Obadiah 1:10
For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
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This justification takes the form of a warning against a repetition of the crimes which have already called forth the sentence of Divine wrath against Edom. Various acts of hostility and treachery towards Israel are specified by the prophet, in a manner to lead to the feeling that though his tone is prohibitory, he is recalling instances of past malignity on Edom’s part, as types of what might be found in the future.

(10) For thy violence . . .—Literally, for injury of thy brother Jacob, &c.; the genitive of the object, as in Joel 3:19. The crime was the more heinous because against the brother tribe. Probably the birth-name, Jacob, of the twin brother of Esau is used purposely to bring out the full wickedness of the descendants of Esau. In spite of all provocations, Israel long maintained the duty of a friendly feeling for the kindred race—maintained it as a religious duty (Deuteronomy 2:5; Deuteronomy 23:7). On the other hand, Edom from the first assumed a jealous and hostile attitude (Numbers 20:14, seqq.), never imitating the generous disposition of their great ancestor (Genesis 33:4).

Shame shall cover thee.—Comp. Micah 7:10; Jeremiah 3:25.

(11) In the day . . .—Literally, In the day of thy standing over against, as if to particularise some one occasion; but instead of proceeding to state it, the prophet recalls other events of the same time, and sums up Edom’s offence in the charge, “thou, too, as one of them,” acting the part of an enemy instead of that of a friend, though probably in the base character of a neutral (comp. “My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore,” Psalm 38:11), ready to take the winning side.

Forces.—It is difficult to choose between this and the marginal reading, substance. Shâvah is usually “to take prisoner,” but there are many instances of its use in the sense of carrying off booty (1Chronicles 5:21; 2Chronicles 21:17, where see marg., and 2Chronicles 14:14). And chayil, whose root-meaning is strength, while often meaning forces, has eleven times the meaning riches (Isaiah 8:4, &c.), and eight times substance (Job 5:5, &c.).

The three clauses in this verse form a climax:—(1) The plunder of the open country; (2) entry into the gates of the cities; (3) casting lots for the spoil in the very capital itself. It is natural to regard this latter event as identical with that in Joel 3:3, the final destruction of Jerusalem and dispersion of its inhabitants into captivity. But for the question of the event intended and its connection with the date of the prophecy, see Excursus.

(12) Thou shouldest not . . .—Here, and in Obadiah 1:13-14, correctly as in marg., Do not, &c. Al with the apoc. pres. or fut. must be prohibitory. Calasio’s Concordance supplies 207 instances (see Pusey’s note). But the warning against these particular offences undoubtedly springs from the reminiscence of such conduct in former times. The passage is neither definitely historical nor definitely prophetic. What has happened in the past becomes a type of what will happen in the future. For look (raah), with the sense of disdain or scorn, comp. Song of Solomon 1:6; Job 40:11; Job 41:34 (Heb. 26). The word is repeated with the same sense in Obadiah 1:13. Pusey remarks: “Malicious gazing on human calamity, forgetful of man’s common origin and common liability to ill, is the worst form of human hate. It was one of the contumelies of the Cross.”

In the day that he became a stranger.—Literally, in the day of his strangeness. The form nokher is only found here, and in Job 31:3 (nekher) with different pointing, where it is translated “strange punishment.” The adjective nokhri, also, has always the sense of strange, though the root-verb seems to have the signification to recognise. From to recognise an apparent stranger to treat as a stranger (which the derived conjugations, that alone are used, sometimes mean) is a natural transition. Perhaps here, “unheard of calamity.”

Spoken proudly.—Literally, as in marg., made thy mouth great (comp. Psalm 35:21; Isaiah 57:4). The mention of grimaces adds to the graphic character of the picture. Again we are reminded of the wanton and savage insolence around the Cross.

(13) The day of their calamity.—Thrice repeated, to bring into prominence the malignity of Edom’s conduct. The same expression used by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 35:5), in the same connection, probably with reference to the same occasion.

Calamity.—Heb., êyd. Variously derived and explained, either as load of trouble or dark gloomy time.

(14) Crossway.—Heb., perek = separated (English, fork). It only occurs here and in Nahum 3:1, where it is translated robberyi.e., that which is torn or divided. Or it may mean at the division of the prey, but “crossway” is better.

Delivered.—Margin, shut upi e., either made prisoners of them, or cut them off at the cross-roads from any chance of escape.

For the open violence assumed by the Edomites when they saw their chance was come, comp. Psalm 137:7; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11; Ezekiel 35

(15) The day of the Lord.—Whether this phrase first makes its appearance in written prophecy in Joel or Obadiah depends, of course, on the question of the relative date of the two. But probably it had become a recognised prophetic expression long before it was committed to writing. The primary meaning is not the day of judgment, but the day on which Jehovah reveals His majesty and omnipotence in a glorious manner, to overthrow all ungodly powers and to complete His kingdom. As the misfortunes of Israel increased, and the hostility of surrounding nations gathered to a successful head, it was natural that the idea of retribution upon them for their violence to the chosen race should usurp the prominent place in prophecy. The “day of Jehovah” became the day of Jehovah’s wrath (Zephaniah 1:18) and Jehovah’s vengeance (Isaiah 34:8). The fading of the temporal hopes implied in the expression naturally led to its higher religious use; and the various phrases for the same idea—“the day,” “the great day,” “the day of judgment,” “the last day”—passed first into Jewish, and afterwards into Christian, eschatology, taking with them all the prophetic imagery which painted the expectancy of Israel: imagery of the splendour of victory and triumph on the one side, of terrible overthrow and slaughter on the other, but rich as well with its infinite spiritual suggestiveness.

As thou hast done . . .—For this stern announcement of the lex talionis on the offending nation, comp. (in addition to the reference in marg.) Joel 3:7; Psalm 137:8.

(16) As ye have drunk . . .—For the figure, so common in prophecy and so expressive, comp. Jeremiah 25:27-28; Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17; Revelation 18:3-6. But who are addressed, the people of Jerusalem or the Edomites? The question is perplexed. If we keep the tropical sense of drink in both clauses, which is the most natural way, understanding by it the cup of suffering, since it is said to have been drunk on Mount Zion, it must have been drained by Israelites, as Ewald and others take the passage. On the other hand, it seems awkward to make the prophet turn from addressing Edom to Judah, not else addressed in his prophecy. If taken in a literal sense, the drinking on Mount Zion would, of course, refer to the carousing and revelry which always followed heathen victory, and sometimes with terrible aggravation (Joel 3:3). Taking the passage in this sense, we must understand the prophet to take Edom as a type of all heathen in their attitude towards Israel, so that what he says of one nation applies to all. But it is quite possible that our text embodies an old oracular saying addressed to Israel. This is Ewald’s view.

Swallow down.—Margin, sup up. The substantive loa’ signifies a throat. (Comp. Job 6:3 : “Therefore my words are swallowed up.”)

Shall be as though they had not been.—For the expression, comp. Job 10:19. Here, totally insensible from the effects of the draughty, therefore dead, destroyed.

The word continually offers some difficulty. Ewald translates immediately, but this is not the natural sense of tamîd, which seems rather to express that continuous display of the Divine purpose and judgment in the overthrow overtaking successively the proud monarchies of the heathen. “God employs each nation in turn to give that cup to the other. So Edom drank it at the hand of Babylon, and Babylon from the Medes, and the Medes and Persians from the Macedonians, and the Macedonians from the Romans, and they from the barbarians.”

Obadiah 1:10-11. For thy violence against thy brother Jacob — Because of the injury thou hast done to the people of Judea, who are descended from Jacob, the brother of Esau, your progenitor: see note on Amos 1:11. Shame shall cover thee — Contempt and reproach shall be cast upon thee by all that hear of thy conduct; and thou shalt be cut off for ever — So great a slaughter shall be made of thy inhabitants, that thou shalt never recover it; and at last thou shalt be quite dispossessed of thy country: see note on Ezekiel 35:7-9. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side — Or, in the day that thou stoodest against him. That strangers carried away captive his forces — This may refer to the time when the Syrians spoiled Judea, overcame the Jewish forces, and made many captives of them. And foreigners entered into his gates — That is, into his cities. This seems to be spoken of the cities of Judea, which the Syrians took when they had spoiled the country, and laid siege to Jerusalem, as recorded in 2 Kings 16:5. And cast lots upon Jerusalem — Either this means that the Syrians and Israelites, whose armies were joined together, cast lots which of them should make the first assault on that city: or else, they cast lots about the spoils of Jerusalem, before they had taken it, making themselves quite sure of it, though the event proved they were mistaken. Or, as many learned men think, the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar is here referred to; an event at which, as we learn from Psalms 137., the Edomites rejoiced: and then probably lots were cast what captives should fall to the share of each of the commanders. Thou wast as one of them — Thou, that wast a brother by birth, wast as cruel and injurious in thy actions as these strangers, and joined with them in every thing against thy brother.

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.For thy violence against thy brother Jacob - To Israel God had commanded: (Deuteronomy 23:7-8 (Deuteronomy 23:8, Deuteronomy 23:9 in the Hebrew text)), "Thou shalt not abbor an Edomite, for he is thy brother. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation." Edom did the contrary to all this. "Violence" includes all sorts of ill treatment, from one with whom "might is right," "because it is in the power of their hand" Micah 2:2. to do it. This they had done to the descendants of their brother, and him, their twin brother, Jacob. They helped the Chaldaeans in his overthrow, rejoiced in his calamity, thought that, by this cooperation, they had secured themselves. What, when from those same Chaldees, those same calamities, which they had aided to inflict on their brother, came on themselves, when, as they had betrayed him, they were themselves betrayed; as they had exulted in his overthrow, so their allies exulted in their's! The "shame" of which the prophet spoke, is not the healthful distress at the evil of sin, but at its evils and disappointments. Shame at the evil which sin is, works repentance and turns aside the anger of God. Shame at the evils which sin brings, in itself leads to further sins, and endless, fruitless, shame. Edom had laid his plans, had succeeded; the wheel, in God's Providence, turned around and he was crushed.

So Hosea said Hosea 10:6, "they shall be ashamed through their own counsels;" and Jeremiah Jer 3:25, "we lie down in our shame and our confusion covereth us;" and David Psalm 109:29, "let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion as with a mantle." As one, covered and involved in a cloak, can find no way to emerge; as one, whom the waters cover Exodus 15:10, is buried under them inextricably, so, wherever they went, whatever they did, shame covered them. So the lost shall "rise to shame and everlasting contempt" Daniel 12:2.

Thou shalt be cut off forever - One word expressed the sin, "violence;" four words, over against it, express the sentence; shame encompassing, everlasting excision. God's sentences are not completed at once in this life. The branches are lopped off; the tree decays; the axe is laid to the root; at last it is cut down. As the sentence on Adam, "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," was fulfilled, although Adam did not die, until he had completed 930 years Genesis 5:5, so was this on Edom, although fulfilled in stages and by degrees. Adam bore the sentence of death about him. The 930 years wore out at last that frame, which, but for sin, had been immortal. So Edom received this sentence of excision, which was, on his final impenitence, completed, although centuries witnessed the first earnest only of its execution. Judah and Edom stood over against each other, Edom ever bent on the extirpation of Judah. At that first destruction of Jerusalem, Edom triumphed, "Raze her! Raze her, even to the ground!" Yet, though it tarried long, the sentence was fulfilled. Judah, the banished, survived; Edom, the triumphant, was, in God's time and after repeated trials, "cut off forever." Do we marvel at the slowness of God's sentence? Rather, marvel we, with wondering thankfulness, that His sentences, on nations or individuals, are slow, yet, stand we in awe, because, if unrepealed, they are sure. Centuries, to Edom, abated not their force or certainty; length of life changes not the sinner's doom.

10. against thy brother—This aggravates the sin of Esau, that it was against him who was his brother by birth and by circumcision. The posterity of Esau followed in the steps of their father's hatred to Jacob by violence against Jacob's seed (Ge 27:41).

Jacob—not merely his own brother, but his twin brother; hence the name Jacob, not Israel, is here put emphatically. Compare De 23:7 for the opposite feeling which Jacob's seed was commanded to entertain towards Edom's.

shame … cover thee—(Ps 35:26; 69:7).

for ever—(Isa 34:10; Eze 35:9; Mal 1:4). Idumea, as a nation, should be "cut off for ever," though the land should be again inhabited.

For thy violence: though Idumeans were guilty of many other and great sins, they are here charged with this as the great crying sin, inhuman cruelty and perfidiousness; they did mercilessly spoil and basely betray the Jews, which will be particularly mentioned in the following verses. Against thy brother: Edomites, the posterity of Esau, and the Jews, the posterity of Jacob, are here called brothers, for that the fathers of both people were brothers, twins; and this nearness of blood should have been remembered, and kindness should have still run through the blood and kindred. It is a great sin to be cruel and false to any, but greatest sin to be so to a brother. Jacob; put for his children.

Shame shall cover thee; contempt and reproaches shall by all men be cast upon thee, and cover thee as a garment, or swallow thee up. God and man shall pour shame upon thee, thy memory shall be retained with condemnation to shame, and thy end shall be in shame too.

Thou shalt be cut off for ever; never more be a nation or kingdom; which was in a very great degree fulfilled in the cutting them off by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar. See Isaiah 34:5,10 Eze 35:9, threatens the like desolation.

For thy violence against thy brother Jacob,.... Which is aggravated: by being against Jacob, an honest plain hearted man, and whom the Lord loved; his brother, his own brother, a twin brother, yea, his only brother; yet this is to be understood, not so much of the violence of Esau against Jacob personally, though there is an allusion to that; as of the violence of the posterity of the one against the posterity of the other; and not singly of the violence shown at the destruction of Jerusalem, but in general of the anger they bore, the wrath they showed, and the injuries they did to their brethren the Jews, on all occasions, whenever they had an opportunity, of which the following is a notorious instance; and for which more especially, as well as for the above things, they are threatened with ruin:

shame shall cover thee; as a garment; they shall be filled with blushing, and covered with confusion, when convicted of their sin, and punished for it:

and thou shalt be cut off for ever; from being a nation; either by Nebuchadnezzar; or in the times of the Maccabees by Hyrcanus, when they were subdued by the Jews, and were incorporated among them, and never since was a separate people or kingdom.

For thy violence against thy {g} brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

(g) He shows the reason why the Edomites were so severely punished: that is, because they were enemies to his Church, whom he now comforts by punishing their enemies.

10. Thy brother Jacob] This was the great aggravation of the violence. “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite, for he is thy brother,” was the command of God to the Jews (Deuteronomy 23:7). Treachery from friends and allies was the meet punishment of such a sin.

thou shalt be cut off for ever] As the sin of Edom is concisely expressed in this verse by the one word violence, the details of that violence being afterwards given, so the punishment of Edom is here proclaimed in its ultimate completeness, the steps of his total extinction being in like manner afterwards described.

10–14. The Cause of Edom’s Destruction

The scene changes. Another picture of violence and cruelty now rises before the prophet’s eyes. He sees Jerusalem encompassed by enemies and overcome. Strangers carry away captive her forces, foreigners enter into her gates. And there, not only standing aside in unbrotherly neutrality, but exulting with malicious joy, speaking words of proud scorn, doing acts of robbery and wrong, are seen the Edomites. The two pictures, one of the past, the other of the future, he is commissioned to portray before the eyes of men, and to reveal the hidden link that binds them together in the relationship of cause and effect. Obadiah 1:10 contains a general statement of the sin and its punishment. In Obadiah 1:11-14 the prophet writes in the impassioned strain of a spectator and describes at length the sin. The punishment is further described in Obadiah 1:15-16.

Verses 10-14. - § 2. The cause of Edom's destruction. This punishment falls upon her as the result of the malice and unfriendliness which she has displayed to wards Israel in the time of calamity, in that she rejoiced at her sister's disaster and took part with her enemies. Verse 10. - For thy violence against thy brother Jacob. The special action to which Obadiah alludes, and which he particularizes in the following verses, occurred at the time of the invasion of Judaea by Philistines and Arabians during the reign of Jehoram, when the Edomites sided with the enemy, and acted as the prophet intimates (2 Chronicles 21:16, etc.; see Introduction, § III.). The iniquity of such conduct is aggravated by the fact that the victim was the "brother Jacob," who was commanded not to hate the Edomites (Deuteronomy 23:7). This enjoined friendship was not reciprocated by the descendants of Esau. Whether from envy at the superior privileges of Israel, or from other causes, the Edomites, from the time of Moses, had always been actively hostile to the Israelites. They had been subdued by David, but had lately rebelled and scoured their independence, and were always looking for an opportunity of revenging themselves on their conquerors (comp. Amos 1:11; Ezekiel 25:12; Ezekiel 35:5). Shame shall cover thee. Shame for the destruction that hath overtaken thee (Micah 7:10). Thou shalt be cut off forever (comp. Malachi 1:4; see Introduction, § I.). Terrible retribution fell on Idumea in the time of the Maccabees (see 1 Macc. 5:3; 2 Macc. 10:15, etc.; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 12:08. 1), Before that time they had been dispossessed of Petra by the Nabathaeans. Obadiah 1:10The Cause of the Ruin of the Edomites is their wickedness towards the brother nation Jacob (Obadiah 1:10 and Obadiah 1:11), which is still further exhibited in Obadiah 1:12-14 in the form of a warning, accompanied by an announcement of righteous retribution in the day of the Lord upon all nations (Obadiah 1:15, Obadiah 1:16). Obadiah 1:10. "For the wickedness towards thy brother Jacob shame will cover thee, and thou wilt be cut off for ever. Obadiah 1:11. In the day that thou stoodest opposite, in the day when enemies carried away his goods, and strangers came into his gates, and cast the lot upon Jerusalem, then even thou (wast) like one of them." Chămas 'âchı̄khâ, wickedness, violent wrong towards (upon) thy brother (genit. obj. as in Joel 3:19; Genesis 16:5, etc.). Drusius has already pointed out the peculiar emphasis on these words. Wrong, or violence, is all the more reprehensible, when it is committed against a brother. The fraternal relation in which Edom stood towards Judah is still more sharply defined by the name Jacob, since Esau and Jacob were twin brothers. The consciousness that the Israelites were their brethren, ought to have impelled the Edomites to render helpful support to the oppressed Judaeans. Instead of this, they not only revelled with scornful and malignant pleasure in the misfortune of the brother nation, but endeavored to increase it still further by rendering active support to the enemy. This hostile behaviour of Edom arose from envy at the election of Israel, like the hatred of Esau towards Jacob (Genesis 27:41), which was transmitted to his descendants, and came out openly in the time of Moses, in the unbrotherly refusal to allow the Israelites to pass in a peaceable manner through their land (Numbers 20). On the other hand, the Israelites are always commanded in the law to preserve a friendly and brotherly attitude towards Edom (Deuteronomy 2:4-5); and in Deuteronomy 23:7 it is enjoined upon them not to abhor the Edomite, because he is their brother. תּכסּך בוּשׁה (as in Micah 7:10), shame will cover thee, i.e., come upon thee in full measure, - namely, the shame of everlasting destruction, as the following explanatory clause clearly shows. ונכרתּ with Vav consec., but with the tone upon the penultima, contrary to the rule (cf. Ges. 49, 3; Ewald, 234, b and c). In the more precise account of Edom's sins given in Obadiah 1:11, the last clause does not answer exactly to the first. After the words "in the day that thou stoodest opposite," we should expect the apodosis "thou didst this or that." But Obadiah is led away from the sentence which he has already begun, by the enumeration of hostilities displayed towards Judah by its enemies, so that he observes with regard to Edom's behaviour: Then even thou wast as one of them, that is to say, thou didst act just like the enemy. עמד מנּגד, to stand opposite (compare Psalm 38:12), used here to denote a hostile intention, as in 2 Samuel 18:13. They showed this at first by looking on with pleasure at the misfortunes of the Judaeans (Obadiah 1:12), still more by stretching out their hand after their possessions (Obadiah 1:13), but most of all by taking part in the conflict with Judah (Obadiah 1:14). In the clauses which follow, the day when Edom acted thus is described as a day on which Judah had fallen into the power of hostile nations, who carried off its possessions, and disposed of Jerusalem as their booty. Zȧrı̄m and nokhrı̄m are synonymous epithets applied to heathen foes. שׁבה generally denotes the carrying away of captives; but it is sometimes applied to booty in cattle and goods, or treasures (1 Chronicles 5:21; 2 Chronicles 14:14; 2 Chronicles 21:17). חיל is not used here either for the army, or for the strength, i.e., the kernel of the nation, but, as חילו in Obadiah 1:13 clearly shows, for its possessions, as in Isaiah 8:4; Isaiah 10:14; Ezekiel 26:12, etc. שׁערו, his (Judah's) gates, used rhetorically for his cities.

Lastly, Jerusalem is also mentioned as the capital, upon which the enemies cast lots. The three clauses form a climax: first, the carrying away of Judah's possessions, that is to say, probably those of the open country; then the forcing of a way into the cities; and lastly, arbitrary proceedings both in and with the capital. ידּוּ גורל (perf. kal of ידד equals ידה, not piel for יידּוּ, because the Yod praef. of the imperfect piel is never dropped in verbs פי), to cast the lot upon booty (things) and prisoners, to divide them among them (compare Joel 3:3 and Nahum 3:10). Caspari, Hitzig, and others understand it here as in Joel 3:3, as denoting the distribution of the captive inhabitants of Jerusalem, and found upon this one of their leading arguments, that the description given here refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, which Obadiah either foresaw in the Spirit, or depicts as something already experienced. But this by no means follows from the fact that in Joel we have עמּי instead of ירוּשׁלם, since it is generally acknowledged that, when the prophets made use of their predecessors, they frequently modified their expressions, or gave them a different turn. But if we look at our passage simply as its stands, there is not the slightest indication that Jerusalem is mentioned in the place of the people. As שׁבות חילו does not express the carrying away of the inhabitants, there is not a single syllable which refers to the carrying away captive of either the whole nation or the whole of the population of Jerusalem. On the contrary, in Obadiah 1:13 we read of the perishing of the children of Judah, and in Obadiah 1:14 of fugitives of Judah, and those that have escaped. From this it is very obvious that Obadiah had simply a conquest of Jerusalem in his eye, when part of the population was slain in battle and part taken captive, and the possessions of the city were plundered; so that the casting of the lot upon Jerusalem has reference not only to the prisoners, but also to the things taken as plunder in the city, which the conquerors divided among them. גּם אתּה, even thou, the brother of Jacob, art like one of them, makest common cause with the enemy. The verb הייתה, thou wast, is omitted, to bring the event before the mind as something even then occurring. For this reason Obadiah also clothes the further description of the hostilities of the Edomites in the form of a warning against such conduct.

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