Concerning Edom. . .
Vol: 146 Issue: 25 Monday, November 25, 2013
Edom is the name given to Jacob’s brother Esau after Esau sold his share of his inheritance to Jacob for a bowl of red bean stew.
Esau and Jacob were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau, the first-born, was so named because he was born covered with red hair.
The root meaning of ‘esau’ is ‘hairy’. The root meaning of ‘edom’ is ‘red’.
Esau was a hunter and outdoorsman and evidently not the sharpest tool in the shed, whereas Jacob was more of a dreamer and schemer.
Jacob conned Esau out of his share of his inheritance from Isaac, which Isaac had inherited from Abraham, who ‘inherited’ it directly from God.
Being first-born carried great status; the first-born was presumed to be God’s choice as default heir to the father’s wealth, power and authority.
But even before Esau’s birth, the Lord told Rebekah that her older son would serve the younger.
The Bible says the battle between the two brothers began in the womb; Jacob was born clutching Esau’s heel, as if attempting to claw his way out first.
The Bible says that after an unsuccessful day of hunting, Esau came home “famished” and found Jacob cooking a pot of red bean stew, or ‘pottage’.
He asked for some, and Jacob asked if he would be willing to trade his inheritance for it. Esau agreed. The whole story only occupies a few lines of Scripture, so I am sure the exchange was broader than that.
The Bible account makes it sound like Esau was being flippant: “thus he despised his birthright.” Maybe Esau meant it, maybe he didn’t. But Jacob clearly intended to take it seriously.
So Jacob made good on the deal by tricking Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing that traditionally would be reserved for the first-born.
The blessing, once given, could evidently not be retracted. When Esau found out, he swore to kill Jacob. So Jacob moved to Haran in what is now Iraq to work for Rebekah’s brother. (Follow along with me, here. The lineage is important.)
Esau intermarried with the Hittites and the Ishmaelites, including Mahalalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son.
After Isaac died, Esau took his wives, his children, his servants and his cattle and moved away from his brother to Mount Seir in Edom, a territory bordered by the Jordan River and including much of modern Jordan, including Petra.
After the Babylonian captivity the Edomites, (called Idumeans by the Greeks and Romans) were driven north by the Nabataeans to the areas around what is today southern Judah and Samaria in the West Bank.
The Idumean’s chief city was Hebron, which was captured by Judas Macabeeus in 163 BC. The rest of the West Bank area was conquered by John Hyrcanus in 127 BC, who compelled the Idumeans to be circumcized and convert to Judaism.
King Herod Antipater and his son King Herod the Great were Idumeans, or Edomites, who were set up as puppet kings by the Roman occupation.
After Jesus was condemned by the Sanhedrin, He was sent to stand before the Idumean King Herod. Thus any lingering claim by Esau was satisfied as the descendent of Esau stood in judgment over a descendent of Jacob innocent of any sin of His own.
Justice was satisfied.
The Book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament at only 21 verses. But Obadiah’s theme could have been lifted directly from the pages of the Jerusalem Post.
“The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a message from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the nations, Arise you, and let us rise up against her in battle.” (Obadiah 1:1)
It is all about the abuse of God’s people, God’s land, and God’s Holy Hill, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The villain, the guilty party, will end up devastated. Obadiah identifies the guilty party as Israel’s twin brother Esau (Edom), together his physical (Edomite) and spiritual (Ishamelite) descendants.
Obadiah accuses Edom of “violence against your brother Jacob.” (v 10) This is not an isolated incident of violence, but systematic, repetitive, unrelenting violence.
The Book of Obadiah reads as a formal indictment against Edom and their allies. One of the first things to examine in prophecy is the time frame in which it applies. Some prophecies were given for the near-term, others are for the long term.
In Obadiah’s case, it is both.
Or, put another way, Obadiah looks at Edom from beginning to end in a glance. The abuses accumulate throughout history, and end with the establishment of God’s rule on earth.
It is a broad chronological perspective ranging from the Destruction of the First Temple to the end of days.
Visions that prophets were given are not always restricted to a thin slice of time. Some encompass a very long period of time, as is the case in the Messianic prophecies.
Some were fulfilled at Jesus’ First Advent, others will be fulfilled in His Second. Some verses contain prophecies that address both Advents in the same verse.
The prophecy concerning Edom is one such “dual-fulfillment” prophecy, as we’ve discussed in previous briefings.
Verse 10 indicts Edom of violence against ‘thy brother, Jacob’.
Verse 12 indicts Edom for celebrating Israel’s catastrophes;
“Neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.”
Compare that verse to images of chanting crowds of Palestinians dancing for joy at the news of a new bombing attack against Israeli civilians. Or the cheering crowds that celebrated Saddam’s missile attacks on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.
Verse 13 indicts Edom for ‘entering the gates of my people’. When the British Mandate ended in 1948, the Arabs immediately seized the Old City of Jerusalem.
It took until 1967 for the Jews to re-take the city. They still have no control over the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount, remain at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as God said they would.
Completing Obadiah’s identification of modern ‘Edom’ is his mention of the emblem of the Palestinian Authority.
“Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.”
The PA’s official emblem is the eagle. And the timing is right.
“For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations: as you have done, it shall be done unto you: your reward shall return upon your own head.”(v. 15)
“And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken it.
“And they of the south [the southern Kingdom of Judah – the Jews] shall possess the mountains of Esau; [The West Bank] and they of the lowlands the Philistines: [The Gaza Strip] and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, [Judea] and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. [the Galilee.]” (v. 18-19)
Tick . . .tick. . .tick.
Note: Today’s Letter is a lesson from the Book of Obadiah.