Book of Obadiah


Authorship, date, and background Three of the minor prophets addressed themselves to a single nation in each book: Obadiah sopoke about Edom, Habakkuk about Chaldea, and Nahum about Assyria. This book, whose author was Obadiah (which means "servant of Yahweh"), provides no information about the prophet beyond his name.

The prophecy was spoken against Edom, whose people descended from Esau, Jacob's brother. Enmity existed between their offspring for generations. The Edomites lived in fortified cities that were almost impregnable; Sela(Petra), Teman, and Bozrah were among their strongholds. Sela was located along an important caravan route and was carved out of rock. During the Exodus from Egypt the Edomites forbade the Israelites to pass through their land. This and other actions were included in the condemnation heaped upon Edom by Obadiah as a prophet of God.

Characteristics and content Obadiah points to the treachery and pride of Edom as besting sins. He makes it plan that God does not stand by idly when his chosen people are being destroyed and their brother, Edom, does nothing to help them. Indeed the Edomites helped the enemies of Israel, and this is an act that a just God will not overlook. So God, through Obadiah, pronounces divine judgement upon this people and foretells the nation's destruction. Edom shall drink the cup of the wrath of God.

At the same time, Obadiah contrasts the end of Edom with God's providential watchcare over this people Israel. Mount Zion will be established in the future; they shall have their lands restored to them and they will have the Lord as their ruler. And in the Mount Esau, which represents the Edomites and their power, shall someday be subject to Mount Zion or the sons and daughters of the brother they are mistreating.