Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
RESTORATION OF THE
1. Obadiah--that is, servant of Jehovah; same as Abdeel and
We--I and my people.
and an ambassador is sent--Yea, an ambassador is already sent,
namely, an angel, to stir up the Assyrians (and afterwards the
Chaldeans) against Edom. The result of the ambassador's message on the
heathen is, they simultaneously exclaim, "Arise ye, and let us (with
united strength) rise," &c.
2. I have made thee small--Thy reduction to insignificance is
as sure as if it were already accomplished; therefore the past tense
is used [MAURER]. Edom then extended from Dedan of Arabia to Bozrah in
(Jer 49:8, 13).
CALVIN explains it, "Whereas thou wast made by Me
an insignificant people, why art thou so proud"
But if so, why should the heathen peoples be needed to subdue one so
confirms MAURER'S view.
3. clefts of . . . rock--
The cities of Edom, and among them Petra (Hebrew, sela, meaning
Margin), the capital, in the Wady Musa, consisted of houses
mostly cut in the rocks.
4. exalt thyself--or supply from the second clause, "thy nest"
set . . . nest among . . . stars--namely, on the loftiest hills which
seem to reach the very stars. Edom is a type of Antichrist
Da 8:10; 11:37).
thence will I bring thee down--in spite of thy boast
"Who shall bring me down?"
5. The spoliation which thou shalt suffer shall not be such as that
which thieves cause, bad as that is, for these when they have seized
enough, or all they can get in a hurry, leave the rest--nor such as
grape-gatherers cause in a vineyard, for they, when they have gathered
most of the grapes, leave gleanings behind--but it shall be utter, so as
to leave thee nothing. The exclamation, "How art thou cut off!"
bursting in amidst the words of the image, marks strongly excited
feeling. The contrast between Edom where no gleanings shall be left, and
Israel where at the worst a gleaning is left
(Isa 17:6; 24:13),
6. How are the things of Esau searched out!--by hostile soldiers
seeking booty. Compare with
Ob 5, 6
here, Jer 49:9, 10.
hidden things--or "places." Edom abounded in such hiding-places, as
caves, clefts in the rock, &c. None of these would be left unexplored
by the foe.
7. Men of thy confederacy--that is, thy confederates.
brought thee . . . to the border--that is, when Idumean ambassadors
shall go to confederate states seeking aid, these latter shall conduct
them with due ceremony to their border, giving them empty compliments,
but not the aid required
[DRUSIUS]. This view agrees with the context,
which speaks of false friends deceiving Edom: that is, failing to
give help in need (compare
Job 6:14, 15).
CALVIN translates, "have driven," that is,
shall drive thee; shall help to drive thee to thy border
on thy way into captivity in foreign lands.
the men that were at peace with thee--literally, "the men of thy
Margin, where also the same formula occurs, "prevailed against
they that eat thy bread--the poorer tribes of the desert who
subsisted on the bounty of Edom. Compare again
which seems to have been before Obadiah's mind, as his words were
have laid a wound under thee--"laid" implies that their intimacy
was used as a SNARE laid with a view to
wound; also, these guest friends of Edom, instead of the cushions
ordinarily laid under guests at table, laid snares to
wound, that is, had a secret understanding with Edom's foe for that
purpose. MAURER translates, "a snare." But
English Version agrees with the Hebrew, which means,
literally, "a bandage for a wound."
none understanding--none of the wisdom for which Edom was famed (see
to extricate him from his perilous position.
in him--instead of "in thee." The change implies the alienation of
God from Edom: Edom has so estranged himself from God, that He speaks
now of him, not to him.
Job 5:12, 13;
in that day . . . even destroy--Heretofore Edom, through its
intercourse with Babylon and Egypt, and from its means of information
through the many caravans passing to and fro between Europe and India,
has been famed for knowledge; but in that day at last ("even") I
will destroy its wise men.
mount of Esau--that is, Idumea, which was a mountainous region.
9. cut off by slaughter--MAURER
translates, "on account of the
slaughter," namely, that inflicted on Judea by Edom (compare
The Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate connect these
"for the slaughter, for the violence (of which thou art guilty) against
thy brother Jacob." English Version, "cut off by
slaughter" (that is, an utter cutting off), answers well to
"cut off for ever"
However, the arrangement of the Septuagint gives a better
"For the slaughter" (1) being balanced in just retribution by
"thou shalt be cut off for ever" (4); as "For thy
violence (not so bad as slaughter) against thy brother
Jacob" (2) is balanced by "shame (not so bad as being cut
off) shall cover thee" (3). Shame and extinction shall repay
violence and slaughter
Compare as to Edom's violence,
10. against thy brother--This aggravates the sin of Esau, that it
was against him who was his brother by birth and by circumcision. The
posterity of Esau followed in the steps of their father's hatred to
Jacob by violence against Jacob's seed
Jacob--not merely his own brother, but his twin brother; hence
the name Jacob, not Israel, is here put emphatically. Compare
for the opposite feeling which Jacob's seed was commanded to entertain
shame . . . cover thee--
(Ps 35:26; 69:7).
Idumea, as a nation, should be "cut off for ever," though the
land should be again inhabited.
11. thou stoodest on the other side--in an attitude of hostility,
rather than the sympathy which became a brother, feasting thine eyes
with the misery of Jacob, and eagerly watching for his destruction. So
Messiah, the antitype to Jerusalem, abandoned by His kinsmen
strangers--the Philistines, Arabians in the reign of Jehoram, &c.
the Syrians in the reign of Joash of Judah
carried . . . captive his forces--his "host"
the multitude of Jerusalem's inhabitants.
cast lots upon Jerusalem--
So Messiah, Jerusalem's antitype, had lots cast for His only earthly
12. looked on--with malignant pleasure, and a brutal stare. So the
antitypes, Messiah's foes
MAURER translates, as the Margin, "thou
shouldest not look" any more. English Version agrees with the
the day of thy brother--his day of calamity.
became a stranger--that is, was banished as an alien from his own
land. God sends heavy calamities on those who rejoice in the calamities
of their enemies
(Pr 17:5; 24:17, 18).
Contrast the opposite conduct of David and of the divine Son of David
in a like case
spoken proudly--literally, "made great the mouth"; proudly insulting
13. substance--translated "forces" in
14. stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his--Judah's.
that did escape--The Jews naturally fled by the crossways.
(MAURER translates, "narrow mountain passes") well
known to them, to escape to the desert, and through Edom to Egypt; but
the Edomites stood ready to intercept the fugitives and either kill or
"deliver them up" to the foe.
15. For--resumptive in connection with
wherein Edom was threatened with cutting off for ever.
the day of the Lord--the day in which He will manifest Himself as
the Righteous Punisher of the ungodly peoples
The "all" shows that the fulfilment is not exhausted in the punishment
inflicted on the surrounding nations by the instrumentality of
Nebuchadnezzar; but, as in
and Zec 12:3,
that the last judgment to come on the nations confederate against
Jerusalem is referred to.
as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee--the righteous principle
of retribution in kind
Jud 1:6, 7; 8:19;
thy reward--the reward of thy deed (compare
16. ye . . . upon my holy mountain--a periphrasis for,
"ye Jews" [MAURER], whom Obadiah now by a sudden
apostrophe addresses. The clause, "upon My holy mountain," expresses
the reason of the vengeance to be taken on Judah's foes; namely, that
Jerusalem is God's holy mountain, the seat of His temple, and Judah His
which is copied from Obadiah, establishes this view (compare
as ye have drunk, &c.--namely, the cup of wrath, being dispossessed
of your goods and places as a nation, by Edom and all the heathen; so
shall all the heathen (Edom included) drink the same cup
Isa 51:17, 22;
Jer 13:12, 13; 25:15-33; 49:12; 51:7;
La 4:21, 22
continually--whereas Judah's calamity shall be temporary
The foes of Judah shall never regain their former position
(Ob 18, 19).
swallow down--so as not to leave anything in the cup of calamity; not
be as though they had not been--not a trace left of their national
17. upon . . . Zion . . . deliverance--both in the literal sense and
Isa 46:13; 59:20;
MAURER as the Margin explains it, "there
shall be a remnant that shall escape." Compare
to the deliverance from Sennacherib there described GROTIUS thinks Obadiah here refers. "Jerusalem shall not
be taken, and many of the neighboring peoples also shall find
deliverance there." Unlike Judah's heathen foes of whom no remnant
(Ob 9, 16),
a remnant of Jews shall escape when the rest of the nation has
perished, and shall regain their ancient "possessions."
there shall be holiness--that is, Zion shall be sacrosanct or
inviolable: no more violated by foreign invaders
18. fire--See the same figure,
Isa 5:24; 10:17.
house of Jacob . . . Joseph--that is, the two kingdoms, Judah and
Ephraim or Israel [JEROME]. The two shall form one kingdom, their former
feuds being laid aside
(Isa 11:12, 13; 37:22-28;
The Jews returned with some of the Israelites from Babylon; and, under
John Hyrcanus, so subdued and, compelling them to be circumcised,
incorporated the Idumeans with themselves that they formed part of the
nation [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 13.17;
12.11]. This was but an earnest of the future union of Israel and Judah
in the possession of the enlarged land as one kingdom
19. they of the south--The Jews who in the coming time are to occupy
the south of Judea shall possess, in addition to their own territory,
the adjoining mountainous region of Edom.
they of the plain--The Jews who shall occupy the low country along
the Mediterranean, south and southwest of Palestine, shall possess, in
addition to their own territory, the land of "the Philistines," which
runs as a long strip between the hills and the sea.
and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim--that is, the rightful
owners shall be restored, the Ephraimites to the fields of Ephraim.
Benjamin shall possess Gilead--that is, the region east of Jordan,
occupied formerly by Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh. Benjamin shall
possess besides its own territory the adjoining territory eastward,
while the two and a half tribes shall in the redistribution occupy the
adjoining territory of Moab and Ammon.
20. the captivity of this host--that is, the captives of this multitude
shall possess that of the Canaanites--MAURER translates, "the captives . . . whom the
Canaanites (carried away captive into Phœnicia) even unto
Zarephath, shall possess the south," namely, Idumea as well as the
HENDERSON, similarly, "the captives that are among
the Canaanites," &c. But the corresponding clauses of the parallelism
are better balanced in English Version, "the ten tribes of
Israel shall possess the territory of the Canaanites," namely, Western
Palestine and Phœnicia
"And the captives of Jerusalem (and Judah) shall possess the southern
cities," namely, Edom, &c. Each has the region respectively adjoining
assigned to it; Israel has the western Canaanite region; Judah, the
even unto Zarephath--near Zidon; called Sarepta in
The name implies it was a place for smelting metals. From this quarter
came the "woman of Canaan"
(Mt 15:21, 22).
Captives of the Jews had been carried into the coasts of Palestine or
Canaan, about Tyre and Zidon
(Joe 3:3, 4;
The Jews when restored shall possess the territory of their ancient
in Sepharad--that is, the Bosphorus
[JEROME, from his
Hebrew Instructor]. Sephar, according to others
Palæography confirms JEROME. In the
cuneiform inscription containing a list of the tribes of Persia
[NIEBUHR, Tab. 31.1], before Ionia and
Greece, and after Cappadocia, comes the name CPaRaD. It was therefore a
district of Western Asia Minor, about Lydia, and near the Bosphorus. It
is made an appellative by MAURER. "The Jerusalem
captives of the dispersion" (compare
wherever they be dispersed, shall return and possess the southern
cities. Sepharad, though literally the district near the Bosphorus,
represents the Jews' far and wide dispersion. JEROME says the name in Assyrian means a boundary,
that is, "the Jews scattered in all boundaries and regions."
21. saviours--There will be in the kingdom yet to come no king, but
a prince; the sabbatic period of the judges will return (compare the
phrase so frequent in Judges, only once found in the times of the kings,
"the land had rest"), when there was no visible king, but God
reigned in the theocracy. Israelites, not strangers, shall dispense
justice to a God-fearing people
The judges were not such a burden to the people as the kings proved
In their time the people more readily repented than under the kings
[ROOS]. Judges were from time to time raised up as
saviours or deliverers of Israel from the enemy. These,
and the similar deliverers in the long subsequent age of Antiochus, the
Maccabees, who conquered the Idumeans (as here foretold, compare
2 Maccabees 10:15,23),
were types of the peaceful period yet to come to Israel.
to judge . . . Esau--to punish (so "judge,"
. . . Edom (compare
Ob 1-9, 15-19).
Edom is the type of Israel's and God's last foes
kingdom shall be the Lord's--under Messiah
(Da 2:44; 7:14, 27;
Re 11:15; 19:6).