What does Obadiah 1:20 mean?
ESV: The exiles of this host of the people of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the Negeb.
NIV: This company of Israelite exiles who are in Canaan will possess the land as far as Zarephath; the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev.
NASB: And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, Who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, And the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, Will possess the cities of the Negev.
CSB: The exiles of the Israelites who are in Halah and who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath as well as the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the cities of the Negev.
NLT: The exiles of Israel will return to their land and occupy the Phoenician coast as far north as Zarephath. The captives from Jerusalem exiled in the north will return home and resettle the towns of the Negev.
KJV: And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.
NKJV: And the captives of this host of the children of Israel Shall possess the land of the Canaanites As far as Zarephath. The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad Shall possess the cities of the South.
Verse Commentary:
Part of Edom's judgment was shame. Despite all of their arrogance, Edom was tricked by its allies and ruined. According to Obadiah, Edom will not only be shamed and destroyed, but their territory will be occupied by the very people they hated. To the ancient Middle Eastern mindset, this adds insult to injury. Verses 19 and 20 give some details on these occupations. While the ruin of Edom occurred not long after Obadiah gave this prophecy, some aspects of this prediction will not happen until the end times.

Verse 19 alluded to other rival nations, such as the Philistines. In verse 20, the Canaanites are mentioned as another nation whose territory will be taken by someone else.

While the Negeb is mentioned in other parts of the Bible (Joshua 10:40), the exiles in Sepharad are not as easily identified. The strongest possibility is the city of Sardis, whose name in the Akkadian language sounds very much like "Sepharad."
Verse Context:
Obadiah 1:19–21 describes how Israel's territory will be divided during the end times. Many Old Testament prophets looked beyond the immediate judgment of God, to the day when all promised would be completely fulfilled. The book of Obadiah explains how Edom would be judged for their crimes against Israel. Historically, most of these punishments have already happened. Some final results, however, will not be complete until the end times.
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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