("worshipper of Jehovah"; Arabic: Abdallah.)
1. One of Israhiah's "five" sons, of Issachar (1 Chronicles 7:3). But as four only are mentioned, Kennicott with four manuscripts omits "and the sons of Israhiah," thus making him brother not father of Obadiah, and both sons of Uzzi. Syriac and Arabic have our text, but "four."
2. 1 Chronicles 8:38; 1 Chronicles 9:44.
3. 1 Chronicles 9:16; Nehemiah 12:24-25.
4. 1 Chronicles 3:21.
5. 1 Chronicles 12:8-9.
6. 2 Chronicles 17:7.
7. Ezra 8:9.
8. Nehemiah 10:5.
9. Over Ahab's house. A kind of lord high chamberlain or mayor of the palace (1 Kings 18:3). As there were saints in Nero's palace (Philemon 1:13; Philemon 4:22), so they were in wicked Ahab's palace. Had not his value as a servant made him necessary to Ahab, his piety would have destroyed him. The pressure of the drought in the third year was such that Ahab could trust none so well as Obadiah to search throughout the land for water to preserve his "beasts," his stud of "horses and mules." Ahab cared more for these than for his perishing subjects! In a corrupt court, in spite of the persecuting idolatrous queen Jezebel, "Obadiah feared Jehovah," not merely a little but "greatly." So much so that he dared to hide from her fury 100 prophets, feeding them by fifty in a cave (compare on love to the Lord's brethren, Matthew 25:40). Ahab went in one direction in search of water, Obadiah another by himself. The latter was startled by the sudden appearance of Elijah, who had disappeared since his first announcement of the drought coming at his word (1 Kings 17:1). Obadiah knew him and reverently fell on his face saying, "art thou that my lord Elijah?"
The suddenness of his appearing and Obadiah's past avoidance of direct contact with him for prudence sake made him ask in order to be sure he was not making a mistake. Elijah told him to tell Ahab of his presence. Obadiah in distrustful fear (for Scripture records the failings as well as the graces of its heroes, for our learning) regarded the message as tantamount to his destruction, supposing the Spirit would carry Elijah elsewhere and so Ahab, disappointed of his victim, would wreak his vengeance on Obadiah. No boastful spirit, but a desire to deprecate Elijah's exposing him to death, prompted his mention of his services to the cause of God. He could truly say what ought to be a motto for the young, "I fear Jehovah from my youth" (compare 2 Timothy 3:15). Elijah's assurance that he would show himself to Ahab sufficed to dispel his fears and to re-establish his faith. After his return to Ahab we hear of him no more. Godliness is a hardy plant that can live amidst the frosts of persecution and the relaxing warmth of a corrupt court, and not merely in the conservatory of a pious family (1 Corinthians 10:13; Isaiah 27:3; 1 Peter 1:5).
10. The prophet. Many conjecture Obadiah to be the same as (Obadiah 1:6), but that is too early a date. His prophetic theme is Edom; and Edom's revolt under Joram, Jehoshaphat's son, is recorded 2 Chronicles 21:10. He stands fourth of the minor prophets in the Hebrew canon, fifth in the Septuagint Jerome makes him contemporary with Hosea, Joel, and Amos. This is more likely than that he was a contemporary of Jeremiah, and that he refers to Edom's cruelty to the Jews at Jerusalem's capture by the Chaldees in 2 Chronicles 21:11-16; 2 Chronicles 21:20 (compare Lamentations 4:21-22; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Ezekiel 25:35; Psalm 137:7). The prophecy of Obadiah is too terse and fresh and compact a whole to have been copied from Jeremiah. It must be Jeremiah who copies from Obadiah and stamps him as inpired; compare Obadiah 1:5 with Jeremiah 49:9; Obadiah 1:6 with Jeremiah 49:10; Obadiah 1:8 with Jeremiah 49:7.
What is disjointed in Jeremiah is progressive and consecutive in Obadiah. Jeremiah would be more likely to copy from an old prophet than from a contemporary. The capture of Jerusalem alluded to by Obadiah is probably that by the Philistines and Arabs under Joram (2 Chronicles 21:8-10; 2 Chronicles 21:16-17), when Edom, who had just before revolted from under Judah and had been punished by Joram, in revenge gave an earnest of that unbrotherly cruelty which he in a still worse degree showed at Jerusalem's capture by Nebuchadnezzar. Amos 1:6; Amos 1:11, and Joel 4:19, refer to the same capture by Philistines and Arabs. It cannot be that by Israelites under Pekah in Amaziah's reign, for Obadiah calls the captors "strangers" and "foreigners" (Obadiah 1:11). He evidently belongs to the same prophetic cycle as Joel and Amos, and so is connected with them in the canon.
Joel drew the outline which succeeding prophets fill in (compare Obadiah 1:10 with Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11; Obadiah 1:11 with Joel 3:3; Joel 3:5; Joel 3:17, where the language is the same, "strangers," "cast lots," "the day of the Lord," Obadiah 1:15; Joel 3:14. The same retribution in kind, Obadiah 1:15; Joel 3:4; Joel 3:7; Obadiah 1:17 also with Joel 3:17; Obadiah 1:18 with Joel 2:3; Joel 2:5; Obadiah 1:21 with Amos 9:12). Joel probably was in Joash's reign, Obadiah in Amaziah's, Amos in Uzziah's. Amaziah slew of Edom in the valley of Salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war (2 Kings 16:7), an earnest of Edom's foretold doom (Obadiah 1:1, etc.).
(I.) The doom of Edom (Obadiah 1:1-9).
(II.) Cause of that doom (Obadiah 1:10-16).
(III.) Re-establishment of Israel in their rightful possessions.
Expanding southward, westward, eastward, and northward, they shall acquire additionally Edom, Philistia, and northern Canaan to Zarephath (Sarepta near Sidon). Benjamin's acquiring Gilead implies that the transjordanic tribes will acquire new possessions. (See EDOM for the fulfillment.) "Saviours shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's"; no longer under the usurping prince of this world. In the millennial kingdom to come there will be a "prince" not a "king" (Ezekiel 44:3; Ezekiel 44:7); "saviours" or "deliverers" like the "judges," bringing in sabbattic rest.
The Maccabees (Judah's deliverers from Antiochus Epiphanes) who conquered Edom were types. "To judge Esau" means to punish, as 1 Samuel 3:13. Edom typifies Israel's and God's last foes (Isaiah 63:1-4). The Mount of Esau shall be abased before Mount Zion. Messiah will assume the kingdom with His transfigured saints, the Antitype to all former "saviours." They shall "judge the world," and as king priests shall be mediators of blessing to the nations in the flesh. (Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:27; Zechariah 14:9; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 19:6, "Alleluia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.") Obadiah quotes here Psalm 22:28, "the kingdom is the Lord's."
11. 1 Chronicles 27:19.
12. 2 Chronicles 34:12.
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