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Book of the Twelve Prophets of the Tanakh Old Testament
Minor Prophets
Names after the ÖVBE
Jörg Syrlin the Younger : The Prophet Obadja (detail of the choir stalls of the Blaubeuren monastery church , 1493)

Obadja ( Hebrew עֹבַדְיָה 'Ovadyāh ) is the name of a biblical prophet and his writing in the Tanakh . In the Greek Septuagint the book has the title Αβδιου and in the Latin Vulgate Abdiae .

His writing belongs to the Book of the Twelve Prophets . With 21 verses it is the shortest book of the Tanakh.

Text and structure

Because of its brevity, the book is not divided into chapters, but only into verses, as has been customary since the early modern period:

Impending Judgment on Edom (1-9 EU )
Edom's behavior towards Judah (10-16 EU )
The Future Restoration of Israel (17-21 EU )

The book of Obadiah has literal correspondences with Jeremiah 49  EU , which suggests a literary dependence. While the majority of interpreters start with Obadiah as the primary text, see i.a. a. Arndt Meinhold and Jörg Jeremias Obadja as a continuation of Jeremiah .



The name "Obadja" means "servant of YHWH ". This name occurs several times in the Tanakh and designates a total of twelve different people, but there is no indication that the prophet is identical with other bearers of this name, especially since most mentions are only found in lists of genealogy. Georg Fohrer assumed that the short book of the prophets had initially been handed down without the author's name and that the palace ruler of King Ahab, known from 1 Kings 18: 3–16  EU, named Obadja, had been appointed as the author in Obd 1. But that is just as unlikely as the identification of the author with Obadja, a prince at the court of King Joschafat, named in 2 Chr 17.7  EU . So only what is known about the prophet Obadiah is what emerges from his book. So he came from Judah .


Majority opinion

As with other books of the prophets, many exegetes differentiate between the oldest part of the short book of Obadja, which is assigned to the Prophet Obadja, and later updates.

The Prophet Obadiah and his writing

Many historical-critical exegetes assume that Obadja was born after the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 587 BC. Occurred, cf. Obd 11  EU . The year 587/586 BC Chr. As terminus post quem for the Obadja book is represented by Alfons Deissler , Rolf Rendtorff , Werner H. Schmidt , Konrad Schmid , Johan Renkema, who cites Wilhelm Rudolph approvingly : “Looking around for other catastrophes in Jerusalem, on the V. 10– 14 could fit, was a wasted effort anyway, since there was no corresponding event in the history of Jerusalem before 70 AD. ”While Rudolph Obadja is an eyewitness to the historical events, whose writing shows his personal concern, and Otto too Eißfeldt puts verses 1–14.15b soon after 587, Jörg Jeremias dates the Book of Obadja much later and sees the author as the first representative of "scriptural prophecy", as also found in Joel and Deuterosacharja. Eißfeldt also accepts the final version for the book as a whole at a later time, since verses 15.16–18 and 19–21 are “to be assigned to one or rather two later hands”. A more precise estimate is not possible.

Hans Walter Wolff saw Obadja as a cult prophet. After the fall of Jerusalem in 587, the population soon came together for liturgies of litigation and penance (cf. Zech 7,3.5  EU ; Zech 8,19  EU ), and Obadja also appeared publicly at such religious meetings and turned towards the Better announced, namely the punishment of the Edomites. Johan Renkema objects that the cult prophets lost all credibility through the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and that the Jewish population would have trusted an earlier prophet of doom (cf. Klgl 2.17  EU ).

The first was Julius Wellhausen proposed that Obadiah Book "from the 5th century., That is the time when the advance to the Arab tribes from the south and eastern Palestine steppe more before the land of culture and Edom began to add hard" derive.

It is strange and requires explanation that Obadja does not mention the destruction of the temple. Edomites were also involved (cf. Klgl 4.22  EU and 3 Esr 4.45). But the destruction of the temple was in Obadja's prophetic view the work of YHWH himself and was not charged as a crime to the Babylonians and Edomites - so the presumption of Renkema.

Later updates

As a rule, several stages of growth are assumed. Erich Zenger , for example, assumes an update process that runs in three steps:

  • First phase (Obd 2–14.15b): Judgments against Edom. Zenger assumes a temporal proximity and contemporary witness to the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and dates these verses to the time between 586 and 550 BC. Chr.
  • Second phase (Obd 15a.16–18): In the meantime Edom has overtaken its fate and now serves all peoples as an example of divine judgment. The " day of YHWH " is a day of fire; Zion is the place of salvation for Israel. Middle of the 5th century BC Chr.
  • Third phase (Obd 19–21): Prose update on the return of the Jewish diaspora to the Land of Israel . Possibly 4th / 3rd Century BC Chr.

The complex heading (Obd 1) could contain elements from all three phases.

Minority opinion

An older historical-critical reading relates Obd 11  EU to the conquest of Jerusalem by the Arabs and Philistines at the time of King Joram of Judah (851–845 BC). Ernst Sellin and in his entourage Johannes Theis considered "the fighting that broke out between Edom and Judah after Edom's apostasy from Judah around 850 BC (II Kings 8 20-22  EU ) as the cause for the emergence" of the threat against Edom and "therefore set the foundation “Of verses 1–10 around 800 BC. Chr. In addition to the Judean origins of the prophet, the fact that Obadja only mentions the conquest and sacking of the city, but not the destruction of the temple and the deportation of the population, as occurred after the conquest by the Babylonians, speaks for this. The book also shows parallels to the prophecies about Edom in Amos and Jeremiah , for example Obadja 1–10 mostly recur in Jer 49,7–22  EU . In addition, the fact that the editor of the Book of the Twelve Prophets also put Obdja in this ancient time speaks for a dating in the 8th century.

A conquest of Jerusalem by “Philistines and Arabs who live next to the Cushites” at the time of King Joram's reign is not mentioned in the (older) 2nd book of kings, but in the (more recent) 2nd book of the Chronicle, that of the reign Jorams Sondergut offers ( 2 Chr 21,16-17  EU ). This raises the question of how the historical value of this special good is to be assessed. What sources could the chronicler fall back on apart from the main source known to us, the books of kings? Sara Japhet, in her commentary on the chronicle books, considers the existence of historical sources for the special property to be conceivable; there could have been raids by Arabs and Philistines to Judah at the time of Joram. However, it points out that the aggressors in 2 Chr 22.1  EU as Hebrew הַגְּדוּּד haggedūd "the streifschar" are designated; that suggests that it was not a military campaign, but robber gangs.


The Book of Obadya deals with the relationship between Israel and Edom. Israel has been hit by God's judgment, and the neighboring Edomites have benefited from it criminally. The prophet, whose thinking focuses on Zion and Israel, now expects Edom, like Israel before, to be hit by God's punitive judgment ( do-what-happens ). In the books of prophets of the Hebrew Bible there are several texts that are directed against Edom in a similar way: Isa 34  EU , Isa 63.1–6  EU , Jer 49  EU , Ez 35  EU , Am 1,11–12  EU , Am 9 , 11-12  EU .

Impact history

Contents of the book

Israel and Edom, personified in the brothers Jacob and Esau as the ancestral fathers of these peoples, became the paradigm for election and rejection in Christian theology. Corresponding considerations can already be found in Paul of Tarsus ( RomEU ).

In Obd 20, a place name becomes Hebrew סְפָרַד Ṣefārad mentioned; there are many exiled Jerusalemites in this place. According to Jörg Jeremias , the historical identification of Sefarad with the city of Sardis in Lydia , the capital of the Persian province of Sparda, is certain. However, the ancient translators had difficulties with this place name. Historically significant was that Targum Onkelos identified Sefarad with אַסְפַּמְיָה "Hispania". The equation of Sefarad and Spain found widespread use in Jewish exegesis. The Jewish communities on the Iberian Peninsula, already attested in late antiquity, read in Obd 20 their privileged position due to old age, as recipients of prophetic promises and their special connection to Jerusalem; from this the self-designation as Sefardim is derived .

Legendary biography of the prophets

Obadja's biography is a material in early Jewish prophetic legends. From Qumran a “Prayer of Obadja” has been preserved in a fragmentary state (4Q380), although it remains open whether it was put into the mouth of the Prophet Obadja or someone else's name. Flavius ​​Josephus identified the prophet Obadja with the palace overseer Ahabs ( 1 Kings 18.3-16 EU ) and the husband of the prophet's widow  ( 2 Kings 4.1  EU ), whereby Obadja could become a disciple of Elijah and Elisha .

The Obadja-Vita in the Greek, legendary prophetic vitae ( Vitae Prophetarum ) is different . Here three biblical persons are put into one:

  • the author of the book of Obaja,
  • the palace overseer of Ahab ( 1 Kings 18.3–16  EU ),
  • the centurion sent by King Ahaziah 2 Kings 1,13  EU .

The tradition that Obadja is identical with the husband of the Prophet's widow ( 2 Kings 4.1  EU ) is also known to Petrus Comestor as a credible Jewish tradition. Although Elisha is the only student of Elijah in the biblical books of kings, the Haggadah later assumes four students of Elijah: Micah , Jonah , Obadja and Elisha.

The identification of the prophet Obadja with the palace overseer of Ahab is widely documented in the Jewish tradition (e.g. in the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 39b), and Jerome is also familiar with it (commentary on Obd 1).

The centurion, not identified by name in 2 Kings 1.13  EU , is, in contrast to Ahab's palace overseer, not characterized as particularly religious in the Bible text. He is only distinguished by the fact that, unlike his two predecessors, he dealt with the prophet Elijah in an appropriate manner. But since he asks Elijah to spare his life, there is a parallel that established the identification with Ahab's palace overseer for the Haggadic exegesis (conclusion by analogy: Gezara Schawa).

According to the Vitae Prophetarum, Obadiah died a peaceful death and was buried in the family grave in Bethacharam near Shechem . Jerome knew another tradition about the tomb of the prophet Obadja, so it was in Samaria , here is the common burial place of Obadja, Elisha and John the Baptist . The Jewish traveler Petachja von Regensburg visited a grave of the prophet Obadja in Upper Galilee. He was shown the tombs of Joshua , Caleb and Obadja near a high "volcanic mountain" ; the traveler noted: "Beautiful graves have been built over their mausoleums."

See also


Lexicon article

Scientific comments

  • Alfons Deissler : Twelve Prophets 2. Obadja, Jona, Micha, Nahum, Habakuk (= The New Real Bible, Volume 8). Echter-Verlag, Würzburg 1984, ISBN 3-429-00865-4 .
  • Jörg Jeremias : The prophets Joel, Obadja, Jona, Micha (= Old Testament German . Volume 24/3 of the new edition). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007. ISBN 978-3-525-51242-5 .
  • Josef Wehrle: Prophecy and Text Analysis. The composition Obadja 1–21 interprets on the basis of text-linguistic and semiotic concepts . Work on text and language in the Old Testament 28. Munich University Writings. Eos Verl., St. Ottilien 1987 ISBN 3-88096-528-5
  • Ursula Struppe: The books Obadja, Jona . New Stuttgart comment. Old Testament 24.1. Verl. Kath. Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-460-07241-5
  • Paul R. Raabe: Obadiah. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary . The Anchor Bible 24D. Doubleday, New York et al. a. 1996, ISBN 0-385-41268-1
  • Johan Renkema: Obadiah . Historical Commentary on the Old Testament. Peeters, Leuven 2003 ISBN 90-429-1345-2
  • Hans Walter Wolff : Obadja and Jona. Biblical Commentary 14.3. 3rd edition, study edition, Neukirchener Verl., Neukirchen-Vluyn 2004, ISBN 3-7887-2023-9 .

Application-related comments

  • Otto Wahl : The books Micha, Obadja and Haggai (= spiritual reading. Explanations of the Old Testament for the spiritual reading 12. ). Patmos-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1990, ISBN 3-491-77168-4 .
  • Martin Holland : The prophets Joel, Amos and Obadja. Wuppertal Study Bible. AT. Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1991, ISBN 3-417-25220-2 .
  • Winfried Meißner: Books Joel and Obadja. Edition C Biblical Commentary Old Testament 36. Hänssler, Holzgerlingen 2000, ISBN 3-7751-3354-2

Web links

Commons : Obadja  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Genitive from Αβδιας Abdias , after Alfred Rahlfs: Septuagint. Edition in one volume. German Bible Society, Stuttgart 1935, 1979, Volume II, p. 524; see. ObdLXX
  2. a b Christoph Rösel:  Obadja / Obadjabuch. In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (eds.): The scientific biblical dictionary on the Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart September 20, 2018, accessed on December 4, 2019.
  3. Cf. ObdVUL , there and in the title of the book only in the genitive: Abdiae .
  4. Jörg Jeremias : Zur Theologie Obadjas , Leipzig 2006, p. 269.
  5. ^ Johan Renkema: Obadiah , Leuven 2003, p. 26 f.
  6. “Verses 11-14 are in their vividness and color a close echo of the catastrophe days, so that one does not go below 550 BC when starting the first part of the Obadja. Can go down. “Alfons Deissler: Twelve prophets 2. Obadja, Jona, Micha, Nahum, Habakuk (= The New Real Bible 8). Echter-Verlag, Würzburg 1984, quoted here. after the reprint in St. Benno Verlag, Leipzig 1990, p. 5.
  7. Rolf Rendtorff: The Old Testament: An Introduction. Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn, 2nd edition 1985, ISBN 3-7887-0686-4 , p. 236.
  8. Werner H. Schmidt: Introduction to the Old Testament (De Gruyter textbook), 4th expanded edition Berlin / New York 1989, p. 232.
  9. a b c Konrad Schmid: Rear prophets (Nebiim) . In: Jan Christian Gertz (Hrsg.): Basic information Old Testament. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 6th revised and expanded edition Göttingen 2019, pp. 313–413, here p. 392.
  10. ^ Johan Renkema: Obadiah. Leuven 2003, p. 30 f.
  11. ^ Johan Renkema: Obadiah , Leuven 2003, p. 31 note 23.
  12. a b Otto Eißfeldt: Introduction to the Old Testament. Mohr, Tübingen, 4th edition, 1976, ISBN 978-3-16-138882-8 , p. 544.
  13. Jörg Jeremias: Die Propheten Joel, Obadja, Jona, Micha , Göttingen 2007, p. 57.
  14. ^ Johan Renkema: Obadiah. Leuven 2003, p. 26 f.
  15. a b c d Otto Eißfeldt: Introduction to the Old Testament. Mohr, Tübingen, 4th edition, 1976, ISBN 978-3-16-138882-8 , p. 543.
  16. The Persian king is addressed: “And you vowed to build the temple that the Idumeans set on fire when Judea was devastated by the Chaldeans.” (3rd Esra = 1. Esdras 4,45, quoted here from: Septuagint German , P. 557.)
  17. ^ Johan Renkema: Obadiah , Leuven 2003, p. 30 f.
  18. Erich Zenger : The Book of the Twelve Prophets . In: Erich Zenger, Christian Frevel (ed.): Introduction to the Old Testament. 9th, updated edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 3-17-018332-X , pp. 630-710, here p. 662 f.
  19. Ernst Sellin: The Book of the Twelve Prophets (= commentary on the Old Testament, 12). A. Deichert, Leipzig, [o. J.] DNB 560801610 ; mentioned by Otto Eißfeldt: Introduction to the Old Testament. Mohr, Tübingen, 4th edition, 1976, ISBN 978-3-16-138882-8 , p. 543.
  20. Johannes Theis: The prophecy of Abdias. Paulinusdruckerei, Trier, 1917, DNB 361753861 ; mentioned by Otto Eißfeldt: Introduction to the Old Testament. Mohr, Tübingen, 4th edition, 1976, ISBN 978-3-16-138882-8 , p. 543.
  21. Fritz Rienecker, Gerhard Maier (Ed.): Lexikon zur Bibel , R. Brockhaus Verlag, 6th edition Wuppertal 2006, Sp. 1155 f.
  22. ^ Sara Japhet: I and II Chronicles: A Commentary . Westminster John Knox press, Louisville / London 1993, p. 814 f.
  23. Jörg Jeremias: Die Propheten Joel, Obadja, Jona, Micha , Göttingen 2007, p. 74, note 45.
  24. ^ Johan Renkema: Obadiah , Leuven 2003, p. 213.
  25. a b c Anna Maria Schwemer: Studies on the early Jewish prophetic legends Vitae prophetarum II: The vites of the minor prophets and the prophets from the history books . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1996, p. 44.
  26. a b Anna Maria Schwemer: Studies on the early Jewish prophetic legends Vitae prophetarum II: The vites of the minor prophets and the prophets from the history books . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1996, p. 45.
  27. Anna Maria Schwemer: Studies on the early Jewish prophetic legends Vitae prophetarum II: The Vites of the minor prophets and the prophets from the history books . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1996, p. 46.
  28. Anna Maria Schwemer: Studies on the early Jewish prophetic legends Vitae prophetarum II: The Vites of the minor prophets and the prophets from the history books . Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1996, p. 46 f.