There is a wide disagreement as to the date of Obadiah. Dates have been suggested for the time of Jehoram (II Chron. 21:16,17), during the days of Ahaz (II Chron. 28:17), others dating the time of Jeremiah (Jere. 49:14-16). The time of Jeremiah seems to be the correct rendering, for there is a close similarity between the passages.
This short prophecy is in two parts, one dealing with Edom, the other with Israel. These two nations sprang from Esau and Jacob. It should be remembered that there was no love lost between the twin brothers from the very first, and with the passing of time, the gap between their descendants widened into bitter national hostility.
When the children of Israel journeyed from Egypt to Canaan, the Edomites refused them passage through their land. The Edomites were whipped again and again by Judah's kings but never completely subdued. When Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem, the Edomites abounded with joy, and they helped the Babylonians. As the wall of Jerusalem was assailed, the Edomites danced with joy (Ps. 137:7). Within four years Edom was completely overthrown by Nebuchadnezzar. Obadiah clearly saw this. Long centuries later we find Edomite hostility still in evidence, for Herod the Great was an Idumean king and a descendant of the Edomites. The Edomites or Idumeans as a race or nationality were taken from the scene of history in 70 AD, helping to defend Jerusalem against the Romans. This judgment of the Edomites seem to be the lesson of Isa. 63:1-6.
Obadiah (599 BC?) may have presided at the restoration of the temple in the reign of Josiah (624 BC). Verse 20 indicates that he prophesied while Jerusalem was subjected to the yoke of the Chaldeans, and after the first deportation in 605 BC. His prophecies are directed against the Edomites just as Amos 1:11, Jere. 49.22, Ezek. 25:12-14, and Psalms 137:7. He menaces Edom with destruction for their hostile feeling towards Judah, and their insulting conduct toward the Hebrews when Jerusalem was taken (11,12). But he consoles the Jews with a promise of restoration from their captivity, when the Hebrews and the ten tribes shall repossess both their land and that of Edom and Philistia - a prophecy which is fulfilled in the time of the Maccabees, under John Hyrcanus, BC 125.
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