Composition of the Book of Obadiah


Approximate date: 853-841 B.C.E. (some Right); 586-553 B.C.E. (some Right, some conservative-moderate); 400s B.C.E. (some conservative-moderate, Left)

Time period: fall of Edom following the fall of Judah

Author: Obadiah and/or a close associate (Right, conservative-moderate); Obadiah and anonymous others (Left)

Location of prophet/author(s): somewhere in the Land of Israel (Right, conservative-moderate, Left)

Target audience and their location: Southern Kingdom Israelites, Edomites

Theological Summary: The Book of Obadiah is the shortest text in the Hebrew Tanach. The name of the Prophet Obadiah (Heb. Ovadyaho) means “servant of the LORD.” While a common name in Ancient Israel, nothing is stated in the text concerning Obadiah’s upbringing or background. Later Jewish tradition associates the Prophet Obadiah with the Obadiah of 1 Kings 18, who controlled the household of prophets against Jezebel (b.Sanhedrin 39b), although most today discount this as speculation. Due to the lack of explicit biographical data, it is difficult for interpreters to not only pinpoint a time of Obadiah’s prophesying, but also the specific location where he prophesied. We do, however, know that the purpose for Obadiah’s prophecies was to make light of the conflict between Israel and Edom, and Edom’s rejoicing over Judah’s destruction.

The most serious debate as it concerns the Book of Obadiah among interpreters relates to when Obadiah prophesied. It is quite valid to point out that one “runs the risk of constructing history largely out of prophetic oracles or poetry” (ABD), and so any interpretation of Obadiah must be guarded by remembering that one’s dating of the text is speculative. The two proposals that are widely made among interpreters is that Obadiah prophesied during (1) the rebellion against Judah during the reign of Jehoram (853-841 B.C.E.; cf. 2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chronicles 21:8-15), or during (2) the Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem (605-586 B.C.E.).

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages