God’s Judgment on Edom, 1a

1:1 The vision that Obadiah saw.
The Lord GOD says this concerning Edom:

Edom’s Approaching Destruction, 1b-9

We have heard a report from the LORD.
An envoy was sent among the nations, saying,
“Arise! Let us make war against Edom!”
1:2 The LORD says, “Look! I will make you a weak nation;
you will be greatly despised!

The Lord says – ‘Though directed towards Edom as you, it is unlikely that the Edomites were ever actually confronted by Yahweh’s prophet. In most prophecies against foreign nations, the prophet was speaking to God’s people for their encouragement, since their foes would be defeated, or warning, since they themselves could expect the same fate if they did not truly follow their covenant Lord.’ (NBC)

1:3 Your presumptuous heart has deceived you—
you who reside in the safety of the rocky cliffs,
whose home is high in the mountains.
You think to yourself,
‘No one can bring me down to the ground!’
1:4 Even if you were to soar high like an eagle,
even if you were to make your nest among the stars,
I can bring you down even from there!” says the LORD.

Edom was proud of its apparent impregnability.  Evidence of this can be seen in the city of Petra.

‘The Edomites had forgotten that there were other things to fear besides military assault from ground forces. They will be confronted, and ultimately defeated, by God himself, the maker of both heaven and earth, against whom no rocky fortress was proof.’ (NBC)

God can bring us down too

‘Arrogance is a fault in God’s people just as it was in Edom. They had forgotten their vulnerability to his searching gaze in their arrogance at their ‘safety’ in the hills. The church also must not only live in awareness of the scornful and constantly watching world, but also in awareness that even their most secret vices and squabbles cannot be hidden from God.’ (NBC)

1:5 “If thieves came to rob you during the night,
they would steal only as much as they wanted!
If grape pickers came to harvest your vineyards,
they would leave some behind for the poor!

‘Edom’s dire straits are further described in terms of a double cross by former allies, who in their plundering have taken more than thieves and left less than harvesters.’ (Harper’s Bible Commentary)

But you will be totally destroyed!
1:6 How the people of Esau will be thoroughly plundered!
Their hidden valuables will be ransacked!
1:7 All your allies will force you from your homeland!
Your treaty partners will deceive you and overpower you.
Your trusted friends will set an ambush for you
that will take you by surprise!
1:8 At that time,” the LORD says,
“I will destroy the wise sages of Edom!
the advisers from Esau’s mountain!
1:9 Your warriors will be shattered, O Teman,
so that everyone will be destroyed from Esau’s mountain!

The wise sages of Edom…Your warriors…O Teman – The wise sages of Edom were well known.  Job’s counsellor Eliphaz was from Teman (Job 2:11; cf. Jer 49:7).

Edom’s Treachery Against Judah, 10-14

1:10 “Because you violently slaughtered your relatives, the people of Jacob,
shame will cover you, and you will be destroyed forever.

See Num 20:14; Deut 23:7; Amos1:11).  ‘This is a reminder of Esau’s earlier conflict with his blood brother (Gn. 25:19–34; 27:1–28:9; 33), a conflict carried on by their descendants.’ (NBC)

1:11 You stood aloof while strangers took his army captive,
and foreigners advanced to his gates.
When they cast lots over Jerusalem,
you behaved as though you were in league with them.

Here is the first part of the indictment: Edom stood by while others attacked and looted Israel.

1:12 You should not have gloated when your relatives suffered calamity.
You should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah when they were destroyed.
You should not have boasted when they suffered adversity.
1:13 You should not have entered the city of my people when they experienced distress.
You should not have joined in gloating over their misfortune when they suffered distress.
You should not have looted their wealth when they endured distress.
1:14 You should not have stood at the fork in the road to slaughter those trying to escape.
You should not have captured their refugees when they suffered adversity.

The accusation moves on from passively looking on to actively gloating.

You should not have” – This run of past subjunctives in vv12-14 (so also in AV) suggests that Edom participated in the final destruction of Jerusalem.

According to Archer (Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties) the Hebrew text puts the verbs in a simply negative imperative (‘Do not…’).


13 “Do not enter the gate of My people
In the day of their disaster.
Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity
In the day of their disaster.
And do not loot their wealth
In the day of their disaster.
14 “Do not stand at the fork of the road
To cut down their fugitives;
And do not imprison their survivors
In the day of their distress.

The NIV also puts vv12-14 in the present tense.  Stuart (WBC) says that the most natural translation is ‘Do not…’.

But Achtemeier (UBCS) says that all the verbs should be in the past tense.  So, for Achtemeier, the meaning is:

‘Edom totally violated the covenant of brothers, and that Edom should not have done. Despite the long history of enmity between Esau and Jacob and their descendants, Edom was related to Judah, with the obligations of a relative, and those obligations were not to be dismissed.

‘In short, God takes human covenants seriously. The pledges between husband and wife, the obligations of siblings, the responsibilities of neighbor for neighbor, of communities for each other, of nations for nations—all are ordained and guarded by God, intended to be used for divine purposes. When Edom betrayed Judah, it defied the will of God.’

The Coming Day of the Lord, 15-21

1:15 “For the day of the LORD is approaching for all the nations!
Just as you have done, so it will be done to you.
You will get exactly what your deeds deserve.
1:16 For just as you have drunk on my holy mountain,
so all the nations will drink continually.
They will drink, and they will gulp down;
they will be as though they had never been.

“The day of the Lord is approaching for all the nations!” – ‘The Edomites’ impending doom thus provides the paradigmatic case for what will befall all nations on that day (v. 15). As Edom’s fortunes are even now being reversed, so is the world situation about to be reversed.’ (Harper’s Bible Commentary)

“You” – Edom is still being addressed.

‘Instead of rejoicing at Israel’s downfall through drunken revelry in Jerusalem, God’s holy hill, they will now drink totally the cup of God’s wrath (cf. Is. 51:17; Je. 25; Hab. 2:15–16; Mk. 14:36). Their complete ruin will leave them as if they had never been.’ (NBC)

1:17 But on Mount Zion there will be a remnant of those who escape,
and it will be a holy place once again.
The descendants of Jacob will conquer
those who had conquered them.

‘God’s ultimate grace to his people is shown by their final restoration to their covenant inheritance, the promised land, a promise which was held in suspension due to their sin (cf. Dt. 30).’ (NBC)

1:18 The descendants of Jacob will be a fire,
and the descendants of Joseph a flame.
The descendants of Esau will be like stubble.
They will burn them up and devour them.
There will not be a single survivor of the descendants of Esau!”
Indeed, the LORD has spoken it.

The descendants of Esau – Edom.

1:19 The people of the Negev will take possession of Esau’s mountain,
and the people of the Shephelah will take
possession of the land of the Philistines.
They will also take possession of the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria,
and the people of Benjamin will take possession of Gilead.

The Negev is the wilderness south of Beersheba.

The Shephelah is the lowland area between the sea and the mountains.  Its most famous inhabitants were the Philistines.

1:20 The exiles of this fortress of the people of Israel
will take possession of what belongs to
the people of Canaan, as far as Zarephath,
and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
will take possession of the towns of the Negev.
1:21 Those who have been delivered will go up on Mount Zion
in order to rule over Esau’s mountain.
Then the LORD will reign as King!