Author & date
Nothing is known about the prophet of this book. There are several Obadiah’s in the OT, but there is nothing to link any of them to this book. It may be an Obadiah, who is not mentioned at all elsewhere in scripture!
The book does not identify the time period as to when it was written. For a fuller discussion see the notes below.
A. Edom’s Judgement vv1-9
1. Setting v1a
2. Judgement announced vv1b-9
- Pride the reason
- Destruction the result
B. Edom’s Sin vv10-14
1. Violence against Israel v10
- Edom’s shame
- Cut off for ever
2. Standing on the other side v11
- As one of the enemies
3. Rejoicing in Judah’s calamity v12
- Looked on with pleasure
- Rejoiced in their destruction
- Boasted in the day of their distress
4. Laid hand on Judah’s substance v13
- Entered the Gate
- Looked on their affliction
- Laid hand on their substance
5. Hindering those who escaped v14
- Preventing those who escaped
- Delivering them up
C. Edom’s downfall vv15-16
1. The day of the Lord v15a
2. Judgement returned vv15b-16
D. Edom’s Contrast vv17-21
1. The House of Jacob vv17-18a
- Deliverance & Holiness
- Fire & Flame
2. The House of Esau v18b
- Devoured by Fire
3. Possessions vv19-21
- The Land
- The Deliverers
- The kingdom shall be the Lord’s
The book itself gives no indication as to the time period as to when it was written. Any inference is down to interpretation , and of course must be consistent with the Biblical revelation.
There are two theories:
- After the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. This theory sees Ob.vv11-16 as the fall of Jerusalem in 586BC by the Babylonians. This is recorded in II Chr. 36:15-21. Ps.137 also gives a record of the Edomites encouraging Nebuchadnezzar, note Ps.137:7 in particular. See also Lam.4:21-22
- In his book ‘Introduction to the OT’, EJ Young argues that the verses in question could refer to the events during the reign of king Jehoroam of Judah as recorded in II Kgs. 8: 16-24 & II Chr.21:1-20. At that time the Philistines and others invaded Jerusalem.
No definitive conclusion can be reached, except to say that all these incidents, and others, highlight the hostility of Edom towards his brother ie Israel.
The nations mentioned by Obadiah are all pre-exilic enemies of God’s people. This would suggest an early dating is the most favourable conclusion, but one can not be dogmatic.
b. NT Parallel
Whilst Obadiah is not quoted in the NT, there is, nonetheless an interesting parallel to Obadiah’s prophecy.
Jesus was born from the tribe of Judah. Herod the Great was an Edomite! And as the Edomites in the OT had a perpetual hatred for the Jews, Ezk.35:1-15, so Herod also had a hatred for the true Messiah.
This Edomite tried to destroy the true king of the Jews by massacring all the children under two years of age, Mtt.2:16.
His son Herod Antipas was the king who had John Baptist beheaded, and whom Jesus called a fox Lk.12:32-33, and the one to whom Jesus was sent by Pilate, Lk.23:8