Question: "Why did God judge Edom so harshly in the book of Obadiah?"
Answer: Obadiah clearly predicted Edom’s destruction (Obadiah 1:1, 8), and the prophecy offers a list of specific reasons for God’s impending judgment:
- Their heart of pride: “The pride of your heart has deceived you” (Obadiah 1:3).
- Their violent acts against Israel: “Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever” (Obadiah 1:10).
- Their attitude toward Jerusalem’s destruction: “Do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin” (Obadiah 1:12).
- Their plundering and looting of Jerusalem: “Do not loot his wealth in the day of his calamity” (Obadiah 1:13).
- Their mistreatment of Jerusalem’s survivors: “Do not stand at the crossroads to cut off his fugitives” (Obadiah 1:14).
In addition to these specific sins, Edom had been a longtime enemy of Israel, ever since the time of the Exodus (Numbers 20:14-21), when the Edomites had acted churlishly toward the refugees. Through Obadiah, God provided a list of eight “do not’s” (Obadiah 1:12-14), a list which Edom obviously ignored.
Adding to their culpability is the fact that the Edomites were related to the Israelites. The Edomites were descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob and grandson of Abraham. This family tie should have incited compassion for Israel’s plight; instead, it made Edom’s actions even more repulsive, since they were opposing not only God’s chosen people but also their own relatives.