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Literature / Book of Obadiah

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One of the books of the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. In this book, God speaks a message of woe unto the people of Edom for their treatment of the people of Israel.

Structure of the book:

  • An oracle of the Lord against Edom (Obadiah verses 1 to 9)
  • Esau's sin against his brother Jacob (Obadiah verses 10 to 14)
  • The wider context: the Day of the Lord (Obadiah verses 15 to 18)
  • The house of Jacob will possess Edom's territory (Obadiah verses 19 to 21)

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Accomplice by Inaction: In verses 10 and 11, God accuses Edom of being this by not providing military support to their neighbor Jerusalem when it was wrongfully attacked.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: In verse 7:
    All your confederates have driven you to the border;
    your allies have deceived and prevailed against you.
    Those who eat your bread have set a trap for you.
    You will not detect it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In verses 5 and 6:
    If thieves came to you,
    if robbers by night—
    how you have been destroyed!—
    would they not steal only what they want?
    If grape gatherers come to you,
    would they not leave gleanings?
    How the things of Esau have been ransacked!
    How his hidden treasures hunted out!
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Esau the brother of Jacob is given one here, compared to his depiction Book of Genesis. In Genesis, Esau eventually forgives Jacob, despite the latter tricking him out of his birthright. In Obadiah, the Edomites, who claim Esau as their ancestor, are depicted as persecutors of the Israelites who paved the way for future anti-Jewish purges by the Persians and Romans, making this a case of Forgiven, but Not Forgotten society-wise.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Verses 15 and 16 says: "For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head. For as you have drunk on My holy mountain, all the nations shall drink continually; they shall drink and swallow and shall be as though they had never been."
  • Pride Before a Fall: In verses 3 and 4:
    Your arrogant heart has seduced you,
    you who dwell in clefts of the rock,
    in your lofty abode.
    You think in your heart,
    “Who can pull me down to earth?”
    Should you nest as high as the eagle,
    should your eyrie be lodged ’mong the stars,
    even from there I will pull you down
    —declares the LORD.
  • While Rome Burns: God condemns Edom for their actions against Jerusalem at the time they were being sacked by the Babylonians, as stated in verses 12 to 14:
    But you should not have gloated
    on the day of your brother,
    on the day of his misfortune;
    you should not have rejoiced over the children of Judah
    on the day of their destruction;
    you should not have boasted
    on the day of distress.
    You should not have entered the gate of My people
    on the day of their calamity.
    You should not have gloated over the disaster of Judah
    on the day of his calamity;
    you should not have seized his wealth
    on the day of his calamity.
    You should not have stood at the crossroads
    to cut off his fugitives;
    you should not have handed over his survivors,
    on the day of distress.