Unveiling the Mystery: When Did Obadiah Live?
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Unveiling the Mystery: When Did Obadiah Live?

The Book of Obadiah in the Bible is notable for various reasons; one of which includes the identity of its author, the prophet Obadiah. He remains an enigmatic figure with only little details known about his life. Despite being a powerful prophetic voice that delivered a message concerning the nation of Edom, establishing Obadiah’s timeline proves challenging. In this well-research guide, we unravel the mystery and aim at constructing a plausible timeline of the esteemed prophet’s life.

Piecing together clues from the Bible, historical evidence, and scholarly theories, we delve deep into the background of Obadiah to answer this pressing question. Exploring the context of the nation and events mentioned in the Book of Obadiah offers more leads to precisely pinpoint the era in which Obadiah lived. We’ve compiled a list of crucial takeaways which are crucial to understanding the prophet’s timeline.

Key Takeaways

  1. Lack of concrete details about Obadiah’s personal life in the Bible.
  2. Possible identification of Obadiah through other figures in the Bible.
  3. Historical evidence and clues within the Book of Obadiah.
  4. Obadiah’s relationship with the nation of Edom.
  5. Importance of understanding the context of the prophecies.
Unveiling the mystery: when did obadiah live?

Dependency on Biblical References

One significant challenge in determining Obadiah’s timeline is the lack of concrete details about his personal life in the Bible. The Old Testament makes references to thirteen different individuals named Obadiah; however, it is not certain whether any of these individuals are the same Obadiah who authored the prophetic book (1 Kings, 1 Chronicles, and 2 Chronicles). Due to the limited information available, scholars have attempted to relate some of the more prominent Obadiahs to the prophet based on the context of their lives, but no decisive conclusions have been drawn.

A popular theory proposes that Obadiah might be the same person as the faithful steward of King Ahab mentioned in 1 Kings 18:3-16. Obadiah was God-fearing and hid one hundred prophets while Jezebel sought to execute them. By interpreting Obadiah’s actions as evidence of his prophetic calling, some scholars speculate that the prophet in question might indeed be the same Obadiah (1 Kings 18:13).

However, this proposition has its flaws, as it does not seem very likely that the chief steward of an Israelite king would prophesy against the neighboring nation of Edom. The identification of the prophet Obadiah within the biblical narrative remains an unresolved issue amongst scholars and theologians.

Historical Clues in the Book of Obadiah

An alternative approach to determining Obadiah’s timeline involves exploring the historical evidence and clues within the Book of Obadiah itself. By analyzing the events and messages conveyed in the book, it becomes possible to find potential points in history during which Obadiah most likely lived.

Obadiah’s prophecy mainly concerns the nation of Edom and their ultimate destruction (Obadiah 1:2-4). Three significant events in Edom’s history could have possibly triggered this prophecy. These events are the invasion of Sennacherib in 701 BC, the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and the insurgency led by the Maccabees around 164 BC. Out of these, the most plausible timeframe suggested by scholars is around the time of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

The prophecy of Obadiah mentions the Edomites celebrating the fall of Jerusalem and looting the city when it was captured (Obadiah 1:11-14). This statement correlates with the historical record of the time when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar. The Edomites not only rejoiced but also assisted in its downfall. This timeline is significant in that it offers a plausible setting for Obadiah’s writing.

Moreover, studying the neighboring prophetic writings can also provide insights. Jeremiah prophesied concerning Edom during a similar timeframe, which indicates that Obadiah might have been a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:7-22). Thus, Obadiah’s time may be deduced to be approximately around the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Understanding Obadiah’s Relationship with Edom

Comprehending Obadiah’s relationship with the nation of Edom is key to establishing his timeline. The main focus of the Book of Obadiah is the prophecy of Edom’s destruction due to their pride and wickedness (Obadiah 1:1-9). In the eyes of Obadiah, Edom symbolized a nation that stood against God and Israel.

It is essential to understand that Edom and Israel shared a unique connection. According to the Bible, both nations descended from the brothers Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:23). Despite the shared lineage, strife and hostility often marked the relationship between these two nations. This element adds depth to Obadiah’s message about the fate of Edom, which is rooted in the historical animosity between the two nations.

Obadiah’s prophecy not only sheds light on Edom’s impending punishment but also reiterates the Lord’s sovereignty and justice. Paying close attention to the prophetic scenario reveals the moral and theological implications that are central to understanding the historical significance of Obadiah’s era.

Context of the Prophecies

The context of Obadiah’s prophecies offers vital keys to deciphering his timeline. From the details given in his book, it is challenging to definitively confirm when Obadiah lived. However, the accounts of the prophet’s message provide vital historical and geopolitical clues.

The analysis of Obadiah’s words ascertains the fundamental conflict between God’s people and the people who oppose His plan. This concept is personified in the strife between Israel and Edom. By understanding the context of Obadiah’s prophecies, one can identify themes and circumstances that help unravel the mystery of his timeline.

Through the prophecies made about Edom, it becomes clear that the nation’s actions reflected their arrogance and callousness towards God’s people. The timeline presents a backdrop against which God’s judgment and mercy are displayed, illuminating the prophet’s prophetic mission and the historical setting in which he lived.


While it is challenging to conclusively establish when Obadiah lived, the investigation provides various avenues to explore its historical context. By examining biblical and historical evidence, a plausible timeframe revolves around the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Although Obadiah’s personal life is enigmatic, the messages and prophecies he conveyed in the Book of Obadiah underscore the Bible’s overarching themes. Moreover, the context of his prophecies not only denotes the struggle and friction between Israel and other nations but also epitomizes God’s sovereign justice, righteousness, and divine plan. In the end, the details of Obadiah’s life might remain elusive, but the theological richness and historical significance of his ministry transcend the limitations of human knowledge and provide valuable insights into the Word of God.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.