Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 31, “Obadiah” pp. 481-486.
Obadiah, the shortest of the Old Testament books, speaks against the people of Edom (Lessing 2014, 481). Lessing provides a brief summary of the historic dispute between the people of Jacob and those of his brother Esau, the fathers of Israel and Edom.
Higher critics have postulated a break between verses 14 and 15, assigning the portions before and after to different authors (Lessing 2014, 482). The division, however, seems arbitrary. Lessing sees no reason not to consider the text as the work of one author.
The text begins with “an oracle against Edom” and continues with judgment against all other nations (Lessing 2014, 482). The outcome in the prophet’s view is restoration of Israel.
Obadiah has very little historical data. Therefore, scholars can date it anywhere from 850 B.C. to 450 B.C. (Lessing 2014, 483). Lessing suggests that some portions of Obadiah may be dependent on Jeremiah chapter 49. He suggests a date between 587 and 553.
Major themes in Obadiah are divine retribution, judgment, and a cup of God’s wrath (Lessing 2014, 484). Christ may be seen in the concept of God’s judgment on his enemies and his restoration of his people. The sin of pride, as pictured in Obadiah, brings burning judgment (Lessing 2014, 485). However, those who seek refuge in God will receive his grace.