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Bible verses about Edomites
(From Forerunner Commentary)

One might imagine that, because of all the trouble Israel and Judah have suffered at the hands of the Edomites down through history, Obadiah would have written his prophecy against Edom with great antagonism: "These are our enemies, and they deserve this!" This, however, does not seem to have been the case. A sadness seems to run through the book; there is a sense that Obadiah's poetry is a lament for an entire people caught in the act of rebellion against God. From time to time, his message takes on an imploring tone, suggesting an ephemeral hope that they - or at least some of them - will change. Between the lines are hints that perhaps some Edomites will read this message and not do what their fellow Edomites are prophesied to do. This slight hope may spring from God's command in Deuteronomy 2:2-6:

And the LORD spoke to [Moses], saying: "You have skirted this mountain [Mount Seir] long enough; turn northward. And command the people, saying, 'You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. You shall buy food from them with money, that you may eat; and you shall also buy water from them with money, that you may drink.'"

God tells Israel, "Treat the Edomites with kid gloves as you go through their land." Later, in Deuteronomy 23:7, He warns them again, "You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother." By God's command, Israel was to approach the Edomites with fraternal care in all their dealings. Brothers have a bond by virtue of birth; they are of the same blood. They should get along, and cooperate with each other. Each should guard the other's back.

The two sons of Isaac rarely treated each other in this manner, but this is the standard to which God held the Israelites. Obadiah may have written his message with God's standard in mind. In his vision, he sees Edom's mistakes as the Edomites stubbornly head toward destruction. The prophecy takes the form of a brotherly warning for them to turn from their course before it is too late, but by all indications, Obadiah's warnings will go unheeded.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Genesis 27:39-41  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Once Isaac had given his - really God's - blessing, there was nothing left for Esau. The blessing was an "all or nothing" addition to the inheritance; it could not be portioned between Isaac's two sons. In reality, the subsequent "blessing" Esau receives is tantamount to a curse. In the New King James Version, it reads as if Isaac blesses Esau in Genesis 27:39-40, yet it is not a blessing but a prophecy.

As shown here, the two uses of "of" in verse 39 have been mistranslated; in this context, the Hebrew word implies, not "belonging to," but "from" or "away from." On this verse, the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament observes, "By a play upon the words Isaac uses the same expression as in v. 28, 'from the fat fields of the earth, and from the dew,' but in the opposite sense, min being partitive [imparting] there, and privative [depriving] here, 'from = away from.'" Thus, Isaac prophesies that Esau's descendants would live in an infertile, arid area.

One consequence of this is prophesied in verse 40: There will be continual strife between the "have," Jacob, and the "have-not," Esau; they would engage in a constant, internecine quarrel over "the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven." More often than not, Jacob would be dominant - until Esau would rebel in frustration and anger. Isaac predicts that they will frequently come to blows, and occasionally, Esau's descendants will enjoy the upper hand for a time.

Esau's utterly human reaction upon hearing Isaac's words is consistent with what we know of his personality: "So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob" (Genesis 27:41). Too late, he realized the value of the blessing, and now his entire attention was focused in hatred against his brother. Hebrews 12:15-16 describes his attitude toward Jacob as a "root of bitterness," a profound and deep-set animosity that ultimately corrupts and defiles one who maintains it.

This reveals the mindset of Esau and his descendants, the Edomites. Everything that should have been theirs was now Jacob's, and they will fight until the bitter end of days to get it back! Yet God says it is not to be. His prophecy in the "blessing" allows Esau only occasional supremacy. Since Jacob's seed possessed both the birthright and the blessing, they would normally prevail and ultimately have the ascendancy.

The birthright made Jacob the recipient of a double portion of the inheritance, and the blessing was a gift of God by which the patriarch passed on the promised family blessings. These blessings included the patriarchy - "Be master over your brethren" (Genesis 27:29) - which was now Jacob's! This meant that, upon Isaac's death, the leadership position in Abraham's family passed not to the elder, Esau, but to the younger, Jacob. Esau was left to form his own house, but without the power, position, and wealth inherent within the birthright and the blessing.

In these prophecies, the Bible shows that dominant family traits are passed down to succeeding generations. Therefore, even today, Israelites generally think and behave much like their father Jacob, while Edomites still retain the attitudes and drives of Esau. Though not every Israelite or Edomite will imitate his ancestor's personality to the letter, these traits will surface as national characteristics, allowing perceptive observers to identify their origins and fit them into Bible prophecy.

For Jacob's thefts of the birthright and blessing, Esau hated his brother enough to begin to plot his death! This burning hatred has been passed on from generation to generation ever since that time, for approximately 3,700 years. This, then, provides us with a basic understanding of the contentious relationship between these two peoples.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part One)


 

Genesis 27:39-40  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In Genesis 27:39-40, Isaac prophesies concerning his elder son, Esau, after the young man had discovered that Jacob had stolen the patriarchal blessing from him, and tearfully begged his father to bless him also.

The gist of the prophecy is actually a curse, predicting that Esau's descendants would dwell away from fertile lands and plentiful rainfall, live in near-constant conflict, and serve Jacob's offspring except in infrequent instances of rebellion. It is no wonder that Esau's hatred for his younger brother burned so intensely.

Since Jacob would inherit the patriarchy from Isaac upon their father's death, Esau chose to move away to another land rather than chafe under his brother's future headship in Canaan. "Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the persons of his household, his cattle and all his animals, and all his goods which he had gained in the land of Canaan, and went to a country away from the presence of his brother Jacob" (Genesis 36:6).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Genesis 36:1-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Edom heads the list of Israel's enemies in Psalm 83. From the days of Esau himself, a burning hatred of Israel has been nourished among the Edomites. God says through the prophet Amos, "For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever" (Amos 1:11). If any people would form and lead a confederacy against the Israelites, it would be Edom.

As the man Esau matured, married, and had children, he made critical alliances with surrounding peoples, recorded in Genesis 36. In writing this book of beginnings, Moses took the effort to include an entire chapter on the Edomites alone. He was careful to include specific details about who was born to whom and who ruled this or that area. In addition, he reminds the reader several times of his subject:

» Verse 1: "This is the genealogy of Esau, who is Edom."

» Verse 8: "Esau is Edom."

» Verse 19: ". . . Esau, who is Edom. . . ."

» Verse 43: "Esau was the father of the Edomites."

When God repeats Himself, He is usually trying to convey an important matter. He is reminding Israel not to forget that the Edomites have their source in Esau. To deal with them correctly, the Israelites would have to know who the Edomites were and be prepared for their predictable and incessant attacks—and consciously or not, the Edomites never have stopped trying to win back what Esau lost to Jacob! Further, we today will readily recognize them by the biblical clues recorded about their forefather.

In introducing the family of Esau, Moses includes the names and derivations of Esau's wives: "Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite; Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; and Basemath, Ishmael's daughter, sister of Nebajoth" (Genesis 36:2-3). Esau bound himself by marriage to the Hittites, the Hivites—both Canaanite tribes—and the Ishmaelites.

The Hittites, descended from Heth, son of Canaan, were, by far, the strongest and biggest of these tribes, possessing a huge empire that stretched from Asia Minor to Palestine, with its capital in what is today central Turkey. The "Land of Hatti" was the major empire of Abraham's time, having the commercial, cultural, and military power to influence the entire Levant.

The Hivites were a related but less numerous people living in the land of Canaan. They may be those whom the Bible calls elsewhere "Horites" and whom history terms "Hurrians," a people centered in northern Mesopotamia, who had once been a dominant people in the region. In Esau's time, they seem to have had several strongholds in central Canaan, including Shechem. Deuteronomy 2:12, 22 records that the Edomites destroyed and perhaps absorbed a branch of Horites living in Seir, taking their land for themselves.

It is now clear how close the ties were between the Edomites, the Hittites, the Hivites, and the Ishmaelites. They were all related by marriage and blood!

We find another blood-connection in Genesis 36:11-12: "And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz, Esau's son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Adah, Esau's wife." The Amalekites, descended from Amalek, a grandson of Esau, fall naturally into the anti-Israel alliance. Verse 16 mentions that Amalek became a chief among the Edomites. Although the son of a concubine, he nonetheless became head of a significant tribe, which in later times distinguished itself as a ruthless enemy of Israel.

Notice, too, that Teman, since he is listed first, is probably the firstborn son of Eliphaz, who is the firstborn son of Esau. Teman's name became attached to the central part of Edomite territory, where he and his clan evidently settled. A city by the name of Teman existed not far from Petra. Habakkuk 3:3 shows the area of Teman in parallel with Mount Paran, which some consider to be a poetic reference to Mount Sinai, but it more likely refers to Mount Seir in central Edom. It is helpful to remember that some of the prophecies concerning Esau use Teman as an alternative name for Edom.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Two)


 

Exodus 17:16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Though Esau himself was full of bitter hatred, and Ishmael is described as a wild man, Amalek seems to have been the worst of the Edomite-related peoples. The Bible records that even God has a special enmity for Amalek, saying in Exodus 17:16, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." What is it about the Amalekites that turns God against them?

The story begins as the Israelites are fleeing from Egypt, having just crossed the Red Sea, as Exodus 17:8 chronicles, "Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim." Evidently, the Amalekites had heard of Egypt's total defeat at the Red Sea and decided to take advantage of its usually more powerful neighbor's weakness. Between them and their prize, however, walked a strung out line of Israelite wanderers, who seemed to be, not only laden with Egyptian loot, but also easy pickings.

Deuteronomy 25:17-18 fills out the story: "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God." The Amalekites, not daring to take on the main host of Israel, attacked the tail end of the line, where the slow and weak plodded along. Yet, as Moses notes, the Amalekites did not include God in their calculations.

Moses commanded Joshua to select men to fight, and the Israelites met the Amalekites in battle. The result of this seesaw fight appears in Exodus 17:13-16. Forty years later, when Israel is about to cross over Jordan, God reminds Israel of Amalek's perfidious act and charges them:

Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget. (Deuteronomy 25:19)

The Amalekites appear again in the well-known episode in which God instructed King Saul to carry out this command:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: "I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." (I Samuel 15:2-3)

However, despite winning the battle, Saul did not follow God's instructions completely: "But Saul and the people spared Agag [king of the Amalekites] and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed" (verse 9). God sent the prophet Samuel to tell Saul that He had rejected him as king, as well as to execute Agag.

Obviously, some Amalekites escaped Saul's army. Five centuries later, as recorded in the story of Esther, an evil man named Haman plotted genocide against the Jews in Persia during the reign of Xerxes. Haman was "the son of Hammedatha the Agagite" (Esther 3:1), probably directly descended from the Amalekite king Samuel killed.

These accounts relate the sort of trickery, terrorism, and underhandedness that the Amalekites seem to use perpetually. One can only conclude that these tactics are passed from generation to generation, becoming a hereditary trait. God has recorded these episodes to indicate to us how Amalek historically treats Israel. If a confederacy is formed against Israel, the Amalekites will be a part of it, and they will be eager to use any means to bring her down.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Two)


 

Numbers 22:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The forty years of wilderness wandering were about over. The Israelites had spent all this time coming out of Egypt, wandering from camp to camp, sometimes staying quite long in one place and perhaps just a night in another, moving again, sometimes coming back to stay at a place where they had been then moving onward again. Nevertheless, they were always marching inexorably toward the Promised Land—Canaan.

At this time, they camped across from Jericho, just steps away from going into the Promised Land. They were ready to cross the Jordan, and begin the conquest.

As recorded in Numbers 21, they had just defeated the Amorites under King Sihon, and they had smashed them—crushed them! Sihon and the Amorites were the big power on the East Bank of the Jordan, but their defeat was like swatting a fly to Israel.

Then they went next to Bashan and defeated King Og and his armies. They decimated them. In this way, the whole East Bank of the Jordan River became Israelite territory. Also on the East Bank, farther south on the east side of the Dead Sea where the Jordan enters it, was the country of Moab. The Israelites had marched right along their northern border, opposite Jericho.

Israel was nothing like we see on the movie The Ten Commandments (or some other Bible movie about the Exodus), where the depict the entire children of Israel as about 15 people with maybe four or five sheep. Realistic estimates conclude that Israel consisted of perhaps 2 to 3 million people, plus all the livestock and all the gear that they had brought with them. This was a train of people that stretched for miles! It took them a day or two to pass any one point from the first to the last person. Isreal was a huge, mobile nation! Moab was perhaps about the same size as the children of Israel, and they watched all these people pass through northern reaches of their territory. They had heard what Israel had done to Sihon, Og, and all their people. They were frightened witless!

As Isreal approached this region, God had told them not to mess with the Moabites and the Edomites because they were distant relatives of the Israelites (Deuteronomy 2:8-9). Evidently, the Moabites and the Edomites were not aware of God's edict because they figured that these 3 million people were a threat to them.

While they were camped across from Jericho, Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy. He would also go up Mount Nebo and view the land Israel was to inherit (Deuteronomy 32:48-52). After that, he would die, and God would bury his body in a valley opposite Beth Peor (Deuteronomy 34:6).

Many events were to happen in these final months while the Israelites were camped next to Moab. Much had to be done before they went in. This is the time setting of the events concerning Balaam.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Balaam and the End-Time Church (Part 1)


 

Numbers 24:17-19  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In this oracle, the time setting jumps forward to the end time and the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings. His words certainly touch on His first coming, but the thrust of the passage is on His royal power to defeat and rule the enemies of Israel. It shows Edom and Moab (and later, Amalek; verse 20) taking the brunt His wrath at His return (Isaiah 15-16; 34:5-7; Jeremiah 48:1-47; 49:7-22; Lamentations 4:21-22; Ezekiel 25:8-14; 35:1-15; Obadiah 1:15-21; etc.). These peoples are singled out because of their open hostility toward Israel and represent all nations who oppose God.

The opening words of Numbers 24:17 emphasize the long-range nature of this final prophecy. The coming of the Messiah is "not now" and "not near"; indeed, it would be 1,400 years until His coming as the Son of Man and another 2,000 years or more until His return as King. The symbols of "a Star" and "a Scepter" are both ancient and widespread figures for monarchs, and some scholars feel that at least the star symbol may represent Deity (many ancient monarchs were considered gods or the gods' offspring). In Jesus Christ's case, this would be true.

"While Israel does valiantly" (verse 18) may have a physical-spiritual fulfillment much like Daniel 11:32: "The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits." It can also be linked to Zechariah 12:8: "In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them" (see also Zechariah 9:13; 10:5). Certainly, in the context of judgment on Edom, Obadiah 1:18 is relevant: "The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau" (see also Amos 9:11-12).

The first part of Numbers 24:19 is a clear reference to Jacob's prophecy in Genesis 49:10: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, . . . until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people." The second half of the verse is better in the New International Version: "[He will] destroy the survivors of the city." To which city this verse refers is not known. Some postulate Petra as the chief city of the Edomites, while others take it generally as any city of Edom. The latter view is preferable, as the thrust of the passage is that this great Ruler will possess and rule over everyone—no one will escape His judgment.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Prophecies of Balaam (Part Two)


 

Deuteronomy 2:12  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Deuteronomy 2:12 records what happened in later times, when the Edomites grew populous and strong: "The Horites formerly dwelt in Seir, but the descendants of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which the LORD gave them." Because of both the Edomites' blood ties and their later conquest of the Horites of Mount Seir, the descendants of Esau later became identified as "Seir," as well as "Edom" and several other names.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Obadiah 1:1-4  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Edom lived in the area east of the Jordan in the mountainous areas south of the Dead Sea—a dry, barren, rocky place. Here, in this end-time prophecy, Edomites are still living in this inhospitable place.

Verse 1 contains a parenthetical statement that informs us that God has sent a messenger among the nations, urging them to "rise up against her." This is how things really work: God is the prime mover of world affairs. He determines His purpose and starts affairs rolling toward its fulfillment by inspiring an idea. Then the political and diplomatic mechanisms of nations take over to bring it to fruition, guided and pushed all the while by God (see Isaiah 46:9-11; Isaiah 55:11).

In this case, a national leader decides to send an ambassador to other nations to form a military alliance against Edom. The complaint, as explained in subsequent verses, is that Edom must be brought down to size, perhaps because she is not a team player, wanting all the glory and plunder for herself. That God is the ultimate author of this message means that it will happen as advertised.

Obadiah 1:2 adds emphasis to verse 1. The "I" is God Himself; it is His purpose to bring about Edom's national deflation. He wants Edom to recognize this! He thinks that the Edomites need to be brought into account for their actions and severely punished. Those among the nations who are scheming against Edom are merely agents God will use to fulfill His decree.

Verse 3 strikes at the root of Edom's problem: "The pride of your heart." It was easy for the Edomites to believe themselves to be invincible due to the nearly uninhabitable territory they dwelled in. To the west, where Israel lay, the geography made their territory nearly impregnable. Otherwise, they could feel secure because their fortresses were carved out of the rock, so they could either hunker down for long periods or engage in guerilla warfare. An attacking army could in no way pry them out, and they knew it. They felt invulnerable, and this filled them with pride.

"Pride" in verse 3 is the Hebrew word zadon, from the root, ziyd. This root is translated "cooked" in Genesis 25:29, where Jacob cooked a stew that the famished Esau desired. "Cooked" would be better translated "boiled" or "seethed." When heat is applied to water, it boils, and from this process, the Hebrews gained their understanding of pride.

Obadiah, it seems, specifically used this word to draw the reader's attention back to this incident, perhaps suggesting that Esau's selling of the birthright was rooted in his pride. Esau became heated and angry, and it manifested itself as haughtiness, arrogance, pride—the major trait he passed on to his descendants. Just as stew boils up under heat, so Edom puffs herself up thinking that she is self-reliant and invincible. God, however, is out to prove her wrong.

The Edomite challenge at the end of Obadiah 1:3 bears some scrutiny: "Who will bring me down to the ground?" This is remarkably similar to the words of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13-14 and to those of the great harlot in Revelation 18:7. This same pride will lead Edom into trouble. The Bible declares that, in all three of these examples, God will have the last word: He will humble them all. In Obadiah 1:4, He decrees, no matter how high and mighty Edom considers herself to be, "from there I will bring you down."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Obadiah 1:7-9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

While verses 5-6 focus on the ransacking of Edom's wealth, verses 7-8 home in on the diminution of their wisdom and understanding. In other words, their "smarts" will be taken from them. A parallel prophecy in Jeremiah 49:7 asks, "Is wisdom no more in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom vanished?"

These rhetorical questions presuppose that both counsel and wisdom are Edomite hallmarks. Historically, Edom was known in the region for its sagacity, having produced some notable wise men. In Job 1, the narrator relates that Job is from Uz, thought to have been in the area of Edom, and Job 4 introduces Eliphaz the Temanite, one of his (supposedly) wise friends who counseled him.

That Edom has a reputation for wisdom makes its removal a more personal, significant, and ghastly punishment. Indeed, it is a stern lesson for the reader: For their sins and crimes, the Edomites are prophesied to lose, not just their wealth, but also their less tangible riches—even their common sense! The worst part may be that they will fail to recognize that it has deserted them.

Verse 7 also describes their confederates and allies betraying them to the point that even Edom's ambassadors will be shown to the border, yet the Edomites will reckon that their "friends" are acting in good faith toward them. This is the essence of the last clause, "No one is aware of it," suggesting that none of the Edomites understands that they have been betrayed.

Obadiah paints an illustration of Edomites sitting down to eat with their allies and not perceiving the treacherous trap being laid for them. Something clouds or blinds their eyes. Similarly, the disciples on the road to Emmaus could not recognize Jesus, despite having spent many years with Him (Luke 24:16). One day, God will blind Edomite eyes to their peril just as He, for His own purposes, has blinded the minds of Israelites in the reading of His Word (II Corinthians 3:14-15). In Edom's case, He will remove her wisdom so that she will be unable to avoid betrayal and destruction.

Verse 9 relates the consequence of the loss of wisdom: Edomite leaders and warriors will lose their courage, leading to annihilation. Edom will reap what she has sown, which Obadiah details in the next section.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Obadiah 1:10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Leviticus 19:17, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart," succinctly describes the fundamental flaw in Edom, hatred. Edom's hatred is the primary consequence of her pride. Because he always felt that he should have been the master and received his father's wealth and blessings, Esau nursed his wounded feelings of superiority, and it boiled over into hatred of his brother. This flaw became a prime feature of Edomite character.

Hatred against a brother can lead a person to terrible acts, most often underhanded ones. In the case of the Edomites, their vile attitudes first manifested themselves in such things as gloating and rejoicing over Israel's catastrophes, and led to actions such as pillaging, selling into slavery, and taking the other's territory when Israel and Judah were weak.

God encapsulates the reason for His terrible judgment against Edom into a single word: "violence." In Hebrew, this word is chamas, believe it or not, so strikingly similar to the name of the Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas. In actuality, Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawima al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Resistance Movement. Along with Hezbollah, it has been Israel's chief enemy for many years. It is difficult to see this as a mere coincidence.

Could this be a scriptural clue as to the modern-day identity of Edom or perhaps Amalek? The details revealed in Obadiah support such a conclusion. A survey of recent Middle East history shows how Hamas has set itself against the Jews; no other group bears such vehement hatred for them. Even though it has secured political power in Palestine, it will not renounce its perpetual hatred against the state of Israel - not even to become a viable player on the world stage. Members of Hamas simply want to annihilate Israel.

Chamas suggests immoral, cruel violence, going hand-in-hand with "slaughter" in the previous verse. The two words are undoubtedly linked. Edom will be cut off with the same slaughter and in the same manner by which she treated Israel: with violence, with chamas!

Why does God describe Esau in these terms? What drives Esau to hate Israel so viscerally? Deuteronomy 32 succinctly illustrates God's attentive relationship with Israel, how He found her, cared for her, and formed her into a great nation. God's love for Israel undergirds why hatred and violence against Israel is such a terrible transgression. Indeed, God's relationship with Israel is a driving factor behind Edom's hot anger - it is essentially jealousy!

Zechariah 2:8 describes Israel as "the apple of His eye." If a person pokes another in the eye, it hurts the recipient terribly. Because Esau's perpetual enmity and violence against Israel are fingers in God's eye, He takes extreme umbrage. The Edomites, rebelling against God's will, picked on one whom God has chosen. This is sin, not only against Israel, but also against God. Rather than humbly bowing before His will that the older shall serve the younger, Edom has waged perpetual war against Jacob's descendants. In doing so, she has, in effect, declared war against God - a very serious sin.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Obadiah 1:10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Edomites' record of brutality and aggression against Israel is found throughout Scripture. Earlier, we saw Esau's personal hatred and murderous vow against Jacob (Genesis 27:41), the Amalekites' sneaky attack against the Israelite stragglers in the wilderness (Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy 25:17-19), Amalek's alliances with other nations against Israel (Judges 3:12-14; 6:1-6), and even Haman's attempt to exterminate the Jews in Persia (Esther 3:1, 8-11, 13). Beyond these, the Bible provides more examples of Edom's almost incessant hostility against Israel and Judah and against God's will.

Psalm 137 is a lament describing the Jews' grief and longing for Jerusalem while they were held captive in Babylon. They were too forlorn even to sing "the LORD'S song in a foreign land" (verse 4). The later verses tell of the Edomites' role in the sack of Jerusalem, and the psalm ends with the Jews' hope that the Edomites will suffer as they had:

Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom, the day of Jerusalem, who said, "Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!" O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy the one who repays you as you have served us! Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock! (Psalm 137:7-9)

Evidently, in 586 BC, the Edomites had joined with Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian forces against Judah and reveled in the Jews' defeat, committing atrocities against defenseless babies and youngsters.

Other Old Testament chroniclers add to the tally against Edom. God, through the prophet Ezekiel, relates the same account of fratricide, as well as what He has determined to be His just response to Edom's cruelty against His chosen people. These prophecies agree in full with Obadiah's:

» Because of what Edom did against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them, therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance," says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 25:12-14)

» "Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you. . . . Because you have said, 'These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,' although the LORD was there, therefore, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them. . . . The whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate. As you rejoiced because the inheritance of the house of Israel was desolate, so I will do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom—all of it! Then they shall know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 35:5-6, 10-11, 14-15)

» Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with whole-hearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country. (Ezekiel 36:5)

Jeremiah also refers to Edomite perfidy in the same destruction of Jerusalem:

Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, you who dwell in the land of Uz! The cup shall also pass over to you and you shall become drunk and make yourself naked [see Jeremiah 25:15-38]. . . . He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will uncover your sins! (Lamentations 4:21-22)

Among these, the prophecy in Joel 3:19 is most interesting, since the prophet Joel lived in the latter half of the ninth century BC, 250 years before Jerusalem fell to the Neo-Babylonians! He writes, "And Edom [shall be] a desolate wilderness, because of violence against the people of Judah, for they have shed innocent blood in their land." Amos, writing in the mid-eighth century bc, accuses Edom of similar crimes:

For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother with a sword, and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever. But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. (Amos 1:11-12)

In the Bible, we have a comprehensive record of the violence that Edom has perpetrated against ancient Israel and Judah. The evidence from Obadiah reveals that the Edomites will continue their anti-Israel crime spree until God Himself intervenes in the last days. He takes great offense to these heinous acts, and thus He promises, they "shall be cut off forever" (Obadiah 1:10).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Obadiah 1:10-14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Obadiah 10 had named the Edomites' great sin: "violence against your brother Jacob." The four subsequent verses tick off a number of illustrations of the Edomites' violence toward Israel, providing an expanded description of their transgression.

The prophet's first example (in verse 11), the only one requiring explanation, is that they "stood on the other side." This Hebraism indicates they "stood aloof," a description of their haughtiness. God is emphasizing their attitude here. Literally, the phrase reads, "stood from in front of them," a roundabout way of saying that the Edomites considered themselves too good to stand with them. In other words, because of their pride, they stood off to the side or in front of them, effectively separating themselves from their brother.

Their action reflected their hearts, saying, in effect, "Do not confuse us with them!" It indicates an attitude of great superiority, of haughty pride and separation. Thus, instead of standing with Israel in her defense, they stood aside and let the enemy do what it would. Edom did not behave as a brother nation should have. Even had the Edomites not been directly engaged in the hostilities against Israel, this act alone reveals that their loyalties were solidly with Israel's enemy.

The New King James Version poorly translates verses 12-14, rendering them in the past tense, when the Hebrew text relates this story in the future tense. The difference in tense transforms a castigating historical narrative into a more appropriate and stern warning against future activity:

But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress. Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their calamity; do not gloat over his disaster in the day of his calamity; do not loot his wealth in the day of his calamity. Do not stand at the crossroads to cut off his fugitives; do not hand over his survivors in the day of distress. (English Standard Version)

Specifically, what is the day of Israel's calamity? Jeremiah 30:5-7 provides the answer:

For thus says the LORD: "We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it."

Jesus also spoke about this distressing day in His Olivet Prophecy:

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22)

"The time of Jacob's trouble," more commonly known as "the Great Tribulation," is a period of intense hardship and war for the people of Israel. It is generally thought that it will last three and a half years (Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 11:2; 12:14; 13:5), until Jesus Christ returns in power to defeat the Beast and his armies and to rule all nations (Revelation 19:11-21). According to Jesus' description, it is a time of global holocaust; if God did not intervene, all life on earth would cease!

The warnings in Obadiah 12-14 are directed toward the Edomites alive when that day arrives, perhaps not very long from now. We may have seen a precursor of the fulfillment of this prophecy, when, on and after September 11, 2001, television news programs broadcast images of Palestinians gloating and dancing in the streets in the West Bank, giving out candy, and shrieking in giddy celebration. Such a scene is likely to happen again when the Great Tribulation fully comes upon the nations of Israel.

At that time, the people of Edom may not have a great deal of power over the nations of Israel, and the prophecies do not indicate that they will. Today, their strength is limited to suicidal terrorist attacks, but they still have the ability to mock, to pillage, and to take advantage of any sign of weakness. God says in Obadiah 6-9 that He will remove their wealth, their wisdom, and their courage, but they will still be able to gloat when they see Israel fall.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Obadiah 1:11-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

If repetition is the best form of emphasis, God goes overboard in the chapter-long, prophetic book of Obadiah. Between Obadiah 11 and 14, a total of four verses, the phrase "in the day" or "on the day" occurs ten times. It acts as a kind of refrain in the prophet's song of lamentation over the nation of Edom. It repetitiously reminds the reader or listener of a specific time when the Edomites' iniquity came to a head, sealing their fate.

It is also a prophetic clue. The phrase functions like a series of huge billboards, each one illuminated by glaring spotlights, but rather than displaying successive lines of a ditty, like the old Burma Shave signs, these all repeat the same phrase: "in the day"! In these verses, God is essentially shouting at us as through a loudspeaker, "This occurs 'in the day'! 'In the day' is when this happens!"

Earlier, in verse 8, God had introduced the time setting with the phrase "in that day." He refers to the time when Edom's allies betray the descendants of Esau and lay a cunning snare for them, one they fail to perceive until far too late. God informs them through the prophecy that He had had a hand in destroying Edom's wise men, who, had they been present, may have been able to discern the trap before it had been sprung.

However, the timing in verse 8 is vague, having little supporting detail to fix it in history. Subsequent verses reiterate the fact that God has one particular time in mind, to which He adds detail, alerting us to the fact that this day is not Edom's day, but his brother Jacob's day (verse 12). In addition, it is a time of distress, calamity, captivity, and destruction.

In verse 15, though, God tells us plainly, "For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near." He has in mind a particular period of His great plan, a time when the various threads of human history, religion, culture, and thought terminate in confusion and rebellion against God, and He Himself takes center-stage to resolve the Satanic mess. Though the Edomites have gloated over Israel's misfortune on other days in the past, it will recur most egregiously in this time of the end, causing God to decree, "As you have done, it shall be done to you. . . . No survivor shall remain of the house of Esau" (verses 15, 18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Obadiah 1:15-16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The theme of Obadiah 15-16 appears in Jeremiah 25:28: "And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "You shall certainly drink!"'" Edom, God proclaims, shall certainly drink of the wine of His wrath.

Upon the heels of the Great Tribulation comes the Day of the Lord, as Obadiah declares in verse 15. It is a time of reckoning, or as the prophet phrases it, "As you have done, it shall be done to you." This is a biblical law. The Romans called it lex talionis, meaning "law of retaliation" or "law of just retribution." In biblical terms, we know it as the "eye for an eye" principle (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-20; Matthew 5:38). Jesus says that whatever we measure out to others will be measured back to us (Luke 6:38). Paul writes of it as, "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (II Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7-8). God says that this is how He will judge Edom in the Day of His wrath: "Your reprisal shall return upon your own head."

He continues in Obadiah 16: "For as you drank on my holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been." This last part can be better translated, "Yes, they [Edom and its confederates] shall drink and drink and drink until they drink themselves right out of existence." What a dire threat! God essentially tells them that, though they may gloat at first, He will deal with them in His day of vengeance and wipe them from the face of the earth! God does not take these things lightly.

Edom may have drunk on God's holy mountain numerous times. Edomites likely drank in feasting and gloating over Israel when Babylon and later Rome captured and destroyed Jerusalem. Perhaps they thought that the land of Canaan would finally be their inheritance. It could also be descriptive of the present status of the Temple Mount, currently held by the Palestinians, who have strict rules against the Jews' use of the Temple area. In effect, they gloat over their ability to forbid Jews from entering and praying there, yet it is truly not theirs to regulate. God's retaliation will be harsh.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Matthew 27:22-25  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Nowhere does Matthew—or anyone else—ever tell us that God acquiesced to carry out vengeance on those who cried, "Crucify Him!" before Pilate's judgment hall. Nowhere does Matthew intimate that God consented to punish their children over the centuries. If He had committed Himself to carry out these peoples' so-called "curse," He would have knowingly bound Himself to violate His own law for centuries.

Why, then, have the Jews found themselves so often in such dire straits over the years, not only after the crucifixion of Christ, but for centuries before? They have been persecuted by the Egyptians, the Philistines, the Edomites, the Canaanites, the Sidonians, the Hivites, the Moabites (see Judges 3:3-12), and the Midianites (see Judges 8:1). The catalog of their tormentors includes the Persians of Haman's time, the Greeks of Antiochus' time, the Romans of Imperial times, and afterwards various European and Muslim peoples to the present. Their history of persecution would fill volumes.

Why?

Anciently, only the Jews, along with their Israelite brethren, were the recipients of God's revelation: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth" (Amos 3:2). God counts that revelation as a precious blessing to the family of Abraham, as Paul writes in Romans 3:1-2: "What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God."

To Paul, the Jews were not cursed, but were first, the Greeks second (Romans 2:9-10). He took seriously his commission to carry God's name "before . . . the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15). The book of Acts records that in every town and city he visited, he went first to the local Jewish synagogue; after that, he preached the gospel to the Gentiles. Indeed, he admonished the church at Thessalonica to "become imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea . . . " (I Thessalonians 2:14).

God gave the Jews a lot. Here, the principle of Luke 12:48 enters the picture: "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."

As we know from the Old Testament and as history since has demonstrated, the Jews have repeatedly rejected God, treading His oracles underfoot. Today, many are the Jews who have forsaken God and joined the vanguard of liberal secularism (read, atheism) in the arts, law, politics, science, education—in virtually every field of human endeavor. Throughout their history, many Jews have scorned God's revelation, purposefully making themselves a profane people. So, the corollary of Christ's principle applies, as stated in Luke 12:47: "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes."

The Jews, more than any single people in history, knew God's will, as it is expressed in the "oracles"—His revelation to them. They often have rejected it. As often as they do, their apostasy has carried with it the penalty of "many stripes."

Charles Whitaker
Are the Jews Cursed for Deicide?


 

Romans 9:10-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The way Paul explains this love-hate concept shows God displayed His "hatred" before either Esau or Jacob had ever done a thing, and that His choice of Jacob expressed His love.

No clearer illustration shows that works had nothing to do with God's choice of whom He would use for His purpose. God simply exercised His sovereign right as Creator God to do completely and totally according to His will. He decided to love one and not the other. What about the progeny of Esau, the Edomites? Who are they today, where do they live, and what is their history? God indeed blessed Esau, as Genesis 27:39-40 delineate:

Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck."

Compare these blessings, however, with what God gave Jacob, or Israel. Who has God blessed superabundantly? Who lives in the fairest lands in all the earth? Who has been blessed with God's Word?

Did He do this because the progeny of Jacob is any better than Esau's or anyone else's? No, He did it because He is God. He exercised His sovereignty in our behalf. He loved our fathers and He loves us. Notice Deuteronomy 7:7-8:

The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

There it is, right in His Word. He seems to delight in choosing to pour out spiritual blessing upon those least esteemed and considered the weak (I Corinthians 1:26-31). Does this offend us, that He chooses one and not another? Are we disturbed that He distributes His blessings unequally, to one more, to another less?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Three


 

Revelation 11:9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"Those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies." This really confused commentators up until about 1940 or 1950, because they did not understand how the whole world would be able to see dead bodies in Jerusalem. So, scratching their heads, they thought of it as a mystery. Now we know: Television makes it possible for us to see anything that happens anywhere on earth. With the modern technological advancements over the last half century or so, we have a better grasp on how Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.

The next matter is the phrase "not allow." They do not allow the Two Witnesses' dead bodies to be put into graves, which is the ultimate in disrespect and desecration. Amos 2:1 shows how much God is against this sort of thing, which is why this detail is mentioned in Revelation 11. Amos is summarizing God's judgments on the nations surrounding Israel and Judah:

Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment [meaning, I will punish], because he [the king of Moab] burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime." (Amos 2:1)

The Moabite king evidently exhumed the dead body. Then, in the sight of the defeated Edomites, he burned the bones of one of their kings. To defile the dead is so heinous a crime that God says, "Just for that, I'm going to come and wipe you out." It was a terrible thing for a nation to perpetrate against the king of another nation—despite his being dead for perhaps many years. God is very much against this sort of desecration.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 7)


 

Find more Bible verses about Edomites:
Edomites {Nave's}
 




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