THE OBSTINANCY OF OBADIAH: INTRODUCTION:
Obadiah according to Jewish Tradition was a former Edomite who converted to Judaism and is why he was chosen by ADONAI to prophecy to his former kinsmen on behalf of Israel. The Prophet Obadiah whose name means, “worshiper/Servant/Slave of YHWH” is the shortest book in the Tank (Old Testament). The author is believed to be Obadiah himself, although Obadiah is mysterious and enigmatic because 13 separate men shared his name, and his ancestry nor an Israeli or Judean King is mentioned to even come close to pinning down who Obadiah really was. Some believe he was a contemporary of Jehoram when Jerusalem was invaded by Philistines and Arabs around 848-841 BCE according to II Chron. 21:16-17. This time frame is close to when most believe his words were penned c. 840 BCE. Still others maintain that Obadiah was around the time of the Babylonian assault on Jerusalem (605 BCE) or at its destruction by her hand (587/86 BCE). This is not all too clear, what is clear however is that Obadiah lived in troubled times. It is safe to say Obadiah was written before Jeremiah (Jer. 49:7-22).
A Jerusalem invasion is mentioned to where Edom rejoices and joins in the razing and plunder, but which invasion are we talking about here? There were five major invasions.
1. During Rehoboam’s reign, Shishak King of Egypt invades around 926 BCE (I Kings 14:25-26).
2. As mentioned above the Philistines and Arabs attacked during Jehoram’s reign c.848-841 BCE.
3. Jehoash, King of Israel invaded during King Amaziah, King of Judah’s reign c. 790 BCE (II Kings 14:13-14).
4. The Assyrian King Sennacherib during King Hezekiah’s reign in 701 BCE (II Kings 18:13). 5. And again, as alluded to earlier, one of 2 Babylonian invasions, most hone in on the one during the years 605-586 BCE (II Kings 24-25).
5. And again, as alluded to earlier, one of 2 Babylonian invasions, most hone in on the one during the years 605-586 BCE (II Kings 24-25).
Also as mentioned previously the Philistine/Arab and Babylonian invasion seem to be the best and most likely candidates. The Babylonian invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar seems less likely because there is no assurance Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, nor is there any certainty of a deportation of Jews in exile. Other Scriptural texts mentioning events such as these connect it to a name which Nebuchadnezzar has been mentioned, however in this book (v.11) only a vague reference to strangers and foreigners are made. So by deductive reasoning and process of elimination, the second choice in our list of five stands out above the rest as the correct time frame, when the Philistines and Arabs attacked. Prior to this point the Edomites controlled Jerusalem and managed to step aside to witness and rejoice at Jerusalem’s downfall.
II Chron. 21:8-10 In his days the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king. Then Jehoram went forth with his princes, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him in, and the captains of the chariots. So the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. The same time also did Libnah revolt from under his hand; because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers.
Even Legends of the Bible compiled by Louis Ginzberg place Obadiah with the reign of King Jehoram, son of Ahab’s reign. It says of Jehoram, “From Obadiah, the pious protector of the Prophets in hiding, he (Jehoram) exacted a high rate of interest on the money needed for their support.”
The Stones Tanak says, “Obadiah was a proselyte from Edom, who became a high official in the court of Ahab and Jezebel. When the latter was sent to murder all the Prophets of God, Obadiah, at great personal risk, hid and sustained 100 of them (I Kings 18). In this merit he was rewarded with this prophecy.”
If this reference be true the Obadiah who wrote this prophetic book which bears his name and is considered 4th in the line of “minor” prophets, (only his words are minor as far as being few, but not his message, it was major!) was a contemporary of Elijah.
I Kings 18:3-16 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts. So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
As said before, in Christendom Obadiah is listed and arranged in their rendering of the “Old Testament” as one of the Minor Prophets, from Hosea to Malachi. The Hebrew version we call the Tanak gives a better, befitting title to these small books called, “The Twelve Prophets.” The preface to these Twelve in the Stones Tanak says, “This book contains the words of men whose prophecies spanned over 350 years (beginning 700 BCE), from the middle of the First Temple Era to the early years of the Second Temple. Since the prophecies of these disparate individuals were comparatively brief – some only a single chapter – they were collected in one book, so that they would not be lost. (Bava Basra 14b).”
Obadiah oddly enough was a Jewish Prophet of three that didn’t speak to Israel. Obadiah prophesied to Edom, Jonah and Nahum to Nineveh who were the Assyrians.
Obadiah’s reason for writing this prophecy was to let Edom know of ADONAI’s intense displeasure of their rejoicing of Judah’s and Jerusalem’s downfall and suffering and to let them know of His coming Judgment on them because of this and lastly to let Israel know that God took notice of their suffering and Edom will be taken care of for their taunts and cruelty and that an ultimate and final deliverance is coming for Israel.
Although one will not find a reference to Obadiah in the Brit Chadasha, “the feud between Esau and Jacob underlie this book is also played out in the N.T. Paul refers to the Esau-Jacob rivalry in Rom. 9:10-13, but goes on to remind us of God’s message of hope: All who repent of their sins, both Jew and Gentile, and all call on the name of the Lord will be saved, (Rom. 10:9- 13; 15:7-12).” – Full Life Study Bible
All of this I believe is detrimental if we are to thoroughly and correctly understand these 21 verses from this Prophet of ADONAI.
Obadiah is read annually in synagogues everywhere during the Torah reading Parashah # 8, Vayishlach which comes from Gen. 32:4-36:43 which covers Jacob’s reunion with Esau.
I entitle this commentary, “The Obstinacy of Obadiah,” because Obadiah is a stubborn one man voice in opposition against those formerly of his people. Yet he was bold and never backed down.
All Scriptures are from the King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted due to its Public Domain status.