Obadiah 1 (King James Version)
1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
Edomites were descendants of Jacob’s brother Esav (Esau) who were in cohorts with the Ishmaelite (Uncle of Edom) both of which became bitter enemies and Family rivals of Jacob’s line. The details of which are found in Genesis 36.
Genesis 36:1 Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. 2 Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; 3 And Bashemath Ishmael's daughter, sister of Nebajoth. 4 And Adah bare to Esau Eliphaz; and Bashemath bare Reuel; 5 And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these are the sons of Esau, which were born unto him in the land of Canaan. 6 And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob. 7 For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle. 8 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom. 9 And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir: 10These are the names of Esau's sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau. 11And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz. 12And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau's son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau's wife. 13And these are the sons of Reuel; Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah: these were the sons of Bashemath Esau's wife. 14And these were the sons of Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau's wife: and she bare to Esau Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah. 15These were dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn son of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz, 16Duke Korah, duke Gatam, and duke Amalek: these are the dukes that came of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Adah. 17And these are the sons of Reuel Esau's son; duke Nahath, duke Zerah, duke Shammah, duke Mizzah: these are the dukes that came of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Bashemath Esau's wife. 18And these are the sons of Aholibamah Esau's wife; duke Jeush, duke Jaalam, duke Korah: these were the dukes that came of Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau's wife. 19These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes. 20These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah, 21And Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan: these are the dukes of the Horites, the children of Seir in the land of Edom. 22And the children of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan's sister was Timna. 23And the children of Shobal were these; Alvan, and Manahath, and Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24And these are the children of Zibeon; both Ajah, and Anah: this was that Anah that found the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father. 25And the children of Anah were these; Dishon, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26And these are the children of Dishon; Hemdan, and Eshban, and Ithran, and Cheran. 27The children of Ezer are these; Bilhan, and Zaavan, and Akan. 28The children of Dishan are these; Uz, and Aran. 29These are the dukes that came of the Horites; duke Lotan, duke Shobal, duke Zibeon, duke Anah, 30Duke Dishon, duke Ezer, duke Dishan: these are the dukes that came of Hori, among their dukes in the land of Seir. 31And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel. 32And Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom: and the name of his city was Dinhabah. 33And Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his stead. 34And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his stead. 35And Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who smote Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Avith. 36And Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his stead. 37And Samlah died, and Saul of Rehoboth by the river reigned in his stead. 38And Saul died, and Baalhanan the son of Achbor reigned in his stead. 39And Baalhanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Pau; and his wife's name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab. 40And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families, after their places, by their names; duke Timnah, duke Alvah, duke Jetheth, 41Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon, 42Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar, 43Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites.
And because Edom came from the loins of Abraham through Isaac, God forbade their destruction and is why a Jewish prophet was called to prophesy to a “gentile” people because there were blood relations there.
Deut. 2:4-6 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession. Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.
Deut. 23:7-8 Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.
This may seem confusing considering the passage “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.”
Mal. 1:2-3 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
Rom. 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
The Hebrew grammar makes a comparison, it might be able to be said, “My love for Esau can seem like hate in comparison to my love for Jacob.” In other words God favored Jacob over Esau. It also could be said that God hated the things Esau did.
Though rebellious, God still considers Esau His. After all, He gave Esau’s people on inheritance too. Deut. 2:29 though it was prophesied Israel would one day inhabit it (Num. 24:18).
A wedge was further driven between Esau and Israel due to the fact Edom refused Israel passage through their land.
Num. 20:18-21 And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing anything else, go through on my feet. And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.
Who could blame them, after all it was probably passed down through Edomite Oral Tradition that the People of Israel were not to be trusted due to what happened to their founding father Esau; the taking of the birthright and the blessing (Gen. 25-27).
Though we know it was rightly all for a divine purpose, it is understandable how one would perceive these events if one were in Esau’s sandals.
The capital of Edom during the reign of Israel’s Kings was Sela, even today some significant cities of Edom still exist and are recognized, that of Bozrah and Teman (Isa. 34:6; Amos 1:12)
“Since no written Edomite records have been found, knowledge of the Edomites comes mainly from the Bible, archaeological excavations of their ancient cities, and reference to Edom in Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian sources.” – Nelson’s Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible
Obadiah 1:1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
Radak tells us “We,” quoting the Nations; alternatively quoting Obadiah and his fellow prophets.”
The King James Version says, “rumor” but considering today’s vernacular and definition of words, “report, tidings, or message” fits better.
The ambassador was Obadiah himself, a native Edomite who converted to Judaism, was called and became a prophet of ADONAI. Who else would be more qualified to prophesy to Edom? Who would have Edom more likely listened to, a prophet descended from Jacob’s loins or Esau’s?
“Heathen” is also a poorly chosen archaic word. This word simply means, “nations,” non-Jewish, non-Hebraic people.
The Edomites being addressed here were Judah’s southern neighbors. “Because of Edom’s long hostility toward and hatred of the Israelites, the wrath of God would come upon them.” – Key Word Study Bible
2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.
Jer. 49:14-16 I have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle. For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men. Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.
3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
Edom (Esau) was much like his Uncle Ishmael. Both according to various Scriptures and extra biblical sources seemed to have been wild and lived by the sword. Here is but a few passages regarding Esau and Ishmael:
Gen. 16:12 And he will be a wild man; his hand [will be] against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
Gen. 25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob [was] a plain man, dwelling in tents.
Gen. 28:9 Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.
Both Esau and Ishmael were generally despised and not trusted among the peoples around them. They seemed to be known for “screwing you before you could screw them.” This most likely due to the fact that ages ago Ishmael got pushed to the side when his younger brother Isaac came along and when Esau got “screwed” out of the birthright and blessing. As a result, mistrust was breed in these peoples. Because of this trait, where they smile and shake hands and yet holds a dagger behind the back with the other hand; many believe a sect of Arabs are Esau’s modern descendants. Both Edom and Ishmaelites seemed to be very materialistic and living for the “now.”
We see a Hebraic play on words here in this verse; the word “rock” is from the Hebrew word “sela” and was the name of Esau’s capital. “The use of the word emphasizes the Edomites’ feeling of security because of the narrow canyons that controlled access to their land.” – Key Word Study Bible.
This verse spiritually alludes to the issue of pride to which we see further supported by verse four. The Holy Tanak is clear on the matter of pride, that it leads to a false sense of security and superiority and is the Achilles Heel that is the precursor to a dastardly fall.
Prov. 16:18 Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.