Commentaries on the Prophet Obadiah. 
Obadiah 1:1 
The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We 
have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among 
the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. 
    Obadiah's preface is, that he brought nothing human, but only 
declared the vision presented to him from above. We indeed know that 
it was God alone that was ever to be heard in the Church, as even 
now he demands to be heard: but yet he sent his prophets, as 
afterwards the apostles; yea, as he sent his only begotten Son, whom 
he has set over us to be our only and sovereign Teacher. Obadiah 
then by saying that it was a vision, said the same, as though he 
declared, that he did not presumptuously bring forward his own 
dreams, or what he conjectured, or discovered by human reason, but 
that he adduced only a celestial oracle: for "chazon", as we have 
observed in other places, was a vision, by which God revealed 
himself to his Prophets. 
    He then adds, "Thus saith Jehovah". Here is a fuller expression 
of the same declaration. We thus see that the Prophet, in order that 
the doctrine he brought forward might not be suspected, made God the 
author; for what faith can be put in men, whom we know to be vain 
and false, except as far as they are ruled by the Spirit of God and 
sent by Him? Seeing then that the Prophet so carefully teaches us, 
that what he declared was delivered to him by God, we may hence 
learn what I have lately referred to, - that the Prophets formerly 
so spoke, that God alone might be heard among the people. 
    He says afterwards, "A rumour have we heard". Some render it, a 
word, or a doctrine. "Shmu'ah", is properly a hearing, and is 
derived from the verb the Prophet subjoins. A hearing then have we 
heard; so it is translated literally. But some think that what was 
taught is pointed out, as though he said, "The Lord has revealed 
this to me and to other Prophets;" according to what Isaiah says, 
ch. 53, 'Who has believed our hearing?' It is the same word, and he 
speaks of God's word or doctrine. But it is probable that he refers 
here to those tumultuous rumours, which commonly precede wars and 
calamities. We have then heard a rumour. The verb in Jeremiah is not 
in the plural number, "Shama'nu", but "shmu'ah shama'ti", 'I have 
heard,' says Jeremiah, 'a hearing.' But our Prophet uses the plural 
number, 'We have heard a hearing.' The sense however is the same; 
for Jeremiah says that he had heard rumours; and the Prophet here 
adds others to himself, as though he said, "This rumour is spread 
abroad, but it is from the Lord: it is certain that this rumour has 
been heard even by the profane and the despisers of God." But the 
Prophet shows that wars are not stirred up at random, but by the 
secret influence of God; as though he said, "When a tumult arises, 
let us not think that its beginning is from the earth, but God 
himself is the mover." We now then apprehend the design of the 
Prophet: though he speaks of the rumour of wars, he yet shows that 
chance or accident does not rule in such commotions, but the hidden 
influence of God. 
    "We have heard, he says from Jehovah, and a messenger, or, an 
ambassador, to the nations has been sent, Arise ye, and we will 
arise against her to battle". In Jeremiah, it is, 'Assemble ye, come 
and arise against her to battle.' The Prophet here shows, I have no 
doubt, whence the rumour came, which he had just mentioned; for they 
were now indeed stirring up one another to destroy that land. If any 
one had formed a judgment according to human wisdom, he would have 
said that the Assyrians were the cause why war was brought on the 
Idumeans, because they had found them either inconstant or even 
perfidious, or because they had feigned a pretence when there was no 
just reason for making war. But the Prophet here raises his mind 
upwards and acknowledges God to be the mover of this war, because he 
intended to punish the cruelty of that people, which they had 
exercised toward their own kindred, the Israelites; and at the same 
time he encourages others also, that they might understand that it 
was altogether directed by the hidden counsel of God, that the 
Assyrians, from being friends, became of a sudden enemies, that a 
war was all in a flame against the Idumeans at a time when they were 
at ease, without any fear, without any apprehension of danger. It 
follows - 
Obadiah 1:2-4 
2  Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art 
greatly despised. 
3  The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest 
in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation [is] high; that saith in 
his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? 
4  Though thou exalt [thyself] as the eagle, and though thou set thy 
nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. 
    Jeremiah uses nearly the same words; but the sense of the 
expression is ambiguous, when he says, 'Lo, little have I set thee.' 
To me it appears probable, that the Prophet reproves the Idumeans, 
because they became arrogant, as it were, against the will of God, 
and in opposition to it, when, at the same time, they were confined 
to the narrow passes of mountains. It is said elsewhere, (Mal. 1: 
2,) 'Jacob and Esau, were they not brethren?' "But I have given to 
you the inheritance promised to your father Abraham; I have 
transferred the Idumeans to mount Seir." Now it is less bearable, if 
any one be elated with pride, when his condition is not so 
honorable. I therefore think that the Idumeans are here condemned 
because they vaunted so much, and arrogated to themselves more than 
what was right, when they yet were contemptible, when their 
condition was mean and obscure, for they dwelt on mount Seir. But 
others think that the punishment, which was impending over them, is 
here denounced, "Lo, little have I made thee among the nations", and 
Jeremiah says, 'and contemptible among men'; he omits the two words, 
thou and exceedingly; he says only, 'and contemptible among men'. 
But as to the substance, there is hardly any difference. If then we 
understand that that nation was proud without reason, the sense is 
evident, that is, that they, like the giants, carried on war against 
God, that they vaunted themselves, though confined to the narrow 
passes of mountains. Though I leave to others their own free 
opinion, I am yet inclined to the former view, while the latter has 
been adopted nearly by the consent of all; and that is, that God was 
resolved forcibly to constrain to order those ferocious men, who, 
for no reason, and even in opposition to nature, are become 
insolent. But if a different interpretation be more approved, we may 
say, that the Prophet begins with a threatening, and then subjoins a 
reason why God determined to diminish and even to destroy them: for 
though they dwelt on mountains, it was yet a fertile region; and 
further, they had gathered in course of long time much wealth, when 
they attained security, when no enemy disturbed them. This then is 
the reasoning, "Lo, I have made thee small and contemptible in the 
mountain", - and why? "because the pride of thy heart has deceived 
thee"; and Jeremiah adds, terror, although some render 
"tiflatstecha", image; but this seems not appropriate. Jeremiah 
then, I doubt not, mentions terror in the first place; for it almost 
ever happens, that the proud strike others with fear: such then were 
the Idumeans. 
    Now if we follow the first meaning I explained, the two verses 
may be read as connected, "Lo, I have made thee small and 
contemptible among the nations; but the pride of thy heart has 
deceived thee"; some render it, has raised thee up, deriving it from 
"nasa'": but they read "sin", pointed on the left side; for if 
"shin" has the point in the branch of the "shin", on the right hand, 
it means to deceive, but if on the left, it signifies to raise up. 
Then they give this translations "The pride of thine heart has 
raised thee up:" but we clearly learn from Jeremiah, that it ought, 
as almost all interpreters agree, to be rendered thus, "The pride of 
thine heart has deceived thee:" for he says not "hishi'echa", but 
"hishi' 'otach", that is, it was to thee the cause of error and of 
madness. Of the sense then of this verb there can be no doubt. 
    The Prophet now laughs to scorn the Idumeans, because they 
relied on their own fortresses, and thought themselves, according to 
the common saying, to be beyond the reach of darts; and hence they 
petulantly insulted the Israelites and despised God himself. The 
Prophet therefore says, that the Idumeans in vain felicitated 
themselves, for he shows that all they promised to themselves were 
mere delusions. The import of what is said then is, "Whence is this 
your security, that ye think that enemies can do you no harm? Yea, 
ye despise God as well as men; whence is this haughtiness? whence 
also is the great confidence with which ye are puffed up? Verily, it 
comes only from mere delusions. The pride of thine heart has 
deceived thee." 
    And yet there was not wanting a reason why the Idumeans were 
thus insolent, as the Prophet also states: but he at the same time 
shows that they had deceived themselves; for God cared not for their 
fortresses; nay, he counted them as nothing. Thou dwellest, he says, 
(this is to be regarded as a concession,) in the clefts of the 
stone; some read, "between the windings of the rock;" though others 
think "sela'" to be the name of a city. But though I should allow 
that the Prophet alludes to the name of a city, I yet do not see how 
can that stand which they hold; for clefts comport not with a city 
situated on a plain, though within the ranges of mountains. I do not 
then doubt but that "sela'" here means mount Seir. As then the 
Idumeans had fortresses amidst rocks, they thought that all enemies 
could easily be kept out. 
    And hence it follows, "The height is his habitation, that is, 
he dwells in lofty places; and hence he says in his heart, Who shall 
draw me down to the ground?" He afterwards subjoins what I have 
already stated, - that though their region was exceedingly well 
fortified, yet the Idumeans were greatly deceived, and indulged 
themselves in vain delusions, "If thou shouldest raise up thy seat, 
he says, like the eagle", - literally, 'If thou shouldest rise as 
the eagle,' - "and if thou shouldest among the clouds set and nest, 
I will thence draw thee down, saith Jehovah". We now see that the 
Prophet did not without reason deride the confidence with which the 
Idumeans were inflated, by setting up their fortresses in opposition 
to God: for it is the greatest madness for men to rely on their own 
power and to despise God himself. At the same time he could, as it 
were, easily dissipate by one blast every idea of defense or of 
power that is in us; but this subject will be more fully handled by 
us to-morrow. 
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou seest us to be on every side at 
this day beset by so many enemies, even by those who constantly 
devise means to destroy us, while we are so very weak and feeble, - 
o grant, that we may learn to look up to thee, and that our trust 
may so recumb on thee, that however exposed we may be to all kinds 
of danger according to what appears to the flesh, we may not yet 
doubt but that thou art ever armed with sufficient power to terrify 
our enemies, so that we may quietly live even amidst all dangers, 
and never cease to call on thy name, as thou hast promised to be the 
sure and faithful defender of our safety in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Calvin, Commentary on Obadiah

(continued in part 3...)

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