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Obadiah

Date: 6th century BC

Contents

This is the shortest book of the Old Testament. It deals with the relationship between the kingdom of Judah and its southern neighbor Edom. The prophet Obadiah prophesies the fall of Edom because of the way it besieges Judah. To understand this book, it is important that these peoples are related to each other. Esau and Jacob are brothers. Esau is the ancestor of the inhabitants of Edom, and Jacob the ancestor of the inhabitants of Judah. Because Esau sold his birthright for some lentil soup, Esau in Judah symbolizes a wicked man, with no sense of spiritual values. Relationships have never been good. There are regular problems at the border and Judah often wins. The cities of Edom are Bosrah, Shelah, and Teman. The latter city is located in the southern part of Edom and is mentioned in this book. Sometimes all of Edom is called “Mountains of Esau.” That is in contrast to the "Mount Zion," as Jerusalem or Judah are called. When the armies of Babylon advance against Judah, Edom sees his chance. The Edomites go after these armies, leaving much of the fighting to them. They rob everything of their liking. This behavior brings them the contempt of the prophet Obadiah and the punishing hand of God. Edom is doomed to fall, Obadiah says, and it falls in 312 BC. 2 countries fall for their sins. Judah learns his lesson and gets a chance to start over. Edom will always be a mess. 

Theological Themes

The message of the prophet Obadiah in simple. The kingdom of Edom is destroyed because of its:

  • cowardice,

  • indifference,

  • Pride. 

Such is the fate of anyone who neglects the will of God.

Main features

1. The prophecy against Edom (1:1-14),
2. The Day of the Lord and the Blessing of Judah (1:15-21).