Introduction to the Book of Obadiah
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“Introduction to the Book of Obadiah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Obadiah,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Introduction to the Book of Obadiah

Why study this book?

As students study the short book of Obadiah, they will learn of the importance of brotherhood and the dangers and consequences of forsaking the commandment to love others. Obadiah delivered his prophecies to the Edomites, who were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother (see Genesis 25:30), and lived in the territory south of Judah. Although the Edomites were not of the house of Israel, they still belonged to the family of Abraham. Unfortunately, the relationship between Judah and Edom was contentious, and each nation viewed the other as an enemy. When Jerusalem was captured, the people of Edom refused to help the people of Judah, gloated over their misfortune, looted the goods they had left behind, and betrayed them to the Babylonians (see Obadiah 1:11–14). Obadiah foretold of the doom that awaited the people of Edom because of their cruelty toward Judah. He also prophesied of the future restoration of Zion and the importance of latter-day temple work, describing those who would participate in it as “saviours” (see Obadiah 1:17–21).

Who wrote this book?

Obadiah 1:1 states that this book records a vision the Lord gave to a prophet named Obadiah. Though a number of individuals named Obadiah are mentioned in 1 Kings, 1–2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, these are references to other persons. Apart from the fact that Obadiah was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, we do not know anything about his background or ministry. Fittingly, the name Obadiah means “servant of the Lord” (see Bible Dictionary, “Obadiah”).

When and where was it written?

Obadiah’s prophecy dates to soon after one of the captures of Jerusalem, probably the conquest by the Babylonians in approximately 586 B.C. (see Bible Dictionary, “Obadiah”).

What are some distinctive features of this book?

The book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament.

Obadiah’s prophecies against Edom are similar to those found in other Old Testament books (see Isaiah 34:5–8; Jeremiah 49:7–22; Ezekiel 25:12–14; 35:1–15; 36:5; Joel 3:19). However, among these prophecies, Obadiah’s are unique in stating that the reason Edom’s cruelty toward Judah was so offensive was because the people of the two nations were related. Particularly cruel was Edom’s decision to stand by while their Israelite brothers and sisters were being destroyed and to rejoice over their misfortune. Obadiah declared that the people of Edom should not “have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction” (Obadiah 1:12).

Additionally, Obadiah’s vision of the future restoration of Zion and of “saviours … on mount Zion” (Obadiah 1:21) applies not only to Jerusalem but also to the latter-day Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that Latter-day Saints can be “as saviors on Mount Zion” by participating in the great work of salvation for the dead (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 473).


Obadiah 1:1–9 Obadiah speaks against Edom’s pride and prophesies of its downfall and destruction.

Obadiah 1:10–16 Edom will be cut off and destroyed because of its cruelty toward Judah.

Obadiah 1:17–21 Obadiah prophesies of Israel’s future restoration.