The Book of Obadiah

The book of Obadiah is one of the shortest in the Old Testament, comprising only one chapter. It is the prophet Obadiah’s retelling of the vision which he received from God, which had both a literal and a spiritual dimension.

Obadiah of Shechem was born into the tribe of Ephraim and was, according to St Ephraim the Syrian, a contemporary of prophets Hosea, Joel, Amos and Isaiah. His vision was a prophecy against the Edomites, who had collaborated with the Babylonians against the Jews. This betrayal was made worse because the Edomites did this to their relatives (they were descendants of Esau – the brother of Jacob and son of Isaac). God had revealed that after the conclusion of the Jews exile in Babylon, the Edomites would be subject to Israel and that they would be removed from the land which they had taken from the chosen people of Judah. Their nation would be destroyed by the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar, and they would lose their own homeland.

There is a deeper meaning in the passage beyond the literal. In verse 1 there is a reference to the people rising up and fighting against Edom. The word used for rising up (anastasis) is the same as the word for resurrection, and prefigures Christ’s resurrection. This rising up to fight against Edom is to be seen in the context of the spiritual combat, in which we are to fight against sin and Satan – which are symbolised by Edom. Verse 15 also prefigures the Day of Judgment when it is written, “For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head”.

The location of the relics of Prophet Obadiah are currently unknown, but his tomb is located in Sebastia in Palestine next to that of St John the Baptist and the Prophet Elisha.

Source: Lychnos October-November 2019