The Vision of Obadiah

Chapter 1

The destruction of Edom, 1, 2, for their pride, 3-9, and for their wrong to Jacob, 10-16. The salvation and victory of Jacob, 17-21.

1 [The vision of Obadiah.] Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom—we have heard a rumor from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, saying, "Arise, and let us rise up against her in battle.

2 Behold, I have made you small among the heathen. You are greatly despised.

3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high, who says in his heart, 'Who shall bring me down to the ground?'

4 Though you exalt yourself as the eagle and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," says the LORD.

5 "If thieves came to you, if robbers by night (O how you are cut off!), would they not have stolen until they had enough? If the grape-gatherers came to you, would they not leave some grapes?

6 How the things of Esau are searched out! How his hidden things are sought!

7 All the men of your confederacy have brought you even to the border. The men who were at peace with you have deceived you and prevailed against you. Those who eat your bread have laid a wound under you. There is no understanding in him.

8 Shall I not in that day," says the LORD, "even destroy the wise men out of Edom and understanding out of the mountain of Esau?

9 And your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that everyone of the mountain of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.

10 For your violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.

11 In the day that you stood on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away his forces captive and foreigners entered into his gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even you were as one of them.

12 But you should not have looked in the day of your brother, in the day that he became a stranger, neither should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction, neither should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

13 You should not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have looked upon their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity,

14 Neither should you have stood in the cross-way to cut off those of his who escaped, neither should you have delivered up those of his who remained in the day of distress.

15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen. As you have done, it shall be done to you. Your reward shall return upon your own head.

16 For as you have drank upon my holy mountain, so all the heathen shall drink continually. Indeed, they shall drink and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

17 But upon mount Zion there shall be deliverance and there shall be holiness. And the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them and devour them. And there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau." For the LORD has spoken it.

19 And those of the south shall possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the plain, the Philistines. And they shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria. And Benjamin shall possess Gilead.

20 And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even to Zarephath. And the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.

21 And saviors shall come upon mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Obadiah, Chapter 1


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

This prophecy of Obadiah is the least of the minor prophets, consisting of only one chapter; the subject of it is Edom, whose destruction is foretold, and is to be considered as a type of the enemies of Christ and his kingdom, and especially of the Roman antichrist. After the preface, the rumor of war, and preparation for it, which would issue in the ruin of Edom, are observed (verses 1-2); because of their pride, confidence, and security (verses 3-4); which should be complete and entire (verses 5-6); notwithstanding their allies, who would deceive them; and the wisdom of their wise men, which should be destroyed; and the strength of their mighty men, who would be dismayed (verses 7-9); and this should come upon them, chiefly because of their ill usage of the Jews at the time of Jerusalem's destruction, which is enlarged upon (verses 10-14); and this would be when all the nations around them would be destroyed (verses 15-16); and then deliverance is promised to the Jews, who should not only enjoy their own possessions, but the land of the Edomites, wasted by them (verses 17-20); and the book is concluded with a glorious prophecy of the kingdom of the Messiah (verse 21).

[v.1a] - "Obadiah" - Obadyah (o-bad-yaw'), meaning, serving Yah, or servant of Yahweh.

[v.1b] - "concerning Edom" - Or, "to Edom."

[v.1c] - "Edom" - Edom refers to Esau (Genesis 36:1, 8, 19). Edom is a prideful nation (verse 3). Edom also betrayed the Israelites (Israel being Jacob, Esau's brother) when they were pursued by the Babylonians (verses 10-14). Figuratively, Edom represents the nations, or the Gentiles.

[v.1d] - "the heathen" - From the Hebrew word, goy (go'-ee), which is a term used to represent the nations, that is, those not of the people of Israel, the foreign nations, the Gentiles. As noted above, Edom represents the heathen nations.

[v.3-4] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We see that the Prophet did not without reason deride the confidence with which the [Edomites] were inflated, by setting up their fortresses in opposition to God: for it is the greatest madness for men to rely on their own power and to despise God himself."

[v.3] - "The pride of your heart" - Edom represents any prideful heart. This prophecy of Obadiah shows God's judgment upon the prideful (verses 15-16).

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1-4:

Grant, Almighty God, that as you see us to be on every side at this day beset by so many enemies, even by those who constantly devise means to destroy us, while we are so very weak and feeble,— O grant, that we may learn to look up to you, and that our trust may so recumb on you, that however exposed we may be to all kinds of danger according to what appears to the flesh, we may not yet doubt but that you are ever armed with sufficient power to terrify our enemies, so that we may quietly live even amidst all dangers, and never cease to call on your name, as you have promised to be the sure and faithful defender of our safety in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

[v.5] - "some grapes" - Or, "gleanings."

[v.7a] - "All the men of your confederacy" - In other words, "All your allies." From the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: "The Chaldeans, whose agents they became in persecuting the Jews."

[v.7b] - "There is no understanding in him" - That is, there is no understanding in the Edomite, because of the foolish confidence with which he was blinded.

[v.9] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We are warned by these words, that if we excel in understanding, we are not to abuse the singular gift of God, as we see the case to be with the ungodly, who turn to cunning whatever wisdom the Lord has bestowed on them. There is hardly one in a hundred to be found, who does not seek to be crafty and deceitful, if he excels in understanding. This is a very wretched thing. What a great treasure is wisdom! Yet we see that the world perverts this excellent gift of God; the more reason there is for us to labor, that our wisdom should be found in true simplicity. This is one thing. Then we must also beware of trusting in our own understanding, and of despising our enemies, and of thinking that we can ward off any evil that may impend over us; but let us ever seek from the Lord, that we may be favored at all times with the spirit of wisdom, that it may get guide us to the end of life: for he can at any moment take from us whatever he has given us, and thus expose us to shame and reproach." Reference, Proverbs 3:5.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 5-11:

Grant Almighty God, that as you have once received us under your protection, and have promised that our salvation would be so much cared for by you, that whatever Satan and the whole world may contrive, you will yet keep us safe and secure,— O grant, that being endued with perseverance, we may remain within our borders, and be not carried away here and there either by craft or by wicked counsels; but may you be pleased to keep us in genuine integrity, that being protected by your help, we may, by experience, find that true which you declare in your word,— that those who call on you in truth shall ever know you to be propitious to them: and since you have already made open to us an access to you in the person of your only-begotten Son, O grant, that we, the sheep, may rely on him, as our shepherd, and resignedly abide under his protection, until we be removed from all dangers into that eternal rest, which has been obtained for us by the blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

[v.10-14] - Esau was Jacob's brother (Genesis 25:24-26). So, Edom would be like a brother nation to Israel. These verses show Edom's betrayal of Israel to the Babylonians when Israel was being pursued by the Babylonians.

[v.11] - "carried away his forces" - Or, "carried away his substance."

[v.12-13] - "looked" - The word, looked, in these verses refers to people when they lie in wait, or very anxiously desire anything, or rejoice at what they witness.

[v.13] - "nor have laid hands on their substance" - Or, "nor have laid hands on their forces."

[v.15a] - "the day of the LORD" - A day of God's judgment (verses 15-16), but also a day of salvation (verses 17-21).

[v.15b] - Reference, Matthew 7:2.

[v.17a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We are taught in this place, that the punishment, by which the Lord chastises his people for their sins, is ever for a time. Whenever then God inflicts wounds on his Church, prepared at the same time is the remedy; for God designs not, nor does he allow, that his own people should be wholly lost. This we may learn from the Prophet's words, when he says, that there would be deliverance in Zion."

[v.17b] - Reference, Isaiah 1:27, 4:3-4, 14:1-2, 60:21; Joel 3:17, 19-21; Amos 9:11-15; Zechariah 8:3, 14:20-21; Revelation 21:27.

[v.18] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Why did God with so much severity punish the Edomites? Because he intended by this example to show how much he loved his Church. Since then their cruelty was the cause of ruin to the Edomites, rightly does the Prophet say, that the house of Jacob and the house of Joseph would be like a fire and a flame to consume the Edomites. And it was not a small solace to the miserable exiles, when they understood, that they were still regarded by God in their depressed condition. Inasmuch then as they were exposed to the reproach and ridicule of all, it pleased God to testify that they were the object of his care, and that he would, for their sake, destroyed the whole nations, even those who then gloried in their power."

[v.19-20] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "It does unquestionably appear that the Prophet speaks here of the kingdom of Christ; and we know that the Church was then really restored, and that the Jews not only recovered their former state from which they had fallen, but that their kingdom was increased. For how great became the splendor of the kingdom and of the temple under Christ! This then is what the Prophet now means, when he promises to the Jews the heritage which they had lost; indeed, God then enlarged the borders of Judea. Hence he shows that they should not only be restored to their former condition, but that the kingdom would be increased in splendor and wealth, when Christ should come."

[v.21a] - "saviors" - This can also be read as "deliverers."

[v.21b] - Reference, Psalm 2:6-9, 22:28; Isaiah 9:6-7, 19:20; Daniel 2:35, 44, 7:14, 27; Joel 2:32; Micah 4:5-9; Zechariah 9:16, 14:9; Matthew 6:10, 13; Luke 1:32-33, 22:30; 1st Corinthians 6:2-3; 1st Timothy 4:16; James 5:20; Revelation 11:15, 19:11-13.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 12-21:

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are so scattered in our pilgrimage in this world, that even a dreadful spectacle is presented to our eyes, when we see your Church so miserably rent asunder,— O grant, that being endued with the real power of your Spirit, and gathered into one, we may so cultivate brotherly kindness among ourselves, that each may strive to help another, and at the same time keep our eyes fixed on Christ Jesus; and though hard contests may await us, may we yet be under his care and protection, and so exercise patience, that having finished our warfare, we may at last enjoy that blessed rest, which you have promised to us, and which is laid up for us in heaven, and which has also been purchased for us by the blood of Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.