The Historic Context
We can extrapolate that the book of Obadiah was written sometime after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 587BC. Obadiah, in this prophecy against Edom, speaks of this Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem when the Edomites stood 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 you were as one of them, v11, cp Psalm 137:7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. Tear it down, they cried, tear it down to its foundations!
The General Theme
Edom is the story of this book. The struggle between Esau (Edom) and Jacob (Israel) commenced in their mother Rebekah’s womb, Genesis 25:22-23 …two nations are in your womb, two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels; one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
This enmity between Edom and Israel had intensified down through the ages, until we come to this prophecy where Edom is formally condemned for their rejoicing in the woes of Judah. The prophecy concludes looking to a future time when Mount Esau will be judged and Mount Zion restored.
The Geographic Setting
Selah, the chief city of Edom (2 Kings 14:7) later became Petra, the capital of the Nabateans. The description of v3-4 admirably depicts the red rocks and the deep gorge of this lost city, which was only rediscovered in 1812.
- Section 1 v1-16 Edom’s Fall, Edom’s betrayal of Judah, announcement of the day of the Lord (v15)
- Section 2 v17-21 Restoration of Israel and the demise of Edom