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The people of Edom were considered to be the descendants of Esau the brother of Jacob. I suppose they settled there before the children of Israel sought safety and sustenance in Egypt. Edom was well established and could have made the Israelites journey to Canaan shorter, but they would not allow them to pass through, so Moses led them to the River Jordan at Jericho. This is the first insult, but the rant concerns another event: Presumably this occurred about 587b.c.e. when the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. Edom delighted in it, and even took part.
The prophesy describes Edom as full of pride making her home in the clefts of the rocks, but she will be despised and small among the nations.
Though you soar like the eagle
and make your nest among the stars,
from there I will bring you down,
declares the LORD. (NIV)
Obadiah describes the details of the destruction of Edom: Esau will be ransacked and pillaged. The wise men will be destroyed and the warriors will be terrified.
Edom should not stand aloof when a brother is being destroyed, "when strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates."(NIV) Edom was like one of them. Obadiah may be warning Edom of judgment to come. Is it too late to repent? "You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down fugitives or hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble."(NIV)
15 "The day of the LORD is near
for all nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you;
your deeds will return upon your own head."(NIV)
This verse may be the most damning of all. You punishment will be what you dealt out. When I worked in the prison system, this was a favorite proverb: What goes around, comes around. It is measured to you with the same scoop you dish it out to others. The most fearful part of this is that the person who was injured doesn't have to be the one to retaliate.
In the case of Edom, it may be the other nations or God himself that responds. For us on an individual level, it comes from any angle and with unknown force. Edom was destroyed and it is not mentioned in historical sources after the Jewish Wars in 68 A.D. The region of Idumea was mentioned as late as 400.
This whole book consists of one chapter. Read it judgments and consider whether you are might be included.
The final verses give a hopeful prospect. Verse 21 says:
to govern the mountains of Esau.
And the kingdom will be the LORD’s.