understand it of Spain, and accordingly, “at the present day the Spanish Jews, who form the chief of the two great sections into which the Jewish nation is divided, are called by the Jews themselves the Sephardim, German Jews being known as the Ashkenazim.” Dict. of the Bible, Art. Sepharad. By others it is identified with Sardis, the capital of the Lydian kingdom, the name having been discovered as it is thought to designate Sardis in the cuneiform Persian inscriptions. Adopting this view (for which some have found support in Joel 3:6). Dr Pusey thus explains the whole verse: “Zarephath (probably ‘smelting-house,’ and so a place of slave-labour, pronounced Sarepta in St Luke) belonged to Sidon, lying on the sea about half way between it and Tyre. These were then, probably, captives, placed by the Tyrians for the time in safe keeping in the narrow plain between Lebanon and the sea, intercepted by Tyre itself from their home, and awaiting to be transported to a more distant slavery. These, with those already sold to the Grecians and in slavery at Sardis, form one whole. They stand as representatives of all who, whatever their lot, had been rent off from the Lord’s land, and had been outwardly severed from His heritage.” Other conjectures are given in the article in the Dictionary of the Bible. Whatever uncertainty attaches to the word Sepharad, the drift of the prophecy is perfectly clear, viz. that not only the exiles from Babylon, but Jewish captives from other and distant regions shall be brought back to live prosperously within the enlarged borders of their own land.Verse 20. - And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; Septuagint, Καὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας ἡ ἀρχὴ αὔτη τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραὴλ γῆ τῶν Ξαναναίων ἕως Σαρεπτῶν, "And this shall be the beginning of the captivity of the children of Israel, the land of the Canaanites as far as Sarepta." This would imply that the Ephraimitas should be the first to go into exile, and on their return should occupy the territory of the Canaanites on the north. But ἀρχὴ may mean "domain." Vulgate, Et transmigratio exercitus hujus filiorum Israel, omnia loca Chananaeorum usque ad Sareptam. The general meaning is that Jewish captives, who have been taken to other lands, shall return and possess the cities of the south. The sentence in the Hebrew is incomplete. Our translators supply, "shall possess." Pusey (in agreement with the Chaldee, and virtually with the Septuagint) renders, "which are among the Canaanites;" and this seems to be correct, making "shall possess the cities of the south" the predicate of both clauses. So the first portion of the verse means, as Henderson says, the number of Israelitish captives which were found in Phoenicia, into which they had been sold at different times as slaves (comp. vers. 11, 14; Joel 3:6, 7). This host. Not a general deportation, but only the portion of the people referred to. From this expression some have inferred that Obadiah himself was one of this body. This is possible, but not necessary. The captives who are among the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; as far as Zarephath, were probably placed there for safe keeping before being sold into Greece and other countries. Zarepbath ("Melting house"), the Sarepta of St. Luke (Luke 4:26), now Surafend or Sarafend, and celebrated in the history of Elijah (1 Kings 17:9, etc.), lay between Tyre and Sidon, a little inland, and was a town of some importance, as its ruins prove. The captivity of Jerusalem. The captives from Jerusalem. Which is in Sepharad; Septuagint, ἕως Ἐφραθά "as far as Ephrathah;" Vulgate, quae in Bosphoro est. The name occurs nowhere else in the Bible, and its identification cannot be established. Jerome suggests, in his commentary, that it is the Assyrian for "boundary," and not a proper name at all. The Peshito and the rabbins And modern Jews interpret it as "Spain." Keil supposes it to be "Sparta;" Pusey, "Sardis." For this last explanation some ground has been found in an inscription of Nakshi-Rustam, where a place called Cparda occurs in a list of tribes between Cappadocia and Ionia; and Cparda is considered to be the Persian form of Sardis (see Schrader, 'Keilinschr.,' p. 445, etc.). A further confirmation of this identification is found in the complaint of Joel (Joel 3:6 [4:6, Hebrew], that the Phoenicians had sold Israelites "unto the sons of the Grecians." Professor Sayce, in a note to G. Smith's 'History of Babylonia,' p. 156, places "Saparda" on the Black Sea. It may be questioned, however, whether some town nearer Judaea is not intended. Ewald would read "Sepharam," a town in North Palestine. The two bodies of captives shall possess the cities of the south. The Negeb. The cities are named in Joshua 19. Moab. - Amos 2:1. "Thus saith Jehovah: for three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because it has burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime, Amos 2:2. I send fire into Moab, and it will devour the palaces of Kirioth, and Moab will perish in the tumult, in the war-cry, in the trumpet-blast. Amos 2:3. And I cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and all its princes do I strangle with it, saith Jehovah." The burning of the bones of the king of Edom is not burning while he was still alive, but the burning of the corpse into lime, i.e., so completely that the bones turned into powder like lime (D. Kimchi), to cool his wrath still further upon the dead man (cf. 2 Kings 23:16). This is the only thing blamed, not his having put him to death. No record has been preserved of this event in the historical books of the Old Testament; but it was no doubt connected with the war referred to in 2 Kings 3, which Joram of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah waged against the Moabites in company with the king of Edom; so that the Jewish tradition found in Jerome, viz., that after this war the Moabites dug up the bones of the king of Edom from the grace, and heaped insults upon them by burning them to ashes, is apparently not without foundation. As Amos in the case of all the other nations has mentioned only crimes that were committed against the covenant nation, the one with which the Moabites are charged must have been in some way associated with either Israel or Judah, that is to say, it must have been committed upon a king of Edom, who was a vassal of Judah, and therefore not very long after this war, since the Edomites shook off their dependence upon Judah in less than ten years from that time (2 Kings 8:20). As a punishment for this, Moab was to be laid waste by the fire of war, and Keriyoth with its palaces to be burned down. הקּריּות is not an appellative noun (τῶν πόλεων αὐτῆς, lxx), but a proper name of one of the chief cities of Moab (cf. Jeremiah 48:24, Jeremiah 48:41), the ruins of which have been discovered by Burckhardt (Syr. p. 630) and Seetzen (ii. p. 342, cf. iv. p. 384) in the decayed town of Kereyat or Krrit. The application of the term מת to Moab is to be explained on the supposition that the nation is personified. שׁאון signifies war tumult, and בּתרוּעה is explained as in Amos 1:14 by בּקול שׁופר, blast of the trumpets, the signal for the assault or for the commencement of the battle. The judge with all the princes shall be cut off miqqirbâh, i.e., out of the land of Moab. The feminine suffix refers to Moab as a land or kingdom, and not to Keriyoth. From the fact that the shōphēt is mentioned instead of the king, it has been concluded by some that Moab had no king at that time, but had only a shōphēt as its ruler; and they have sought to account for this on the ground that Moab was at that time subject to the kingdom of the ten tribes (Hitzig and Ewald). But there is no notice in the history of anything of the kind, and it cannot possibly be inferred from the fact that Jeroboam restored the ancient boundaries of the kingdom as far as the Dead Sea (2 Kings 14:25). Shōphēt is analogous to tōmēkh shēbhet in Amos 1:5, and is probably nothing more than a rhetorical expression applied to the מלך, who is so called in the threat against Ammon, and simply used for the sake of variety. The threatening prophecies concerning all the nations and kingdoms mentioned from Amos 1:6 onwards were fulfilled by the Chaldeans, who conquered all these kingdoms, and carried the people themselves into captivity. For fuller remarks upon this point, see at Jeremiah 48 and Ezekiel 25:8.
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