Obadiah

The long feud between the brother tribes of the children of Israel and the descendants of Esau, which began at the birth of the twin ancestors and continued with varied fortunes down to the extinction of both as distinct nationalities, forms the vision of Obadiah.

Esau selling his Birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup

The title of this Book in the Hebrew copies is usually “Sepher Obadiah” which means the Prophecy of the Prophet Obadiah. This book is the shortest book of the OT with 21 verses only. We do not know anything of the book’s author, except its name, Obadiah (meaning servant of Yehovah).

Many would place Obadiah at the time of king Jehoram of Judah (848 – 841 BC) under whose reign the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah (II Chronicles 21:8-10). In this case Obadiah would have been the first writing prophet in Israel. Other observers, however, think that Obadiah lived and ministered at the time of Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 BC or even later as he obviously must have known this event.

This short prophetical book is about the nation of Edom; its people the Edomites were established to the South of the Israelites whose hatred for Israel will eventually lead to their destruction, a destruction that may not has a return; but as could be understood by following this study, its fate is still in suspense. The Lord was asked to remember in Psalms 137 against the Edomites who had asked that Jerusalem be razed to its foundations:

7 Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem’s fall, who said, “Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof!”
8 O daughter of Babylon who art to be destroyed, happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. Psalms 137:7-9

To call for the razing of the Temple of God “Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof!” is a heavy crime against the God of the Most High. The Most High dwelled there and these Edomites cheered the Babylonians to burn it down? Madness! Just Madness!!!

Prophecies against Ammon and the Ammonites (Genesis 19:38; it is stated they are the descendants of Lot) have no promise of restoration; for the Lord have spoken it (Ezekiel 21:32, 25:10).

But for Edomites, and they shall know My vengeance: “And I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of My people Israel, and they shall do in Edom according to Mine anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance, saith the Lord God,’ Ezekiel 25:14; indicating they’ll survive? Or, perhaps, their fate is still in the balance?

Historically, the children of Esau dwelt to the South of the children of Israel; in the mountains of Seir, South of the Dead Sea down to the Gulf of Akaba. When the Israelites were on their journey from Egypt to Canaan the Edomites would not let them pass through their territory (Numbers 20:14-21).

Edom rejoiced over Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 BC (Psalms 137:7). When the Romans conquered Judea the Idumeans (Edomites) family of Herod reached the royal dignity. Since Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD the Edomites seemed to “disappear” from history. But where did they go?

These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz (7) the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel (4) the son of Basemath the wife of Esau (Genesis 36:10); and Jeush, Jaalam and Korah from Abolibamah (Genesis 36:18); so Esau had five sons and numerous grandsons.

In ancient times the children of Esau lived South of the children of Israel; hence this is one strong indication points to where they are today: South of the Israelite nations today; that they are now in Spain, Portugal, Italy; and across the Atlantic: Mexico and the Latin Americas. This is just an indication but more evidence below is to come!

Obadiah

A parallel theme about Obadiah in Ezekiel 35

— a prophesy against Mount Seir
— a prophesy against all Edom

A Targum version of Obadiah as translated by Lenihan exists online here.

The Targum is an indispensable source of understanding the Bible. Started by Ezra for those returning Jews from Babylon and for these returnees they could only understand the Sacred Text in Aramaic; hence the Targum is as if Ezra is speaking to his listeners of the Scriptures from the verses quoted.

1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom: We have heard a word from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the nations: “Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle” — the divine prophetic vision of destruction of Edom or Idumea, for their pride, and for their unnatural behaviour in time of Jacob’s distress;

Rashi: The vision of Obadiah: Why is Obadiah different that he was chosen to prophesy concerning Edom and did not prophesy any other prophecy? Our Sages of blessed memory stated: Obadiah was an Edomite proselyte. Said the Holy One, blessed be He: From them and in them will I bring upon them. Let Obadiah, who dwelt between two wicked people, Ahab and Jezebel, and did not learn from their deeds, come and impose retribution upon Esau, who dwelt between two righteous people, Isaac and Rebecca, and did not learn from their deeds. [from Sanhedrin 39b]

2 “Behold, I have made thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised. — thou art greatly despised; I have made thee small; a parallel in Jeremiah 49:15 “For lo, I will make thee small among the heathen and despised among men,” as the term beaners (Latinx or Latinos?) thou art greatly despised could allude to.

Rashi: Behold I have made you small: In contrast with what his father called him, his big son, and his mother called him her big son, the Holy One, blessed be He, says: In My eyes, he is small. And our Sages expounded: small for they have neither script nor language; [from Avodah Zarah 10a]

The Targum (translated by Lenihan): Behold, I will make you weak among the nations. You are highly contemptible.

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?’

— the Edomites thought their land was unconquerable because of the defence system that they had built throughout their rocky mountains; its chief city was called Selah or Petra, “rock.” Obadiah warns them that no matter how high up the mountains they go or how strong they make their defences, nothing will save them from the coming destruction;

The Targum: The wickedness of your heart has led you astray. For you are like an eagle that dwells in the teeth of the rock, whose dwelling-place is in the heights, who says in his heart, “Who will bring me down to earth?”

— one  Report by McKinsey & Company dated December 9, 2021 says of the 60 millions Latinos in US, they often live in “deserts” where adequate housing, groceries are hard to find. “Nearly 9 in 10 of the Latino residents in such communities lived in five states: California, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Texas.”

McKinsey & Company: Latinos are projected to make up 22.4 percent of the US labor force by 2030 and more than 30 percent by 2060 (Latinos population to 111.2 million by 2060).

4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, from thence will I bring thee down,” saith the Lord. — Edom boasted of his strength from the height of the stars from the heavens and the loftiest jagged rocks he dwelt on;

— Esau was the firstborn, set to exalt thyself as an eagle and favored by his father Isaac for the birthrights, but Jacob coveted it and stole it from under him, and he was brought down like a pigeon. Also, like Herod the Great, an Idumean, he was a great eagle with his famed cruelty over the Jews as king over Judea; shall come up and fly as the eagle but he, too, would be brought down;

Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer; when he set foot in the Americas on October 12, 1492, claimed the land for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain

5 “If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night (how thou art cut off!), would they not have stolen till they had enough? If the grape-gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?

— if thieves came to thee, if robbers by night; whether the one came by day, and the other by night, their intent is to plunder and steal, and carry off what they can;

— would (the vintagers) not leave over some gleaning grapes? But these will not leave you anything, for they will search and reveal and seek out your hidden things;

— how art thou cut off! from being a nation, wholly destroyed; thy people killed, or carried captive; thy fortresses demolished, towns and cities levelled with the ground, and all thy wealth and substance carried off, and nothing left:

The Targum: If thieves came upon you, if plunderers of the night – How then would you sleep until they had stolen their fill! And if robbers, as grape-cutters, came upon you – Would they not leave gleanings?

6 How the things of Esau are searched out! How his hidden things are sought out! — his hidden things; rather places, his treasure-houses and receptacles hewn in the secret places of the rocks, Petra, through its rocky ramparts and inaccessible as he thought them.

The Spanish Armada, defeated by Queen Elizabeth I and her Royal Navy, 1588, when the British emerged to become the top dog and ruled the waves

The Targum: How then has Esau been ransacked! His hidden things have been revealed.

7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border; the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee and prevailed against thee. They that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee; there is no understanding in him.

— your food they lay as a wound under you: Even your food your brother Jacob made for you as a wound, for he gave you bread and a pottage of lentils, and thereby you despised the birthright;

— those allies, the allies intended may be Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, came and joined their forces with the Edomites, and went out with them to meet the enemy, as if they would fight with them; they prevailed against you: to entice you to leave, and they deserted you.

Rashi: Until the border… escorted you: Those who promised to aid you, came with you and escorted you to the border of your land, to the boundary, whence they came upon you in war, and with this they enticed you and succeeded.

8 Shall I not in that day,” saith the Lord, “even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? — perhaps a reference to wisdom as a special characteristic of the Edomites; “Eliphaz, the chief of Job’s friends, the representative of human wisdom, was a Temanite.”

Americans moving westward after they bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803

9 And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.

— Teman, a son of Eliphaz and grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:11, Genesis 36:15); from the mountain of Esau by slaughter: By the great slaughter that will come upon them.

— in order that every man be cut off: i.e, every mighty man. [from Targum Jonathan]; the Targum: And your warriors who dwell in the south shall be smashed, in order to destroy any man with the mark of the City of Esau, through slaughter.

Rashi: And your mighty men shall be dismayed: They shall be dismayed and frightened to flee to the land of Israel [Malbim : to the land of Edom]. Another version of Jonathan rendered: And your mighty men shall be dismayed, dwellers of the southland.

10 “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob, shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. — shame shall cover thee because of the hatred of Esau towards Jacob (Genesis 27:41); and later, the violence of the children of Esau, especially the Amalekites (g-grandchildren of Esau), the “first among the nations” (Numbers 24:20), against the children of Israel;

— thou shalt be cut off for ever; never more be a nation or kingdom; which was in a very great degree fulfilled in the cutting them off by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar; see Isaiah 34:5,10; threatens with desolation.

11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side—in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates and cast lots upon Jerusalem” even thou wast as one of them. — on the day you stood from afar: that you did not come to aid him;

— in fact you, too, are like one of them: I account it for you as though you were one of their attackers. “Raze it, raze it.”

The Targum: On the day you stood aside, on the day the nations plundered his possessions and strangers entered his forts and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even you were like one of them.

Tombs in the southern part of the city Petra

12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. — rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, by the Chaldeans: this with pleasure and complacency, “Raze it, raze it.”

Rashi: And you should not have looked on the day of your brother: You should not have looked and stood from afar.

13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of My people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity. — notice the word calamity, אֵידָ֔ם ’ê·ḏām, was repeated three times;

— Obadiah was, perhaps, warning them against yet a third, intercepting their fugitives in their escape from an even more powerful enemy.

Dwellers of the Southland – Anachronous map of the Spanish Empire (RED Territories until the Spanish American wars of independence (1808–1833)

The Targum: And that you entered the gates of my nation on the day of their destruction, and that even you watched his affliction of the day of his destruction, and that you laid your hand on his possessions on the day of his destruction.

14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that remained in the day of distress. — “Stand not in the crossway,” Obadiah warns them against yet a third, intercepting their fugitives, like the Amalekites did, trying to prevent their escape from a calamity.

Rashi: And you should not have stood by the gap: Heb. הַפֶּרֶק. The place through which the escapees emerge to escape, and in French they call it “trou.”

— And you should not have stood by the gap: From here [we learn] that one may not interrupt between one paragraph and another in reading the “Shma.” [Haggadah of Rabbi Akiva]

15 “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

Spain and Mexico losing their territories after Napoleon, broke but wanting France to fight the Russians and British, was forced to sell Louisiana to the American in 1803, but ended defeated by the Russians in 1812 and by the British at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

16 For as ye have drunk upon My holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. — as you have done, it will be done to you; what you did will boomerang back and hit your own head; whatever evil you have done will be done to you;

Rashi: For, as you drank on My Holy Mount: Just as you rejoiced concerning the destruction of My Holy Mount. [from Jonathan]

— and be stunned: Heb. יְלָעוּ. As the Targum renders: וְיִסְתַּלְעֲמוּן, an expression of confusion, amazement, and benumbing the mind; etourdissant in French – stunning.

17 “But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. — the fugitives of Israel who have survived their various calamities;

— while judgement is falling upon all the nations, Mount Zion will be an asylum for all the Israelites who had fled for safety, and been scattered and dispersed;

The Targum: And in Mount Zion there will be deliverance, and they will be holy. And the House of Jacob shall inherit the possessions of the nations who had inherited from them.

18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble [“as weak as straw” Targum]; and they (Jacob and Joseph) shall kindle them and devour them. And there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau, for the Lord hath spoken it.”

— it is one deadly destruction, first of Judas Maccabæus, and then, in another extermination, of John Hyrcanus; both when Esau suffered at the hands of Jews only, but what about the progenies of the house of Jacob and Joseph?

Reuben, firstborn but drunk, climbed up to his father’s bed, hence lost his birthright, defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon exiled to the island of St Helena

Rashi: for the Lord has spoken: Now where did He speak? (Num. 24:19) “Out of Jacob shall come a ruler, and he shall destroy him that remains in the city.” [from Mechilta Bo 12:16, Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer ch.37]

— Oh, wait; is “there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau,” meaning an end of any survival for the house of Esau, which seems contrary to Ezekiel 25:14? Or, perhaps according to Rashi above, verse 10, only those “that remains in the city” won’t survive?

Targum: And the House of Jacob shall be mighty as fire and the House of Joseph as strong as flame and the House of Esau as weak as straw. And they shall dominate them and kill them and there will no survivor for the House of Esau, for the Lord has decreed it so;

19 And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau, and they of the plain the Philistines. And they shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria, and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. — they of the south; those occupying the south—Heb., negev; that is, the dry parched country forming the southern portion of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:21), were to inhabit Mount Esau:

Rashi: And [the inhabitants of] the southland shall inherit: Israel, who were dwelling in the south of Eretz Israel, shall inherit the mountain of Esau, which is at the southern boundary; and the people of the plain shall inherit the land of the Philistines and Mt. Ephraim and Mt. Shomeron.

— and Benjamin with [the inhabitants of] Gilead: And the children of Manasseh, whose territory was the land of Gilead, shall spread beyond the borders of Eretz Israel on the east.

20 And the captives of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad (בִּסְפָרַ֑ד Hebrew 5614) shall possess the cities of the south.

Rashi: And this exiled host: Heb. הַחֵל. Jonathan renders: This people. הַחֵל, An expression of a host. Cf. (Isa. 36:2) “And he came to Jerusalem with an army (חֵיל) of a great multitude,” which deals with Rabshakeh, only that this one is missing a “yud.” It is also possible to explain גָלֻת הַחֵל as “the exile of this valley.”

— who are with the Canaanites as far as Zarephath: The exile which is of the children of Israel who were exiled from the ten tribes to the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath

— and the exile of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad: who are of the people of Judah who were exiled to Sepharad – they shall inherit the cities of the southland, which are in the Southern part of Eretz Israel. The exegetes [a person who interprets text, especially the Scriptures] claim that Zarephath is the kingdom called France in French.

— Jonathan renders: Spain (Rashi quoting the Targum: Sepharad shall inherit the cities of the Southland as Spain); the Targums identified Sepharad with Spain (Ispamia or Ispania), hence, Spanish Jews are called Sephardim;

— Peshitta (Lamsa): The first exiles, that is, of the children of Israel, shall possess the land from Canaan as far as Zarephath; and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Spain shall possess the cities of the south.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: Sepharad is the name of a place; the modern Jews understand it of Spain, and accordingly, “at the present day the Spanish Jews, who form the chief of the two great sections into which the Jewish nation is divided, are called by the Jews themselves the Sephardim, German Jews being known as the Ashkenazim.”

Geneva Study Bible: by Zarephath, France; and by Sepharad, Spain;

21 And saviors shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’S.

Wikipedia: Sepharad (/sɛfəræd/or səˈfɛərəd/ Hebrew: סְפָרַד Sp̄āraḏ; also Sefarad, Sephared, Sfard) is the Hebrew name for Spain. A place called Sepharad, probably referring to Sardis in Lydia (‘Sfard’ in Lydian), in the Book of Obadiah (Obadiah 1:20, 6th century BC) of the Hebrew Bible. The name was later applied to Spain.

Rashi: shall ascend: Princes of Israel as saviors on Mt. Zion.

— to judge the mountain of Esau: to exact retribution from the mountain of Esau for what they did to Israel.

— to judge: Heb. לִשְׁפֹּט. joustiser in O.F.

— the mountain of Esau: Jonathan renders: the great city of Esau.

— and the Lord shall have the kingdom: This teaches you that His kingdom will not be complete until He exacts retribution from Amalek.

“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’” Isaiah 46:9-10; but humans could not understand the execution of God’s plan until the latter days;

“The anger of the Lord shall not return, until He has executed and till He has performed the thoughts of His heart; in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” Jeremiah 23:20; “In latter days you will understand it fully,” that is, it means as a whole, “you wouldn’t fully understand these prophecies until you’re are living in the latter days after God had executed his judgement in anger and pertformed the thoughts of his heart!”

Final decision seems to be still in suspense, yet to be decided, if this is the correct understanding, until the saints would come to Mount Zion to judge the house of Esau? Any other possible observations?

More on Esau: Ezekiel 20:45-49; 21:1-7 (The Sword from the South); Ezekiel 35

~~~~

“What thou hast done to others, it shall be done unto thee,” (v15).

This was fulfilled in part by the Jews under Hyrcanus and the Maccabees, who made great slaughter of the Idumeans; expressed by the strong image of their being the fire and flame, and the Idumeans crumbled, forcing them to convert. Event turned around and King Herod the Great, an Idumean, became king of Israel, designated as the “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate and he suppressed the Jews in return, “what thou hast done to others, it shall be done unto thee.”

First, it started when Judas Maccabaeus fought against the children of Esau in Idumea at Arrabatene and gave them a great overthow, and abated their courage, and took their spoils,” (1 Macc. 5:3).

His second battle against them was in Judaea itself. Judas Maccabaeus (1 Macc. 5:65.) “fought against the children of Esau in the land toward the South, where he smote Hebron and her daughters, and pulled down its fortress and burned the towns thereof round about.” About 20 years afterward, Simon had again to recover Bethzur (1 Macc. 11:65, 66), and again to fortify it, as still lying on the borders of Judah. (1 Macc. 14:33).

Twenty years later, John Hyrcanus, son of Simon, (1 Macc. 13:53; Josephus, Ant. xiii. 9, 1) “subdued all the Edomites and forced their captives to be converted by having them circumcised and adopting the laws of the Jews.” This they did, against the Pharisees, and supported the war of expansion southward by the Hasmoneans and the forced conversions of the Idumeans, “and henceforth they became Jews.”

Outwardly they appear to have given up their idolatry. For although Josephus says, “the Edomites “account” (not, accounted) Koze a god,” he relates that, after this forced adoption of Jewish customs, Herod made Costobar, of the sacerdotal family, prefect of Idumaea and Gaza. Their character remained unchanged.

Years later, an event was to take a turn. Herod was born around 72 BC in Idumea, south of Judea. He was the second son of Antipater the Idumaean, a high-ranking official under ethnarch Hyrcanus II, and Cypros, a Nabatean Arab princess from Petra (in present-day Jordan). Herod’s father was by descent an Edomite with a Jewish mother; his ancestors had converted to Judaism. Herod was raised as a Jew.

Herod rose to power largely through his father’s good relations with the Roman general Julius Caesar, who entrusted Antipater with the public affairs of Judea. Herod was appointed provincial governor of Galilee in 47 BC when Herod was about either 25 or 28 years old (Greek original: “15 years of age”).

There he faithfully farmed the taxes of that region for the Roman Senate, and he met with success in ridding that region of bandits. Antipater’s elder son, Phasael, served in the same capacity as governor of Jerusalem. During this time the young Herod cultivated a good relationship with Sextus Caesar, the acting Roman governor of Syria, who appointed Herod as general of Coelesyria and Samaria, greatly expanding his realm of influence.

With the backing of Rome, Herod set out with a large army in 37 BC and captured Jerusalem, took the role as sole ruler of Judea and the title “king” for himself, ushering in the Herodian dynasty and ending the Hasmonean Dynasty. According to Josephus, Herod ruled for 37 years, 34 of them after capturing Jerusalem, until his death around 4 BC, and officially passed on the throne to his sons, thus establishing his own Herodian dynasty.

Herod’s despotic rule has been demonstrated by many of his security measures aimed at suppressing the Jews. It has been suggested that Herod used secret police to monitor and report the feelings of the general populace toward him. With a bodyguard of 2,000 soldiers, he sought to prohibit protests, and had opponents removed by force.

Today, King Herod is most known in the Gospel of Matthew as the ruler of Judea who orders the Massacre of the Innocents at the time of the birth of Jesus during his tyrannical rule of Judea and Jerusalem; “What thou hast done to others, it shall be done unto thee.”

~ by Joel Huan on December 17, 2022.

One Response to “Obadiah”

  1. […] — shall be laid waste; and God will rise against the house of Jeroboam II in this instance representing the entire kingdom and royal family with the sword. Thus the dissolution of both nations, Esau and Jacob, was definitely foretold and the prophet did not dare to intercede any more in behalf of his people; (but who is Esau that ‘shall be desolate’? see Obadiah) […]

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