Free «Contextual Analysis» Essay

Contextual Analysis

The Book of Obadiah provides no definitive indicators regarding who Obadiah was or where he came from. Because the book does not describe the time period in which he lived, his hometown, or the identity of his parents, identification of the prophet is very difficult. Therefore, as Baker states, “Because so little is known of the prophet, dating of the book must come from clues within the book itself.”Some have suggested that the style of the book may provide some indication of the prophet’s identity.  According to Stuart, “From the content and style of the book itself, one can speculate that Obadiah was a sixth-century Judean prophet, perhaps with formal prophetic training, who might well have preached his oracle in Jerusalem, whether or not he lived there.” Despite such speculation, the identity of the prophet remains unclear among scholars, with Stuart arguing that nothing is known about Obadiah, even the precise form of his name.  Indeed, one major challenge in his identification is that different forms of his name appear in the Old Testament; while the Masoretic vocalization refers to him as the “worshiper of Yahweh,” the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate refer to him as the “servant of Yahweh.”

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Obadiah’s makes no obvious statement concerning the historical setting in which the book is written and therefore no clear-cut indicators to identify the composition of the Book of Obadiah. Many scholars disagree regarding the date of its writing, with some placing the writing during the exile and others placing it after the exile. However, all agree that it was written after the sacking of Jerusalem by Babylon. Raabe proposes that“the book fits best in the first half of the exilic period, ca. 585-555; the terminus a quo is the fall of Judah and Jerusalem to the Babylonians (587/6).” In contrast, Wolff places the writing at a much later date: the middle of the fifth century BCE , after the exile of the people of Israel.Pagan places the writing around 687/686 BCE because “historical, literary and theological analysis of the book suggest the exile period as the most probable date of the composition.”

The prophecy of Obadiah reflect a long ongoing tense relationship between these two nations whom descended from the sons of Isaac. Hayim records “the rivalry between the brothers described in Genesis 25-28 presages a thousand-year animus between the ancient nations that descended from them.  Obadiah’s oracles reflect a long-standing history of fraternal struggle between Israel and Edom beginning in Genesis 25. These prophecies record the struggle at its highest point when the Edomites helped the Babylonians in 587/86 BCE capture Jerusalem.   Edom’s cruelty toward Judah recorded during the Babylonian conquest; demonstrate the striving of these two nations.  Instead of giving support to Judah, Edom participated in the destruction of Jerusalem.

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