Obadiah 1:6
How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.How are the things of Esau searched out! - literally, "How are Esau, out searched!" i. e., Esau, as a whole and in all its parts and in all its belongings, all its people and all its property, one and all. The name "Esau" speaks of them as a whole; the plural verb, "are outsearched," represents all its parts. The word signifies a diligent search and tracking out, as in Zephaniah ZEphesians 1:12, "I will search out Jerusalem with candles," as a man holdeth a light in every dark corner, in seeking diligently some small thing which has been lost. "The hidden things," i. e., his hidden treasures, "are sought up." The enemy who should come upon him, should make no passing foray, but should abide there, seeking out of their holes in the rocks, themselves and their treasures. Petra, through its rocky ramparts, was well suited, as Nineveh in the huge circuit of its massive walls was well built, to be the receptacle of rapine.

And now it was gathered, as rapine is, first or last, for the spoiler. It was safe stored up there, to be had for the seeking. No exit, no way of escape. Edom, lately so full of malicious energy, so proud, should lie at the proud foot of its conqueror, passive as the sheep in this large shamble, or as the inanimate hoards which they had laid up and which were now "tracked out." Soon after Obadiah's prophecy, Judah, under Ahaz, lost again to Syria, Elath 2 Kings 14:6, which it had now under Uzziah recovered 2 Kings 14:22. The Jews were replaced, it is uncertain whether by Edomites or by some tribe of Syrians. If Syrians, they were then friendly; if Edomites, Elath itself must, on the nearby captivity of Syria, have become the absolute possession of Edom. Either way, commerce again poured its wealth into Edom. To what end? To be possessed and to aggrandize Edom, thought her wealthy and her wise men; to be searched out and plundered, said the word of God. And it was so.

6. How are the things of Esau searched out!—by hostile soldiers seeking booty. Compare with Ob 5, 6 here, Jer 49:9, 10.

hidden things—or "places." Edom abounded in such hiding-places, as caves, clefts in the rock, &c. None of these would be left unexplored by the foe.

Esau; the father of this people, and here put for his posterity. All that the Edomites had laid up in the most secret places, in unsearchable caves, and deep abysses of hollow rocks, how are all his treasures found out, seized, and brought forth a prey to greedy soldiers! How durst they adventure here? How are the things of Esau searched out!.... Or how are the Esauites, the posterity of Esau, sought out! though they dwelt in the clefts of the rocks, and hid themselves in caves and dens, yet their enemies searched them, and found there, and plucked them out from thence, so that none escaped:

how are his hid things sought up! his riches, wealth and treasure, hid in fortresses, in rocks and caves, where they were thought to be safe, and judged inaccessible; or that an enemy would not have ventured in search of them there; and yet these should be sought after and found by the greedy, and diligent, and venturous soldier, and carried off; which was the case of the Edomites by the Chaldeans, and will be of the antichristian states by the kings of the earth, Revelation 17:16; see Jeremiah 49:10.

How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. the things of Esau] lit. how are they searched out, Esau; i. e. everything, people and property alike, that belongs to Esau.

his hidden things] rather places; his treasure-houses and receptacles hewn in the secret places of the rocks, and inaccessible as he thought them. Comp. Jeremiah 49:10. Hidden treasures, R.V.Verse 6. - Obadiah contemplates Eden's ruin, in retribution of her plundering Jerusalem, and speaks of it as past. How are the things of Esau searched out! literally, how are the things searched out, Esau! i.e. the people and property that belong to Esau. The enemy leave no place unexamined. So in Zephaniah 1:12 the Lord says, "I will search Jerusalem with candles." (For "Esau" as equivalent to "Eden," see Genesis 25:30.) His hidden things (matspon, ἅπαξ λεγόμενον); hidden treasures; Septuagint, τὰ κεκρυμμένα αὐτοῦ. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:10) gives, "secret places." Keil notes that Petra was a great emporium of the trade between Arabia and Syria, and that in it great treasures were stored (Diod. Sic., 19:95). Aram-Damascus. - Amos 1:3. "Thus saith Jehovah, For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have threshed Gilead with iron rollers, Amos 1:4. I send fire into the house of Hazael, and it will eat the palaces of Ben-hadad, Amos 1:5. And break in pieces the bolt of Damascus, and root out the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and the sceptre-holder out of Beth-eden: and the people of Aram will wander into captivity to Kir, saith Jehovah." In the formula, which is repeated in the case of every people, "for three transgressions, and for four," the numbers merely serve to denote the multiplicity of the sins, the exact number of which has no bearing upon the matter. "The number four is added to the number three, to characterize the latter as simply set down at pleasure; in other words, it is as much as to say that the number is not exactly three or four, but probably a still larger number" (Hitzig). The expression, therefore, denotes not a small but a large number of crimes, or "ungodliness in its worst form" (Luther; see at Hosea 6:2)

(Note: J. Marck has correctly explained it thus: "When this perfect number (three) is followed by four, by way of gradation, God not only declares that the measure of iniquity is full, but that it is filled to overflowing and beyond all measure.").

That these numbers are to be understood in this way, and not to be taken in a literal sense, is unquestionably evident from the fact, that nit he more precise account of the sins which follows, as a rule, only one especially grievous crime is mentioned by way of example. לא אשׁיבנּוּ (I will not reverse it) is inserted before the more minute description of the crimes, to show that the threat is irrevocable. השׁיב signifies to turn, i.e., to make a thing go back, to withdraw it, as in Numbers 23:20; Isaiah 43:13. The suffix attached to אשׁיבנּוּ refers neither to qōlō (his voice), nor "to the idea of דּבר which is implied in כּה אמר (thus saith), or the substance of the threatening thunder-voice" (Baur); for hēshı̄bh dâbhâr signifies to give an answer, and never to make a word ineffectual. The reference is to the punishment threatened afterwards, where the masculine stands in the place of the neuter. Consequently the close of the verse contains the epexegesis of the first clause, and Amos 1:4 and Amos 1:5 follow with the explanation of לא אשׁיבנו (I will not turn it). The threshing of the Gileadites with iron threshing-machines is mentioned as the principal transgression of the Syrian kingdom, which is here named after the capital Damascus (see at 2 Samuel 8:6). This took place at the conquest of the Israelitish land to the east of the Jordan by Hazael during the reign of Jehu (2 Kings 10:32-33, cf. 2 Kings 13:7), when the conquerors acted so cruelly towards the Gileadites, that they even crushed the prisoners to pieces with iron threshing-machines, according to a barbarous war-custom that is met with elsewhere (see at 2 Samuel 12:31). Chârūts ( equals chârı̄ts, 2 Samuel 12:31), lit., sharpened, is a poetical term applied to the threshing-roller, or threshing-cart (mōrag chârūts, Isaiah 41:15). According to Jerome, it was "a kind of cart with toothed iron wheels underneath, which was driven about to crush the straw in the threshing-floors after the grain had been beaten out." The threat is individualized historically thus: in the case of the capital, the burning of the palaces is predicted; and in that of two other places, the destruction of the people and their rulers; so that both of them apply to both, or rather to the whole kingdom. The palaces of Hazael and Benhadad are to be sought for in Damascus, the capital of the kingdom (Jeremiah 49:27). Hazael was the murderer of Benhadad I, to whom the prophet Elisha foretold that he would reign over Syria, and predicted the cruelties that he would practise towards Israel (2 Kings 8:7.). Benhadad is generally regarded as his son; but the plural "palaces" leads us rather to think of both the first and second Benhadad, and this is favoured by the circumstance that it was only during his father's reign that Benhadad II oppressed Israel, whereas after his death, and when he himself ascended the throne, the conquered provinces were wrested from him by Joash king of Israel (2 Kings 13:22-25). The breaking of the bar (the bolt of the gate) denotes the conquest of the capital; and the cutting off of the inhabitants of Biq‛ath-Aven indicates the slaughter connected with the capture of the towns, and not their deportation; for hikhrı̄th means to exterminate, so that gâlâh (captivity) in the last clause applies to the remainder of the population that had not been slain in war. In the parallel clause תּומך שׁבם, the sceptre-holder, i.e., the ruler (either the king or his deputy), corresponds to yōshēbh (the inhabitant); and the thought expressed is, that both prince and people, both high and low, shall perish.

The two places, Valley-Aven and Beth-Eden, cannot be discovered with any certainty; but at any rate they were capitals, and possibly they may have been the seat of royal palaces as well as Damascus, which was the first capital of the kingdom. בּקעת און, valley of nothingness, or of idols, is supposed by Ewald and Hitzig to be a name given to Heliopolis or Baalbek, after the analogy of Beth-aven equals Bethel (see at Hosea 5:8). They base their opinion upon the Alex. rendering ἐκ πεδίου Ὦν, taken in connection with the Alex. interpretation of the Egyptian On (Genesis 41:45) as Heliopolis. But as the lxx have interpreted אן by Heliopolis in the book of Genesis, whereas here they have merely reproduced the Hebrew letters און by Ὦν, as they have in other places as well (e.g., Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5, Hosea 10:8), where Heliopolis cannot for a moment be thought of, the πέδιον Ὦν of the lxx furnishes no evidence in favour of Heliopolis, still less does it warrant an alteration of the Hebrew pointing (into און). Even the Chaldee and Syriac have taken בּקעת און as a proper name, and Ephraem Syrus speaks of it as "a place in the neighbourhood of Damascus, distinguished for idol-chapels." The supposition that it is a city is also favoured by the analogy of the other threatenings, in which, for the most part, cities only are mentioned. Others understand by it the valley near Damascus, or the present Bekaa between Lebanon and Antilibanus, in which Heliopolis was always the most distinguished city, and Robinson has pronounced in favour of this (Bibl. Res. p. 677). Bēth-‛Eden, i.e., house of delight, is not to be sought for in the present village of Eden, on the eastern slope of Lebanon, near to the cedar forest of Bshirrai, as the Arabic name of this village 'hdn has nothing in common with the Hebrew עדן (see at 2 Kings 19:12); but it is the Παράδεισος of the Greeks, which Ptolemy places ten degrees south and five degrees east of Laodicea, and which Robinson imagines that he has found in Old Jusieh, not far from Ribleh, a place belonging to the times before the Saracens, with very extensive ruins (see Bibl. Researches, pp. 542-6, and 556). The rest of the population of Aram would be carried away to Kir, i.e., to the country on the banks of the river Kur, from which, according to Amos 9:7, the Syrians originally emigrated. This prediction was fulfilled when the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser conquered Damascus in the time of Ahaz, and broke up the kingdom of Syria (2 Kings 16:9). The closing words, 'âmar Yehōvâh (saith the Lord), serve to add strength to the threat, and therefore recur in Amos 1:8, Amos 1:15, and Amos 2:3.

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