Study Guide

Obadiah in The Twelve Minor Prophets

Obadiah

Obadiah is the Minor Prophets’ one-chapter wonder, taking all of twenty-one verses to declare Yahweh’s coming judgment on yet another country that has done God’s people wrong.

Total destruction. Not a building left standing, all the people wiped out and AMC mercilessly stripped from the cable channels right before the second half of the last season of “Breaking Bad.”

The focus of Obadiah’s wroth waxing hot: Edom, which wasn’t a giant empire like the Assyrians or Babylonians but—according to Obadiah, anyway—had helped one of these foreign invaders attack Jerusalem. While it sure does sound like Obadiah was talking about the Babylonians, the book itself doesn’t bother to give the invaders a name. No, Obadiah only has eyes for Edom:

On the day that you stood aside, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you too were like one of them. (NRSV 1:11)

What really got Obadiah’s metaphorical goat was the story of Edom’s not so secret origin: just as Israel and Judah were descended from Jacob, the Edomites were said to be the descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau. According to Yahweh’s ancient version of the international bro code, the term “bro” includes people born hundreds of years after the original brothers in question.

Of course, Obadiah doesn’t mention all the stuff that Jacob did to trick his brother out of his rightful inheritance, but hey, doesn’t the Bible tell us to let bygones be bygones?

It doesn’t?