HERE IS A PRAYER FROM THE BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP TO USE BEFORE READING.
God our helper, by your Holy Spirit, open our minds, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may be led into your truth and taught your will, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament. This book may not have been written by Obadiah but rather may be another’s record of the visions and sayings. We do not know anything more about Obadiah. He name means “Servant of Yahweh” and was a common name.
Scholars think this book dates from the sixth century BCE because of the references to the Edomites. Other books in the Old Testament also speak against the Edomites (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, and Ezekiel) Recall that in Genesis, Jacob and Esau were brothers and the nations of Judah and Edom descended from them. Judah and Edom had a history of conflict. (See Num 20:14-21; 2 Sam 8:13-14;; 1 Kings 14:7; 2 Kings16:6; 2 Chron 20; 21:8-10)
We know that both Judah and Edom suffered losses of people and stability from the Babylonians.
Verse 1a Introduction: Tells us who the prophet is and tells us this is a vision
V 1b-4 The destruction of Edom These verses are similar to Jeremiah 49:12-16.
V 5-7 The pillaging and betrayal of Edom by former allies.
V 8-9The destruction of Edom by God
V 10-14 Edom /Esau presented as a brother who stood aside and let his brother Jacob/Judah be mistreated. Notice the repetition of “on that day”. Notice the verbs that describe Edom/Esau’s actions increase in action and intensity- stood aside, gloated…looted, handed over.
V 15-18 The day of the Lord. The nations and Edom will be punished and Jacob/Judah will prosper. Mount Zion is a way of saying Jerusalem.
V 19-21 Territory is reclaimed and expanded. Judah will reclaim land in all directions. In verse 20, both Israel and Judah(Jerusalem) will take part in the reclamation and expansion. Recall that Israel was destroyed by Assyria in the 8th century and Judah by Babylon in the 6th century.
Here are several good sources to aid your reading of Obadiah.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Floyd, Michael H. “Obadiah” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.
Pagan, Samuel “Obadiah”in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 7, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 1996.
Petersen, David L. “Joel” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.