Micah 7:14
Feed your people with your rod, the flock of your heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the middle of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Feed thy people with thy rod.—Or, with thy shepherds crook. The prophet lifts up his prayer for the people, either dwelling “alone” among the idolaters of Babylon—among them, but not of them—or living a nation, mysteriously apart from other nations, returned from Babylon, and settled on the fruitful mountain range of Carmel, or in the rich pasture land on the east of Jordan. The extraordinary fertility of this “Land of Promise” has been recently brought into prominence, and its future prosperity predicted in glowing colours by Mr. Oliphant, in The Land of Gilead.

Micah 7:14. Feed thy people with thy rod, &c. — This seems to be a prayer which the prophet broke out into on this occasion, beseeching God to take his people again under his peculiar protection and care; which is the meaning of feeding them with his rod, or pastoral crook: the flock of thy heritage, which dwell solitarily — That is, that peculiar people, which thou hast separated from the rest of the world, or caused to live apart by themselves, that they might maintain among them, and preserve uncorrupted, thy pure worship. In the wood, in the midst of Carmel — Called the forest of Carmel, Isaiah 37:24, and spoken of as a place remarkable for its fruitfulness. Therefore, to feed in the midst of Carmel, implied giving them great plenty. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, &c. — These parts of Canaan were noted for their rich pastures, and therefore this implies the same as the foregoing sentence, namely, Bless them with plenty of every thing, as was the case formerly.7:14-20 When God is about to deliver his people, he stirs up their friends to pray for them. Apply spiritually the prophet's prayer to Christ, to take care of his church, as the great Shepherd of the sheep, and to go before them, while they are here in this world as in a wood, in this world but not of it. God promises in answer to this prayer, he will do that for them which shall be repeating the miracles of former ages. As their sin brought them into bondage, so God's pardoning their sin brought them out. All who find pardoning mercy, cannot but wonder at that mercy; we have reason to stand amazed, if we know what it is. When the Lord takes away the guilt of sin, that it may not condemn us, he will break the power of sin, that it may not have dominion over us. If left to ourselves, our sins will be too hard for us; but God's grace shall be sufficient to subdue them, so that they shall not rule us, and then they shall not ruin us. When God forgives sin, he takes care that it never shall be remembered any more against the sinner. He casts their sins into the sea; not near the shore-side, where they may appear again, but into the depth of the sea, never to rise again. All their sins shall be cast there, for when God forgives sin, he forgives all. He will perfect that which concerns us, and with this good work will do all for us which our case requires, and which he has promised. These engagements relate to Christ, and the success of the gospel to the end of time, the future restoration of Israel, and the final prevailing of true religion in all lands. The Lord will perform his truth and mercy, not one jot or tittle of it shall fall to the ground: faithful is He that has promised, who also will do it. Let us remember that the Lord has given the security of his covenant, for strong consolation to all who flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in Christ Jesus.Feed Thy people with Thy rod - The day of final deliverance was still a great way off. There was a weary interval before them of chastisement, suffering, captivity. So Micah lays down his pastoral office by committing his people to Him who was their true and abiding Shepherd. who that has had the pastoral office, has not thought, as the night drew near in which no man can work, "what will be after him?" Micah knew and foretold the outline. It was for his people a passing through the valley of the shadow of death. Micah then commits them to Him, who had Himself committed them to him, who alone could guide them through it. It is a touching parting with his people; a last guidance of those whom he had taught, reproved, rebuked, in vain, to Him the Good Shepherd who led Israel like a flock. The rod is at times the shepherd's staff Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4, although more frequently the symbol of chastisement. God's chastisement of His people is an austere form of His love. So He says, "If his children forsake My law, I will visit their offences with a rod and their sin with scourges: nevertheless My loving-kindness will I not utterly take from them" Psalm 89:31, Psalm 89:33.

The flock of Thine inheritance - So Moses had appealed to God, "Destroy not Thy people and Thine inheritance which Thou hast redeemed through Thy greatness - They are Thy people and Thine inheritance" Deuteronomy 9:26, Deuteronomy 9:29; and Solomon, in his dedication-prayer, that, on their repentance in their captivity, God would forgive His people, "for they be Thy people and Thine inheritance which Thou broughtest forth out of Egypt" 1 Kings 8:51; and Asaph, "O Lord, the pagan are come into Thine inheritance" Psalm 79:1; and again, "Why doth Thine anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture? Remember the tribe of Thine inheritance which Thou hast redeemed" Psalm 74:1-2; and Joel, "Spare Thy people and give not Thine heritage to reproach" Joel 2:17; and a Psalmist, "They break in pieces Thy people, O Lord, and afflict Thine heritage" Psalm 94:5; and Isaiah, "Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance" Isaiah 63:17.

The appeal excludes all merits. Not for any deserts of their's, (for these were but evil,) did the prophets teach them to pray; but because they were God's property. It was His Name, which would be dishonored in them; it was His work, which would seemingly come to nothing; it was He, who would be thought powerless to save. Again, it is not God's way, to leave half-done what He has begun. "Jesus, having loved His own which were in the world, loved them unto the end" John 13:1. God's love in creating us and making us His, is the earnest, if we will, of His everlasting love. We have been the objects of His everlasting thought, of His everlasting love. Though we have forfeited all claim to Ills love, He has not forfeited the work of His Hands; Jesus has nor forfeited the price of His Blood. So holy men have prayed; , "I believe that Thou hast redeemed me by Thy Blood: permit not the price of the Ransom to perish." "O Jesus Christ, my only Saviour, let not Thy most bitter Passion and Death be lost or wasted in me, miserable sinner!" .

Which dwell solitarily, or alone - Micah uses the words of Balaam, when he had been constrained by God to bless Israel. "The people shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations" Numbers 23:9. Moses had repeated them, "Israel shall dwell in safety alone" Deuteronomy 33:28. This aloneness among other nations, then, was a blessing, springing from God's being in the midst of them Exodus 33:16, Deuteronomy 4:7, the deeds which He did for them Exodus 34:10; Deuteronomy 4:3, the law which He gave Deuteronomy 4:8, Deuteronomy 4:33. So Moses prayed, "Wherein shall it be known here, that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight?" Exodus 33:16, is it "not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth". It was, then, a separate appeal to God by all His former loving-kindness, whereby He had severed and elected His people for Himself.

In the wood, in the midst of Carmel - God "turneth a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water and dry ground into watersprings" Psalm 107:34, Psalm 107:5. Isaiah at the same time used the like image, that "Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field (Carmel), and the fruitful field (Carmel) shall be esteemed as a forest" Isaiah 29:17. The wild forest was to be like the rich domestic exuberance of Carmel (see the note at Amos 1:2). He would say, "Feed Thy people in Babylon, which is to them a wild homeless tract, that it may be to them as their own peaceful Carmel." Without God, all the world is a wilderness; with God, the wilderness is Paradise.

Let them feed in Basha and Gilead - The former words were a prayer for their restoration. Gilead and Bashan were the great pasture-countries of Palestine (see the note at Amos 1:3, vol. i. p. 234; iv. L p 280), , "a wide tableland, with undulating downs clothed with rich grass throughout," where the cattle ranged freely.

They were the first possessions, which God had bestowed upon Israel; the first, which they forfeited. Micah prays that God, who protected them in their desolation, would restore and protect them in the green pasture where He placed them. They are a prayer still to the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep John 10:11, John 10:15, our Lord Jesus Christ, that He would feed His flock whom He has redeemed, who have been given to Him as an inheritance Psalm 2:8, the little flock Luke 12:32, to which it is the Fathers good pleasure to give the kingdom, which cleaveth to Him and shall be heirs with Him Romans 8:17. Cyril: "Christ feedeth His own with a rod, guiding them gently, and repressing by gentle fears the tendency of believers to listlessness. He bruiseth as with a rod of Iron, not them, but the rebellious disobedient and proud, who receive not the faith; believers He instructs and forms tenderly, feeds them among the lilies Sol 6:3, and leads them into good pastures and rich places, namely the divinely-inspired Scriptures, making the hidden things thereof clear through the Spirit to those of understanding, that they "may grow up unto Him in all things which is the Head, even Christ" Ephesians 4:15, with minds well-fed and nourished and gladdened with all spiritual delights.

But the chosen and elect dwell solitarily, being apart from the rest who think only of the things of earth, and give themselves to the pleasures of sense. So then these, having the mind at rest, freed from the vain and abominable tumults, are placed apart as in a wood and in a mountain. By the wood you may understand, the rich and varied and solid instruction (as it were trees and flowers) both in doctrine and life; by the mountain, what is high and lofty. For none of the wisdom, accounted of in the Church, is low. They are "fed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old", rich pastures; for the mind of the holy is beautified, delighting itself in the contemplation of the inspired Scriptures, and filled, as it were, with a certain richness, and shares without stint all excellence in though or in deed; and that, not for a brief and narrow season, but forever. For what gladdeneth the flesh falleth therewith and fadeth and hasteth away like a shadow; but the participation of the good things from above and of the Spirit, stretcheth out along endless ages."

14. Feed thy people—Prayer of the prophet, in the name of his people to God, which, as God fulfils believing prayer, is prophetical of what God would do. When God is about to deliver His people, He stirs up their friends to pray for them.

Feed—including the idea of both pastoral rule and care over His people (Mic 5:4, Margin), regarded as a flock (Ps 80:1; 100:3). Our calamity must be fatal to the nation, unless Thou of Thy unmerited grace, remembering Thy covenant with "Thine heritage" (De 4:20; 7:6; 32:9), shalt restore us.

thy rod—the shepherd's rod, wherewith He directs the flock (Ps 23:4). No longer the rod of punishment (Mic 6:9).

which dwell solitarily in the wood, in … Carmel—Let Thy people who have been dwelling as it were in a solitude of woods (in the world, but not of it), scattered among various nations, dwell in Carmel, that is, where there are fruit-bearing lands and vineyards [Calvin]. Rather, "which are about to dwell (that is, that they may dwell) separate in the wood, in … Carmel" [Maurer], which are to be no longer mingled with the heathen, but are to dwell as a distinct people in their own land. Micah has here Balaam's prophecy in view (compare Mic 6:5, where also Balaam is referred to). "Lo, the people shall dwell alone" (Nu 23:9; compare De 33:28). To "feed in the wood in Carmel," is to feed in the rich pastures among its woods. To "sleep in the woods," is the image of most perfect security (Eze 34:25). So that the Jews' "security," as well as their distinct nationality, is here foretold. Also Jer 49:31.

Bashan—famed for its cattle (Ps 22:12; Am 4:1). Parallel to this passage is Jer 50:19. Bashan and Gilead, east of Jordan, were chosen by Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh, as abounding in pastures suited for their many cattle (Nu 32:1-42; De 3:12-17).

That this verse contains good tidings to the people of God, both to his ancient people, type of his church in gospel days, and to the church of the converted Gentiles, is agreed on all hands, for they are either a direction and command to those God doth appoint by office to be shepherds over his flock, or a prayer to God that he would please to take the care of them, which doth include somewhat more than the bare petition for the blessing. Or it is a prediction of what shall be done for them after their return out of the Babylonish captivity, or a promise made to assure and comfort them during their captivity.

Feed; so Christ directs his officers, or God appointeth Christ to do this; or so the prophet for the people, or the people for themselves, pray to God that he would be their shepherd and feed them. Or the prophet doth in the imperative, instead of the future, tell them what shall be, which is a promise express enough for their support and comfort.

Thy people; literally, Israel after the flesh, returned out of captivity; mystically, the whole Israel of God, redeemed out of a worse captivity; both a people peculiar to God through grace by covenant, and through Christ.

With thy rod; in allusion to the usage of shepherds, who guided their sheep by a pastoral staff: the peculiar and gracious providence of God over his sheep is hereby expressed, and desired or promised.

The flock of thine heritage; they are as sheep, weak, not able to defend or provide for themselves, a flock of innocent ones compared with their enemies; and, however they have been scattered, they are thine heritage still, which thou, O Lord, hast purchased of old: let them be so still, and do thou both possess, rule, feed, and preserve, Deu 4:20 32:9 Psalm 100:3.

Which dwell solitarily in the wood; feed, graciously protect and guide, those that in their present captive state are solitary, compassed with dangers from wild beasts; so thy people are in danger by cruel enemies, worse than wild beasts.

Carmel; a fruitful place and well inhabited, whether you take it for Carmel which Elijah frequented, or where Nabal dwelt, and where was rich pastures and safe feeding. Bashan; a place of note for fruitfulness in Canaan.

Gilead; equal with any of the others for plenty and safety.

As in the days of old; before the sins of the people caused their captivity; own them for thine and prosper them, O Lord, in their own land: a much like promise or prediction you have Jeremiah 1:18,19 Eze 34:25. Feed thy people with thy rod,.... These are either the words of God the Father to Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, calling upon him to do his office as such; to feed the people he had given him, the sheep of his hand, the flock of his pasture, by his Spirit, and with his word and ordinances; see Zechariah 11:5; or of Christ to his ministers, his undershepherds, to feed his sheep and his lambs, the people committed to their care and charge, with wholesome words, with sound and good doctrine, by faithfully preaching the Gospel, and administering the ordinances to them: or rather the words of the prophet, a prayer of his to God or Christ, to take care of the people of God in their desolate state, in captivity; to guide and lead them, protect and defend them, by his power and providence, as a shepherd directs, leads, governs, and preserves his flock with his pastoral crook or rod; or, as before, to feed the church of God as a shepherd does his flock, lead them into good pastures, and secure them from all their enemies: and this, being a prayer of faith, may be considered as a prophecy or prediction of what would be; and so some render the words, "thou shalt feed thy people", &c. (h). The Targum is,

"feed thy people with thy word, the people of thine inheritance, in the age which is to be renewed;''

in the new world, the world to come; plainly referring to the times of the Messiah;

the flock of thine heritage; who are like to sheep for their harmlessness and innocence, and to a flock of them, being associated together, and folded in the church; and though but a little flock, yet the lot, the portion, the inheritance of Christ; all which is a strong reason for his feeding, keeping, and preserving them, being committed to his care and charge for that purpose:

which dwell solitary in the wood; dwell alone in the world, which is like a wood and a wilderness; separated from the men of the world; distinguished by the grace of God, chosen and called out from among them, and different from them both in principle and practice: this may have respect to the Jews, in their dispersion, living separate from and unmixed with the nations of the world; or rather to their dwelling in safety and security under the protection of the great Shepherd, the Messiah, David their Prince, when they shall be returned to their own land in the latter day:

in the midst of Carmel; or of a fruitful field, as Carmel was; enjoying all happiness and prosperity, temporal and spiritual:

let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old; places in the land of Israel famous for rich and fat pastures; and so express the great plenty of good things wished for, and which will be enjoyed by the Jews when converted to Christ, and replaced in their own land; and are an emblem of those spiritual good things, and of those rich and green pastures of the word and ordinances, which the great Shepherd is desired to lead, and does lead, his people into; see Psalm 23:1; these places are now in the hand of the Turks, and so the words may be a petition for their conversion, as well as for the Jews, that this country may no more be inhabited by Heathens, but by the Israel of God, as Gulichius (i) very well observes.

(h) "pasces", so some in Vatablus. (i) Apud Burkium in loc.

{n} Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.

(n) The Prophet prays to God to be merciful to his Church, when they would be scattered abroad as in solitary places in Babylon, and to be beneficial to them as in times past.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. the flock of thine heritage] Comp. Psalm 28:9 ‘bless thine inheritance; feed them also;’ Psalm 95:7, ‘we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.’

which dwell solitarily] The special mission of Israel (which was to be ‘holy,’ i.e. set apart, ‘unto Jehovah’) rendered seclusion from the world a matter of primary importance. Comp. Numbers 23:9, ‘Lo, the people dwelleth alone [or, solitarily] and is not reckoned among the nations, Deuteronomy 33:28, ‘So Israel dwelleth … alone.’

in the wood, in the midst of Carmel] These words ought rather to have been attached to the following verb, so that ‘in the wood,’ &c. should be parallel to ‘in Bashan and Gilead.’ The ‘deep jungles of copse’ in the ‘rocky dells’ of Carmel form, by their luxuriance, a contrast to the bare hills and vales of the land of Judah. Comp. Isaiah 33:9; Isaiah 35:2.

in Bashan and Gilead] The pastures of Bashan were as famous as its woods; in poetic language, the ‘fat bulls of Bashan’ became a symbol for the proud, unfeeling aristocracy of Israel (Psalm 22:12, Amos 4:1). Gilead too was famous for its cattle (Numbers 32:1, 1 Chronicles 5:9).

as in the days of old] i.e. probably in the days of David—the ideal period of Israel’s history (see on Micah 5:2).

14–17. Here an abrupt transition occurs. The prophet, in the name of the people, supplicates for the fulfilment of the promise of salvation.Verses 14-17. - § 7. The prophet in the name of the people prays for this promised salvation, and the Lord assures him that his mercies shall not fail, and that the hostile nations shall be humbled. Verse 14. - Feed thy people with thy rod. The prophet prays to the Shepherd of Israel (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 80:1), beseeching him to rule and lead his people, and to find them pasture. The "rod" is the shepherd's staff (Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4). The flock of thine heritage. So Israel is called (Psalm 28:9; Psalm 95:7; comp. Zephaniah 3:13). Which dwell solitarily; or, so that they dwell; separate from all other nations, religiously and physically, by institution and geo graphical position. Compare Balaam's words (Numbers 23:9; also Deuteronomy 33:28). It was Israel's special characteristic to be holy, i.e. set apart, and it was only when she observed her duty in this respect that she prospered (see Exodus 33:16). In the wood (forest) in the midst of Carmel. The forest would isolate the flock, and secure it from interference. The chief pasture lands west and east of Jordan are named, and the whole country is included in the description. (For Carmel, see note on Amos 1:2.) Bashan and Gilead were also celebrated for their rich pasture. "Bulls of Bashan" were a proverb for well fed animals, and a metaphor for bloated, proud aristocrats (Deuteronomy 32:14; Psalm 22:12; Ezekiel 39:18; Amos 4:1). Gilead was so excellently adapted for cattle that Reuben and Gad were irresistibly drawn to settle there (Numbers 32:1, 5; 1 Chronicles 5:9; see the parallel to this passage in Isaiah 65:9, 10, and Ezekiel 34:13, 14). As in the days of old; usually taken to refer to the time of Moses and Joshua, but also and more probably, to that of David and Solomon, which realized the ideal of peace and prosperity (comp. Micah 4:4). After the destruction of its foes the nation of God will take possession of their land, and extend its territory to every region under heaven. Obadiah 1:19. "And those towards the south will take possession of the mountains of Esau; and those in the lowland, of the Philistines: and they will take possession of the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria; and Benjamin (will take possession) of Gilead. Obadiah 1:20. And the captives of this army of the sons of Israel (will take possession) of what Canaanites there are as far as Zarephath; and the prisoners of Jerusalem that are in Sepharad will take possession of the cities of the south." In וירשׁוּ וגו the expression וירשׁוּ בּית י in Obadiah 1:17 is more precisely defined, and the house of Jacob, i.e., the kingdom of Judah, is divided into the Negeb, the Shephelah, and Benjamin, to each of which a special district is assigned, of which it will take possession, the countries being mentioned in the place of their inhabitants. The negebh, or southern land of Judah (see the comm. on Joshua 15:21), i.e., the inhabitants thereof, will take possession of the mountains of Esau, and therefore extend their territory eastwards; whilst those of the lowland (shephēlâh; see at Joshua 15:33), on the Mediterranean, will seize upon the Philistines, that is to say, upon their land, and therefore spread out towards the west. The subject to the second וירשׁוּ is not mentioned, and must be determined from the context: viz., the men of Judah, with the exception of the inhabitants of the Negeb and Shephelah already mentioned, that is to say, strictly speaking, those of the mountains of Judah, and original stock of the land of Judah (Joshua 15:48-60). Others would leave hannegebh and hasshephēlâh still in force as subjects; so that the thought expressed would be this: The inhabitants of the south land and of the lowland will also take possession in addition to this of the fields of Ephraim and Samaria. But not only is the parallelism of the clauses, according to which one particular portion of territory is assigned to each part, utterly destroyed, but according to this view the principal part of Judah is entirely passed over without any perceptible reason. Sâdeh, fields, used rhetorically for land or territory. Along with Ephraim the land, Samaria the capital is especially mentioned, just as we frequently find Jerusalem along with Judah. In the last clause ירשׁוּ (shall take possession of) is to be repeated after Benjamin. From the taking of the territories of the kingdom of the ten tribes by Judah and Benjamin, we are not to infer that the territory of the ten tribes was either compared to an enemy's land, or thought of as depopulated; but the thought is simply this: Judah and Benjamin, the two tribes, which formed the kingdom of God in the time of Obadiah will extend their territory to all the four quarters of the globe, and take possession of all Canaan beyond its former boundaries. Hengstenberg has rightly shown that we have here simply an individualizing description of the promise in Genesis 28:14, "thy seed will be as the dust of the ground; and thou breakest out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south," etc.; i.e., that on the ground of this promise Obadiah predicts the future restoration of the kingdom of God, and its extension beyond the borders of Canaan. In this he looks away from the ten tribes, because in his esteem the kingdom of Judah alone constituted the kingdom or people of God. But he has shown clearly enough in Obadiah 1:18 that he does not regard them as enemies of Judah, or as separated from the kingdom of God, but as being once more united to Judah as the people of God. And being thus incorporated again into the people of God, he thinks of them as dwelling with them upon the soil of Judah, so that they are included in the population of the four districts of this kingdom. For this reason, no other places of abode are assigned to the Ephraimites and Gileadites. The idea that they are to be transplanted altogether to heathen territory, rests upon a misapprehension of the true facts of the case, and has no support whatever in Obadiah 1:20. "The sons of Israel" in Obadiah 1:20 cannot be the ten tribes, as Hengstenberg supposes, because the other portion of the covenant nation mentioned along with them would in that case be described as Judah, not as Jerusalem. "The sons of Israel" answer to the "Jacob" in Obadiah 1:10, and the "house of Jacob" in Obadiah 1:17, in connection with which special prominence is given to Jerusalem in Obadiah 1:11, and to Mount Zion in Obadiah 1:17; so that it is the Judaeans who are referred to, - not, however, as distinguished from the ten tribes, but as the people of God, with whom the house of Jacob is once more united. In connection with the gâluth (captivity) of the sons of Israel, the gâluth of Jerusalem is also mentioned, like the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem in Joel 3:6, of whom Joel affirms, with a glance at Obadiah, that the Phoenicians and Philistines have sold them to the sons of Javan. These citizens of Judah and Jerusalem, who have been taken prisoners in war, are called by Obadiah the gâluth of the sons of Israel and Jerusalem, the people of God being here designated by the name of their tribe-father Jacob or Israel. That we should understand by the "sons of Israel" Judah, as the tribe or kernel of the covenant nation, is required by the actual progress apparent in v.20 in relation to Obadiah 1:19.

After Obadiah had foretold to the house of Jacob in Obadiah 1:17-19 that it would take possession of the land of their enemies, and spread beyond the borders of Canaan, the question still remained to be answered, What would become of the prisoners, and those who had been carried away captive, according to Obadiah 1:11 and Obadiah 1:14? This is explained in Obadiah 1:20. The carrying away of the sons of Israel is restricted to a portion of the nation by the words, "the captivity of this host" (hachēl-hazzeh); no such carrying away of the nation as such had taken place at that time as that which afterwards occurred at the destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The enemies who had conquered Jerusalem had contented themselves with carrying away those who fell into their hands. The expression hachēl-hazzeh points to this host which had been carried away captive. חל, which the lxx and some of the Rabbins have taken as a verbal noun, ἡ ἀρχή, initium, is a defective form of חיל, an army (2 Kings 18:7; Isaiah 36:2), like חק for חיק in Proverbs 5:20; Proverbs 17:23; Proverbs 21:14, and is not to be identified with חל, the trench of a fortification. The two clauses in Obadiah 1:20 have only one verb, which renders the meaning of צרפת ... אשׁר כ ambiguous. The Chaldee (according to our editions, though not according to Kimchi's account) and the Masoretes (by placing athnach under sephârâd), also Rashi and others, take אשׁר כּנענים as in apposition to the subject: those prisoners of the sons of Israel who are among the Canaanites to Zarephath. And the parallelism to אשׁר בּספרד appears to favour this; but it is decidedly negatived by the absence of ב before כנענים. אשׁר כן can only mean, "who are Canaanites." But this, when taken as in apposition to בּני ישׂ, gives no sustainable meaning. For the sons of Israel could only be called Canaanites when they had adopted the nature of Canaan. And any who had done this could look for no share in the salvation of the Lord, and no return to the land of the Lord. We must therefore take אשׁר כנענים as the object, and supply the verb ירשׁוּ from the first clauses of the preceding verse. Obadiah first of all expresses the verb twice, then omits it in the next two clauses (Obadiah 1:19 and Obadiah 1:20), and inserts it again in the last clause (Obadiah 1:20). The meaning is, that the army of these sons of Israel, who have been carried away captive, will take possession of what Canaanites there are as far as Zarephath, i.e., the Phoenician city of Sarepta, the present Surafend, between Tyre and Sidon on the sea-coast (see comm. on 1 Kings 17:9). The capture of the land of the enemy presupposes a return to the fatherland. The exiles of Jerusalem shall take possession of the south country, the inhabitants of which have pushed forward into Edom. בּספרד (in Sepharad) is difficult, and has never yet been satisfactorily explained, as the word does not occur again. The rendering Spain, which we find in the Chaldee and Syriac, is probably only an inference drawn from Joel 3:6; and the Jewish rendering Bosphorus, which is cited by Jerome, is simply founded upon the similarity in the name. The supposed connection between this name and the PaRaD, or parda, mentioned in the great arrow-headed inscription of Nakshi Rustam in a list of names of tribes between Katpadhuka (Cappadocia) and Yun (Ionia), in which Sylv. de Sacy imagined that he had found our Sepharad, has apparently more to favour it, since the resemblance is very great. But if parda is the Persian form for Sardis (Σάρδις or Σάρδεις), which was written varda in the native (Lydian) tongue, as Lassen maintains, Sepharad cannot be the same as parda, inasmuch as the Hebrews did not receive the name ספרד through the Persians; and the native varda, apart from the fact that it is merely postulated, would be written סורד in Hebrew. To this we may add, that the impossibility of proving that Sardis was ever used for Lydia, precludes our rendering parda by Sardis. It is much more natural to connect the name with Σπάρτη (Sparta) and Σπαρτιάαι (1 Maccabees 14:16, 20, 23; 12:2, 5, 6), and assume that the Hebrews had heard the name from the Phoenicians in connection with Javan, as the name of a land in the far west.

(Note: The appellative rendering ἐν διασπορᾶ (Hendewerk and Maurer) is certainly to be rejected; and Ewald's conjecture, ספרם, "a place three hours' journey from Acco," in support of which he refers to Niebuhr, R. iii. p. 269, is a very thoughtless one. For Niebuhr there mentions the village of Serfati as the abode of the prophet Elijah, and refers to Maundrell, who calls the village Sarphan, Serephat, and Serepta, in which every thoughtful reader must recognise the biblical Zarephath, and the present village of Surafend.)

The cities of the south country stand in antithesis to the Canaanites as far as Zarephath in the north; and these two regions are mentioned synecdochically for all the countries round about Canaan, like "the breaking forth of Israel on the right hand and on the left, that its seed may inherit the Gentiles," which is promised in Isaiah 54:3. The description is rounded off by the closing reference to the south country, in which it returns to the point whence it started.

With the taking of the lands of the Gentiles, the full display of salvation begins in Zion. Obadiah 1:21. "And saviours go up on Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau; and the kingdom will be Jehovah's." עלה followed by ב does not mean to go up to a place, but to climb to the top of (Deuteronomy 5:5; Psalm 24:3; Jeremiah 4:29; Jeremiah 5:10), or into (Jeremiah 9:20). Consequently there is no allusion in ועלוּ to the return from exile. Going up to the top of Mount Zion simply means, that at the time when Israel captures the possessions of the heathen, Mount Zion will receive and have saviours who will judge Edom. And as the mountains of Esau represent the heathen world, so Mount Zion, as the seat of the Old Testament kingdom of God, is the type of the kingdom of God in its fully developed form. מושׁיעים, which is written defectively מושׁעים in some of the ancient mss, and has consequently been rendered incorrectly σεσωσμένοι and ἀνασωζόμενοι by the lxx, Aq., Theod., and the Syriac, signifies salvatores, deliverers, saviours. The expression is selected with an allusion to the olden time, in which Jehovah saved His people by judges out of the power of their enemies (Judges 2:16; Judges 3:9, Judges 3:15, etc.). "מושׁיעים are heroes, resembling the judges, who are to defend and deliver Mount Zion and its inhabitants, when they are threatened and oppressed by enemies" (Caspari). The object of their activity, however, is not Israel, but Edom, the representative of all the enemies of Israel. The mountains of Esau are mentioned instead of the people, partly on account of the antithesis to the mountain of Zion, and partly also to express the thought of supremacy not only over the people, but over the land of the heathen also. Shâphat is not to be restricted in this case to the judging or settling of disputes, but includes the conduct of the government, the exercise of dominion in its fullest extent, so that the "judging of the mountains of Esau" expresses the dominion of the people of God over the heathen world. Under the saviours, as Hengstenberg has correctly observed, the Saviour par excellence is concealed. This is not brought prominently out, nor is it even distinctly affirmed; but it is assumed as self-evident, from the history of the olden time, that the saviours are raised up by Jehovah for His people. The following and concluding thought, that the kingdom will be Jehovah's, i.e., that Jehovah will show Himself to the whole world as King of the world, and Ruler in His kingdom, and will be acknowledged by the nations of the earth, either voluntarily or by constraint, rests upon this assumption. God was indeed Kings already, not as the Almighty Ruler of the universe, for this is not referred to here, but as King in Israel, over which His kingdom did extend. But this His royal sway was not acknowledged by the heathen world, and could not be, more especially when He had to deliver Israel up to the power of its enemies, on account of its sins. This acknowledgment, however, He would secure for Himself, by the destruction of the heathen power in the overthrow of Edom, and by the exaltation of His people to dominion over all nations. Through this mighty saving act He will establish His kingdom over the whole earth (cf. Joel 3:21; Micah 4:7; Isaiah 24:23). "The coming of this kingdom began with Christ, and looks for its complete fulfilment in Him" (Hengstenberg).

If now, in conclusion, we cast another glance at the fulfilment of our whole prophecy; the fulfilment of that destruction by the nations, with which the Edomites are threatened (Obadiah 1:1-9), commenced in the Chaldean period. For although no express historical evidence exists as to the subjugation of the Edomites by Nebuchadnezzar, since Josephus (Ant. x. 9, 7) says nothing about the Edomites, who dwelt between the Moabites and Egypt, in the account which he gives of Nebuchadnezzar's expedition against Egypt, five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, in which he subdued the Ammonites and Moabites; the devastation of Edom by the Chaldeans may unquestionably be inferred from Jeremiah 49:7. and Ezekiel 35:1-15, when compared with Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:21, and Malachi 1:3. In Jeremiah 25:21 the Edomites are mentioned among the nations round about Judah, whom the Lord would deliver up into the hand of His servant Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 25:9), and to whom Jeremiah was to present the cup of the wine of wrath from the hand of Jehovah; and they are placed between the Philistines and the Moabites. And according to Malachi 1:3, Jehovah made the mountains of Esau into a wilderness; and this can only refer to the desolation of the land of Edom by the Chaldeans (see at Malachi 1:3). It is true, that at that time the Edomites could still think of rebuilding their ruins; but the threat of Malachi, "If they build, I shall pull down, saith the Lord," was subsequently fulfilled, although no accounts have been handed down as to the fate of Edom in the time of Alexander the Great and his successors. The destruction of the Edomites as a nation was commenced by the Maccabees. After Judas Maccabaeus had defeated them several times (1 Maccabees 5:3 and 65; Jos. Ant. xii. 18, 1), John Hyrcanus subdued them entirely about 129 b.c., and compelled them to submit to circumcision, and observe the Mosaic law (Jos. Ant. xiii. 9, 1), whilst Alexander Jannaeus also subjugated the last of the Edomites (xiii. 15, 4). And the loss of their national independence, which they thereby sustained, was followed by utter destruction at the hands of the Romans. To punish them for the cruelties which they had practised in Jerusalem in connection with the Zelots, immediately before the siege of that city by the Romans (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, iv. 5, 1, 2), Simon the Gerasene devastated their land in a fearful manner (Wars of the Jews, iv. 9, 7); whilst the Idumaeans in Jerusalem, who took the side of Simon (v. 6, 1), were slain by the Romans along with the Jews. The few Edomites who still remained were lost among the Arabs; so that the Edomitish people was "cut off for ever" (Obadiah 1:10) by the Romans, and its very name disappeared from the earth. Passing on to the rest of the prophecy, Edom filled up the measure of its sins against its brother nation Israel, against which Obadiah warns it in Obadiah 1:12-14, at the taking and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (vid., Ezekiel 35:5, Ezekiel 35:10; Psalm 137:7; Lamentations 4:22). The fulfilment of the threat in Obadiah 1:18 we cannot find, however, in the subjugation of the Edomites by the Maccabeans, and the devastating expedition of Simon the Gerasene, as Caspari and others do, although it is apparently favoured by the statement in Ezekiel 25:14, that Jehovah would fulfil His vengeance upon Edom by the hand of His people Israel. For even if this prophecy of Ezekiel may have been fulfilled in the events just mentioned, we are precluded from understanding Obadiah 1:18, and the parallel passages, Amos 9:11-12, and Numbers 24:18, as referring to the same events, by the fact that the destruction of Edom, and the capture of Seir by Israel, are to proceed, according to Numbers 24:18, from the Ruler to arise out of Jacob (the Messiah), and that they were to take place, according to Amos 9:11-12, in connection with the raising up of the fallen hut of David, and according to Obadiah, in the day of Jehovah, along with and after the judgment upon all nations. Consequently the fulfilment of Obadiah 1:17-21 can only belong to the Messianic times, and that in such a way that it commenced with the founding of the kingdom of Christ on the earth, advances with its extension among all nations, and will terminate in a complete fulfilment at the second coming of our Lord.

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