One of the Minor Prophecies in the OT, though nothing is known of the prophet himself. It is the shortest book in the OT; perhaps placed fourth in its group in order to follow immediately the reference to Edom in Amos (9: 12). It is a sustained execration of the Edomites for joining the enemies of Judah in sacking Jerusalem. The situation seems to be the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the bitterness of the prophecy is aggravated by the kinship of the Edomites to the people of Israel (Obad. 12); the Edomites were descended from Esau (Gen. 36: 9), the brother of Jacob (Israel), and they occupied the land later called Idumaea. The freshness of the denunciation argues for a date of composition not far off 586 BCE, and certainly before Edom was occupied by the Nabataeans in the 4th cent. BCE.

Obadiah does not have any hint of the duty of a Gentile mission, as Jonah does; but the threat of vengeance which is its theme is ascribed to the hand of God (Obad. 21), who is absolute Justice (Obad. 8), rather than being wrought by the injured people, and ‘Edom’ could indeed stand for all the similar evils perpetrated by human beings but perhaps especially for the breakdown of fraternal relationships—Esau/Jacob: Edom/Israel.