Obadiah 1:7
All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.
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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.All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border - Destruction is more bitter, when friends aid in it. Edom had all along with unnatural hatred persecuted his brother, Jacob. So, in God's just judgment, its friends should be among its destroyers. Those confederates were probably Moab and Ammon, Tyre and Zidon, with whom they united to resist Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 27:3, and seduced Zedekiah to rebel, although Moab, Ammon, and Edom turned against him Zephaniah 2:8; Ezekiel 25. These then, he says, sent them "to the border." "So will they take the adversary's part, that, with him, they will drive thee forth from the borders, thrusting thee into captivity, to gain favor with the enemy." This they would do, he adds, through mingled treachery and violence. "The men of thy peace have deceived, have prevailed against thee." As Edom turned peace with Judah into war, so those at peace with Edom should use deceit and violence against them, being admitted, perhaps, as allies within their borders, and then betraying the secret of their fastnesses to the enemy, as the Thessalians dealt toward the Greeks at Thermopylae. It was to be no common deceit, no mere failure to help them.

The men of "thy bread have laid a wound" (better, a snare) "under thee." Perhaps Obadiah thought of David's words Psalm 41:9, "mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." As they had done, so should it be done to them. "They that take the sword," our Lord says Matthew 26:52, "shall perish by the sword;" so they who show bad faith, are the objects of bad faith, as Isaiah says . The proverb which says, "there is honor among thieves," attests how limited such mutual faith is. It lasts, while it seems useful. Obadiah's description relates to one and the same class, the allies of Edom; but it heightens as it goes on; not confederates only, but those confederates, friends; not friends only, but friends indebted to them, familiar friends; those joined to them through that tie, so respected in the East, in that they had eaten of their bread. Those banded with them should, with signs of friendship, conduct them to their border, in order to expel them; those at peace should prevail against them in war; those who ate their bread should requite them with a snare.

There is none understanding in him - The brief words comprise both cause and effect. Had Edom not been without understanding, he had not been thus betrayed; and when betrayed in his security, be was as one stupefied. Pride and self-confidence betray man to his fall; when he is fallen, self-confidence betrayed passes readily into despair. In the sudden shock, the mind collapses. People do not use the resources which they yet have, because what they had overvalued, fails them. Undue confidence is the parent of undue fear. The Jewish historian relates, how, in the last dreadful siege, when the outer wall began to give way , "fear fell on the tyrants, more vehement than the occasion called for. For, before the enemy had mounted, they were paralyzed, and ready to flee. You might see men, aforetime stouthearted and insolent in their impiety, crouching and trembling, so that, wicked as they were, the change was pitiable in the extreme. Here, especially, one might learn the power of God upon the ungodly. For the tyrants bared themselves of all security, and, of their own accord, came down from the towers, where no force, but famine alone, could have taken them: For those three towers were stronger than any engines."

7. Men of thy confederacy—that is, thy confederates.

brought thee … to the border—that is, when Idumean ambassadors shall go to confederate states seeking aid, these latter shall conduct them with due ceremony to their border, giving them empty compliments, but not the aid required [Drusius]. This view agrees with the context, which speaks of false friends deceiving Edom: that is, failing to give help in need (compare Job 6:14, 15). Calvin translates, "have driven," that is, shall drive thee; shall help to drive thee to thy border on thy way into captivity in foreign lands.

the men that were at peace with thee—literally, "the men of thy peace." Compare Ps 41:9; Jer 38:22, Margin, where also the same formula occurs, "prevailed against thee."

they that eat thy bread—the poorer tribes of the desert who subsisted on the bounty of Edom. Compare again Ps 41:9, which seems to have been before Obadiah's mind, as his words were before Jeremiah's.

have laid a wound under thee—"laid" implies that their intimacy was used as a SNARE laid with a view to wound; also, these guest friends of Edom, instead of the cushions ordinarily laid under guests at table, laid snares to wound, that is, had a secret understanding with Edom's foe for that purpose. Maurer translates, "a snare." But English Version agrees with the Hebrew, which means, literally, "a bandage for a wound."

none understanding—none of the wisdom for which Edom was famed (see Ob 8) to extricate him from his perilous position.

in him—instead of "in thee." The change implies the alienation of God from Edom: Edom has so estranged himself from God, that He speaks now of him, not to him.

All the men of thy confederacy; they who by league had bound themselves to assist with men and arms, who had made an offensive and defensive league.

Have brought thee even to the border; either have conducted in honourable manner through their country the ambassadors thou didst send, concluded first a confederacy, and next conveyed home the ambassadors who made it; or else have counselled thee to meet the war before it entereth thy country, and have marched as confederates with thee until thou weft come to the borders of thy country, as if they would there tight for thee against the enemy.

The men that were at peace with thee: this is ingemination, or repeating of the same thing before mentioned, unless men of thy peace be men that did make peace, and accept the terms thou didst propose for thy advantage.

Have deceived thee; proved treacherous, nay, designed to betray thee.

Prevailed against thee; either thus their plot took, or else they turned to the enemy, and under his colours destroyed thee.

They that eat thy bread; thy friends, those thou hast maintained, the soldiers thou keptest in pay.

Have laid a wound under thee; have laid a snare, armed with some sharp and piercing instrument, that wounds as soon as thou fallest on the snare.

There is none understanding in him; either no prudence to foresee and prevent this, or to manage and lessen it.

All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border,.... Or of "thy covenant" (r); that are in league with thee; thine allies, even all of them, prove treacherous to thee, in whom thou trustedst; when they sent their ambassadors to them, they received them kindly, promised great things to them, dismissed them honourably, accompanied them to the borders of their country, but never stood to their engagements: or those allies came and joined their forces with the Edomites, and went out with them to meet the enemy, as if they would fight with them, and them; but when they came to the border of the land they left them, and departed into their own country; or went over to the enemy; or these confederates were the instruments of expelling them out of their own land, and sending them to the border of it, and carrying them captive; or they followed them to the border of the land, when they were carried captive, as if they lamented their case, when they were assisting to the enemy, as Kimchi; so deceitful were they. The Targum is to the same purpose,

"from the border all thy confederates carried thee captive (s):''

the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; outwitted them in their treaties of peace, and got the advantage of them; or they proved treacherous to them, and joined the enemy against them; or they persuaded them to declare themselves enemies to the Chaldeans, which proved their ruin; and so they prevailed against them:

they that eat thy bread: so the Targum and Kimchi supply it; or it may be supplied from the preceding clause, "the men of thy bread"; who received subsidies from them, were maintained by them, and quartered among them:

have laid a wound under thee; instead of supporting them, secretly did that which was wounding to them. The word signifies both a wound and a plaster; they pretended to lay a plaster to heal, but made a wound; or made the wound worse. The Targum is,

"they laid a stumbling block under thee;''

at which they stumbled and fell: or snares, as the Vulgate Latin version, whereby they brought them to ruin:

there is none understanding in him; in Esau, or the Edomites; they were so stupid, that they could not see into the designs of their pretended friends, and prevent the execution of them, and their ill effects.

(r) "viri foederis tui", V. L. Montanus, Vatablus, Burkius. (s) So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 51. 2. and 52. 1.

All the men of thy confederacy {e} have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy {f} bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.

(e) Those in whom you trusted to have help and friendship, will be your enemies and destroy you.

(f) That is, your familiar friends and guests have by secret practices destroyed you.

7. The general drift of this verse is plain. It introduces another particular in which the pride of Edom had deceived her. Her trust in the wisdom of her policy, in the sagacious alliances which she had formed, should fail her no less signally than her confidence in the natural security of her position. But the details of the verse, as regards both the alliances referred to and the meaning of some of the expressions used, are not without difficulty.

the men of thy confederacy] As regards the first of these points, the majority of commentators understand by “the men of thy confederacy,” “the men that were at peace with thee,” neighbouring nations, “probably Moab and Ammon, Tyre and Zidon” (Pusey); or, “Arabian tribes” (Speaker’s Comm.). But there is reason to believe that the Edomites shared a common fate with the Moabites and Ammonites at the hands of the Chaldean invader, when after the destruction of Jerusalem he was pushing his way towards Egypt. (See Introd. § 3, comp. Ezekiel 25.) It is of course possible that the Edomites were the first to suffer, and that when Nebuchadnezzar came upon them they were deserted and betrayed by their neighbours and allies in the manner described in this verse. But it is at least worthy of consideration (it is a view which Calvin appears to assume as a matter of course) whether the Chaldeans themselves are not intended by “the men of thy confederacy,” “the men that were at peace with thee,” of whom the prophet speaks. Well might Edom plume himself upon the “understanding” which led him, on the approach of Nebuchadnezzar towards Judea, to make alliance with him, and thus to seize an opportunity of at once venting his ancient spite upon Israel, and securing himself against the attack of the invader. But the wisdom of this astute policy should prove in the issue to be foolishness. It should justify and call forth on the part of the beholder the exclamation, “There is no understanding in him!” The Chaldean should use Edom for his purpose, and then take and destroy him in his own craftiness.

have brought thee even to the border] This has been taken to mean that the neighbouring nations, thy allies, to whom thou sentest for help in thy time of need, have conducted back to the border or frontier thy ambassadors with all the usual marks of respect, but have courteously declined to render thee assistance. The words, however, may mean, have “driven thee out,” R.V. margin (as in Genesis 3:23, 1 Kings 9:7, Isaiah 50:1, where the same verb is used), and may refer to the Chaldeans. This meaning is given to them by some commentators who understand the reference to be to neighbouring tribes, who are thus described, they think, as not merely refusing aid to Edom, but taking active part with the Chaldeans against him.

prevailed against thee] This may mean prevailed against thee in counsel, outwitted thee, but it is simpler to take it of actual violence and physical compulsion.

they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee] The words, “they that eat” are not in the Hebrew. Many commentators connect them with the preceding clause, an arrangement which the order of the words in the original facilitates: they have prevailed against thee, the men of thy peace, of thy bread, i.e. the men who were, at peace with thee and who ate thy bread. But it is better to take the clause, “thy bread they make a wound (or a net) under thee,” separately, and to understand it to mean that thy allies and confederates make thy bread which they eat (and the sacred obligation according to Eastern ideas of eating bread together must not here be lost sight of), or thy table at which they sit, an occasion to deal thee a secret and deadly wound, or to catch thee as it were in the snare of their insidious plots against thee. If the rendering “snare” be adopted, and it seems on the whole preferable, the passage receives elucidation from the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 69:22):

“Let their table before them become a snare,

And when they are in peace (let it be) a trap;”

of which “perhaps the meaning may be: let them be like persons who while sitting at their meals ‘in peace,’ in security, unarmed, and unsuspecting, are suddenly surprised by their enemies. Their ‘table becomes a snare,’ as exposing them to certain destruction.” Dean Perowne, on the Psalms. The whole verse may then be paraphrased: “Thy confederates, the Chaldeans with whom thou didst enter into treaty, have driven thee to the border of thy country on every side, and expelled thee totally from it. Those that were at peace with thee have treated thee with mingled treachery and violence. The Chaldeans whom thou regardedst as friends have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee. Thy bread which they ate, they have used as a snare to entrap thee, taking advantage of the friendly relations which existed to work thy unlooked-for ruin. There is no understanding in him! To think that the vaunted penetration of Edom should have betrayed him into so humiliating and complete an overthrow!”

Verse 7. - In this dire calamity Eden shall be deserted by her friends and allies - a punishment for her behaviour to her sister Judah. The men of thy confederacy. The LXX. and the Vulgate annex these words to the following clause. The allies intended may be Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, who joined together to resist Nebuchadnezzar, and were smitten by him (Jeremiah 27:3); or, as Perowne thinks, the Chaldeans themselves, who, though the Edomites had aided in the attack on Jerusalem, afterwards turned against them. Have brought thee even to the border; Septuagint, Ἕως τῶν ὁρίων ἐξαπέστειλάν σε, "They sent thee forth unto thy borders;" Vulgate, Usque ad terminum emiserunt ii. Keil and others explain this to mean that the Edomites send ambassadors to their allies, asking help, but these messengers are conducted back to the frontier with their request not granted, because the allies are unwilling to entangle themselves in the fate of Eden. It is easier to understand the passage in this way - Thy very allies have assisted the enemy in ex-polling thee from thy borders, and refusing to receive fugitives who came to them. The men that were at peace with thee. Either the same as "the men of thy confederacy," or the neighbouring Arabian tribes who resorted to Petra for commercial reasons (comp. Judges 4:17). The phrase here, literally, the men of thy peace, is found in Psalm 41:9 and Jot. 38:22. Have deceived thee, by not bringing the expected help; and have prevailed against thee, by actual violence. They that eat thy bread. The Hebrew is simply, "thy bread," i.e. the men of thy bread. Vulgate, qui comedunt tecum; the LXX. omits the words. The expression (comp. Psalm 41:9) implies the closest friendship, especially in Eastern lands, where such a tie is of general obligation. Have laid a wound under thee; rather, lay a snare under thee; Septuagint, ἔθηκαν ἔνερα ὑποκάτω σου, "they set snares under thee;" Vulgate, ponent insidias subter te (comp. Psalm 69:22). Another interpretation is this: "As thy bread (which they as friends were bound to offer) they lay a sling under thee," i.e. prepare an ambush for thee, like Jael did for Sisera. Pusey notes the climax in this verse - not confederates only, but friends; not friends only, but familiar friends, indebted to them. Those banded with them should expel them from their country; those at peace should prevail against them in war; those who ate their bread should requite them with treachery. There is none understanding in him; i.e. in Edom. The shock of this defection of allies and the sudden destruction that has overwhelmed them have deprived the Edomites of their wonted sagacity and prudence. They know not whither to turn or what to do. The following verse expands this thought. Obadiah 1:7In the midst of this calamity Edom will be forsaken and betrayed by its allies, and will also be unable to procure any deliverance for itself by its own understanding. The allies send Edom even to the border. The meaning of this is not that they will not receive the Edomitish fugitives, but drive them back to the frontier, so that they fall into the hands of the enemy (Hitzig and others); for the suffix ך cannot refer to the small number of fugitives from Edom who have escaped the massacre, but applies to Edom as a nation. The latter seeks for help and support from their allies, - namely, through the medium of ambassadors whom it sends to them. But the ambassadors, and in their persons the Edomites themselves, are sent back to the frontier by all the allies, because they will not entangle themselves in the fate of Edom. Sending to the frontier, however, is not to be understood as signifying that the allies "send their troops with them as far as the frontier, and then order them to turn back," as Michaelis supposes; for "if the allies were unwilling to help, they would hardly call out the army to march as far as the frontier" (Hitzig). Nor is this implied either in שׁלּחוּך or השּׁיאוּך; for shillēăch means to send away, to dismiss, and both here and in Genesis 12:20 to send across the frontier. This was a deception of the expectation of the Edomites, although the words "have deceived thee" belong, strictly speaking, to what follows, and not to the conduct of the allies. אנשׁי שׁלמך, an expression taken from Psalm 41:10, both here and in Jeremiah 38:22 (cf. Jeremiah 20:10), the men or people with whom thou didst live in peace, are probably neighbouring Arabian tribes, who had made commercial treaties with the Edomites. They deceived, or rather overpowered, Edom. יכלוּ is the practical explanation and more precise definition of השּׁיאוּ.

But the answer to the question whether the overpowering was carried out by cunning and deception (Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 38:22), or by open violence (Genesis 32:26; Psalm 129:2), depends upon the explanation given to the next sentence, about which there are great diversities of opinion, partly on account of the different explanations given of לחמך, and partly on account of the different renderings given to מזור. The latter occurs in Hosea 5:13 and Jeremiah 30:13 in the sense of a festering wound or abscess, and the rabbinical commentators and lexicographers have retained this meaning in the passage before us. On the other hand, the older translators have here ἔνεδρα (lxx), תקלא, offence, σκάνδαλον (Chald.), kemi'nā', insidiae (Syr.), Aq. and Symm. σύνδεσμος and ἐπίδεσις, Vulg. insidiae; and hence the modern rendering, they lay a snare, or place a trap under thee. But this rendering cannot be vindicated etymologically, since zūr ( equals zârar) does not mean to bind, but to press together or squeeze out. Nor can the form mâzōr be taken as a contraction of mezōrâh, as Hitzig supposes, since this is derived from zârâh, to strew or scatter. And no weight is to be attached to the opinion of Aquila with his literal translation, for the simple reason that his rendering of Hosea 5:13 is decidedly false. Ewald and Hitzig prefer the rendering "net;" but this, again, cannot be sustained either from the expression mezorâh hâresheth in Proverbs 1:17 (Hitzig), or from the Syriac, mezar, extendit (Ges. Addid. ad thes. p. 96). The only meaning that can be sustained as abscess or wound. We must therefore adhere to the rendering, "they make thy bread a wound under thee." For the proposal to take lachmekhâ (thy bread) as a second genitive dependent upon 'anshē (the men), is not only opposed to the accents and the parallelism of the members, according to which 'anshē shelōmekhâ (the men of thy peace) must conclude the second clause, just as 'anshē berı̄thekhâ (the men of thy covenant) closes the first; but it is altogether unexampled, and the expression 'anshē lachmekhâ is itself unheard of. For this reason we must not even supply 'anshē to lachmekhâ from the previous sentence, or make "the men of thy bread" the subject, notwithstanding the fact that the lxx, the Chald., the Syr., and Jerome have adopted this as the meaning. Still less can lachmekhâ stand in the place of אכלי לחמך (they that eat thy bread), as some suppose. Lachmekhâ can only be the first object to yâsı̄mū, and consequently the subject of the previous clause still continues in force: they who befriended thee make thy bread, i.e., the bread which they ate from thee or with thee, not "the bread which thou seekest from them" (Hitzig), into a wound under thee, i.e., an occasion for destroying thee. We have not to think of common meals of hospitality here, as Rashi, Rosenmller, and others do; but the words are to be taken figuratively, after the analogy of Psalm 41:10, which floated before the prophet's mind, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up the heel against me," as denoting conspiracies on the part of those who were allied to Edom, and drew their own sustenance from it, the rich trading nation, to destroy that very nation which was now oppressed by its foes. The only difficulty is in the word תּחתּיך, under thee, inasmuch as the meaning "without thy knowledge" (clam te), which Vatablus and Drusius adopt, cannot be sustained, and least of all from 2 Samuel 3:12. We must connect תּחתּיך closely with מזור, in this sense, that the wound is inflicted upon the lower part of the body, to express its dangerous nature, inasmuch as wounds upon which one sits or lies are hard to heal. Consequently יכוּ לך (they prevail against thee) is to be understood as denoting conquest, not by an unexpected attack or open violence, but by cunning and deceit, or by secret treachery. The last clause, אין תּבוּנה וגו, does not give the reason why the thing described was to happen to the Edomites (Chald., Theod.); nor is it to be connected with mâzōr as a relative clause (Hitzig), or as explanatory of תּחתּיך, "to thee, without thy perceiving it, or before thou perceivest it" (Luther and L. de Dieu). The very change from the second person to the third ( בּו) is a proof that it introduces an independent statement, - namely, that in consequence of the calamity which thus bursts upon the Edomites, they lose their wonted discernment, and neither know what to do nor how to help themselves (Maurer and Caspari). This thought is expanded still further in Obadiah 1:8, Obadiah 1:9.

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