Obadiah 1:1
The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
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(1) The vision of Obadiah.—Properly, vision of Obadiah, without the article. There are three recognised headings to prophetical books—word, burden (i.e., oracle), and vision—and all are used without the article, and in a general way, for the contents of the books, without any intention to distinguish between different kinds or modes of prophecy. Thus Nahum combines burden and vision: “Burden of Nineveh. Book of vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.” Amos speaks of the “words which he saw;” Isaiah (Isaiah 13:1) of the “burden which he did see;’ and Obadiah, after the word vision, instantly proceeds, “Thus saith,” &c. The word vision (Heb., chazôn, from the same verb as “seer”), appears, from 1Samuel 3:1; 1Samuel 9:9, to have acquired this general sense at a very early time. It is not necessary from the use of the word to suppose that the future was unfolded to Obadiah “in the form of sights spread out before his mind, . . . a succession of pictures which he may have seen” (Pusey). Vision here = revelation, however supplied. The question of authorship is discussed in the Excursus.

Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom.—After these words we should expect the words of the message, not the statement that a message had come. Among the attempts at explanation, the two most plausible are: (1) The two-fold heading is due to a later hand than Obadiah, who only prefixed the first part, “vision,” &c., to his work; (2) These words are merely a mode of stating generally that the seer of the vision was divinely inspired. The view taken of the authorship and composition must decide between these two. If an earlier oracle is incorporated in the book, it is more natural to conclude that the second part of the double title, which in a slightly different form occurs also in Jeremiah 49:7, was introduced in order to bring the prophecy into closer similarity to the circle of oracles against foreign nations which is contained in Jeremiah.

Arise ye . . .—Now at length we have the Divine message. Long ago, in the mysterious oracle of Dumah (Isaiah 21:11), the foreboding of a pending chastisement of Seir found a voice, and now, as in consequence of a signal from heaven, or as if brought by an angel, goes forth the summons to the nations to begin the movement against Edom. The cup of iniquity was full. There is a suggestiveness even in the vagueness of the summons. The nations, without distinction of good or bad, must become the instruments of the Divine chastisement of overweening pride. Edom becomes the type of wickedness that has reached a head, and against which all the sounder elements of the world unite with God. For the full picture, here suggested only in a word, see Isaiah 13:1-17, and comp. Joel 2:11; Jeremiah 51:11.

(2-9) Edom’s pride and consequent humiliation. A general statement of the reason of the Divine wrath against Edom. Particular offences will be enumerated presently (Obadiah 1:10-14).

(2) Small among the heathen.—In comparison with the giant empires of Egypt and Assyria, a mere speck on the map. Edom proper is not to be confounded with the later kingdom of Idumæa, which extended over the wilderness of Et Tih, and even to within the southern borders of Palestine. The original Mount Seir (Genesis 32:3), or, as our prophet calls it, Mount Esau, was a narrow tract of country on the east of Wady Arabah, extending from Elath to the brook Zered (probably the Wady-el-Ahsy; see Deuteronomy 2:8; Deuteronomy 2:13-14), about 100 miles in length, and nowhere more than twenty miles broad. One of the larger English counties would cover as much territory. In the corresponding passages (Jeremiah 49:15) our version has the future instead of the past, where also, instead of “greatly despised,” is the reading, “despised among men.” The past is better. The contrast between the size of the nation and its overbearing pride, created by the consciousness of the natural strength of its position, is lost if we give the verse a future sense.

(3) Clefts of the rock.—The word chagâvîm, clefts, is of doubtful derivation. It only occurs in the corresponding passage to this (Jeremiah 49:16) and in Song of Solomon 2:14, and always with selah—rock. But whether its etymological meaning be refuges or fissures does not matter, since the actual thing signified is still to be seen. The cliffs at Petra (Selah, or with the article, ha-Selah), the capital of Edom, and in its neighbourhood, are honeycombed with caves, natural or artificial, which from the earliest times to the present day have served as tombs for the dead, and temporary dwellings or shelters for the living. We read in Deuteronomy 2:12 that the “Horims”—i.e., troglodytes, or dwellers in caves—were the original inhabitants of the land. “The whole southern country of the Edomites,” says St. Jerome, “from Eleutheropolis to Petra and Selah (which are the possessions of Esau), had minute dwellings (habitatiunculas) in caves; and on account of the oppressive heat of the sun, as being a southern province, had underground cottages.” All more recent travellers confirm this. Robinson (ii. 529) speaks of “an innumerable multitude of excavations along the whole coast of perpendicular rocks adjacent to the main area, and in all the lateral valleys and chasms.” But those at present existing are but a remnant of the vast number which must at one time have afforded shelter to the densely populated valleys. “What remains are the mere débris of what the precipices once presented to view . . . The conduits, cisterns, flights of steps scattered over the rocks and among the precipices, indicate a larger number of rock-dwellings than remain now, very great as that number is” (Miss Martineau, Eastern Life, iii. 2). “Wherever your eyes turn along the excavated sides of the rocks, you see steps often leading to nothing, or something which has crumbled away, often with their first steps worn away, so that they are now inaccessible” (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 91). So Miss Martineau speaks of “short and odd staircases twisted hither and thither among the rocks.” So, too, E. H. Palmer, Esq., in the Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund, January, 1871: “There are many tombs and dwellings which are now inaccessible, but traces of staircases cut in the rock, and now broken away, may be seen everywhere.” . . . “At the northern turn in the Wady, as you leave the western acclivities, are three large tombs, with perfect fronts. The first and largest of these . . . was at the time of our entry occupied by several families of the fellahin. Every tomb has its owner, who dwells there with his wives and family during the cold and wet weather.” He goes on to speak of one tomb which was said to hold fifteen families.

Whose habitation is high . . .—Literally, loftiness of his habitation. The red sandstone rocks are described as rising “perpendicularly to the height of one, two, or three hundred feet” (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 89). The writer of the article “Selah” in Kitto’s Biblical Cyclopaedia says of the caves, “Some of them are apparently not less than from two hundred to three or four hundred feet above the level of the valley.” When we think of the power of the conception which could frame a range of mountain rocks into a city, with ravines for streets and caverns for houses, we can understand the prophet’s words, “the pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” Nor was it wonderful that the children of Esau should deem themselves invincible in their mountain fastnesses.

Who shall bring me down to the ground?—Prom this eagle’s-nest (Obadiah 1:4) Edom might well utter proud defiance against even the strongest foes. All travellers describe Petra as almost impregnable. It is not even visible from the heights in the neighbourhood. “The whole space, rocks and valleys, embedded in the mountains which girt it in, lay invisible even from the summit of Mount Hor.” “Petra itself is entirely shut out by the intervening rocks. The great feature of the mountains of Edom is the mass of red bald-headed sandstone rocks, intersected not by valleys, but by deep seams. In the heart of these rocks, itself invisible, lies Petra.” And it was as strongly guarded by nature as it was securely hidden. “Two known approaches only, from east and west, enter into it,” and these are mere ravines. The most famous of them, the defile from the east, the one which “in ancient times was the chief—the only usual—approach to Petra,” is named the Sîk, or cleft. “The rocks are almost precipitous, or, rather, they would be if they did not, like their brethren in all this region, overlap, and crumble, and crack, as if they would crash over you. The gorge is about a mile and a half long, and the opening of the cliffs at the top is throughout almost as narrow as the narrowest part of the defile of Pfeffers, which in dimensions and form it more nearly resembles than any other of my acquaintance” (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 89). The other approach, though not so picturesque and striking to the traveller, would have been equally difficult for an attacking army. Miss Martineau describes it as leading amid “wild fantastic mountains,” “rocks in towering masses,” “over steep and slippery passes,” or “winding in recesses below.” She continues: “A little further on we stopped in a hollow of the hills; our path, our very narrow path, lay over these whitish hills: now up, now down, and then, and then again, we were slipping and jerking down slopes of gaudy rock. For nearly an hour longer we were descending the pass; down we went, and still down; at length we came upon the platform above the bed of the torrent, near which stands the only edifice in Petra” (quoted from Eastern Life, ii. 319, by Pusey). Such approaches might, it is obvious, be held by a very small force against a great superiority of numbers. The width of the sîk “is not more than just sufficient for the passage of two horsemen abreast,” and “a few hundred men might defend the entrance against a large army” (Burckhar It, Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, p. 432). Demetrius “the Besieger,” at the head of 8,000 men (the 4,000 infantry selected for their swiftness of foot from the whole army), made repeated assaults on the place, but “those within had an easy victory, from its commanding height” (Pusey, from Diod. Sic. xix. 96). Little need of art to strengthen such natural defences, yet Mr. Palmer noticed “a fort at the top of the left-hand ravine, occupying a most commanding position, as it overlooks the entire valley, and defends the only part not protected by some difficult mountain pass” (Quarterly Statement, Palestine Exploration Fund, January, 1871). And Dr. Pusey finely remarks: “But even the entrance gained, what gain besides, unless the people and its wealth were betrayed by a surprise? Striking as the rock-girt Petra was, a gem in its mountain setting, far more marvellous was it when, as in the prophet’s time, the rock itself was Petra. Inside the defile, an invader would be outside the city yet. He might himself become the besieged rather than the besieger. In which of these eyries along all these ravines were the eagles to be found? From which of these lairs might not Edom’s lion-sons burst out upon them? Multitudes gave the invaders no advantage in scaling those mountains’ sides, where, observed themselves by an unseen enemy, they would at last have to fight man to man. What a bivouac were it in that narrow spot, themselves encircled by an enemy everywhere, anywhere, and visibly nowhere, among those thousand caves, each larger cave, maybe, an ambuscade! In man’s sight Edom’s boast was well founded; but what before God?” With the Edomites’ vaunt Pusey aptly compares that of the Bactrian, Oxyartes, who, trusting to the strength of another Petra, defied Alexander the Great, bidding him get wings for his soldiers before attacking his stronghold. (Arrian, Exped. Alex. iv. 18.)

(4) Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle.—“Had, then, the ancient builders of these rock-works wings like the eagles, with which they raised themselves to those perpendicular precipices?” “Who now, even with the feet of the chamois, could climb after them?” (v. Schubert, ii. 429; quoted by Pusey). (Comp. also Miss Martineau, Eastern Life, ii. 320, iii. 20.)

This is one of the passages which identifies the nesher, always translated “eagle” in the Authorised Version, with the griffon-vulture. “While the eagles and other birds are content with lower elevations, and sometimes even with trees, the griffon alone selects the stupendous gorges of Arabia Petræa and of the defiles of Palestine, and there in great communities rears its young, where the most intrepid climber can only with ropes and other appliances reach its nest” (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 175; comp. Job 39:27-28).

And though thou set thy nest among the stars . . .—The image of the eagle nesting among the stars is among the most forcible even in Hebrew poetry. Shakespeare approaches it in “eagle-winged pride of sky - aspiring and ambitious thoughts” (Richard II., i. 3).

Thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.—In the original, more striking,” it is Jehovah’s declaration.” This sentence against pride, not only national, but individual too, is indeed the Divine declaration, uttered in warning voice from one end of Scripture to the other. The doom pronounced against Edom is but one special instance of the universal truth told so powerfully by Isaiah at the end of Isaiah 2 : “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.” And it was the more than once repeated declaration of the Son of God: “He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Obadiah 1:1-4. The vision of Obadiah — The name of this prophet signifies, a servant, or a worshipper, of the Lord. Such he undoubtedly was, and also a prophet, but what he was in other respects we are not informed. It is not improbable that he had other visions, or revelations, from God, besides this which is here recorded, but this only has been preserved for the benefit of future ages. Thus saith the Lord — This declaration includes his commission and authority to prophesy, together with the certainty of what he declares; concerning Edom — Or, against Edom; that is, both the people and the country, so named from their progenitor Esau, called Edom, Genesis 25:30. This country, which was a part of Arabia Petræa, is called Idumea, Isaiah 34:5-6. We — That is, other prophets, as well as I, have heard a rumour — Not an uncertain report, but a true and important revelation from God. And an ambassador is sent among the heathen — Or nations. For an explanation of this and the three following verses, see notes on Jeremiah 49:14-16, where nearly the same words occur; only what Jeremiah speaks in the singular number, is expressed here in the plural, to intimate that Obadiah had received the same commission from God which was signified to Jeremiah before. I have made thee small among the heathen — Or, nations. Thou art contemptible in the sight of the Chaldeans and their confederates, who think they can easily subdue thee. “Idumea was a country, if compared with the dominions of flourishing states, very moderate in extent, and inconveniently situated. The land of Moab occupied the eastern part of the sea of Sodom. Next to this country Idumea turned toward the south; though it did not border on all Canaan southward, but only on its eastern part. The rest lay open to Arabia Petræa, by which Idumea was situated southward, made a part of it, and went far into it.” — Vitringa, on Isaiah 34:6. “The country of the Idumeans was properly circumscribed by that mountainous tract which enclosed Canaan to the south near the sea of Sodom, as appears from the whole sacred history: whence mount Hor, situated there, is said to have been on the edge, border, or extremity of the land of Edom, Numbers 20:23. It is true, that about the time of Solomon, the Idumeans occupied some part of the Elanitic gulf of the Red sea, whence a tract of that coast was called the land of Edom, 1 Kings 9:26. But all the prophets who speak of Edom about these times, restrain their lands to mount Seir, in the tract which I have marked out. Vitringa, on Isaiah 21:1.” — Archbishop Newcome. The pride of thy heart hath deceived thee, &c. — Thou valuest thyself too much upon the strength of thy situation, being placed among rocks which thou thinkest inaccessible by the enemy. That saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down? — Namely, from those lofty rocks in which I dwell? Who can climb up to them but myself? Or who can find out the way into the secret caverns where I have made my habitation? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, &c. — Upon the highest mountains, that seem to reach up to heaven; thence will I bring thee down — From thy height of power and pre-eminence.

1:1-16 This prophecy is against Edom. Its destruction seems to have been typical, as their father Esau's rejection; and to refer to the destruction of the enemies of the gospel church. See the prediction of the success of that war; Edom shall be spoiled, and brought down. All the enemies of God's church shall be disappointed in the things they stay themselves on. God can easily lay those low who magnify and exalt themselves; and will do it. Carnal security ripens men for ruin, and makes the ruin worse when it comes. Treasures on earth cannot be so safely laid up but that thieves may break through and steal; it is therefore our wisdom to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Those that make flesh their trust, arm it against themselves. The God of our covenant will never deceive us: but if we trust men with whom we join ourselves, it may prove to us a wound and dishonour. God will justly deny those understanding to keep out of danger, who will not use their understandings to keep out of sin. All violence, all unrighteousness, is sin; but it makes the violence far worse, if it be done against any of God's people. Their barbarous conduct towards Judah and Jerusalem, is charged upon them. In reflecting on ourselves, it is good to consider what we should have done; to compare our practice with the Scripture rule. Sin, thus looked upon in the glass of the commandment, will appear exceedingly sinful. Those have a great deal to answer for, who are idle spectators of the troubles of their neighbours, when able to be active helpers. Those make themselves poor, who think to make themselves rich by the ruin of the people of God; and those deceive themselves, who call all that their own on which they can lay their hands in a day of calamity. Though judgment begins at the house of God, it shall not end there. Let sorrowful believers and insolent oppressors know, that the troubles of the righteous will soon end, but those of the wicked will be eternal.The vision of Obadiah - , i. e., of "the worshiper of God." The prophet would be known only by that which his name imports, that he worshiped God. He tells us in this double title, through whom the prophecy came, and from whom it came. His name authenticated the prophecy to the Jewish Church. Thenceforth, he chose to remain wholly hidden. He entitles it "a vision," as the prophets were called "seers" 1 Samuel 9:9, although he relates, not the vision which he saw, but its substance and meaning. Probably the future was unfolded to him in the form of sights spread out before his mind, of which he spoke in words given to him by God. His language consists of a succession of pictures, which he may have seen, and, in his picture language, described . "As prophecy is called "the word," because God spoke to the prophets within, so it is called "vision," because the prophet saw, with the eyes of the mind and by the light wherewith they are illumined, what God willeth to be known to them." The name expresses also the certainty of their knowledge . "Among the organs of our senses, sight has the most evident knowledge of those things which are the object of our senses. Hence, the contemplation of the things which are true is called "vision," on account of the evidence and assured certainty. On that ground the prophet was called "seer."

Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom - This second title states, that the whole which follows is from God. What immediately follows is said in Obadiah's own person; but all, whether so spoken or directly in the Person of God, was alike the word of God. God spake in or by the prophets, in both ways, since 2 Peter 1:21 "prophecy came not by the will of man, but holy men of God spake" as they were "moved by the Holy Spirit." Obadiah, in that he uses, in regard to his whole prophecy, words which other prophets use in delivering a direct message from God, ascribes the whole of his prophecy to God, as immediately as other prophets did any words which God commanded them to speak. The words are a rule for all prophecy, that all comes directly from God.

We have heard a rumor - , rather, "a report;" literally "a hearing, a thing heard," as Isaiah says Isaiah 53:1, "Who hath believed our report? A "report" is certain or uncertain, according to the authority from whom it comes. This "report" was certainly true, since it was "from the Lord." By the plural, we, Obadiah may have associated with himself, either other prophets of his own day as Joel and Amos, who, with those yet earlier, as Balaam and David, had prophesied against Edom, or the people, for whose sakes God made it known to him. In either case, the prophet does not stand alone for himself. He hears with "the goodly company of the prophets;" and the people of God hear in him, as Isaiah says again Isaiah 21:10, "that which I have heard from the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you."

And an ambassador is sent among the pagan - The "ambassador" is any agent, visible or invisible, sent by God. Human powers, who wish to stir up war, send human messengers. All things stand at God's command, and whatever or whomsoever He employs, is a messenger from Him. He uses our language to us. He may have employed an angel, as He says Psalm 78:49, "He sent evil angels among them," and as, through the permission given to a lying spirit 1 Kings 22:21-23. He executed His judgments upon Ahab, of his own free will believing the evil spirit, and disbelieving Himself. So Judges 9:23 "God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem," allowing His rebellious spirit to bring about the punishment of evil men, by inflaming yet more the evil passions, of which they were slaves. Evil spirits, in their malice and rebellion, while stirring up the lust of conquest, are still God's messengers, in that He overrules them; as, to Paul 2 Corinthians 12:7, "the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him," was still the gift of God. "It was given me," he says.

Arise ye and let us rise - He who rouseth them, says, "Arise ye," and they quickly echo the words, "and let us arise." The will of God is fulfilled at once. While eager to accomplish their own ends, they fulfill, the more, the purpose of God. Whether, the first agent is man's own passions, or the evil spirit who stirs them, the impulse spreads from the one or the few to the many. But all catch the spark, cast in among them. The summons finds a ready response. "Arise," is the commend of God, however given; "let us arise," is the eager response of man's avarice or pride or ambition, fulfilling impetuously the secret will of God; as a tiger, let loose upon man by man, fulfills the will of its owner, while sating its own thirst for blood. So Isaiah hears Isaiah 13:4 "the noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people, a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together." The Medes and Persians thought at that time of nothing less, than that they were instruments of the One God, whom they knew not. But Isaiah continues; "The Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle;" and, when it was fulfilled, Cyrus saw and owned it Ezra 1:1-2.

THE BOOK OF OBADIAH Commentary by A. R. Faussett


This is the shortest book in the Old Testament. The name means "servant of Jehovah." Obadiah stands fourth among the minor prophets according to the Hebrew arrangement of the canon, the fifth according to the Greek. Some consider him to be the same as the Obadiah who superintended the restoration of the temple under Josiah, 627 B.C. (2Ch 34:12). But Ob 11-16, 20 imply that Jerusalem was by this time overthrown by the Chaldeans, and that he refers to the cruelty of Edom towards the Jews on that occasion, which is referred to also in La 4:21, 22; Eze 25:12-14; 35:1-15; Ps 137:7. From comparing Ob 5 with Jer 49:9, Ob 6 with Jer 49:10, Ob 8 with Jer 49:7, it appears that Jeremiah embodied in his prophecies part of Obadiah's, as he had done in the case of other prophets also (compare Isa 15:1-16:14 with Jer 48:1-47). The reason for the present position of Obadiah before other of the minor prophets anterior in date is: Amos at the close of his prophecies foretells the subjugation of Edom hereafter by the Jews; the arranger of the minor prophets in one volume, therefore, placed Obadiah next, as being a fuller statement, and, as it were, a commentary on the foregoing briefer prophecy of Amos as to Edom [Maurer]. (Compare Am 1:11). The date of Obadiah's prophecies was probably immediately after the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, 588 B.C. Five years afterwards (583 B.C.) Edom was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah must have incorporated part of Obadiah's prophecies with his own immediately after they were uttered, thus stamping his canonicity.

Jerome makes him contemporary with Hosea, Joel, and Amos. It is an argument in favor of this view that Jeremiah would be more likely to insert in his prophecies a portion from a preceding prophet than from a contemporary. If so, the allusion in Ob 11-14 will be to one of the former captures of Jerusalem: by the Egyptians under Rehoboam (1Ki 14:25, 26; 2Ch 12:2, &c.), or that by the Philistines and Arabians in the reign of Joram (2Ch 21:16, 17); or that by Joash, king of Israel, in the reign of Amaziah (2Ch 25:22, 23); or that in the reign of Jehoiakim (2Ki 24:1, &c.); or that in the reign of Jehoiachin (2Ki 24:8-16). On all occasions the Idumeans were hostile to the Jews; and the terms in which that enmity is characterized are not stronger in Obadiah than in Joe 3:19 (compare Ob 10); Am 1:11, 12. The probable capture of Jerusalem alluded to by Obadiah is that by Joash and the Israelites in the reign of Amaziah. For as, a little before, in the reign of the same Amaziah, the Jews had treated harshly the Edomites after conquering them in battle (2Ch 25:11-23), it is probable that the Edomites, in revenge, joined the Israelites in the attack on Jerusalem [Jaeger].

This book may be divided into two parts: (1) Ob 1-6 set forth Edom's violence toward his brother Israel in the day of the latter's distress, and his coming destruction with the rest of the foes of Judah; (2) Ob 17-21, the coming re-establishment of the Jews in their own possessions, to which shall be added those of the neighboring peoples, and especially those of Edom.


Ob 1-21. Doom of Edom for Cruelty to Judah, Edom's Brother; Restoration of the Jews.

1. Obadiah—that is, servant of Jehovah; same as Abdeel and Arabic Abd-allah.

We—I and my people.

heard—(Isa 21:10).

and an ambassador is sent—Yea, an ambassador is already sent, namely, an angel, to stir up the Assyrians (and afterwards the Chaldeans) against Edom. The result of the ambassador's message on the heathen is, they simultaneously exclaim, "Arise ye, and let us (with united strength) rise," &c. Jer 49:14 quotes this.

The destruction of Edom, Oba 1:1-2, for their pride, Oba 1:3-9, and for their unnatural behaviour in Jacob's distress, Oba 1:10-16. The salvation and victories of Jacob, Oba 1:17-21.

The vision, which the prophet received immediately from the Lord; so prophets are called seers, 1Sa 9:9 Amo 7:12; and their prophecy is vision, Isa 1:1 Joe 2:28.

Of Obadiah: who this was appears not on any certainty, or when he prophesied. That it was not Obadiah who hid and fed the prophets of the Lord in Ahab's time is evident, for that the prophet doth threaten Edom for their cruelty against Jerusalem in the day it was taken and sacked, which was three hundred and thirty or forty years after Ahab's time; he began to reign about A.M. 3025, and Jerusalem was sacked about 3363. His name speaks a servant or a worshipper of the Lord.

Thus saith the Lord God: this includes his authority, the certainty of the things he speaks of concerning Edom, or against Edom; both people and country are so called from their progenitor or founder, Esau, called Edom, Gen 25:30. This country is called Idumea, Isa 34:5,6 Eze 35:15, which see; it was a part of Arabia Petrea.

We have heard; other prophets, as I, have heard this news to tell to Edom, or to send to them, Isa 11:14 Jer 27:3 Joe 3:19 Amo 1:12.

A rumour; not an uncertain and vain report, but it comes from God by his prophets.

An ambassador, a herald, or muster-master, who should gather forces together for this expedition, is sent, by the Lord first, and next by Nebuchadnezzar, who executed on Edom what is here foretold. God stirred up the spirit of Nebuchadnezzar to make war on Edom, which was (as well as other nations) given up to Nebuchadnezzar, Jer 27:3,6.

Among the heathen, or nations, both those that were confederate with or subject to Nebuchadnezzar, whom all nations served, Jer 27:6,7.

Arise ye: this is a summons to them from Nebuchadnezzar, that they send in their proportions of soldiers.

Let us rise up against her in battle: this seems the voice of soldiers willing to and desirous of the war.

The vision of Obadiah,.... Or the prophecy, as the Targum; which was delivered unto him by the Lord in a vision; it was not what he fancied or dreamed of, but what he saw, what he had a clear discovery and revelation of made unto his mind; hence prophets are sometimes called "seers". This was a single prophecy; though sometimes a book, consisting of various prophecies, is called a vision; as the prophecies of Isaiah are called the vision of Isaiah, Isaiah 1:1;

thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom; by the mouth of this prophet, who was divinely inspired by him; for Obadiah said not what follows of himself but in the name of the Lord; and is a proof of the divine authority of this book; the subject matter of which is Edom or Idumea, as in the Septuagint version; a neighbouring country to the Jews, and very troublesome to them, being their implacable enemies, though their brethren; and were a type of the enemies of the Christian church, those false brethren, the antichristian states; and particularly the head of them, the Romish antichrist, whose picture is here drawn and whose destruction is prophesied of, under the name of Edom; for what has been literally fulfilled in Idumea will; be mystically accomplished in antichrist. The Jews generally understand, by Edom, Rome, and the Christians in general; which, if applied only to the antichristians, is not amiss;

we have heard a rumour from the Lord; or "a report" (n); a message from him, brought by the Spirit of God, as a spirit of prophecy; that is, I Obadiah, and Jeremiah, and other prophets, as Isaiah and Amos, who have had orders to prophesy against Edom; see Jeremiah 49:14; so the angels, or Gospel ministers, will have a rumour or message concerning the fall of antichrist Revelation 14:6;

and an ambassador is sent among the Heathen: either by the Lord, as Jeremiah the prophet, according to some; or an angel, as others; or an impulse upon the minds of the Chaldeans stirring them up to war against the Edomites: or else by Nebuchadnezzar to the nations in alliance with him, to join him in his expedition against them; or a herald sent by him to his own people, to summon them together to this war, and to encourage them in it:

arise ye, and let us rise up in battle against her; come up from all parts, join together, and invade the land of Idumea, and give battle to the inhabitants of it, and destroy them; so the kings of the earth will stir up one another to hate the whore of Rome, and make her desolate, Revelation 17:16.

(n) "auditum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus.

The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; {a} We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and {b} let us rise up against her in battle.

The Argument - The Idumeans, who came from Esau, were mortal enemies always to the Israelites, who came from Jacob, and therefore did not only vex them continually with various types of cruelty, but also stirred up others to fight against them. Therefore when they were now in their greatest prosperity, and did most triumph against Israel, which was in great affliction and misery, God raised up his Prophet to comfort the Israelites. For God had now determined to destroy their adversaries, who did so severely vex them, and to send them those who would deliver them, and set up the kingdom of the Messiah which he had promised.

(a) God has certainly revealed to his prophets, that he will raise up the heathen to destroy the Edomites, concerning which the rumour is now proclaimed; Jer 49:14.

(b) Thus the heathen encourage themselves to rise against Edom.

1–16. The Destruction of Edom. 1–9. The Punishment of Edom foretold

1. The vision of Obadiah.] This is the short Title of this short Book. It tells us the name of the Author, which is all that we know of him, and the nature of his work.

The vision] This word, like its cognate verb, when it is used with reference to prophetic revelation (e.g. Habakkuk 1:1; Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 2:1; Nahum 1:1, comp. “seer,” 1 Chronicles 21:9 and the explanation given in 1 Samuel 9:9, where however the Heb. word for “seer” is not the same) properly signifies that which appears as it were before the eyes of the prophet, the picture which is represented to his mind in prophetic ecstasy. In that strict sense, part at least of what here follows was the vision of Obadiah. He sees the Edomites in the rocky fastnesses of Petra, like the eagles on their crags (Obadiah 1:3-4). He beholds them taking part against the Israelites in the day of their calamity, and as a spectator of their actions cries out to them repeatedly, “Do it not” (Obadiah 1:11-14). But the word comes to be used in a wider sense, and is often, as here, the title of a whole Book, in which, together with visions proper, historical and other matter is contained (comp. Isaiah 1:1 with 2 Chronicles 32:32).

Obadiah] i.e. servant, or worshipper of Jehovah.

Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom] This is not a second title of the Book. It does not stand as an independent sentence, but is closely connected with what follows. The word “her” at the end of the verse and the direct addresses without mention of name, Obadiah 1:2-5, refer to and require the word “Edom” in this clause. It is rather the opening announcement of the prophet, that all that he is about to utter is not his own word, but Jehovah’s. The remainder of the verse follows logically, rather than formally, upon this announcement. In Obadiah 1:2, Jehovah is introduced as the speaker.

We have heard] This has been taken to mean, “I, and other prophets of my own or earlier times,” or “I, and my countrymen,” implying, in this latter case, “that the tidings were of the greatest interest to Israel, and would afford it consolation.” (Delitzsch.) But the absence of the personal pronoun in the Hebrew, and the use of the singular number, “I have heard,” by Jeremiah in the parallel passage (Jeremiah 49:14) seem rather to shew that “We” has here no special emphasis. To the prophet as a Jew the world was divided into two parts, his own countrymen and the heathen. “A rumour,” he says, “has reached us: a herald is sent to them.”

rumour] lit. hearing. The same Hebrew word is rendered “report” Isaiah 53:1, and elsewhere. (Comp. ἀκοαί πολέμων, Matthew 24:6.) It means here tidings (R.V.), or message. There is no idea of uncertainty as in the English word rumour.

ambassador] or a messenger (comp. Proverbs 13:17; Proverbs 25:13). The meaning of the word seems to be, to go on circuit; or as we should say to go round, from nation to nation. Jeremiah describes Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities thereof with “all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people” (Jeremiah 34:1). His army would doubtless be of the same composite character when he subsequently turned his hand against Edom.

Arise ye, and let us rise up] This may either be taken as being throughout the address of the messenger or herald to the nations whom he visits, inciting them to arise, and associating himself with them in the invitation which he gives; or it may be the call of the herald and the response of the nations, heard as it were and recorded by the prophet—“Arise,” says he; “Let us arise,” say they. Or yet again, the words may be throughout those of the heathen exhorting one another to obey the summons of the herald, whose address to them is not recorded but left to be gathered by the reader from the effect which it produces. This last is most forcible and most in accordance with the graphic style of Obadiah. He hears the call to arms passing to and fro, brief and eager, “Arise ye,” “Let us arise,” as Jehovah’s herald pursues his onward course. The parallel passage in Jeremiah, however, if it is to be regarded as a version of them in prose, favours the first of these interpretations of the words.

Verse 1. - The vision of Obadiah. This is the title of the book, declaring from whom and through whom the revelation comes (Isaiah 1:1). Under the word "vision" in prophetic language is included, not only what the seer saw, the mental picture presented to his inner senses, but also all that he is commissioned to disclose or enunciate. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom. The prophet declares that God speaks through him. One might have expected that the actual words of Jehovah would follow here instead of tidings heard from him. And this difficulty has led some to suppose these introductory words spurious or the insertion of a later hand, others to include them and the rest of the verse in a parenthesis, so as to begin the "vision" with God's words in ver. 2. But these suggestions are unnecessary. The prophet, as the mouthpiece of God, calls his own words the message of the Lord - signifies that what had been revealed to his mind he was bound to communicate to others as a direct warning from God. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, and bound by ties of blood to the Israelites; but they had always been their most bitter enemies (Amos 1:11). They are regarded as a type of the powers of the world hostile to true religion, whose end is destruction. We have heard. "We" - I myself and other prophets; or the Judaeans, the prophet identifying himself with his countrymen. Septuagint, ἤκουσα, I heard, so Jeremiah 49:14; Arabic, "ye have heard." A rumour; a report (Isaiah 53:1); ἀκοὴν (Septuagint); auditum (Vulgate). It means here "tidings" (comp. Matthew 24:6, ἀκοαί πολέμων: and Romans 10:16, 17). An ambassador; a messenger; as though the prophet saw the minister of God's wrath going forth among the heathen to rouse them to war against Edom. Perowne thinks that there is an allusion to the composite character of Nebuchadnezzar's army with which he attacked the Edomites. The Septuagint renders, περιοχήν: so the Syriac, Chaldee, and Symmachus translate "message." This rendering is explained by the following clause. The heathen (goyim); the nations, as vers. 2, 15. Arise ye, and let us rise. This has been taken as if "arise ye" were the herald's message, and "let us rise" the response of the nations echoing his words; but it is more forcible to consider the whole clause as the message, the ambassador joining himself with the heathen as their leader and comrade in the war of vengeance. Vers. 1-9 are incorporated in Jeremiah 49:7-22. Obadiah 1:1Edom's Ruin, setting forth, in the first place, the purpose of God to make Edom small through the medium of hostile nations, and to hurl it down from the impregnable heights of its rocky castles (Obadiah 1:1-4); and then depicting, in lively colours, how it will be plundered by enemies, forsaken and deceived by allies and friends, and perish in helplessness and impotence (Obadiah 1:5-9). Obadiah 1:1 contains, in addition to the brief heading, the introduction to the prophecy, which gives in a brief form the substance of the first section: "Thus hath the Lord Jehovah spoken of Edom, A report have we heard from Jehovah, and a messenger is sent among the nations: Up, and let us arise against it in battle." The first clause, לאדום ... כּה אמר, does not harmonize with what follows, inasmuch as we should expect it to be followed with a declaration made by Jehovah Himself, instead of which there follow simply tidings heard from Jehovah. The difficulty cannot be removed by assuming that these introductory words are spurious, or were added by a later prophet (Eichhorn, Ewald, and others); for the interpolator could not fail to observe the incongruity of these words just as well as Obadiah. Moreover, לאדום could not be omitted from the opening, because it is required not only by the suffix in עליה (against her), but also by the direct addresses in Obadiah 1:2. Nor is the assumption that the prophet suddenly altered the construction any more satisfactory, or that the declaration of Jehovah announced in כּה אמר וגו ("thus saith the Lord") commences in Obadiah 1:2, and that the words from שׁמוּעה to the end of the verse form an explanatory parenthesis to כּה אמר וגו ot sisehtnera. For such an alteration of the construction at the very beginning of the address is hardly conceivable; and the parenthetical explanation of the last three clauses of Obadiah 1:1 is at variance with their contents, which do not form by any means a subordinate thought, but rather the main thought of the following address. No other course remains, therefore, than to take these introductory words by themselves, as Michaelis, Maurer, and Caspari have done, in which case כה אמר does not announce the actual words of Jehovah in the stricter sense, but is simply meant to affirm that the prophet uttered what follows jussu Jehovae, or divinitus monitus, so that כה אמר is really equivalent to diber זה הדּבר אשׁר דּבּר in Isaiah 16:13, as Theodoret has explained it. לאדום, not "to Edom," but with reference to, or of, Edom. On the occurrence of Yehōvâh after 'Adōnâi, see the comm. on Genesis 2:4. What Obadiah saw as a word of the Lord was the tidings heard from the Lord, and the divine message sent to the nations to rise up for war against Edom. The plural שׁמענוּ (we have heard) is communicative. The prophet includes himself in the nation (Israel), which has heard the tidings in him and through him. This implies that the tidings were of the greatest interest to Israel, and would afford it consolation. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:14) has removed the pregnant character of the expression, by introducing the singular שׁמעתּי (I have heard). The next clause, "and an ambassador," etc., might be taken, as it has been by Luther, as a statement of the import of the news, namely, that a messenger had been sent; inasmuch as in Hebrew a sentence is frequently co-ordinated with the preceding one by Vav cop., when it ought really to be subordinated to it so far as the sense is concerned, from a simple preference for the parallelism of the clauses. But the address gains in force, if we take the clause as a co-ordinate one, just as it reads, viz., as a declaration of the steps already taken by the Lord for carrying out the resolution which had been heard of by report. In this case the substance of the report is not given till the last clause of the verse; the summons of the ambassador sent among the nations, "to rise up for war against Edom," indicating at the same time the substance of the report which Israel has heard. The perfect shullâch with qâmets in the pause, which is changed by Jeremiah into the less appropriate passive participle kal, corresponds to שׁמענוּ, and expresses in prophetic form the certainty of the accomplishment of the purpose of God. The sending of the messenger (tsı̄r as in Isaiah 18:2) among the nations (ב as in Judges 6:35) is an assurance that the nations will rise up at the instigation of Jehovah to war against Edom (compare Isaiah 13:17; Jeremiah 51:1, Jeremiah 51:11). The plural nâqūmâh (let us rise up), in the words of the messenger, may be explained on the simple ground that the messenger speaks in the name of the sender. The sender is Jehovah, who will also rise up along with the nations for war against Edom, placing Himself at their head as leader and commander (compare Joel 2:11; Isaiah 13:4-5). עליה, against Edom, construed as a land or kingdom, gener. faem. The fact that it is the nations generally that are here summoned to make war upon Edom, and not only one nation in particular, points at once to the fact that Edom is regarded as a type of the power of the world, and its hostility to God, the destruction of which is here foretold.
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