INTRODUCTION TO Obadiah
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Before analyzing the test of any book of the Bible, it is well to learn the historical background.
Also, it is best to make a "skyscraper" view of its general contents. Accordingly, this introduction is divided into two parts: background and survey.
- Author. The prophet Obadiah.
Obadiah is a common name in the Old Testament, showing up eleven more times. If this Obadiah was any of them it is not clear.
- Somewhat likely is the Obadiah that was in charge of Ahab's palace. He was devoted to Yahweh and saved Yahweh's prophets from Jezebel'’s wrath. He was the go-between for Elijah and Ahab (1 Kings 18:3-16).
- Somewhat likely is the Obadiah that was one of five officials Jehoshaphat sent throughout the cities of Judah to teach the book of the law of the Lord (2 Chron. 17:7-9).
- Less likely is the Obadiah that was son of Izrahiah of the tribe of Issachar (1 Chron. 7:3).
- Less likely in the Obadiah that was son of Azel of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Chron. 8:38; 9:44).
- Date and Place of Writing
One of two time periods are possible. See chart to the right. He is considered a prophet of Judah.
Historically, the book was written during the reign of either one of two kings of Judah; Jotham or Jehoram. Its central section, verses 10-14, deals with the fall of Jerusalem concentrating on the part the Edomites played in that tragic event.
Jerusalem was under such a threat twice during the kings of Judah; by the Philistines and Arabs in Jehoram's reign and by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. when they burned it down.
- Edom, descendants of Esau, Jacob's twin brother. See their history in the following verses: Ge. 27:41-45, 32:1-21, 33, 36; Ex. 15:15; Nu. 20:14-21; Dt. 2:1-6, 23:7; and 1 Sa. 22 w/ Ps. 52; and 2 Sa. 8:13-14; and 2 Ki. 8:20-22, 14:7; Ps. 83; Eze 35; Joel 3:18-19; Am. 1:11-12, 9-12.
- All the nations.
- The people of God concerning the Day of the Lord.
- Occasion and Purpose
Obadiah predicted the fall of Edom and the coming of the Day of the Lord. Verses 1-9 are similar to Jeremiah 49:7-22.
Edom was a kingdom and state to the south-east of Judah. Despite treaty ties (brother,” v. 10) the Edomites, along with others, had failed to come to Judah's aid and had even helped Babylon by looting Jerusalem and handing over refugees. Moreover, the Edomites filled the vacuum caused by Judah's exile by moving west and annexing the Negev to the south of Judah and even its southern territory (compare v. 19).
- Form and Style
A vision is the prophet's ability to see the revelatory nature in the meaning of a historical event. He compares the destinies of proud Edom, Jerusalem, and the Kingdom of God. Edom will fall while God's kingdom will exist forever.
Obadiah is a poetic book.
- Place Among the Old Testament Books
Obadiah is the smallest of the Old Testament books. Scholars have placed it with the other eleven minor prophets.
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