OBADIAH 15 - 18

Commentary by Barnes


Oba 1:15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

Oba 1:16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

Oba 1:17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

Oba 1:18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

Oba 1:15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the pagan - The prophet once more enforces his warning by preaching judgment to come. "The day of the Lord" was already known Joe_1:15; Joe_2:1, Joe_2:31, as a day of judgment upon "all nations," in which God would "judge all the pagan," especially for their outrages against His people. Edom might hope to escape, were it alone threatened. The prophet announces one great law of Godís retribution, one rule of His righteous judgment. "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee." Pagan justice owned this to be just, and placed it in the mouth of their ideal of justice. "Blessed he," says the Psalmist Psa_137:8, "that recompenses unto thee the deed which thou didst to us." "Blessed," because he was the instrument of God. Having laid down the rule of Godísí judgment, he resumes his sentence to Edom, and speaks to all in him. In the day of Judahs calamity Edom made itself as "one of them." It, Jacobís brother, had ranked itself among the enemies of Godís people. It then too should be swept away in one universal destruction. It takes its place with them, undistinguished in its doom as in its guilt, or it stands out as their representa tive, having the greater guilt, because it had the greater light. Obadiah, in adopting Joelís words Joe_3:7, "thy reward shall return upon thine own head," pronounces therewith on Edom all those terrible judgments contained in the sentence of retribution as they had been expanded by Joel.

Oba 1:16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

For as ye have drunk - Revelry always followed pagan victory; often, desecration. The Romans bore in triumph the vessels of the second temple, Nebuchadnezzar carried away the sacred vessels of the first. Edom, in its hatred of Godís people, doubtless regarded the destruction of Jerusalem, as a victory of polytheism (the gods of the Babylonians, and their own god Coze), over God, as Hyrcanus, in his turn, required them, when conquered, to be circumcised. Godís "holy mountain is the hill of Zion," including mount Moriah on which the temple stood. This they desecrated by idolatrous revelry, as, in contrast, it is said that, when the pagan enemy had been destroyed, "mount Zion" should "be holiness" Oba_1:17. Brutal, unfeeling, excess had been one of the sins on which Joel had declared Godís sentence Joe_3:3, "they cast lots on My people; they sold a girl for wine, that they might drink."

Pagan tempers remain the same; under like circumstances, they repeat the same circle of sins, ambition, jealousy, cruelty, bloodshed, and, when their work is done, excess, ribaldry, profaneness. The completion of sin is the commencement of punishment. "As ye," he says, pagan yourselves and "as one of" the pagan "have drunk" in profane revelry, on the day of your brotherís calamity, "upon My holy mountain," defiling it, "so shall all the pagan drink" continually. But what draught? a draught which shall never cease, "continually; yea, they shall drink on, and shall swallow down," a full, large, maddening draught, whereby they shall reel and perish, "and they shall be as though they had never been" . "For whoso cleaveth not to Him Who saith, I AM, is not." The two cups of excess and of Godís wrath are not altogether distinct. They are joined, as cause and effect, as beginning and end.

Whoso drinketh the draught of sinful pleasure, whether excess or other, drinketh there with the cup of Godís anger, consuming him. It is said of the Babylon of the world, in words very like to these Rev_18:3, Rev_18:6; "All nations have drank of the wine of her fornications - reward her as she has rewarded you; in the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double." "All nations" are in the first instance, all who had been leagued against Godís people; but the wide term, "all nations," comprehends all, who, in thee, become like them. It is a rule of Godís justice for all times. At each and at all times, God requites them to the uttermost. The continuous drinking is filfilled in each. Each drinketh the cup of Godís anger, until death and in death. God employs each nation in turn to give that cup to the other. So Edom drank it at the hand of Babylon, and Babylon from the Medes, and the Medes find Persians from the Macedonians, and the Macedonians from the Romans, and they from the Barbarians. But each in turn drank continuously, until it became as though it had never been. To swallow up, and be swallowed up in turn, is the worldís history.

The details of the first stage of the excision of Edom are not given. Jeremiah distinctly says that Edom should be subjected to Nebuchadnezzar Jer_27:2-4, Jer_27:6. "Thus saith the Lord; make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck, and send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hands of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah, and command them to say to their masters - I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant." Holy Scripture gives us both prophecy and history; but God is at no pains to clear, either the likelihood of His history, or the fulfillment of His prophecies. The sending of messengers from these petty kings to Zedekiah looks as if there had been, at that time, a plan to free themselves jointly, probably by aid of Egypt, from the tribute to Nebuchadnezzar. It may be that Nebuchadnezzar knew of this league, and punished it afterward.

Of these six kings, we know that he subdued Zedekiah, the kings of Tyre, Moab and Ammon. Zion doubtless submitted to him, as it had aforetime to Shalmaneser . But since Nebuchadnezzar certainly punished four out of these six kings, it is probable that they were punished for some common cause, in which Edom also was implicated. In any case, we know that Edom was desolated at that time. Malachi, after the captivity, when upbraiding Israel for his unthankfulness to God, bears witness that Edom had been made utterly desolate Mal_1:2-3. "I have loved Jacob, and Esau I have hated, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the jackals of the wilderness." The occasion of this desolation was doubtless the march of Nebuchadnezzar against Egypt, when, Josephus relates, he subdued Moab and Ammon (Josephus, Ant. x. 9, 7). Edom lay in his way from Moab to Egypt. It is probable, anyhow, that he then found occasion (if he had it not) against the petty state, whose submission was needed to give him free passage between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Akaba, the important access which Edom had refused to Israel, as he came out of Egypt. There Edom was "sent forth to its borders," i. e., misled to abandon its strong fastnesses, and so, falling into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, it met with the usual lot of the conquered, plunder, death, captivity.

Malachi does not verbally allude to the prophecy of Obadiah, for his office related to the restored people of God, not to Edom. But whereas Obadiah had prophesied the slaughter of Edom and the searching out of his treasures, Malachi appeals to all the Jews, their immediate neighbors, that, whereas Jacob was in great degree restored through the love of God, Edom lay under His enduring displeasure; his mountains were, and were to continue to be Mal_1:4, a waste; he was "impoverished;" his places were desolate. Malachi, prophesying toward (See the introduction to Malachi) 415 b.c., foretold a further desolation. A century later, we find the Nabathaeans in tranquil and established possession of Petra, having there deposited the wealth of their merchandise, attending fairs at a distance, avenging themselves on the General of Antigonus, who took advantage of their absence to surprise their retreat, holding their own against the conqueror of Ptolemy who had recovered Syria and Palestine; in possession of all the mountains around them, from where, when Antigonus, despairing of violence, tried by falsehood to lull them into security, they transmitted to Petra by fiery beacons the tidings of the approach of his army .

How they came to replace Edom, we know not. They were of a race, wholly distinct; active friends of the Maccabees (See 1 Macc. 5:24-27; 9:35. Josephus, Ant. xii. 8, 3; xiii. 1. 2. Aretas of Petra aided the Romans 3, b.c. against Jews and Idumaeans. Ant. xvii. 10. 9), while the Idumaeans were their deadly enemies. Strabo relates , that the Edomites "were expelled from the country of the Nabathaeans in a sedition, and so joined themselves to the Jews and shared their customs." Since the alleged incorporation among the Jews is true, although at a later period, so may also the expulsion by the Nabathaeans be, although not the cause of their incorporation.

It would be another instance of requital by God, that "the men" of their "confederacy brought" them "to" their "border, the men of" their "peace prevailed against" them." A mass of very varied evidence establishes as an historical certainty, that the Nabathaeans were of Aramaic contends that the Nabathaeans of Petra were Arabs, on the following grounds:

(1) The statements of Diodorus (xix. 94), Strabo (xvi. 2. 34. Ibid. 4. 2 & 21), Josephus (Ant. i. 12, 4.), S. Jerome and some latter writers.

(2) The statement of Suidas (980 a.d.) that Dusares, an Arab idol, was worshiped there.

(3) The Arabic name of Aretes, king of Petra.

are alleged; Arindela (if the same as this Ghurundel) 18 hours from Petra (Porter, Handb. p. 58); Negla, (site unknown): Auara, a degree North, (Ptol. in Reland, 463); Elji, close to Petra. But as to:

(1) Diodorus, who calls the Nabathaeans Arabs, says that they wrote "Syriac;" Strabo calls the "Edomites" Nabathaeans, and the inhabitants of Galilee, Jericho, Philadelphia and Samaria, "a mixed race of Egyptians, Arabians, and Phoenicians" (Section 34). Also Diodorus speaks of "Nabathaean Arabia" as a distinct country (xvii. 1. 21) Josephus, and Jerome (Qu. in Gen. 25. 13) following him, include the whole country from the Euphrates to Egypt, and so some whose language was Aramaic. As to

(2) Dusares, though at first an Arab idol, was worshiped far and wide, in Galatia, Bostra, even Italy (See coins in Eckhel, Tanini, in Zoega de Obelisc. pp. 205-7, and Zoega himself, p. 205). As to:

(3) The kings named by Josephus, (see the list in Vincentís Commerce, ii. 273-6) Arethas, Malchus, Obodas, may be equally Aramaic, and Obodas has a more Aramaic sound. Anyhow, the Nabathaeans, if placed in Petra by Nebuchadnezzar, were not conquerors, and may have received an Arab king in the four centuries between Nebuchadnezzar and the first Aretas known at Petra. What changes those settled in Samaria underwent! As to

(4) the names of places are not altered by a garrison in a capital. Our English names were not changed even by the Norman conquest; nor those of Samaria by the Assyrian. How many live on until now! Then of the four names, norm occurs until after the Christian era. There is nothing to connect them with the Nabathaeans. They may have been given before or long after them.) not of Arabic, origin. They were inhabitants of Southern Mesopotamia, and, according to the oldest evidence short of Holy Scripture, were the earliest inhabitants, before the invasion of the Chaldaeans. Their country, Irak, "extended lengthways from Mosul or Nineveh to Aba dan, and in breadth from Cadesia to Hulvan." Syrian writers claimed that theirís was the primaeval language ; Muslim writers, who deny this, admit that their language was Syriac. A learned Syriac writer calls the three Chaldee names in Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Nabathaean. The surviving words of their language are mostly Syriac. Muslim writers suppose them to be descended from Aram son of Shem. Once they were a powerful nation, with a highly cultivated language. One of their books, written before the destruction of Nineveh and Babylon, itself mentions an ancient literature, specifically on agriculture, medicine, botany, and, that favorite study of the Chaldaeans, astrology, "the mysteries," star-worship and a very extensive, elaborate, system of symbolic representation. But the Chaldees conquered them; they were subjects of Nebuchadnezzar, and it is in harmony with the later policy of the Eastern Monarchies, to suppose that Nebuchadnezzar placed them in Petra, to hold in check the revolted Idumaeans. 60 geographical miles from Petra. Anyhow, 312 b.c., Edom had long been expelled from his native mountains. He was not there about 420 b.c., the age of Malachi. Probably then, after the expulsion foretold by Obadiah, he never recovered his former possessions, but continued his robber-life along the Southern borders of Judah, unchanged by Godís punishment, the same deadly enemy of Judah.

Oba 1:17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

But (And) upon (in) Mount Zion, shall be deliverance, or, an escaped remnant, and there (and it) shall be holiness - The sifting times of the Church are the triumph of the world; the judgment of the world is the restoration of the Church. In the triumph of the world, the lot was cast on Jerusalem, her sons were carried captive and slain, her holy places were desecrated. On the destruction of the nations, Mount Zion rises in calm majesty, as before; "a remnant" is replaced there, after its sifting; it is again "holiness;" not holy only, but a channel of holiness; "and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions (literally inherit their inheritances)"; either their own former possessions, receiving and "inheriting" from the enemy, what they had lost; or the "inheritances" of the nations. For the whole world is the inheritance of the Church, as Jesus said to the apostles, sons of Zion Mat_28:19, "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." and Mar_16:15, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Holiness is its title-deeds to the inheritance of the world, that holiness, which was in the "upper chamber" in "Mount Zion," the presence of God the Holy Spirit, issuing in holy teaching, holy Scriptures, holy institutions, holy sacraments, holy lives.

Oba 1:18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

Having given, in summary, the restoration and expansion of Judah, Obadiah, in more detail, first mentions a further chastisement of Edom, quite distinct from the former. In the first, for which God summoned the pagan, there is no mention of Judah, the desolation of whose holy City, Jerusalem, for the time, and their own captivity is presupposed. In the second, which follows on the restoration of its remnant, there is no mention of pagan. Obadiah, whose mission was to Judah, gives to it the name of the whole, "the house of Jacob." It alone had the true worship of God, and His promises. Apart from it, there was no oneness with the faith of the fathers, no foreshadowing sacrifice for sin. Does the "house of Joseph" express the same in other words? or does it mean, that, after that first destruction of Jerusalem, Ephraim should be again united with Judah? Asaph unites, as one, "the sons of Jacob and Joseph" Psa_77:15, Israel and Joseph Psa_80:1; Israel, Jacob, Joseph Psa_81:4-5.

Zechariah Zec_10:6 after the captivity, speaks of "the house of Judah" and "the house of Joseph," as together forming one whole. Amos, about this same time, twice speaks of Ephraim Amo_5:15; Amo_6:6 under the name of Joseph. And although Asaph uses the name of Joseph, as Obadiah does, to designate Israel, including Ephraim, it does not seem likely that it should be used of Israel, excluding those whose special name it was. While then Hosea and Amos foretold the entire destruction of the "kingdom" of Israel, Obadiah foretells that some should be there, after the destruction of Jerusalem also, united with them. And after the destruction of Samaria, there did remain in Israel, of the poor people, many who returned to the worship of God. Hezekiah invited Ephraim and Manasseh to the Passover 2Ch_30:1 from Beersheba to Dan 2Ch_30:5 addressing them as "the remnant, that are escaped out of the hands of the kings of Assyria" 2Ch_30:6.

The more part mocked 2Ch_30:10; yet, "divers of Asher, Manasseh and Zabulon 2Ch_30:11 came from the first, and afterward many of "Ephraim and Issachar" as well as "Manasseh and Zabulon" 2Ch_30:18. Josiah destroyed all the places of idolatry in Bethel 2Ki_23:15 and "the cities of Samaria" 2Ki_23:19, "of Manasseh and Ephraim and Simeon even unto Naphtali" 2Ch_34:6, "Manasseh, Ephraim, and all the remnant of Israel" gave money for the repair of the temple, and this was "gathered" by "the Levites who kept the doors" 2Ch_34:9. After the renewal of the covenant to keep the law, "Josiah removed all the abominations out of all the countries, that" pertained "to the children of Israel and made all found in Israel to serve the Lord their God" 2Ch_34:33.

The pagan colonists were placed "by the king of Assyria in Samaria and the cities thereof" 2Ki_17:24, probably to hold the people in the country in check. The remnant of "the house of Joseph" dwelt in the open country and the villages.And the house of Esau for stubble - At some time after the first desolation by Nebuchadnezzar, Esau fulfilled the boast which Malachi records, "we will return and build up the desolate places" Mal_1:4. Probably during the oppression of Judah by Antiochus Epiphanes, they possessed themselves of the South of Judah, bordering on their own country, and of Hebron (1 Macc. 5:65), 22 miles from Jerusalem , where Judah had dwelt in the time of Nehemiah Neh_11:25. Judas Maccabaeus was reduced to (1 Macc. 4:61) "fortify Bethzur," literally "house of the rock," (20 miles only from Jerusalem) (Eusebius), "that the people might have a defense against Idumaea." Maresha and Adoraim, 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near the road to Gaza, were cities of Idumaea. (Josephus, Ant. xiii. 15. 4.) The whole of Simeon was absorbed in it. (Josephus, Ant. v. 1. 22.) Edom was still on the aggressive, when Judas Maccabaeus smote them at Arrabatene. It was (1 Macc. 5:3) "because they beset Israel round about," that "Judas fought against the children of Esau in Idumea at Arrabatene and gave them a great overthow."

His second battle against them was in Judaea itself. He (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 permitted them to remain in the country, on condition that they would receive circumcision, and adopt the laws of the Jews." This they did, continues Josephus; "and henceforth 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.

The Jewish historian, who knew them well, describes them as "a tumultuous disorderly race, ever alive to commotions, delighting in change, who went to engagements as to a feast" : "by nature most savage for slaughter." 3, b.c. they took part in the sedition against the Romans , using, as a pretext probably, the Feast of Pentecost, to which they went up with those of Galilee, Jericho, the country beyond Jordan, and "the Jews themselves." Just before the last siege of Jerusalem, the Zealots sent for them, on pretext that the city was betrayed to the Romans. "All took arms, as if in defense of their metropolis, and, 20,000 in number, went to Jerusalem" . After massacres, of which, when told that they had been deceived, they themselves repented, they returned; and were, in turn, wasted by Simon the Gerasene . Simon took it. "He not only destroyed cities and villages, but wasted the whole country. For as you may see wood wholly bared by locusts, so the army of Simon left the country behind them, a desert. Some things they burnt, others they razed."

After a short space, "he returned to the remnant of Edom, and, chasing the people on all sides, constrained the many to flee to Jerusalem" . There they took part against the Zealots , "were a great part of the war" against the Romans, and perished , "rivals in phrensy" with the worst Jews in the thee of that extreme, superhuman, wickedness. Thenceforth, their name disappears from history. The "greater part" of the remmant of the nation had perished in that dreadful exterminating siege; if any still survived, they retained no known national existence. Arabian tradition preserves the memory of three Jewish Arab tribes, none of the Edomites.

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