What does Obadiah 1:17 mean?
ESV: But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.
NIV: But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance.
NASB: But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, And it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their property.
CSB: But there will be a deliverance on Mount Zion, and it will be holy; the house of Jacob will dispossess those who dispossessed them.
NLT: 'But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape; it will be a holy place. And the people of Israel will come back to reclaim their inheritance.
KJV: But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
NKJV: “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
Verse Commentary:
Just as Mount Esau and Mount Seir are metaphors for Edom, Mount Zion is a metaphor for Israel, specifically Jerusalem. The term "holy" means "set apart," often applied to the nation of Israel. Instead of being scattered, Israel is prophesied to finally take back her Promised Land. "The house of Jacob" is another reference to Israel.

This is another common aspect of Old Testament prophecy: the mercy of God. Instead of simply destroying all sinners, everywhere, God extends mercy to those who obey Him. Israel was often reminded that their survival was not because of their own merits, but because of the mercy and judgment of God (Deuteronomy 9:4–8).

The nation of Edom was completely destroyed when God judged them. The nation of Israel, in contrast, survived and exists to this day (Amos 9:8; Malachi 2:1–5). While some descendants of Esau are, presumably, still on earth, the next verse seems to suggest that none of these will survive into the millennial kingdom. Prior to the end, the lands which once belonged to Edom will be occupied by the children of Israel (Amos 9:12).
Verse Context:
Obadiah 1:15–18 makes a subtle shift in audience. Obadiah is one of the few Old Testament books specifically addressed to a nation other than Israel. Starting with verse 15, the warning of judgment shifts from Edom to ''all the nations'' who reject God and His commandments. In particular, nations are threatened to be paid back in the same way they have harmed others. Israel, and other faithful nations, however, will be saved.
Chapter Summary:
The nation of Edom grew from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Jacob would later be re-named ''Israel.'' Despite being so closely related, Israel had few long-term enemies as spiteful as the Edomites. In the short prophecy given by Obadiah, Edom is warned of God's judgment. Edom is particularly condemned for aiding Israel's enemies in a time of war. This warning is extended to all nations that reject God: judgment for your sin is coming, but God will be merciful to those who obey Him.
Chapter Context:
Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament, with only one chapter of 21 verses. In just a few words, it delivers a warning of judgment on Edom, one of Israel's oldest enemies. This passage also warns every nation that defies God that there will be a reckoning. The end of Obadiah's prophecy involves the division of land during the end times.
Book Summary:
Obadiah is an excellent introduction to Old Testament prophecy. In just 21 verses, it covers all of the typical contents found in the prophets. Themes of wrongdoing, imminent judgment, God's mercy, and His restoration are all found in this short book. Reading Obadiah is somewhat like reading the dust jacket of a much larger novel. Obadiah is also interesting in that it is not addressed to Israel, but to the nation of Edom.
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