Intro to Obadiah

Introduction from the NIV Study Bible | Go to Obadiah


The author’s name is Obadiah, which means”servant (or worshiper) of the Lord”. His was a common name (see 1Ki 18:3-16; 1Ch 3:21; 7:3, 8:38; 9:16;12:9; 29:19; 2Ch 17:7; 34:12; Ezr 8:9; Ne 10:5; 12:25). Neither his father’s name nor the place of his birth is given.

Date and Place of Writing

personThe date and place of composition are disputed. Dating the prophecy is mainly a matter of relatingvv.11-14 to one of two specific events in Israel’s history:

1. The invasion of Jerusalem by Philistines and rabs during the reigh of Jehoram (853-841 B.C.); see 2Ki 8:20-22; 2Ch 21:8-20. In this case, Obadiah would be a contemporary of Elisha.

2. The Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem (605-586). Obadiah would then be a contemporary of Jeremiah. This alternative seems more likely.

The parallels between Ob 1-9 and Jer 49:7-22 have caused many to suggest some kind of interdependence between Obadiah and Jeremiah, but it may be that both prophets were drawing on a common source not otherwise known to us.

Unity and Theme

There is no compelling reason to doubt the unity of this brief prophecy. Its theme is that Edom, proud over her own security, has gloated over Israel’s devastation by foreign powers. However, Edom’s participation in that disaster will bring on God’s wrath. She herself will be destroyed, but Mount Zion and Israel will be delievered, and God’s kingdom will triumph.

Edom’s hostile activities have spanned the centuries of Israel’s existence. The following Biblical references are helpful in understanding the relation of Israel and Edom: Ge 27:41-45;32:1-21; 33; 36; Ex 15:15; Nu 20:14-21; Dt 2:1-6; 23:7; 1Sa 22 with Ps 52; 2Sa 8:13-14; 2Ki 8:20-22; 14:7; Ps 83; Eze 35; Joel 3:18-19; Am 1:11-12; 9:12.

Since the Edomites are related to the Isrealites (v.10), their hostility is all the more reprehensible. Edom is fully responsible for her failure to assist Israel and for her open aggression. The fact that God rejected Esau (Ge 25:23; Mal 1:3; Ro 9:13) in no way exonerates the Edomites. Edom, snug in its mountain strongholds, will be dislodged and sacked. Israel will prosper because God is with her.


  • Title and introduction (1)
  • Judgement on Edom (2-14)
    • Edom’s Destruction Announced (2-7)
      • The Humbling of her Pride (2-4)
      • The Completeness of her destruction (5-7)
    • Edom’s Destruction Reaffirmed (8-14)
      • Her Shame and Destruction (8-10)
      • Her Crimes Against Isreal (11-14)
  • The Day of the Lord (15-21)
  • Judgement on the Nations but Deliverence for Israel (15-18)
  • The Lord’s Kingdom Established (19-21)

© Zondervan. From the Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Used with Permission.

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