The Vision: The Wheat and the Tares
Nothing like starting out quick, and without a great deal of background for verse one of Obadiah starts by saying the “Vision of Obadiah.” No real explanation is given as to who Obadiah is. The name Obadiah in Hebrew means “Servant of Yahweh.” There were other people in the Old Testament called Obadiah, none of them can be positively identified as the author of the prophetic book. References to the Southern kingdom of Judah indicate that Obadiah belonged to that nation.
Strangely Obadiah does not identify himself with a time reference as to when he prophesied or where the book was written. All the other minor prophets do. According to one view the occasion was the conquest of Jerusalem by the philistines and the Arabians (see II Chronicles 21:8, 16, 17). It is assumed that the Edomites were included in the general term “the Arabians inasmuch as in the reign of Jehoram, revolted from under the hand of Judah (see II Kings 8:20-22). This would place the prophecy of Obadiah in the 9th century BCE.
A second view is that Obadiah is referring to the calamities that befell Judah at the time of the Babylonian invasions, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. There are similarity in Obadiah’s denunciation of Edom and that of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:7-22).
Ezekiel also prophesied against Edom in Ezekiel 25:12-24; and verse 35. Even David the King and Psalmist foretold of the coming destruction of Jerusalem when he wrote: “Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, “Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation.”
It is clear that any good will that was fostered among the two brothers, Jacob and Esau, during their family reunion were long forgotten the old hatreds had returned. But as history has shown, Israel, the descendants of Jacob were indeed blessed and under David and Solomon became a great nation, with Edom becoming the subjects or servants of Israel.
Obadiah continues in verse two: “Behold I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised.” Why would this be? In our next post, we will explore this prophecy and how it may apply to us today.