Obadiah (Ovadyah) The Servant of Elohim!

Hebraic Studies - A Look at Eliyahu - Elijah

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             Ovadyah - Obadiah.

                the Servant of Elohim

With Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham 

On this site I will mostly use a version based on the “Jewish Publication Society Tanakh (JPS).

Please Note: For non Jewish readers and those who have little Hebrew knowledge, I have used Hebrew names in this study, and translated them, mostly on the first time they are used, and occasionally I will do so again later.

A Big Message can be found in a Very Small Book:

Indeed, Ovadyah - Obadiah is one of the smallest books in the Tanakh (the Five Books of Moshe - Moses and all of the Prophets, the Psalms and the writings, etc). Ovadyah has just one chapter with 21 verses, but when it comes to the man, amazingly nothing much is known about him, except that he quotes Yirmyahu - Jeremiah chapter 49. From that, we may take that he lived around the time Yerushalayim - Jerusalem was taken captive. Yet to understand this book we will have to go much further back in time. But the truth is that it is a Book that has a Big and a Powerful Message!

The truth is the story began way back in time in a mother’s womb; she was the wife of a wandering shepherd, and she was with child at the time. But she discovered that she was about to have twins, for she could feel them struggling in her womb. Elohim, blessed be He, told her about the two boys that would soon be born, and that they would struggle with one another. However, what she was not told was that the battle and struggle was going to last for centuries. The question is of course, “who were these boys?

I am sure you will realise, they were Ya’aqov - Jacob and Esov - Esau. Thus let us now look at the writings in Bereshis - Genesis chapter 25.

“And Yitzchak - Isaac was forty years old when he took Rivkah - Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean, of Paddan-Aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Yitzchak entreated  for his wife, because she was barren; and  let Himself be entreated of him, and Rivkah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said: ‘If it be so, wherefore do I live?’ And she went to inquire of . And  said unto her: Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came forth ruddy, all over like a hairy mantle; and they called his name Esov - Esau. And after that came forth his brother, and his hand had hold on Esov’s heel; and his name was called Ya’aqov. And Yitzchak was threescore years old when she bore them. And the boys grew; and Esov was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Ya’aqov was a quiet man dwelling in tents. Now Yitzchak loved Esov because he did eat of his venison; and Rivkah loved Ya’aqov” Bereshis - Genesis 25:20-28 (JPS).

Esov was born first, and Ya’aqov was born clutching the foot of this firstborn brother. This would be their relationship in the future. They were not exactly two peas in a pod. Esov was the rugged outdoor kind of a Hunter, constantly living for today the good times, and plenty of food. Thus he was the practical one who lived for what he could see, touch, and eat.

Ya’aqov on the other hand was more of what you may say, a mother’s boy. If he had lived today, he would have been the studious one in other words a bookworm. Ya’aqov looked for the future, rather than the present, and he planned for it.

He waited this time and took his opportunity on that day when Esov was desperately hungry and Ya’aqov gave him a plate of lentil soup, in return for his birthright. Just as Ya’aqov was seizing his brother’s foot at birth, so he was seizing him now.

Esov sold himself, for the truth is that he was not interested in the future, but was interested in the now, the I, me and myself. Like much of the world today, “Live now and pay later.”

Esov told Ya’aqov, “You are to be regarded as the elder son and heir” All this, just for a plate of soup. What a message we find in this incredible story.

Many christian theologians believe that; “Ya’aqov got his name so dirty, that Elohim had to give him another,” and believe me that is a hideous lie!

Contrary to the accusations of some, Ya’aqov did not steal his birthright, but legally purchased it from his brother who “despised” it and that was why  Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, despised Esov - Esau.

Notice that  Elohim also changed Esov’s name , from Esov, meaning hairy, to Edom meaning “Red”, because he sold the precious things of Elohim for a bowl of red stew.

The name Ya’aqov is said to mean “surpplanter,” however, as I have already stated some from the other faith’s will vilify Ya’aqov, yet they know nothing about his Hebrew name! The truth is, this word does not denigrate Ya’aqov’s wonderful name, for it literally means “Good following after evil.” It is also translated as “tripper up of the heel.” Thus, when we consider whose heel Ya’aqov actually tripped up, a totally different light is shed upon its meaning. For  Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, clearly states;

“The burden of the word of  to Israel by Malochi - Malachi. I have loved you, saith . Yet ye say: ‘Wherein hast Thou loved us?’ Was not Esov Ya’aqov’s brother? saith ; Yet I loved Ya’aqov; but Esov I hated” Malochi - Malachi 1:2-3 (JPS).

From these two men came two nations. Ya’aqov being the father of the nation of Israel. And from Esov came the nation known as the Edomites, the land of Edom.

What the brothers were to each other, the two nations the resentment and the hatred would be passed on to generation after generation.

Now, this is what the book of Obadiah is all about.

A small book with a big story.

Edom occupied a stretch of land, which was barren, but there was a special place known as the “King’s Highway.” Edomites tended to live in the now, and the I, me, and myself; therefore, they were traders and not producers. Just like Esov, they were only after the bowl of soup and thus did not plan for its provision.

The land geographically was situated on the eastern side of the Jordan, stretching from the Dead Sea to the northern tip of the Red Sea, near Aqaba, east of Eilat, on the Gulf of Eilat.

Bamidbar - Numbers 20:14 to 21 14

“From Kadesh, Moses - Moshe sent messengers to the king of Edom: ‘Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the hardships that have befallen us; that our ancestors went down to Egypt, that we dwelt in Egypt a long time, and that the Egyptians dealt harshly with us and our ancestors. We cried to  and He heard our plea, and He sent a messenger who freed us from Egypt. Now we are in Kadesh, the town on the border of your territory. Allow us, then, to cross your country. We will not pass through fields or vineyards, and we will not drink water from wells. We will follow the king’s highway, turning off neither to the right nor to the left until we have crossed your territory’. But Edom answered him, ‘You shall not pass through us, else we will go out against you with the sword. We will keep to the beaten track,’ the Israelites said to them, ‘and if we or our cattle drink your water, we will pay for it. We ask only for passage on foot it is but a small matter’. But they replied, ‘You shall not pass through!’ And Edom went out against them in heavy force, strongly armed. So Edom would not let Israel cross their territory, and Israel turned away from them” (JPS version of the Tanakh).

When Israel asked Edom, (during the wilderness experience), if they could travel via this road, they were refused. The struggle was still on, thus Israel had to go via the much longer route. In due course Israel entered the promised land, and received the land of milk and honey, then known as Canaan.

Elohim, blessed be He, said the land would be theirs as long as they kept His covenant.  in His Word really said, “Break your wedding vow with Me, and I will punish you.” But sadly, due to eventually becoming a sinful nation,  Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, He had to discipline His people, thus in due course sadly we were carried away into Assyria, and into Babylon.

When King Sennacherib took Jerusalem, the Edomites heard of it, and they laughed and gloated, they actually boasted against their brother nation.

“Remember, O , against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem's fall; how they cried, "Strip her, strip her to her very foundations!” Tehillim - Psalms. 137:7 (JPS version of the Tanakh).

“See who is the heir now?” they were singing. Soon as Jerusalem had fallen, the Edomites entered the Holy City of Elohim and looted it. What a dreadful act to carry out against their brother nation. They even took the refugees of Jerusalem and turned them in, into the hand of the enemy. And that was that brother nation called Edom.

Somehow, a man named Obadiah escaped from being taken into slavery. He was the only man left in Yerushalayim speaking the Word of Elohim during the years Israel was in exile.

This is the Prophecy. It may be short but it is very much to the point.

Obadiah says “ has a word for you Edom”. We do not know how He spoke these words to them, as no details are given. But be assured, it is a letter from Elohim Himself, delivered to the nation of Edom.

Now let us examine and analyse the prophecy of Obadiah. The book of Obadiah is divided into five parts.

Part One. Verses 1 to 4 speak of the PRIDE of man!

“The vision of Ovadyah - Obadiah. Thus saith  Elohim concerning Edom: We have heard a message from , and an ambassador is sent among the nations: ‘Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle’. Behold, I make thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised. The pride of thy heart hath beguiled thee, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, thy habitation on high; that sayest in thy heart: Who shall bring me down to the ground?' Though thou make thy nest as high as the eagle, and though thou set it among the stars, I will bring thee down from thence, saith ’” Ovadyah - Obadiah 1:1-4 (JPS).

In simple words it actually stated, because of “the pride of your heart,” Elohim would humble you, and He would bring him down.

The Edomites lived high on the mountain, being Mount Seir. They felt that no one could even bring them down. A proud nation that thinks it is invincible, has forgotten that Elohim is the King of the world, and of all nations.

He is able to humble even the greatest and bring them down to dust. Just look at Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome, Germany, the UK, U.S.A and Russia. All have attempted to bring Israel down. But Israel is still here today and it will be tomorrow! In fact, it would be Edom that would be brought down to dust.

If you look up a map today, there is no mention of Edom. But, Israel is there thousands of years later. When Israel and Judah were removed from the map by its invaders, Edom was gloating. But Elohim said,” don’t ever laugh at My people for I will remove you from the map and I will restore Israel.”

The Ammonites were destroyed because they laughed and danced and mocked Israel, as they were taken. But was it really Israel that they were mocking? No it was not, it was the Elohim of Israel they were mocking. To find out the details let us read Yechezkel - Ezekiel chapter 25 verses 1 to 7.

“And the word of  came unto me, saying: ‘Son of man, set thy face toward the children of Ammon, and prophesy against them; and say unto the children of Ammon: Hear the word of : Thus saith : Because thou saidst: ‘Aha’! against My sanctuary, when it was profaned, and against the land of Israel, when it was made desolate, and against the house of Judah, when they went into captivity; therefore, behold, I will deliver thee to the children of the east for a possession, and they shall set their encampments in thee, and make their dwellings in thee; they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy milk. And I will make Rabbah a pasture for camels, and the children of Ammon a couching-place for flocks; and ye shall know that I am . For thus saith  Elohim: Because thou hast clapped thy hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced with all the disdain of thy soul against the land of Israel; therefore, behold, I stretch out My hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the nations; and I will cut thee off from the peoples, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries; I will destroy thee, and thou shalt know that I am ” Yechezkel - Ezekiel chapter 25 verses 1-7 (JPS).

Yes Elohim would destroy Edom and restore Israel, and nothing could ever stop that.

Part One. Vs 1 to 4 speaks of Edom’s utter destruction.

“The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith  Elohim concerning Edom: We have heard a message from , and an ambassador is sent among the nations: 'Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle’. Behold, I make thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised. The pride of thy heart hath beguiled thee, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, thy habitation on high; that sayest in thy heart: 'Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou make thy nest as high as the eagle, and though thou set it among the stars, I will bring thee down from thence, saith . If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, how art thou cut off! Would they not steal till they had enough? If grape-gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes?

We are told that because of their evil against Israel, Edom would be plucked clean and then be wiped off the earth!

Part Two. Vs 5 to 9 speaks of Elohim’s judgement!

Edom’ Says Elohim, ‘you took the opportunity to loot My Holy City, when My people were carried away to be disciplined. You came in and you robbed them. Now I say, you are going to be robbed.”

Verse 5 may seem puzzling to you, as it speaks of “A thief” who leaves nothing. Elohim says, that in the case of Edom nothing will be left, everything will go, as if it has never been.

Part 3. Vs 10 to 14 the Accusation!

Edom stands accused. Elohim says, on the day of your brother’s nation being hurt, you stood aloft, and you gloated on the day of the misfortune, and rejoiced in the misery. You should not have done that, you treated those refugees badly. I can punish My children, but you cannot. You stand accused before Me!

Part 4.Vs 15 and 16 speaks of the Punishment

These verses describes the punishment that must come. But now not only to Edom, but also to all nations that share in Edom’s dreadful acts and crimes against Israel. Verses 15 says, “As you have done unto Israel, so will be done unto you”. Alternatively, it could also be read “What you sow you will reap.” Elohim says to Edom and too all the world as well as individuals, “you simply cannot get away with doing wrong unto others.” Indeed terrorists will be terrorists. But Elohim says, “You are responsible for what you are doing. I will do unto you what you have done to My people. The day of reckoning is coming.” “As Edom was drunk on My city you will be drunk and stagger and you will be wiped out. Blotted from the face of the earth. You will be, as you have never ever existed.”

Part Five. Verse 17 to 21 gives Hope.

In this book, the key word is “possess.” It comes three times in verses 17 and 19, and twice in verse 20. “And the house of Ya’aqov shall possess their possessions.” But I find it rather sad that our people have forgotten today who actually holds the title deeds to all the nations including Yisroel, and it is of course  Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name!

There is no such thing as “freehold title” on the earth, we are sojourners. “The earth is ’s and fullness thereof.” And Elohim will give parts of His earth to whom He will give it for He holds the title deeds of all lands as well as that of the land of Israel and He has given it to B’Nei Yisroel. No matter who has been there, it will be restored to His chosen sojourners. And we will take hold of their possession. “And in that day Ya’aqov shall be a fire and Esau for stubble.” Ya’aqov will consume Esau. The nation of Israel, which came back, would swallow them up, and wipe out that nation, which had taken over their land, whilst they were carried away in Babylon.

The last phrase of verse 18 is important. “For  has spoken.” The world should tremble, for Elohim will wipe out those who come against His people. Do not think of those who have not actually come against Israel, will miss out. Elohim will ask, “did you remember my people”.

Why does  say “and the kingdom shall be ’s” in verse 21? Was that in order that Israel would have a kingdom? No, that Elohim might have been speaking of a kingdom that is still to come. The Kingdom shall be Elohim’s, in that day “all flesh shall know that I  am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Ya’aqovYeshayahu - Isaiah 49:26.

But whatever happened to Edom after Ovadyah spoke these words? The prophecy of Ovadyah was fulfilled over a period of 500 years. Elohim has time … Remember Yirmyahu - Jeremiah continued to speak the Word of Elohim for twenty three years, right up to the destruction of Jerusalem. This shows Elohim’s great love for His people. He gave them the opportunity, to Return to Him! Elohim has time. If Elohim has spoken and it shall be done.

Fifty years after Ovadyah had spoken, Israel had returned to the land from their exile. Israel was on the map once again. Even though it was small, they rebuilt Jerusalem with their hands “even in troubled times.”

But the Edomites were now also living in the land, possessing much of the land of Elohim. At that time, around 538 BC, something else was happening. The Arabs, Ishmael’s descendants called the Nebeti’ums were beginning to expand and they pressed hard against Edom. By the year 450 BC, Edom had lost their land, Edom had gone. Only at the fortress of Mt Seir, and in the southern part of Judah could they live. They had lost control of the king’s highway, thus they had lost their main source of income.

130 years later, in 312 BCE, Mt Seir also fell. The Arabs finished it off, and it now lay desolate. Then in 125BCE, the Arabs attacked the Edomites in the south of Judah, and the Edomites as a distinct people almost died out. They had become, what many Arabs are today in a modern Israel. Israeli citizens.

However, this is not the end of the story. Later the Romans built a small town on the fort of Mt Seir, yet this was also soon ruined. For Elohim had said, the place would be desolate. With the Romans now in control of the Land, they decided not to govern it with a Roman governor. Instead they placed a “Puppet King” on the throne.

For this they picked none other than an Edomite who lived in the land of Judea. The man’s name was Herod. He with all the pride of the Edomite, called himself “Herod the Great.” He thinks to himself “now” I will lord over these people, who think they are the true heirs, who purchased it so long ago, for a bowl of lentil soup.”

The warning is out, terrorists will be terrorists but Elohim has clearly said, “Touch My people and I will touch you.” The question we should ask ourselves about some gentiles and those who are openly anti-Semites is where do they stand, with Esau or with Ya’aqov. The answer is obvious, but know this, unless they repent, they will receive what Elohim, blessed be He handed out to Esau!

I trust the above has given you an insight into those who live for the self, the I, me and myself, just like Esau, they will never get anywhere and will always suffer in the end. Thus if any of us live a life like that, obviously not being like that evil Esau, but selfish and always desiring more, then get back to this Word in Yirmyahu - Jeremiah 3:1 - “yet return to Me? saith ’” (JPS).

Please remember our motto seen on the logo at the top of this page: “The More Torah, the More Life”, for  Elohim, blessed be His Sanctified Name, is the one who gave us our Life!

Rabbi Reuven Ben-Avraham.

 

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