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. Prayer. 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. Amen. Calvin, Commentary on Obadiah (continued in part 3...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvobd-02.txt .