Nothing is known about Obadiah, but there has been much conjecture. His book is the shortest in the bible, being only one chapter long. It is impossible to date him, guesses running from the ninth century BCE to the fourth century BCE. However, verses 1:10 to 1:14 seem to be describing the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, so others, and I, suspect that Obadiah’s time has to be after that. Obadiah prophesies about the destruction of Edom (descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother) and the rebuilding of Israel.
חֲזֹון עֹבַדְיָה כֹּה־אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה לֶאֱדֹום שְׁמוּעָה שָׁמַעְנוּ מֵאֵת יְהוָה וְצִיר בַּגֹּויִם שֻׁלָּח קוּמוּ 1:1 וְנָקוּמָה עָלֶיהָ לַמִּלְחָמָה׃
Obad. 1:1 The vision of Obadiah: Thus has said the Master, the Lord, to Edom.
We have heard a message from the Lord,
that a messenger has been sent among the nations.
“Arise, and we will stand against her to do battle!”
The pronoun we starting the second line must refer to Obadiah and other prophets of his time. The messenger may be Obadiah or some other prophet, and his message is the last line. The pronoun her in the last line must refer to Edom.
הִנֵּה קָטֹן נְתַתִּיךָ בַּגּוֹיִם בָּזוּי אַתָּה מְאֹד׃ 1:2
Obad. 1:2 “Behold, I have made you small among the nations;
you are greatly despised.”
זְדוֹן לִבְּךָ הִשִּׁיאֶךָ שֹׁכְנִי בְחַגְוֵי־סֶּלַע מְרוֹם שִׁבְתּוֹ אֹמֵר בְּלִבּוֹ מִי יוֹרִדֵנִי אָרֶץ׃ 1:3
Obad. 1:3 “The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you dwellers in the clefts of a rock,
whose habitation is high,
saying in one's heart,
‘Who can bring me down earthward?’”
אִם־תַּגְבִּיהַּ כַּנֶּשֶׁר וְאִם־בֵּין כּוֹכָבִים שִׂים קִנֶּךָ מִשָּׁם אוֹרִידְךָ נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃ 1:4
Obad. 1:4 “Though you may make yourself high as the eagle,
even if your nest is set among the stars,
I will bring you down from there,” declares the Lord.
אִם־גַּנָּבִים בָּאוּ־לְךָ אִם־שׁוֹדְדֵי לַיְלָה אֵיךְ נִדְמֵיתָה הֲלוֹא יִגְנְבוּ דַּיָּם אִם־בֹּצְרִים בָּאוּ לָךְ הֲלוֹא 1:5 יַשְׁאִירוּ עֹלֵלוֹת׃
Obad. 1:5 “If thieves come to you,
if despoilers of the night
-- it is how you are undone
-- would they not steal their sufficiency?
If gatherers come to you,
would they not leave behind gleanings?”
Obadiah apparently does what his colleagues do, mix genders. The two occurrences of the word translated as to you (first and fifth lines) illustrate this point. The first one is masculine, but the second is feminine, yet they both refer to Edom. Admittedly, proper nouns often have dual gender, so there seems to be some legitimacy for this technique. It’s just disquieting to me.
אֵיךְ נֶחְפְּשׂוּ עֵשָׂו נִבְעוּ מַצְפֻּנָיו׃ 1:6
Obad. 1:6 “How they search out Esau,
seek out his hidden treasures!”
עַד־הַגְּבוּל שִׁלְּחוּךָ כֹּל אַנְשֵׁי בְרִיתֶךָ הִשִּׁיאוּךָ יָכְלוּ לְךָ אַנְשֵׁי שְׁלֹמֶךָ לַחְמְךָ יָשִׂימוּ מָזֹור תַּחְתֶּיךָ 1:7
אֵין תְּבוּנָה בֹּו׃
Obad. 1:7 “All the men of your alliance
send you as far as the border.
They beguile you,
have power towards you;
men of your safety, of your food,
they, in whom there is no understanding,
shall set a trap at your feet.”
הֲלֹוא בַּיֹּום הַהוּא נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְהַאֲבַדְתִּי חֲכָמִים מֵאֱדֹום וּתְבוּנָה מֵהַר עֵשָׂו׃ 1:8
Obad. 1:8 “Shall it not be in that day, declares the Lord,
that I will destroy the wise men from Edom
and discernment from the mount of Esau?”
וְחַתּוּ גִבֹּורֶיךָ תֵּימָן לְמַעַן יִכָּרֶת־אִישׁ מֵהַר עֵשָׂו מִקָּטֶל׃ 1:9
Obad. 1:9 “And your mighty men shall be shattered, Teman,
to the end that every one may be cut off
from the mount of Esau as a result of slaughter.”
מֵחֲמַס אָחִיךָ יַעֲקֹב תְּכַסְּךָ בוּשָׁה וְנִכְרַתָּ לְעֹולָם׃ 1:10
Obad. 1:10 “Because of the wronging of your brother, Jacob,
shame shall cover you,
and you shall be cut off for ever.”
The description of Edom’s sins against Israel begins in this verse and continues until v. 1:14. Many commentators presume that the events alluded to here are mentioned in 2Chr. 21:16 and 17.
בְּיֹום עֲמָדְךָ מִנֶּגֶד בְּיֹום שְׁבֹות זָרִים חֵילֹו וְנָכְרִים בָּאוּ (שַׁעֲרֹו) [שְׁעָרָיו] וְעַל־יְרוּשָׁלִַם יַדּוּ גֹורָל 1:11 גַּם־אַתָּה כְּאַחַד מֵהֶם׃
Obad. 1:11 “In the day of your standing from a distance,
in the day of strangers taking his wealth captive,
and foreigners came into his gates
and cast lots concerning Jerusalem,
you were also like one from them.”
The word in the parentheses is missing a yad, which would make the word appropriately plural (his gates instead of his gate). The correction is in the brackets.
וְאַל־תֵּרֶא בְיוֹם־אָחִיךָ בְּיוֹם נָכְרוֹ וְאַל־תִּשְׂמַח לִבְנֵי־יְהוּדָה בְּיוֹם אָבְדָם וְאַל־תַּגְדֵּל פִּיךָ בְּיוֹם צָרָה׃ 1:12
Obad. 1:12 “You should not have looked in the day of your brother,
in the day of his piercing,
nor rejoiced in regard to the children of Judah
in the day of their destruction,
nor magnified your mouth in the day of distress.”
אַל־תָּבוֹא בְשַׁעַר־עַמִּי בְּיוֹם אֵידָם אַל־תֵּרֶא גַם־אַתָּה בְּרָעָתוֹ בְּיוֹם אֵידוֹ וְאַל־תִּשְׁלַחְנָה בְחֵילוֹ 1:13
Obad. 1:13 “You should not have entered into the gate of My people
in the day of their calamity;
you also should not have gazed on his misery
in the day of his calamity,
and you should not have sent off with his wealth
in the day of his calamity.”
וְאַל־תַּעֲמֹד עַל־הַפֶּרֶק לְהַכְרִית אֶת־פְּלִיטָיו וְאַל־תַּסְגֵּר שְׂרִידָיו בְּיוֹם צָרָה׃ 1:14
Obad. 1:14 “And you should not have stood on the crossroad
to cut down his escapees
or delivered up his survivors,
in the day of distress.”
כִּי־קָרוֹב יוֹם־יְהוָה עַל־כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ יֵעָשֶׂה לָּךְ גְּמֻלְךָ יָשׁוּב בְּרֹאשֶׁךָ׃ 1:15
Obad. 1:15 “For the day of the Lord is approaching
upon all the nations.
As you had done,
it shall be done to you;
your dealing shall turn back on your own head.”
כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר שְׁתִיתֶם עַל־הַר קָדְשִׁי יִשְׁתּוּ כָל־הַגּוֹיִם תָּמִיד וְשָׁתוּ וְלָעוּ וְהָיוּ כְּלוֹא הָיוּ׃ 1:16
Obad. 1:16 “For as you drank on My holy mountain,
all the nations shall drink continually,
and they shall drink
and they shall swallow down,
and they shall be as if they had never been.”
וּבְהַר צִיֹּון תִּהְיֶה פְלֵיטָה וְהָיָה קֹדֶשׁ וְיָרְשׁוּ בֵּית יַעֲקֹב אֵת מֹורָשֵׁיהֶם׃ 1:17
Obad. 1:17 But in mount Zion there shall be a deliverance,
and it shall be holy,
and those of the house of Jacob
shall repossess their possessions.
וְהָיָה בֵית־יַעֲקֹב אֵשׁ וּבֵית יֹוסֵף לֶהָבָה וּבֵית עֵשָׂו לְקַשׁ וְדָלְקוּ בָהֶם וַאֲכָלוּם וְלֹא־יִהְיֶה שָׂרִיד 1:18 לְבֵית עֵשָׂו כִּי יְהוָה דִּבֵּר׃
Obad. 1:18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire,
and the house of Joseph, a flame,
while the house of Esau shall be for stubble,
and they shall kindle with them and consume them,
and there will not be a survivor for the house of Esau.
The Lord has surely spoken.
וְיָרְשׁוּ הַנֶּגֶב אֶת־הַר עֵשָׂו וְהַשְּׁפֵלָה אֶת־פְּלִשְׁתִּים וְיָרְשׁוּ אֶת־שְׂדֵה אֶפְרַיִם וְאֵת שְׂדֵה שֹׁמְרֹון 1:19 וּבִנְיָמִן אֶת־הַגִּלְעָד׃
Obad. 1:19 And those of the south shall possess the mount of Esau,
and those of the lowland, the Philistines;
and they shall possess the field of Ephraim
and the field of Samaria, and Benjamin, the Gilead.
וְגָלֻת הַחֵל־הַזֶּה לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר־כְּנַעֲנִים עַד־צָרְפַת וְגָלֻת יְרוּשָׁלִַם אֲשֶׁר בִּסְפָרַד יִרְשׁוּ אֵת עָרֵי 1:20 הַנֶּגֶב׃
Obad. 1:20 And the exile of this force
belonging to the children of Israel
(that was of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath)
and the exile of Jerusalem
(that was in Sepharad)
shall repossess the cities of the south.
וְעָלוּ מֹושִׁעִים בְּהַר צִיֹּון לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת־הַר עֵשָׂו וְהָיְתָה לַיהוָה הַמְּלוּכָה׃ 1:21
Obad. 1:21 And saviors shall rise up on mount Zion
to judge the mount of Esau,
and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.
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