Obadiah 1:2
Behold, I have made you small among the heathen: you are greatly despised.
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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.Behold, I have made thee small - God, having declared His future judgments upon Edom, assigns the first ground of those judgments. Pride was the root of Edom's sin, then envy; then followed exultation at his brother's fall, hard-heartedness and bloodshed. All this was against the disposition of God's Providence for him. God had made him small, in numbers, in honor, in territory. Edom was a wild mountain people. It was strongly guarded in the rock-girt dwelling, which God had assigned it. Like the Swiss or the Tyrolese of old, or the inhabitants of Mount Caucasus now, it had strength for resistance through the advantages of its situation, not for aggression, unless it were that of a robber-horde. But lowness, as people use it, is the mother either of lowliness or pride. A low estate, acquiesced in by the grace of God, is the parent of lowliness; when rebelled against, it generates a greater intensity of pride than greatness, because that pride is against nature itself and God's appointment. The pride of human greatness, sinful as it is, is allied to a natural nobility of character. Copying pervertedly the greatness of God, the soul, when it receives the Spirit of God, casts off the slough, and retains its nobility transfigured by grace. The conceit of littleness has the hideousness of those monstrous combinations, the more hideous, because unnatural, not a corruption only but a distortion of nature. Edom never attempted anything of moment by itself. "Thou art greatly despised." Weakness, in itself, is neither despicable nor "despised." It is despised only, when it vaunts itself to be, what it is not. God tells Edom what, amid its pride, it was in itself, "despicable;" what it would thereafter be, "despised" . 2. I have made thee small—Thy reduction to insignificance is as sure as if it were already accomplished; therefore the past tense is used [Maurer]. Edom then extended from Dedan of Arabia to Bozrah in the north (Jer 49:8, 13). Calvin explains it, "Whereas thou wast made by Me an insignificant people, why art thou so proud" (Ob 3)? But if so, why should the heathen peoples be needed to subdue one so insignificant? Jer 49:15, confirms Maurer's view. Behold, ye Edomites, lay it to heart, and consider it well; be not secure amidst such dangers.

I have made thee small; thou art a small people for number, thy land mountainous, rocky, and barren, and it is little that which is of it, situate very incommodiously for any trade, which makes people great and famous; a country titled for moss-troopers, or banditti; and as such outlaws and robbers, thou art proud, and promisest great things to thyself.

Among the heathen, in comparison with other nations.

Thou art greatly despised, by those that do hear of thee, who know thy situation, government, manner of life, and what thy forces are, and how usually employed. Whatever these Edomites had been, now they are despised, and ere long should be more despicable, when, as Jeremiah 49:20, the least of Nebuchadnezzar’s army should pull them out of their caves, houses, and strong holds. Behold, I have made thee small among the Heathen,.... Or "a little one", or "thing" (o); their number few, and their country not large, as Aben Ezra, especially in comparison of other nations; and therefore had no reason to be so proud, insolent, and secure, as they are afterwards said to be; or rather, "I will make thee"; the past for the future, after the prophetic manner, as Kimchi; that is weak and feeble, as the Targum; reduce their numbers, destroy their towns and cities, and bring them into a low and miserable condition: or the sense is, that he would make them look little, mean, and abject, in the sight of their enemies who would conclude, upon a view of them, that they should have no trouble in subduing them, and therefore should attack them without fear, and as sure of success:

thou art greatly despised; in the eyes of the nations round about; by their enemies, who looked upon them with contempt, because of the smallness of their number, their defenceless state and want of strength to support and defend themselves; see Jeremiah 49:15; had so the pope of Rome is little and despicable in the eyes of the monarchs of the earth; and the antichristian Edom will be more so at the time of its general ruin.

(o) "parvium", V. L.

Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.
2. I have made thee … thou art] Jehovah is now the speaker. “I have made thee small” in my purpose, which though its accomplishment is still future is as certain as though it were already executed. “Thou art,” already in inevitable destiny, “greatly despised.” There is nothing to commend the view of Calvin and others that Obadiah 1:2 is introduced to aggravate the pride of Edom: “Whereas I made thee small and despised, by the narrow territory which I assigned to thee, and the low place I gave thee among the nations of the earth, the pride of thine heart hath deceived thee,” &c. As a fact the Edomites had at this time acquired very considerable territory, and were a strong and formidable nation. If that had not been so, what need would there have been to summon “the nations” to chastise them?Verse 2. - Behold, I have made thee small. Here is the effect of the summons. So in Jeremiah 49:15, "For, lo, I will make thee small." Jehovah is the Speaker, and he regards the future as past. What he determines is as good as accomplished. At this time the Edomites were a powerful nation, and possessed an almost impregnable seat at Petra. Small; in numbers, territory, honour. On the other hand, Judah and Jerusalem shall dwell for ever, - a poetical expression for "be inhabited," both land and city being personified, as in Isaiah 13:20, etc. Thus will Jehovah, by means of the final judgment upon the heathen, wipe away the bloodguiltiness that they have contracted in their treatment of His people, and manifest Himself as King of Zion. With these thoughts the prophecy of Joel closes (Joel 3:21). The verb niqqâh, to cleanse, with dâm, to wipe away or expunge blood-guiltiness by punishment, is chosen with reference to דּם נקיא in Joel 3:19; and לא נקּיתי, which follows, is to be taken in a relative sense: so that there is no need to alter ונקּיתי into ונקּמתּי otni ונקּ (Ges.); and the latter has no critical support in the Septuagint rendering καὶ ἐκζητήσω, which merely reproduces the sense.
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