Obadiah prophesies the resurgence of Israel

Obad 1:12-16   Obadiah berates Edom for its treatment of Israel and Judah.

"Edom, do not laugh at your brother Israel in his time of trouble or be happy about the people of Judah when they are destroyed. Do not boast when cruel things are done to them. Do not enter the city gate of my people in their time of trouble or laugh at their problems ... Do not take their treasures ... Do not capture those who escape alive and turn them over to their enemy." (Obadiah 1:12-14)

 

The Arabah & Edom Mountains (Batya ben zvi)

The Arabah valley (south of the Dead Sea) and the Mountains of Edom   (Batya ben zvi)

 

Edom

Edom (meaning “red” in Hebrew) is the name that was given to Jacob’s twin brother Esau, who was bright red when he was born (see Genesis 25:25). The Bible also says he was called Edom because he was given red stew by Jacob in exchange for his birthright as the first-born son of his father Isaac (see Genesis 25:30).

Over time, the red sandstone hill country of Esau’s descendents became known as Edom, though it also retained its traditional name Seir. Edom was situated to the south east of Judah between the Negev Desert (to the south west) and the Arabah valley (to the east). When the Israelites first attempted to enter the ‘promised land’ of Canaan in c.1407 BC, the King of Edom would not let them pass through Edom and sent a large army against them, even though they were distant relatives (see Numbers 20:14-21). The Israelites were forced to skirt Edom to the south and east before moving north through Moab and entering Canaan across the River Jordan near Jericho (see Map 45 and Map 46 & Deuteronomy 2:1-8).

Around 1000BC, King David defeated the Edomites at the Valley of Salt, near the Dead Sea, and brought Edom under the control of Israel (see 2 Samuel 8:13-14). Following the collapse of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah, Edom rebelled against King Jehoram of Judah in c.840BC and once more established an independent kingdom, though King Amaziah of Judah briefly captured the Edomite city of Sela (the ‘Rock of Edom’) in c.785BC (see 2 Kings 8:20-22 & 14:7).

 

The site of Sela, the capital of Edom, seen from the village of Sela in modern-day Jordan above it (Uri Juda)

The site of Sela ('the Rock'), an Edomite stronghold   (Uri Juda)

 

After the fall of Jerusalem in 587BC, Obadiah rebuked the people of Edom for assisting the Babylonian conquerors and for sharing in the plunder. Obadiah’s prophesy of retribution was quickly fulfilled when the Babylonians turned against their new ally and King Nabonidus occupied Edom in 553BC.

On the downfall of the Babylonian Empire in 539BC, Edom was occupied by "people from the Negev" in accordance with Obadiah’s prophesy (see Obadiah 1:19). These Nabataean Arab traders grew in power and wealth over the next four centuries, using the income from their wealthy desert caravans to create a magnificant capital carved into the red sandstone rocks along the side of the Wadi Musa (‘The Valley of Moses’) at Petra.

Under Herod the Great (37BC – 4BC), Edom (then called by its Greek name, Idumaea) was governed by Herod’s brother. The neighbouring Nabataean kingdom of Arabia Petrea was finally absorbed into the Roman Empire in 106AD.

 

Remains at Bazra, a city in Edom (Uri Juda)

Ruins at Bozra (modern-day Bouseira in Jordan), the capital of Edom   (Uri Juda)

 

Obad 1:17-21 Obadiah prophesies that Israel will be restored and her people will occupy Edom, Philistia (the coastal plain), Ephraim and Samaria (the central highlands and the west bank of the Jordan).

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