Bible Fiber #13: Obadiah

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The descendants of Jacob became the people of Israel and the progenitors of the Abrahamic covenant. The descendants of Esau became the Edomites, a distinct people group that sometimes allied with her Judahite neighbor and sometimes warred against her. Thus, they fulfilled the message of the Lord, given to Rebekah while the twins were still in utero: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23).

Obadiah makes sure to remind the hearers of his oracle that the Edomite problem has persisted over many generations. He does so by often referring to Edom not by the contemporary name of her cities but as “the house of Esau” or “Mount Esau.” Listen to last week’s podcast on Obadiah and the Edomites for the full history.

As always, we first have to address the dating of the prophetic book. Obadiah was most likely composed after the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem, since the prophet writes as if he were an eyewitness to the horrific events. Jeremiah 49 includes an oracle against Edom with some of Obadiah’s very same language. The two prophets likely lived close to the same time, but which prophet influenced which, no one can know for sure. So, why is Obadiah’s book placed after Amos in the order of the canonized books if Amos probably ministered two hundred years before Obadiah? Because Amos’s book both starts and ends with a message for the Edomites.

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