Bible Commentaries

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Obadiah

Book Overview - Obadiah

by Joseph Parker

Obadiah

[Note.—"We know nothing of him (Obadiah) except what we can gather from the short book which bears his name. The Hebrew tradition adopted by St. Jerome (In Abd.), and maintained by Abarbanel and Kimchi, that he is the same person as the Obadiah of Ahab"s reign, is as destitute of foundation as another account, also suggested by Abarbanel, which makes him to have been a converted Idumæan, "the hatchet," according to the Hebrew proverb, "returning into the wood out of which it was itself taken" (Abarb. In Obad. apud Pfeifferi, Opera, p1092, Ultraj1704). The question of his date must depend upon the interpretation of the eleventh verse of his prophecy. He there speaks of the conquest of Jerusalem and the captivity of Jacob. If he is referring to the well-known captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, he must have lived at the time of the Babylonish captivity, and have prophesied subsequently to the year b.c588. If, further, his prophecy against Edom found its first fulfilment in the conquest of that country by Nebuchadnezzar in the year b.c583, we have its date fixed. It must have been uttered at some time in the five years which intervened between those two dates. Jaeger argues at length for an earlier date. He admits that the eleventh verse refers to a capture of Jerusalem, but maintains that it may apply to its capture by Shishak in the reign of Rehoboam ( 1 Kings 14:25; 2 Chronicles 12:2); by the Philistines and Arabians in the reign of Jehoram ( 2 Chronicles 21:16); by Joash in the reign of Amaziah ( 2 Chronicles 25:22); or by the Chaldeans in the reign of Jehoiakim and of Jehoiachin ( 2 Kings 24:2 and 2 Kings 24:10). The Idumæans might, he argues, have joined the enemies of Judah on any of these occasions, as their inveterate hostility from an early date is proved by several passages of Scripture, e.g, Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11. He thinks it probable that the occasion referred to by Obadiah is the capture of Jerusalem by the Ephraimites in the reign of Amaziah ( 2 Chronicles 25:22). The utmost force of these statements is to prove a possibility. The only argument of any weight for the early date of Obadiah is his position in the list of the books of the minor prophets. Why should he have been inserted between Amos and Jonah if his date is about b.c585? Schnurrer seems to answer this question satisfactorily when he says that the prophecy of Obadiah is an amplification of the last five verses of Amos, and was therefore placed next after the book of Amos. Our conclusion is in favour of the later date assigned to him, agreeing herein with that of Pfeiffer, Schnurrer, Rosenmüller, De Wette, Hendewerk, and Maurer."—Smith"s Dictionary of the Bible.]