New English Translation
God’s Judgment on Edom
Edom’s Approaching Destruction
We have heard a report from the Lord.
An envoy was sent among the nations, saying,[g]
“Arise! Let us make war against Edom!”[h]
2 The Lord says,[i] “Look! I will[j] make you a weak nation;[k]
you will be greatly despised!
3 Your presumptuous heart[l] has deceived you—
you who reside in the safety of the rocky cliffs,[m]
whose home is high in the mountains.[n]
You think to yourself,[o]
‘No one can[p] bring me down to the ground!’[q]
- Obadiah 1:1 sn The date of the book of Obadiah is very difficult to determine. Since there is no direct indication of chronological setting clearly suggested by the book itself, and since the historical identity of the author is uncertain as well, a possible date for the book can be arrived at only on the basis of internal evidence. When did the hostile actions of Edom against Judah that are described in this book take place? Many nineteenth-century scholars linked the events of the book to a historical note found in 2 Kgs 8:20 (cf. 2 Chr 21:16-17): “In [Jehoram’s] days Edom rebelled from under the hand of Judah and established a king over themselves.” If this is the backdrop against which Obadiah should be read, it would suggest a ninth-century b.c. date for the book, since Jehoram reigned ca. 852-841 b.c. But the evidence presented for this view is not entirely convincing, and most contemporary Old Testament scholars reject a ninth-century scenario. A more popular view, held by many biblical scholars from Luther to the present, understands the historical situation presupposed in the book to be the Babylonian invasion of Judah in the sixth century (cf. Ps 137:7; Lam 4:18-22; Ezek 25:12-14; 35:1-15). Understood in this way, Obadiah would be describing a situation in which the Edomites assisted in the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem. Although it must be admitted that a sixth-century setting for the book of Obadiah cannot be proven, the details of the book fit reasonably well into such a context. Other views on the dating of the book, such as an eighth-century date in the time of Ahaz (ca. 732-716 b.c.) or a fifth-century date in the postexilic period, are less convincing. Parallels between the book of Obadiah and Jer 49:1-22 clearly suggest some kind of literary dependence, but it is not entirely clear whether Jeremiah drew on Obadiah or whether Obadiah drew upon Jeremiah, In any case, the close relationship between Obadiah and Jer 49 might suggest the sixth-century setting.
- Obadiah 1:1 sn The name Obadiah in Hebrew means “servant of the Lord.” A dozen or so individuals in the OT have this name, none of whom may be safely identified with the author of this book. In reality we know very little about this prophet with regard to his exact identity or historical circumstances.
- Obadiah 1:1 tn Heb “the vision of Obadiah” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); cf. TEV “This is the prophecy of Obadiah.”
- Obadiah 1:1 tn Heb “Lord Yahweh.” The phrase אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה (ʾadonay yehvih) is customarily rendered by Jewish tradition as “Lord God” (cf. NIV, TEV, NLT “Sovereign Lord”).
- Obadiah 1:1 tn The Hebrew preposition לְ (le) is better translated here as “concerning” (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV, NLT) or “about” (so NIV, NCV, TEV, CEV) Edom than as “to” Edom, although much of the book does speak directly to Edom.
- Obadiah 1:1 sn The name Edom derives from a Hebrew root that means “red.” Edom was located to the south of the Dead Sea in an area with numerous rocky crags that provided ideal military advantages for protection. Much of the sandstone of this area has a reddish color. The Edomites were descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob (Gen 25:19-26).
- Obadiah 1:1 tn Although the word “saying” is not in the Hebrew text, it has been supplied in the translation because what follows seems to be the content of the envoy’s message (cf. ASV, NASB, NCV “saying,” and NIV, NLT “to say.”
- Obadiah 1:1 tn Heb “Arise, and let us arise against her in battle!” The term “Edom” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation to specify the otherwise ambiguous referent of the term “her.”
- Obadiah 1:2 tn The introductory phrase “the Lord says” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation to clarify the identity of the speaker.
- Obadiah 1:2 tn The Hebrew perfect verb form used here usually describes past events. However, here and several times in the following verses it is best understood as portraying certain fulfillment of events that at the time of writing were still future. It is the perfect of certitude. See GKC 312-13 §106.n; Joüon 2:363 §112.h.
- Obadiah 1:2 sn Heb “I will make you small among the nations” (so NAB, NASB, NIV); cf. NRSV “least among the nations,” NCV “the smallest of nations.”
- Obadiah 1:3 tn Heb “the presumption of your heart”; cf. NAB, NIV “the pride of your heart,” NASB “arrogance of your heart.”
- Obadiah 1:3 tn Heb “in the concealed places of the rock”; cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “in the clefts of the rock”; NCV “the hollow places of the cliff”; CEV “a mountain fortress.” sn The word rock in Hebrew (סֶלַע, selaʿ) is a wordplay on Sela, the name of a prominent Edomite city. Its impregnability was a cause for arrogance on the part of its ancient inhabitants.
- Obadiah 1:3 tn Heb “on high (is) his dwelling”; cf. NASB “in the loftiness of your dwelling place,” NRSV “whose dwelling (NAB “abode”) is in the heights.”
- Obadiah 1:3 tn Heb “the one who says in his heart.”
- Obadiah 1:3 tn The Hebrew imperfect verb used here is best understood in a modal sense (“Who can bring me down?”) rather than in the sense of a simple future (“Who will bring me down?”). So also in v. 4 (“I can bring you down”). The question is not so much whether this will happen at some time in the future, but whether it even lies in the realm of possible events. In their hubris the Edomites were boasting that no one had the capability of breaching their impregnable defenses. However, their pride caused them to fail to consider the vast capabilities of Yahweh as warrior.
- Obadiah 1:3 tn Heb “Who can bring me down?” This rhetorical question implies a negative answer: “No one!”
New International Version
1 The vision(C) of Obadiah.
This is what the Sovereign Lord says about Edom(D)—
2 “See, I will make you small(G) among the nations;
you will be utterly despised.
3 The pride(H) of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks[a](I)
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’(J)
- Obadiah 1:3 Or of Sela