But on mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE).—ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF JEHOVAH ON MOUNT ZION.
(17) Deliverance.—Better, as in margin, the fugitives of Israel who have survived the recent calamity. This is clear from Isaiah 10:20, where phelêytah is in parallelism with shear=remnant, as well as Joel 2:32; Hebrews 3:5, where it is parallel to serîdîm, also remnant. (Comp. also Judges 21:17; 2Chronicles 20:24.) While the judgment is falling upon all the heathen nations, Mount Zion will be an asylum for all the Israelites who had fled for safety, and been scattered and dispersed.
Holiness.—See margin. Zion was once more to become a sanctuary, and those who inhabited it holy. (Comp. Isaiah 6:13.)
Their possessions.—Whose—their own that had been lost, or those of the nations? The Vulgate, following the LXX., read “those who had possessed them,” indicating subjugation of the heathen tribes. But the parallelism is undoubtedly in favour of the other view—the remnant of Israel would be saved, and regain their old possessions. Having stated this, the prophet goes on to describe what would happen to Edom and its possessions.
(18) Though, in the preceding verse, “house of Jacob” would seem to embrace all the restored Israel, without any reference to the distinction of the two kingdoms, in this verse, being opposed to “house of Joseph,” it requires to be taken as synonymous with Judah; as in Isaiah 46:3 : “Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel.” (Comp. Psalm 77:15; Psalm 80:1; Psalm 81:4-5.)
Any remaining.—Heb., sarîd, a fugitive. The LXX. must have had a different text, as they read here πυροϕόρος, i.e., wheat-bearer, apparently (as the various reading shows) a mistake for πυρϕόρος, fire-bearer.
(19) After the destruction of the heathen the new kingdom of Zion will be restored, at least as far as the ancient territories which are at present held by the Idumæans, to the north and west of the original Edom, are concerned. Three divisions are enumerated of the house of Jacob (i.e., Judah; see Note, Obadiah 1:18), and separate mention made of Benjamin.
They of the south.—Those at present occupying the south—Heb., negev—i.e., the dry parched country forming the southern portion of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:21), are to inhabit Mount Esau: i.e., are to extend their territory to its extreme south-eastern limit; they of the Shephelah, i.e., the western lowland on the Mediterranean, are to seize on the neighbouring Philistia, at present Idumæan; while they at present confined to the hill-country in the north and centre of Judah are to spread themselves over Ephraim and Samaria. Our present Hebrew text leaves the subject of this latter clause uncertain, as it is in the Authorised Version “they.” But the LXX., τὸ ὄρος indicates that hahor=the mountain, has dropped out, a conjecture which is abundantly borne out by the geographical arrangement of the localities in the passage. Benjamin, for which no room is left on the west of Jordan, is to push across it into Gilead instead. This prophetic vision recalls Genesis 28:14.
(20) But there are still others of the restored Israel, besides those comprised within the ancient territory of Judah. The prophetic survey proceeds northwards, and we get a general idea from this verse that there were exiles, who had found refuge on the north-western and northern boundaries of ancient Palestine, who would settle themselves partly on the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon, partly in the south country, whose inhabitants had pushed downwards into Edom. But while this is plainly its general drift, the text is full of difficulties.
The prophet seems to allude to some body of exiles, including himself, who had escaped from the army. But there is a difference of opinion among grammarians as to the identification of chël with chayil = host. Ewald takes it to be a dialectic variety of chol = sand, generally of the sea-coast; and so here “the banished ones of this coast,” where the prophet was at the time. The rendering chël=trench, or fortification, which some adopt, is out of the question. The LXX. have τῆς μετοικεσίας ἡ ἀρχὴ, but whether ἀρχὴ = power, or beginning, with allusion to the first dispersion of exiles, cannot be determined. Another difficulty arises with respect to the words that of the Canaanites—asher Khenaanîm (literally, which Canaanites). To make it an object, as in our version, the particle eth is wanted, and Ewald, instead of asher, reads eth-ari = the cities of. That some change has taken place in the text appears from the LXX., who have γῆ, the land (Heb., erets). Keil, keeping the present reading, renders, “And the captives of this army of the sons of Israel (will take possession) of what Canaanites there are as far as Zarephath . . .” Pusey: “And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel which are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,” making it joint subject with “the captives of Jerusalem” to “shall possess the cities of the south,” which is in accordance with the construction of the LXX. and the Syriac. But the absence of the preposition be before Khenaanim seems to make this rendering impossible. The Hebrew as it stands can only mean “which are Canaanites.” The choice lies between Ewald’s emendation of the text and Keil’s interpretation. The Jews understand by Zarephath the country of France.
The last clause is better in the text than in the margin: “The exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall take possession of the cities of the south.” The only difficulty is in the name Sepharad, a place never mentioned elsewhere, and which has not yet been satisfactorily identified. The various conjectures have been—
1. That of the LXX., ἕως Ἐϕραθὰ followed by the Arabic translation, probably from reading Sepharath. Jerome, in his Commentary on Obadiah, appears to have understood this reading as pointing to the Hebrew Phrath, since he translates, Transmigratio Jerusalem usque Euphratem.
2. The reading of the Vulg., quœ in Bosphoro est, was derived by Jerome from a Jewish instructor, who treated the particle in Bisparad as part of the name, and rejected the final d altogether.
3. The Targum Jonathan, the Peshito-Syriac, and from them the modern Jews, interpret Sepharad as Spain (Ispamia or Ispania); hence Sephardim, a name for the Spanish Jews.
4. Sipphara in Mesopotamia. But this is more probably identified with Sepharvaim.
5. Sardis, from a supposed connection with ÇPaRaD. or (Çparda, mentioned in the great arrow-headed inscription of Nakshi Rustam, in a list of names of tribes between Cappadocia and Ionia, which De Sacy identified with Sepharad, and Lassen with Sardis.
6. Sparta. Some relations there were between the Jews after the captivity and the Lacedæmonians (see 1 Maccabees 12:2, seqq., 14:16, seqq., 15:23). Possibly there was a colony of the exiles in Sparta.
7. Ewald conjectures Sepharam instead of Sepharad, and finds the place in Shefa Amar, a well-known place a few miles south-east of Acco. The general drift of the passage seems to require some place not far distant from, and in the direction of, Zarephath. The only serious objection to this conjecture is the fact that Shefa Amar was within the boundaries of Palestine, and therefore those who had taken refuge there would not strictly be exiles. But it is distinctly stated that these were “of Jerusalem,” and they might well be called refugees, since they had had to go so far north to find an asylum.
(21) Saviours.—Comp. Judges 3:9; Judges 3:15; Nehemiah 9:27. The Jewish interpreters understood by “saviours” men like the judges of old, Gideon, Barak, &c., who will chastise the Christians and subdue them. The Mount of Esau is of course, according to this interpretation, Rome.
And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.—See the reference in margin to Zechariah, who gives this anticipation of the pure form of the theocracy in its wider extent. But here, too, the prophetic look over the world seems to extend far beyond Judah and the fortunes of the Jewish race, and as the vision widens Zion and Edom both retire from sight; both are comprehended in the one Divine kingdom, and God is all in all. For the bearing of this conclusion to the prophecy on its date, see Excursus.Obadiah 1:17-18. But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance — Literally taken, this refers to the Jews; mystically, to the gospel church. By deliverance here may be first meant an asylum, or place of refuge, to escape the evil; and it may be spoken with a reference to the invasion of Judea by Sennacherib, and his being prevented by God from taking Jerusalem, (though he took all the other fenced cities of Judah,) so that all persons of the neighbouring places found a deliverance, or an asylum, there; and so escaped falling into the enemies’ hands. It may also, perhaps, chiefly refer to the restoration of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon. But yet this promise was more remarkably verified in the time of the first preaching of the gospel, when God’s law went forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, Psalm 100:2; Isaiah 2:3; and when, through believing in Christ, and embracing the gospel, the Christians escaped the destruction that came upon the Jewish nation, concerning which see note on Joel 2:32. And there shall be another and more glorious completion of it at the restoration of the Jewish nation, which is foretold in this and the following verses, as it is in many other places. And there shall be holiness — So far as this refers to the Jews returned from captivity, it signifies that the temple, the city, and the people should be holy to the Lord. But the words more especially refer to gospel days; and are intended to express the holiness of the Christian Church, particularly after the conversion of the Jews, and during the millennium. The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions — Shall remain in possession of their own land or territories. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, &c. — This was fulfilled in part by the Jews under Hyrcanus and the Maccabees, who made great slaughter of the Idumeans; here expressed by the strong image of their being the fire and flame, and the Idumeans stubble. But the passage will be more fully accomplished when the Lord shall make his church as a fire to all its enemies.Matthew 28:19, "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." and Mark 16:15, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Holiness is its title-deeds to the inheritance of the world, that holiness, which was in the "upper chamber" in "Mount Zion," the presence of God the Holy Spirit, issuing in holy teaching, holy Scriptures, holy institutions, holy sacraments, holy lives.
there shall be holiness—that is, Zion shall be sacrosanct or inviolable: no more violated by foreign invaders (Isa 42:1; Joe 3:17).But. or
Upon Mount Zion; historically, and in the letter, this refers to the people of the Jews, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and those who worshipped God in the temple. In the mystical sense or typical, it refers. to the gospel church, and the setting up the kingdom of Christ, and the salvation and redemption of God’s Israel.
Deliverance; a remnant that shall escape the enemies’ sword, and which, after seventy years’ captivity, shall be delivered and restored by Cyrus: a hieroglyphic of Israel’s redemption by Christ.
There shall be holiness; or, it shall be holy, the temple, the city rebuilt, the people returned from captivity, shall be holy to the Lord; they shall obey his law, attend his temple service, and offer a pure offering to the Lord, &c. All this typical, and accomplished in the Christian church, though not fully and perfectly till the church is glorified in the heavenly Zion.
The house of Jacob; literally the survivors of the two tribes in the Babylonish kingdom, and some others of the ten tribes, but including the elect of God, the house of Jacob in the extent of it, as taken in Isaiah 59:20 Romans 11:26.
Shall possess their possessions; either the possessions of the heathen, their enemies, or rather their own ancient possessions, out of which the violence of their enemies did east them when they were led captive, and dispossessed of all.
and there shall be holiness: that is, on Mount Zion, on the church, which is the holy hill of God, and where only holy persons should dwell; and for whomsoever deliverance is wrought out, sooner or later there will be in them holiness, both of heart and life; and indeed, without this, complete deliverance and salvation, which will be in heaven, will not be enjoyed; hence those that are chosen to this salvation are chosen through sanctification of the Spirit; and such as are redeemed and delivered by Christ are purified to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works; and are, in consequence of such deliverance and redemption, called with a holy calling, and have principles of holiness implanted in them, and live holy lives and conversations; and such kind of holiness, as it appeared in Zion, in the churches of Christ in the first times of the Gospel, so it will be more conspicuous among them in the latter day; see Isaiah 4:3 Zechariah 14:20; or, "there shall be an Holy One", or "thing" (c); the holy Jesus, who is holy in both his natures, in all his offices, works, and words; the Lamb that should, and has been, seen on Mount Zion; and the Holy Spirit of God, who dwells and abides in his church, and among his people, to anoint and assist the ministers of the word; to accompany the word with power, and make it successful; and to sanctify and comfort the Lord's people in Zion; and there are the holy word of God, the doctrines of grace according to godliness preached, and the sacred ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper administered. The Targum is,
"and they shall be holy;''
the Lord's people: and so Kimchi interprets it of Israel being holy to the Lord;
and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions: that is, either the Israelites shall possess the possessions of the Heathens, particularly of the Edomites; so the Targum,
"and they of the house of Jacob shall possess the substance of the people that possessed them;''
see Amos 9:11; which was fulfilled spiritually in the first times of the Gospel, when the apostles, who were of the house of Jacob, and were Israelites indeed, preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, and were the means of converting many of them, and of bringing them into the Gospel church; which may be called the house of Jacob, when they and theirs become their possession, and Christ, the master of this house, had the Heathen given him for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, Psalm 2:8; or else the sense is, that the people of God, true Christians, shall in Gospel times possess their own possessions; God himself, who is their portion and inheritance, and shall enjoy communion with him; Christ, and all that are his, all spiritual blessings in him; the Spirit and his graces, as the earnest of a future and eternal inheritance; exceeding great and precious promises they are heirs of, and a kingdom and glory hereafter; of which the possessions in the land of Canaan, restored to the right owners of them in the year of jubilee, were a type. R. Moses says this prophecy has respect to the times of Hezekiah; in which he is followed by Grotius, very wrongly; R. Jeshuah, better, to the times of the second temple; but Japhet, best of all, to time to come, to the times of the Messiah, to which it no doubt belongs: here begin the prophecies concerning Christ, his church, and kingdom.But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17. But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance] Unlike Edom (Obadiah 1:9) and the other heathen nations (Obadiah 1:16) whose destruction will be complete, Israel even in her worst calamities shall have “a deliverance,” i. e. remnant of the people, who shall escape destruction and be delivered out of trouble, to be as it were a fresh nucleus and starting-point of the nation. The word here rendered “deliverance” occurs in Exodus 10:5, “that which is escaped,” to denote the remnant of the fruits of the earth left by the plague of hail. It is used in the same sense as here in Isaiah 37:31-32, “that is escaped,” “they that escape;” and in Joel 2:32 [Hebrews 3:5].
there shall be holiness] rather (margin, and R.V.), it (Mount Zion) shall be holy, lit. “holiness,” comp. Joel 3:17 [Heb., 4:17]; Revelation 21:27.
their possessions] Not the possessions of Edom and of the heathen—that is spoken of in the following verses, but their own possessions. “When the children of Israel shall have returned from exile God will at the same time restore to them their ancient country, so as for them to possess whatever had been promised to their father Abraham.” Calvin.
17–21. The Restoration of Israel
By an easy transition the prophet passes to the second and brighter part of his picture. The destruction of her enemies is accompanied by the restoration and salvation of Israel. There is however no sudden break between the two portions of the prophecy. The key-note of deliverance had already been struck in the earlier portion by the implied promise (Obadiah 1:16) that the punishment of Israel was not to be, like that of her enemies, continual. The tones of vengeance are heard still in the later portion, and are only lost at length in the final strain of victory, “The kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” Israel is to regain her former possessions (Obadiah 1:17), to overcome her ancient foes (Obadiah 1:18), to spread abroad in all directions (Obadiah 1:19-20), till as the ultimate issue which in the fulness of time shall be reached, God’s kingdom is set up in the world (Obadiah 1:21).Verses 17-21. - Part II. THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL. Verses 17-20. - § 1. While judgment falls upon heathen nations, the house of Jacob shall be delivered, shall add to its possessions, and spread far and wide. Verse 17. - Upon Mount Zion. Once desecrated by the idolatrous revelry of the Edomites and the other nations, now the seat of Jehovah (Joel 3:17) and the kingdom. Deliverance (peletah); Septuagint, σωτηρία. Abstract for concrete, and to be rendered, "those that escape," or "those that are saved;" i.e. a remnant that shall escape destruction (comp. Joel 2:32; Amos 9:8). There shall be holiness; rather, it (Mount Zion) shall be holy; so Septuagint, καὶ ἔσται ἄγιον: Hebrew, kodesh, "a sanctuary," where the heathen shall not come (Isaiah 52:1; comp. Joel 3:17 [4:17, Hebrew]; Revelation 21:27). The house of Jacob. Judah and Benjamin, the holy seed, in whom the kingdom of the Lord should be established (comp. ver. 18). The northern kingdom is not mentioned. Shall possess their possessions; Septuagint, Κατακληρονομήσουσιν ὁ οϊκος Ἰακὼβ τοὺς κατακληρονομὴσουσιν ὁ αὐτούς, "The house of Jacob shall take for an inheritance those who took them for an inheritance;" Vulgate, Possidebit domus Jacob eos qui se possederant. These versions must have used a different punctuation from that of the Masoretic text - morishehem for morashehom (comp. Numbers 24:18, 19). The Hebrew pronoun is ambiguous, and "their possessions" may mean either those that the Jews themselves had lost, or those of the Edomites. But nothing is said of Israel being carried away captive and losing its country; and, though the prophet may have looked forward to such a catastrophe and to a future restoration, this is not the subject here. The possessions referred to are those of the enemy represented by the Edomites, and those which the Jews had lost since the days of David and Solomon; and "the house of Jacob" signifies, not merely the earthly kingdom of Judah, but "the people of God, who are eventually to obtain the dominion of the world" (Keil); Mark 16:15. Amos 1:13. "Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have ripped up the pregnant women of Gilead, to widen their border, Amos 1:14. I kindle fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour its palaces, with the war-cry on the day of slaughter, in the storm on the day of the tempest. Amos 1:15. And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes all at once, saith Jehovah." The occasion on which the Ammonites were guilty of such cruelty towards the Israelites as is here condemned, is not recorded in the historical books of the Old Testament; possibly during the wars of Hazael with Israel, when they availed themselves of the opportunity to widen their territory by conquering back the land which had been wrested from them by Sihon king of the Amorites, and was then taken possession of by the Israelites, when he was overcome by them, - a thing which they had attempted once before in the time of Jephthah the judge (Judges 11:12.). We may see from Jeremiah 49:1. that they had taken possession of the territory of the tribe of Gad, which lay nearest to them, though probably not till after the carrying away of the tribes beyond Jordan by the Assyrians (2 Kings 15:29). The ripping up of the women with child (see at 2 Kings 8:12) is singled out as the climax of the cruelties which the Ammonites inflicted upon the Israelites during the war. As a punishment for this, their capital was to be burned, and the king, with the princes, to wander into exile, and consequently their kingdom was to be destroyed. Rabbâh, i.e., the great one, is the abbreviated name of the capital; Rabbah of the children of Ammon, which has been preserved in the ruins of Aurân (see at Deuteronomy 3:11). The threat is sharpened by the clause בּתרוּעה וגו, at the war-cry on the field of battle, i.e., an actual fact, when the enemy shall take the city by storm. בּסער וגו is a figurative expression applied to the storming of a city carried by assault, like בּסוּפה in Numbers 21:14. The reading מלכּם, "their (the Ammonites') king," is confirmed by the lxx and the Chaldee, and required by ושׂריו (cf. Amos 2:3), whereas Μαλχόμ, Melchom, which is found in Aq., Symm., Jerome, and the Syriac, rests upon a false interpretation.
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