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 1:5: