Book of Obadiah

Abdias, Abdia

{oh - buh - dy' - uh}

General Information

The Book of Obadiah is the fourth book of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Old Testament of the Bible. This brief collection of sayings reflects the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Obadiah ("servant of the Lord") is particularly vehement toward the Edomites, long - standing enemies of Israel who cooperated with the Babylonian conquerors. He calls down divine judgment on the Edomites and predicts a final day of return from exile and triumph over Edom. The date of final compilation is uncertain.

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Book of Obadiah, Abdias

Brief Outline

  1. Judgment pronounced upon Edom (1-14)
  2. Israel's restoration in the day of Jehovah (15-21)


Obadiah

Advanced Information

Obadiah, servant of the Lord.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


Book of Obadiah

Advanced Information

The Book of Obadiah consists of one chapter, "concerning Edom," its impending doom (1-16), and the restoration of Israel (17-21). This is the shortest book of the Old Testament. There are on record the account of four captures of Jerusalem, (1) by Shishak in the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25); (2) by the Philistines and Arabians in the reign of Jehoram (2 Chr. 21:16); (3) by Joash, the king of Israel, in the reign of Amaziah (2 Kings 14:13); and (4) by the Babylonians, when Jerusalem was taken and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (B.C. 586). Obadiah (11-14) speaks of this capture as a thing past. He sees the calamity as having already come on Jerusalem, and the Edomites as joining their forces with those of the Chaldeans in bringing about the degradation and ruin of Israel.

We do not indeed read that the Edomites actually took part with the Chaldeans, but the probabilities are that they did so, and this explains the words of Obadiah in denouncing against Edom the judgments of God. The date of his prophecies was thus in or about the year of the destruction of Jerusalem. Edom is the type of Israel's and of God's last foe (Isa. 63:1-4). These will finally all be vanquished, and the kingdom will be the Lord's (comp. Ps. 22:28).

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


Obadiah

From: Home Bible Study Commentary by James M. Gray

In all probability this prophet's period was just after the conquest of Judah by Babylon, and prior to that of Edom by the same people, which it is his mission to proclaim (1). Of all the nations afflicting the Jews the chief were the Assyrians, the Babylonians and Edomites; and although the last-named were their close relatives, they were the greatest enemies of all. The Edomites descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob, the ancestor of Israel. Examine the map to familiarize yourself with their territory, and by the aid of the concordance or Bible dictionary, refresh your recollection of their relations with Israel in the past. Compare also Jeremiah 49: 7-22. The Edomites were not throught of very highly by their neighbors (2), but were conceited in their own eyes.

Why (3)? Would their supposedly impregnable situation save them (4)? What figures of speech are used to show, by contrast, the thoroughness of the destruction to fall upon them (5, 6)? Of what were they proud in addition to the physical features of their territory (8, 9)? Why is this judgment to fall upon them (10)? Note what they did in the case of Judah in her day of need: (1) They stood aloof (verse 11); (2) they rejoiced in her calamity (verse 12): (3) they boasted against her (same verse); (4) they shared in her spoiling (verse 13); (5) they prevented the escape of some of her people (verse 14); and (6) they actually delivered up some of them as prisoners (same verse).

Is it to be wondered at that God should speak as He does (15, 16)? And now mark the difference. Judah has been carried into captivity and her land was deserted, but was that condition in her case to continue (17)? On the contrary, what would be true of Edom (18)? In the day to come observe that while she will be swallowed up, Judah and Israel shall arise again, and possess not only their own land but that of Edom and Philistia as well (19, 20. It will be the day of the Messiah (21).

Questions 1. What was Obadiah's period? 2. What is his mission? 3. What relation existed between the Edomites and Israelites? 4. Have you identified the territory of the first names on the map? 5. How did they show enmity toward Israel? 6. What contrast will be seen in Edom and Israel in the time to come? 7. When will that be?


Abdias

Catholic Information

(A Minor Prophet).

This name is the Greek form of the Hebrew `Obhádhyah, which means "the servant [or worshipper] of Yahweh". The fourth and shortest of the minor prophetical books of the Old Testament (it contains only twenty-one verses) is ascribed to Abdias. In the title of the book it is usually regarded as a proper name. Some recent scholars, however, think that it should be treated as an appellative, for, on the one hand, Holy Writ often designates a true prophet under the appellative name of "the servant of Yahweh", and on the other, it nowhere gives any distinct information concerning the writer of the work ascribed to Abdias. It is true that in the absence of such authoritative information Jews and Christian traditions have been freely circulated to supply its place; but it remains none the less a fact that "nothing is known of Abdias; his family, station in life, place of birth, manner of death, are equally unknown to us" (Abbé Trochon, Les petits prophètes, 193). The only thing that may be inferred from the work concerning its author is that he belonged to the Kingdom of Juda. The short prophecy of Abdias deals almost exclusively with the fate of Edom as is stated in its opening words. God has summoned the nations against her. She trusts in her rocky fastnesses, but in vain. She would be utterly destroyed, not simply spoiled as by thieves (1-6). Her former friends and allies have turned against her (7), and her wisdom shall fail her in this extremity (8,9). She is justly punished for her unbrotherly conduct towards Juda when foreigners sacked Jerusalem and cast lots over it (10-11). She is bidden to desist from her unworthy conduct (12-14). The "day of Yahweh" is near upon "all the nations", in whose ruin Edom shall share under the united efforts of "the house of Jacob" and "the house of Joseph" (16-18). As for Israel, her borders will be enlarged in every direction; "Saviours" shall appear on Mount Sion to "judge" the Mount of Esau, and the rule of Yahweh shall be established (19-20).

DATE OF THE PROPHECY OF ABDIAS

Besides the shortness of the book of Abdias and its lack of a detailed title such as is usually prefixed to the prophetical writings of the Old Testament, there are various reasons, literary and exegetical, which prevents scholars from agreeing upon the date of its composition.

Many among them (Keil, Orelli, Vigouroux, Trochon, Lesêtre, etc.) assign its composition to about the reign of Joram (ninth century B.C.). Their main ground for this position is derived from Abdias's reference (11-14) to a capture of Jerusalem which they identify with the sacking of the Holy City by the Philistines and the Arabians under Joram (2 Chronicles 21:16,17). The only other seizure of Jerusalem to which Abdias (11-14) could be understood to refer would be that which occurred during the lifetime of the prophet Jeremias and was effected by Nabuchodonosor (588-587 B.C.). But such reference to this latter capture of the Jewish capital is ruled out, we are told, by the fact that Jeremias's description of this event (Jeremiah 49:7-22) is so worded as to betray its dependence on Abdias (11-14) as on an earlier writing. It is ruled out also by Abdias's silence concerning the destruction of the city or of the Temple which was carried out by Nabuchodonosor, and which, as far as we know, did not occur in the time of King Joram.

A second argument for this early date of the prophecy is drawn from a comparison of its text with that of Amos and Joel. The resemblance is intimate and, when closely examined, shows, it is claimed, that Abdias was anterior to both Joel and Amos. In fact, in Joel 2:32 (Hebrews 3:5) "as the Lord hath said" introduces a quotation from Abdias (17). Hence it is inferred that the prophecy of Abdias originated between the reign of Joram and the time of Joel and Amos, that is, about the middle of the ninth century B.C. The inference is said also to be confirmed by the purity of style of Abdias's prophecy.

Other scholars, among whom may be mentioned Meyrick, Jahn, Ackerman, Allioli, etc., refer the composition of the book to about the time of the Babylonian Captivity, some three centuries after King Joram. They think that the terms of Abdias (11-14) can be adequately understood only of the capture of Jerusalem by Nabuchodonosor; only this event could be spoken of as the day "when strangers carried away his [Juda's] army captive, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem"; as "the day of his [Juda's] leaving his country . . . . the day of their [the children of Juda's] destruction"; "the day of their ruin"; etc. They also admit that Abdias (20) contains an implicit reference to the writer as one of the captives in Babylon.

Others again, ascribe the present book of Abdias to a still later date. They agree with the defenders of the second opinion in interpreting Abdias (11-14) as referring to the capture of Jerusalem by Nabuchodonosor, but differ from them in holding that (20) does not really prove that the author of the book lived during the Babylonian exile. They claim that a close study of Abdias (15-21), with its apocalyptic features (reference to the day of the Lord as being at hand upon all nations, to a restoration of all Israel, to the wonderful extent of territory and position in command which await the Jews in God's kingdom), connects necessarily the prophecy of Abdias with other works in Jewish literature [Joel, Daniel, Zechariah 9-14] which, as they think, belong to a date long after the return from Babylon.

These, then are the three leading forms of opinion which prevail at the present day regarding the date of composition of the book of Abdias, none of which conflicts with the prophetical import of the work concerning the utter ruin of Edom at a later date and concerning the Messianic times.

Publication information Written by Francis E. Gigot. Transcribed by Hilary Ho Sang. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

Bibliography

Phillippe, in Dict. de la Bible; Selbie, in Hast., Dict. of Bible, s.v. Obadiah. Recent Commentaries: Trochon (1883); Peters (1892); Perowne (1898); Nowack (1897).


Obadiah the Prophet

Catholic Information

Commemorated November 19

Holy Prophet Obadiah (or Abdia) is the fourth of the Twelve Minor Prophets, and he lived during the ninth century BC. He was from the village of Betharam, near Sichem, and he served as steward of the impious Israelite King Ahab. In those days, the whole of Israel had turned away from the true God and had begun to offer sacrifice to Baal, but Obadiah faithfully served the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in secret.

When Ahab's wife, the impious and dissolute Jezebel, hunted down all the prophets of the Lord (because of her quarrel with the Prophet Elias), Obadiah gave them shelter and food (3 Kings 18:3-4). Ahab's successor King Okhoziah (Ahaziah) sent three detachments of soldiers to arrest the holy Prophet Elias (commemorated July 20). Obadiah headed one of these detachments, and through the prayer of Prophet Elias, two of the detachments were consumed by heavenly fire, but the Lord spared Obadiah and his detachment. From that moment, Obadiah resigned from military service and became a follower of the Prophet Elias. Afterwards, he himself received the gift of prophecy. The God-inspired work of Obadiah is the fourth of the Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Bible, and contains predictions about the New Testament Church. The holy Prophet Obadiah was buried in Samaria.

Dismissal Hymn (Second Tone)

As we celebrate the memory of Your Prophet Obadiach, O Lord, through him we beseech You to save our souls.

Kontakion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

As a divinely-chosen Prophet, you foretold things far off, that on Mount Sion salvation should come to pass, for Heaven's mysteries shone on you; as you dwell in Heaven with the Prophets, rejoicing in Christ whom you foretold, entreat Him, O Obadiach, to save us, who honour you with love.


Book of Obadiah

Jewish Perspective Information

ARTICLE HEADINGS:

-Biblical Data:

-Critical View:

Relation to Jeremiah.

Three Parts to the Prophecy.

Sepharad.

-Biblical Data:

This book, which bears the title "The Vision of Obadiah," consists of but twenty-one verses, which are devoted to a prophecy against Edom. The prophecy is usually divided into two parts: verses 1-9 and 10-21. In the first section Edom is pictured as sore pressed by foes. She has become "small among the nations," and Yhwh is to bring her down from "the clefts of the rock" where she dwells. Edom is further said to be overrun with thieves; and her own allies are destroying her.

In the second part it is declared that because of violence done by Edom to his brother Jacob, and especially because of the part taken by Edom on the day when "foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem" (verse 11), "the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall burn among [A. V. "kindle in"] them, and devour them" (verse 18). The prophecy concludes with the declaration that Israelitish captives shall return from Sepharad and possess the cities of the South (Negeb), that saviors shall return to Mount Zion to judge Esau, and the kingdom shall be Yhwh's.

It should be noted that verses 1 to 6 closely resemble a number of verses in Jeremiah (xlix. 7-22), which also consist of a prophecy against Edom.

-Critical View:

The resemblance to Jeremiah, referred to above, may mean that Jeremiah borrowed from Obadiah, or that the latter borrowed from the former, or that both borrowed from a still earlier prophet.

Relation to Jeremiah.

Arguments of much force have been presented for the priority of Obadiah. In Obadiah the opening of the prophecy seems to be in a more fitting place, the language is terser and more forcible than in Jeremiah; and parallels to the language of these passages appear in other parts of Obadiah, while they do not appear in Jeremiah. For these reasons most scholars, except Hitzig and Vatke, believe that the passage appears in Obadiah in its more original form. As the passage in Jeremiah dates from the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (604 B.C.), and as Ob. 11-14 seems clearly to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (586 B.C.), it is evident that the Book of Obadiah did not lie before Jeremiah in its present form. This appears also from the fact that in Ob. 10-21 there is much material which Jeremiah does not quote, and which, had he known it, would have suited his purpose admirably. It is true that Wellhausen finds no difficulty in the date, believing with Stade, Smend, and Schwally that Jer. xlvi.-li. is not the work of Jeremiah. Nowack holds with Giesebrecht that these chapters of Jeremiah contain many interpolations, one of which is xlix. 7-22. These scholars are, therefore, able to hold that the Jeremiah passage is dependent upon Obadiah, and also to hold that Obadiah is post-exilic. On the whole the view of Ewald, G. A. Smith, and Selbie, that both Jeremiah and the present Obadiah have quoted an older oracle, and that Obadiah has quoted it with least change, seems the most probable.

As verse 7 is not quoted in Jeremiah, and as it seems difficult to refer it to any time prior to the Exile, G. A. Smith with much probability makes the post-exilic portion begin with verse 7. Most critics hold that verses 11-14 refer to thedestruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. As the Assyrians and Babylonians are not referred to, it is probable that the "nations" who were plundering Edom were Arabic tribes. Winckler (in "Altorientalische Forschungen," ii. 455, and in Schrader, "K. A. T." 3d ed., pp. 294 et seq.) places the episode in the reign of Darius. Wellhausen is probably right in believing that reference is made in verses 1-15 to the same epoch of Edom's history as that referred to in Mal. i. 2-5, and that the inroads of these "nations" were the beginning of the northern movement of the Nabatæans. If this be correct, this part of the prophecy comes from the early post-exilic period.

Cheyne ("Encyc. Bibl.") holds that the references to the Negeb in the concluding verses of the prophecy indicate for the latter part of the book a date considerably later than the Exile, after the Edomites had been pushed out into the Negeb and southern Judah. This view, which had been previously expressed by Nowack and has since been adopted independently by Marti, is confirmed by the eschatological character of the contents of verses 16-21. Marti is probably right in regarding these verses as a later appendix to the prophecy. The position of the Edomites would indicate that the verses date from the Greek period; and the approaching conquest of the Idumean Negeb points to a Hasmonean date.

Three Parts to the Prophecy.

There thus appear to be three parts to this short prophecy: (1) a pre-exilic portion, verses 1-6, quoted by Jeremiah and also readapted, with (2) additions, by another Obadiah in the early post-exilic days; and (3) an appendix, which probably dates from Maccabean times. As to the exact date of the pre-exilic portion, it is difficult to speak. Some have dated it as early as the reign of Jehoshaphat; others, in the reign of Joram of Judah. The circumstances appear to be too little known now to enable one to fix a date. Arabs have surged up from central Arabia from time immemorial. The Nabatæan invasion of Edom was probably not the first time that Edom had been overrun with plunderers from that direction. Verses 1-6 probably refer to an earlier experience of a similar character, the circumstances of which can not now be traced.

Sepharad.

The captivity in Sepharad (verse 20) has occasioned much discussion. In ancient times "Sepharad" was believed to be a name for Spain. The Targum of Onḳelos renders it , i.e., Hispania. Schrader (l.c. 2d ed., p. 445) identifies it with Saparda, a town in Media mentioned in the inscriptions of Sargon. If there was a Jewish colony of captives here, however, nothing is otherwise known of it; nor are any circumstances evident which would render probable the existence at this point of a colony of sufficient importance to be referred to in the terms used by Obadiah.

W. R. Smith and many recent writers have identified it with the Saparda which Darius in his inscriptions mentions between Cappadocia and Ionia as though it were, like them, a province. It is mentioned again in an inscription of the thirty-seventh year of the kings Antiochus and Seleucus, i.e., 275 B.C. This region was somewhere in the neighborhood of Phrygia, Galatia, or Bithynia. When it is remembered that Joel (Joel iii. 6) had complained that Hebrews were being sold to Greeks, it does not seem improbable that the late writer who added the appendix to Obadiah predicted the return of these captives and foretold the Israelitish conquest of Idumea which John Hyrcanus (c. 130 B.C.) accomplished. Cheyne's view that "Sepharad" is dittography for , another name of Jerahmeel, is hardly convincing.

Emil G. Hirsch, George A. Barton

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

Bibliography:

In addition to the introductions of Driver, Cornill, König, Strack, and others, compare Wellhausen, Die Kleinen Propheten, 1893; Nowack, Die Kleinen Propheten, 1897; G. A. Smith, Book of the Twelve Prophets, 1898, ii.; and Marti, Dodekapropheton, 1903, i.E. G. H. G. A. B.


Obadiah

Jewish Perspective Information

ARTICLE HEADINGS:

-In Rabbinical Literature:

The name of thirteen different persons mentioned in the Bible. As vocalized in the Masoretic text, it means "worshiper of Yhwh." 1. Head steward to King Ahab of Israel. At the time of the persecution of the prophets of Yhwh by Jezebel, Obadiah succeeded in concealing one hundred of them in caves (I Kings xviii. 4-6). During the great famine he was sent by Ahab to search for food. He met the prophet Elijah, and brought Ahab the message that the famine was at an end (ib. 6 et seq.). 2. A descendant of Jeduthun (I Chron. ix. 16). 3. One of the grandchildren of the last king, Jeconiah (ib. iii. 21). 4. A descendant of the tribe of Issachar, and one of David's heroes (ib. vii. 3). 5. A descendant of Saul (ib. viii. 38, ix. 44). 6. A Gadite, the second in the list of David's heroes who joined him in the desert before the capture of Ziklag (ib. xii. 9). 7. Father of Ishmaiah, who was appointed representative of the tribe of Zebulun, under David (ib. xxvii. 19). 8. One of the officers sent by Jehoshaphat to teach in the different towns of Judea (II Chron. xvii. 7). 9. A Levite, who, during the reign of Josiah, was placed over the workmen repairing the Temple (ib. xxxiv. 12). 10. Son of Jehiel; chief of 218 men who returned with Ezra to Palestine (Ezra viii. 9). 11. One of those who signed, with Nehemiah, the covenant to live according to the doctrines of the law of Moses (Neh. x. 6). 12. One of the porters of the gates in the porticoes of the new Temple (ib. xii. 25). 13. A prophet who lived probably about 587 B.C. (Ob. 1).E. G. H. S. O.

-In Rabbinical Literature:

Obadiah was a proselyte of Edomite origin (Sanh. 39b), and is said to have been a descendant of Eliphaz, the friend of Job (Yalḳ. ii. 549). He is identified with the Obadiah who prophesied against Edom (Ob. 1). It is said that he was chosen to prophesy against Edom because he was himself an Edomite. Moreover, having lived with two such godless persons as Ahab and Jezebel without learning to act as they did, he seemed the most suitable person to prophesy against Esau (Edom), who, having been brought up by two pious persons, Isaac and Rebekah, had not learned to imitate their good deeds. Obadiah is supposed to have received the gift of prophecy for having hidden the hundred prophets from the persecution of Jezebel. He hid the prophets in two caves, so that if those in one cave should be discovered those in the other might yet escape (Sanh. l.c.). Obadiah was very rich, but all his wealth was expended in feeding the poor prophets, until, in order to be able to continue to support them, finally he had to borrow money at interest from Ahab's son Jehoram (Ex. R. xxxi. 3). Obadiah's fear of God was one degree higher than that of Abraham; and if the house of Ahab had been capable of being blessed, it would have been blessed for Obadiah's sake (Sanh. l.c.).E. C. J. Z. L.

Emil G. Hirsch, Schulim Ochser, Executive Committee of the Editorial Board, Jacob Zallel Lauterbach

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.


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