For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.

11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
12   But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;
14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.
15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.
16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

The small book of Obadiah is a reminder to Bible believers that God is sovereign in the affairs of nations, especially as it relates to their treatment of the nation of Israel. This book reminds us that whoever touches Israel “toucheth the apple of his eye,” Zechariah 2:8. The promise of Genesis 12:3, “…I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee…,” regarding Israel and the Jewish people is as true today as the day it was penned. There are no less than nine reasons for the destruction of Edom and they all relate to how this nation treated the Jewish people. Dr. Charles Feinberg eloquently states the fate awaiting nations who tread on Israel and the Jewish people.

“No nation under heaven could touch Israel for ill without bringing down upon them the wrath of almighty God. The pages of history are strewn with the wreckage of nations who, though great in the eyes and councils of the world, incurred the just wrath of an outraged God. While God reserved the right to judge His chosen people for their sins, He also reserves the right to judge those who spitefully treat the Jews, and thus bring reproach on the One who made an everlasting covenant with Israel.”1


The Edomites were descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau. Genesis 36:1 tells us, “Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.” From the womb Jacob and Esau struggled, Genesis 25:22, foreshadowing the history of the relationship between Edom and Israel.

Obadiah 10 records that Edom’s violence against Israel would result in her destruction. Nations may think they are immune from God’s judgment when they mistreat Israel. Edom is an example that this is not the case.


It is important to remember that all nine reasons revolve around Edom’s treatment of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. Are all nine reasons necessary for the destruction of a nation? Likely not. But for Edom there were nine acts of anti-Semitism that led to her demise.

The first reason for Edom’s demise is found in verse 11. They stood by as others plundered the Jewish people, not being directly involved but supportive. A nation is held accountable when they know it is wrong to persecute Jewish people/Israel yet stand passively by in support of what is occurring.

In verse 12, there are an additional 3 reasons. First, Edom watched as the Jewish people became captives. Second, Edom rejoiced over the destruction of the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. Finally, Edom gloated over the calamity that came upon the Jewish people.

Edom may not have actively been involved in what took place, but they supported the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel and rejoiced in it. Edom’s hatred of Israel and her people made them culpable before God. Passivity in the light of biblical truth is never excusable. And it is difficult to speak of Edom’s actions as passive when they were vocal supporters of Israel’s destruction. The lament of the psalmist concerning Edom’s complicity is recorded for us.

Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof,” Psalm 137:7.

The next 3 reasons are stated in verse 13. Edom plundered the land and the people. No longer did they sit idly by. With the destruction of Israel by Babylon, they took advantage of the destruction when they “entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity.” As they entered “the gate” they stood by and looked at the affliction of the Jewish people with indifference. The carnage was immense. Thousands were dead and likely many thousands in need of medical attention. Edom’s response? Silence. Nothing. And the third reason listed in this verse is they then plundered the wealth of the Jewish people taken into captivity.

The final two reasons are found in verse 14. In Edom’s hatred of the Jewish people they prevented Jewish people from escaping and, finally, were complicit in the death of Jewish people by delivering them to their enemy.


Verse 15 is a key verse as it uses the situation with Edom as an example of all nations and God’s “day of the LORD” judgment in the future Tribulation period. Don’t miss the importance of this transition from the historical antisemitic hatred of Edom to the future day of God’s judgment against all nations because of their hatred of Israel and Jewish people. Edom is an illustration of the destiny of any nation, at any time, but especially in the future seven-year Tribulation period of God’s destruction of nations for their hostility against Israel and Jewish people.

Tony Garland, in his commentary, correctly states:

“If Obadiah sees Edom as typifying the Gentile nations of the time of the end, we must ask the question in what way does Edom typify the Gentile nations? Does Obadiah condemn Edom merely for general ungodly behavior?  No. As we have seen, Obadiah’s prophecy of judgment upon Edom is closely connected with her refusal to recognize God’s choice of Israel and failure to treat the chosen nation accordingly. The evidence before us suggests that Edom’s condemnation is not primarily for general godlessness — as if she had behaved like Sodom or Gomorrah. No, her condemnation is fueled by her rejection of Israel — her behavior toward the descendents [sic] of Jacob. This, in combination with other passages in Scripture, force us to conclude that the Gentile nations will be condemned not only because of their godlessness, but also for their mistreatment and opposition of the chosen nation — their refusal to accept what God has said concerning Israel (Joel 3:1-2; Matthew 25:31-46).” 2

Notice what verse 15 emphasizes:

For the day of the LORD is near.
 This speaks of the 7-year Tribulation period. From the eternal God’s perspective it is near. Today, with the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948, the end-time prophetic clock has started and, certainly,
The day of the LORD is near! upon all the heathen.
The judgment will be upon the entire world. Jeremiah, among other prophets, also mentions the universal judgment upon all the nations.

For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished,” Jeremiah 30:11.

as thou hast done 
What have the nations done? They have come against Israel and the Jewish people! Read Zechariah’s comment on the nations desire to destroy Israel in Zechariah 12:3.

And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”

What the nations have meted out will come back like a boomerang.

it shall be done unto thee 
The hatred, violence, and genocide against Israel and the Jewish people will be returned in kind to the nations of the world.

God’s judgment against Edom, and all the nations of the world, is the fulfillment of Genesis 12:3!!! “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee,” is a fundamental truth that governs God’s treatment of nations and individuals regarding their treatment of Israel and the Jewish people.

thy reward shall return upon thine own head 
What the nations intended for Israel will be their destiny instead. Rabbi J.H. Hertz in his book A Book of Jewish Thoughts quotes Olive Schreiner’s recognition of history’s lesson about Europe’s treatment of Jewish people.

“The study of history of Europe during the past centuries teaches us one uniform lesson: That the nations which received and in any way dealt fairly and mercifully with the Jew have prospered; and that the nations that have tortured and oppressed them have written out their own curse.”3

One of the problems with nations and people is that we don’t learn from history. Especially the history of Israel and Jewish people in relation to their treatment by the nations. The reason history is ignored is simple, yet missed by the anti-biblical intellectuals, scholars, and politicians of this world. There is an ongoing conflict between God and Satan. It is recorded in the seminal verse of Genesis 3:15 which established an ongoing war between the Messiah and Satan and the Jewish people and Satan’s followers. Bible deniers are blind to the reality of the ongoing spiritual warfare driving the events of our world. The final verse of this section of Obadiah brings us full circle with God’s judgment upon the nations.

The nations have abused Jerusalem through the centuries. As they have done to Jerusalem, God will do to them. As they intended to do to Israel in the Tribulation period, God will do to them. The promises of judgment upon the nations of the world is replete throughout Scripture.

For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them,” Psalms 75:8.

For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them,” Jeremiah 25:15-16.

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it,” Zechariah 12:2-3.

The lesson of this portion of Obadiah is daunting for nations who undermine and persecute Israel and Jewish people. There is no escaping the immutable promise of Genesis 12:3. Even when a nation, such as the U.S.A. which has historically befriended Jewish people and Israel, starts out well in relation to Jewish people and Israel, when the nation becomes anti-Semitic and takes deceptive positions antithetical to Israel, they will not be spared the judgment of God. God is not mocked. His righteousness, holiness, and purpose for Israel and the Jewish people will come to fruition. The enemies of Israel and Jewish people, who are also enemies of God, will receive their just reward: “…for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” Romans 12:19.

End Notes

1 Feinberg, Charles Lee, The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord, Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969, p. 146.

2.Garland, Tony, Obadiah Commentary,

3 Olive Schreiner, South African novelist, intellectual, and social activist, 1855 – 1920, quoted by Chief Rabbi J.H. Hertz, A Book of Jewish Thoughts, Oxford University Press, 1966, p. 180.