What does Obadiah 1:18 mean?
ESV: The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau, for the LORD has spoken.
NIV: Jacob will be a fire and Joseph a flame; Esau will be stubble, and they will set him on fire and destroy him. There will be no survivors from Esau.' The LORD has spoken.
NASB: Then the house of Jacob will be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau will be like stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, So that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,' For the Lord has spoken.
CSB: Then the house of Jacob will be a blazing fire, and the house of Joseph, a burning flame, but the house of Esau will be stubble; Jacob will set them on fire and consume Edom. Therefore no survivor will remain of the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken.
NLT: The people of Israel will be a raging fire, and Edom a field of dry stubble. The descendants of Joseph will be a flame roaring across the field, devouring everything. There will be no survivors in Edom. I, the Lord, have spoken!
KJV: 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 in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it
NKJV: The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” For the Lord has spoken.
Verse Commentary:
Several centuries before Obadiah gave his warning, the people of Israel split into two separate nations. This occurred just after the rule of Solomon. Ten tribes followed Jeroboam and became the "northern kingdom," sometimes referred to as Ephraim. The other two tribes became the "southern kingdom," also known as Judah. Verse 18 speak of the houses of Jacob and Joseph as references to the northern Kingdom and the southern Kingdom, respectively. Part of Israel's eventual redemption will be unification.

The complete and total destruction of Edom is given vivid imagery. Fire burns through tiny bits of wood and grass very quickly, and leaves virtually nothing behind. As verse 16 noted, nations who oppose God will one day be obliterated, as if they had never existed.

The house of Esau is the nation of Edom. Jacob and Esau were brothers; Jacob's children became Israel while Esau's children became Edom. The nation of Edom was effectively wiped out by Rome in AD 70. This verse seems to suggest that it is not only the nation of Edom, but the very descendants of Esau who will one day be wiped out. This is stated in solemn, sure terms, as something spoken directly by God.
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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