Fourth of the so-called Minor Prophets. The fact that the message concerns Edom, a land to the south of Judah, together with specific references to Judah and Jerusalem (Ob. 11, 12, 17, 20, 21), implies that the prophet bore his message to the southern kingdom of Judah. Unlike most of the other prophets, Obadiah does not date his message, and various dates have been suggested, ranging from the 8th to the 6th cent. b.c. The record of the revolt of Edom in the days of King Joram (2 Ki 8:20 22) makes no reference to an Edomite occupation of Jerusalem. However, the similarity of Obadiah's denunciation of Edom (Ob. 10 14) to the denunciations of Jeremiah (Jer 49:7 22) and Ezekiel (Eze. 25:12 14; 35) seems singularly appropriate to the events of 586 b.c., when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. According to Ps 137:7 the Edomites approved the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and rejoiced over the calamities that overtook Judah.
The literary style of Obadiah is classic and vigorous. His theme is the destruction of Edom because of its violence against the Jews (Ob. 10 14). There had been long and bitter warfare between the 2 peoples (2 Sa 8:13, 14; 1 Ki 11:14 22; 2 Chr. 20:22; 21:8 10; 25:11, 12; 28:17). At the day of the Lord tables will be reversed, and the people of Edom--blood relatives of the Jews--will be treated as they have treated others (Ob. 15). Their cruelties toward Judah during a time of national crisis will meet a just reward. Then deliverance will come to the house of Jacob, and the kingdom will be restored to its rightful state (vs. 17 21).
Obadiah's brief message logically falls into 2 parts: (1) the prediction of doom upon Edom (Ob. 1 16) and (2) the triumph and restoration of Israel (vs. 17 21). Obadiah first summons the heathen nations to attack Edom (vs. 1, 2) because of her pride (vs. 3, 4). Edom is to be plundered and her people exterminated (vs. 5 9). Her crime has been violence against her brother Jacob, "in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem" (vs. 10, 11). Instead of showing mercy the Edomites had laid wait for the Jews as they fled, cutting some of them down and taking others captive (vs. 12 14). But the day of the Lord is at hand when the people of Edom will receive their just deserts and "be as though they had not been" (vs. 15, 16). That day will bring "deliverance" to "mount Zion," and "the house of Jacob" will inherit the land of Edom (vs. 17 20), and the kingdom will then be the Lord's (v 21).
Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.