The book of Obadiah, the shortest in the Old Testament, is a brief oracle against the nation of Edom. Its date is uncertain. Scholars have proposed dates ranging from the ninth century to the post-exilic period. My own view is that it is to be dated in the early exilic period (ca. 585–580). Like all oracles against the nations, Obadiah’s prophecy indicates that God rules over all nations. Edom represents all nations that are hostile to God and to His kingdom. Such nations will always be judged. There are a number of helpful commentaries on Obadiah, and the following are five of the best.
1. Douglas Stuart — Hosea-Jonah (Word Biblical Commentary, 1987).
Having already mentioned Stuart’s commentary in three previous posts, there is little I can add here. It is a must-read. Very highly recommended.
2. Thomas E. McComiskey — The Minor Prophets (2009 ).
I have also mentioned McComiskey’s work in previous posts. The commentary on Obadiah in this volume was written by Jeff Niehaus. It is a technical but helpful study.
3. Daniel I. Block — Obadiah (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament, 2015).
Daniel Block wrote one of the best commentaries on the books of Judges and Ruth. Now he has written one of the best on the little book of Obadiah. It may also be the only modern commentary on Obadiah that isn’t combined with commentaries on at least one or two other books.
4. David W. Baker — Joel, Obadiah, Malachi (NIV Application Commentary, 2006).
David W. Baker contributed the commentary on Obadiah to the Tyndale series in 1988. While that is a very helpful introductory commentary, his “updated” version in the NIVAC series is preferable, especially for preachers and teachers who find it difficult to apply the prophetic books to our own present-day context.
5. Leslie C. Allen — The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 1976).
I have already mentioned Allen’s commentary in my post on Joel. It is a slightly technical work, but it should be accessible to most pastors and laymen.
There are a number of other helpful commentaries on the book of Obadiah, including those by Billy Smith and Irvin Busenitz. At a more introductory level are the works by Michael Bentley, James Boice, and David Field.
Helpful Related Works
A volume that will be helpful not only for understanding Obadiah but for all of the prophets is Victor Matthews’ The Hebrew Prophets and Their Social World.
This article is part of the Top 5 Commentaries collection.