Even his friends, his allies in the conflict with Israel, know that Edom is not to be trusted. They are acquainted with the character of this ancient people, and thus they will do what needs to be done to keep him from dominating them and getting them involved beyond what they are prepared to do. His allies will secretly plan to destroy him. Any confederacy Esau has with others will be short-lived, and this is especially true knowing the deceitful character of his associates! They, too, are untrustworthy bedfellows.
Yet, they are unified in their hatred of Israel, and particularly of the people of Joseph. However, their united hatred will fail to overcome the descendants of Jacob. Ultimately, says verse 18, "The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame," suggesting that God will direct the nations of Joseph to take the lead in punishing Edom. The result will be that "the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them. And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau." What a dire fate!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah
This is quite grim. Edom will not just be defeated but annihilated. Normally, if a thief enters a home, he takes only those things of value and interest; he does not take every item in the house. He takes only those things he can either fence or use himself. Similarly, when grape gatherers go through a vineyard, they take the best for their purposes, leaving the rest on the vine. Some of the clusters might not have ripened, or some might simply be missed. Biblically, a farmer was supposed to leave some of his crop behind for the poor to glean (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-22).
Obadiah 1:5-6 indicates that such selectivity will not be the case when Edom is punished. It will be as if the thieves came and stole everything—to the bare walls! Nothing will be left—even the hidden things will be searched out and taken. God lays out the terrible consequences for Edom's rebellions; He is serious about punishing this people for what they have done. This is what Edom will reap—and what he has sown will shortly be revealed.
The New King James soft-peddles some of the Hebrew verbiage. For instance, in verse 6, "Oh, how Esau shall be searched out!" should be, "Oh, how Esau shall be ransacked!" a much more aggressive and violent expression. "His hidden treasures shall be sought after" suggests a functionary making a thorough search for valuables. The Hebrew, however, describes a pillaging army invading and taking everything of value and destroying the rest. Edom will be completely sacked.
Conversely, one of these two phrases and another in verse 5 also hint at Obadiah's empathetic attitude. "Oh, how you will be cut off!" (verse 5) is a typical Hebrew expression of grief. Obadiah repeats his heartache in verse 6, "Oh, how Esau will be searched out!" The prophet laments that this people must come to such a horrible end.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Obadiah 1:6: