John Calvin, Commentary on Obadiah 
Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets by John Calvin. 
Now first translated from the original Latin, by the Rev. John Owen, 
vicar of Thrussington, Leicestershire. 
Volume Second. Joel, Amos, Obadiah 
WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1950, Michigan. 
Printed in the United States of America. 
The Commentaries of John Calvin on the Prophet Obadiah. 
Calvin's Preface to Obadiah. 
This Prophecy does not consist of many oracles, nor of many sermons, 
as other prophecies; but it only denounces on the Idumeans a near 
destruction, and then promises a restoration to the chosen people of 
God. But it threatens the Idumeans for the sake of administering 
consolation to the chosen people; for it was a grievous and hard 
trial for the children of Jacob, an elect people, to see the 
posterity of Esau, who had been rejected by God, flourishing both in 
wealth and power. 
    As then the children of Israel were miserable in comparison 
with their own kindred, the adoption of God might have appeared 
worthless; and this was in great measure the reason why the 
Israelites preferred the lot of others to their own; and thus envy 
and depraved emulation, as it happens for the most part, vitiated 
their minds: for adversity produces sorrow and weariness, and if the 
prosperity of others is observed by us, our sorrow is enhanced and 
our weariness is increased. When therefore the Israelites saw the 
Idumeans living at case and beyond the reach of danger, and when 
they also saw them in the enjoyment of every abundance, while they 
themselves were exposed as a prey to their enemies, and were 
continually expecting new calamities, it could not have been, but 
that their faith must have utterly failed, or at least become much 
weakened. For this reason the Prophet here shows, that though the 
Idumeans now lived happily, yet in a short time they would be 
destroyed, for they were hated by God; and he shows that this would 
be the case, as we shall see from the contents of this Book, for the 
sake of the chosen people. 
    We now then perceive the design of the Prophet: as adversity 
might have weakened the Israelites, and even utterly broken them 
down, the Prophet here applies comfort and props up their dejected 
minds, for the Lord would shortly look on them and take due 
vengeance on their enemies. 
    And the reason why this prophecy is leveled against the 
Idumeans only is this, - that they, as we know, raged more cruelly 
than any others against the Israelites: for it is not said without a 
cause in Ps. 137: 7, 'Remember the children of Edom in the day of 
Jerusalem, who said, Make bare, make bare even to the very 
foundations.' There were also others, no doubt, who were not friends 
to the Israelites, and had conspired with their enemies: but the 
Prophet there shows, that there was a furious hatred entertained by 
the Idumeans, for they acted as fans to excite the cruel rage of 
    Now at what time Obadiah prophesied, it does not appear, except 
that it is probable that this prophecy was announced, when the 
Idumeans rose up against the Israelites and distressed them by many 
annoyances: for they seem to be mistaken who think that Obadiah 
lived before the time of Isaiah. It appears that Jeremiah (ch. 49.) 
and this Prophet made use of the same thoughts and nearly of the 
same words, as we shall hereafter see. The Holy Spirit could, no 
doubt, have expressed the same things in different words; but he was 
pleased to join together these two testimonies, that they might 
obtain more credit. I know not whether Obadiah and Jeremiah were 
contemporaries, and on this subject we need not bestow much labour. 
It is sufficient for us to know, that this prophecy was added to 
other prophecies, that the Israelites might feel assured, that 
though their kindred the Idumeans might prosper for a time, yet they 
could not escape the hand of God, but would shortly be constrained 
to give an account of their cruelty, inasmuch as they had without 
cause been all in a flame against the distressed and afflicted 
people of God. 
    Now our Prophet shows at the end that God would become the 
avenger of this cruelty, which the Idumeans had exercised; for 
though he chastised his own people, he did not yet forget his 
gratuitous covenant. Let us now come to the words.

Calvin, Commentary on Obadiah

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