Obadiah’s Warning to the West

December 7, 2023

The Book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible with a total of only 21 verses. But boy, do those 21 verses pack a punch!

Obadiah prophesies about Edom, the nation that descends from Jacob’s brother Esau, who will be punished at the end of days for its sins against the people of Israel. But there is just one problem – the nation of “Edom” no longer exists!

Edom was located to the south of ancient Israel on the strategic trade route between Arabia and the Mediterranean. The Edomites were later conquered by the Nabataeans, after which many of them migrated to southern Judea, where they became known as Idumaeans. But by the time the Romans destroyed the second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Idumeans had disappeared from history, along with almost all of the ancient nations mentioned in the Bible.

What, then, are we to make of the Book of Obadiah? Is Obadiah’s prophecy still relevant today?

In Jewish tradition, the term “Edom” is broadly used to refer to the Roman Empire, the European powers that inherited its legacy, and the nations of the West that are the spiritual descendants of Rome. In other words, the Book of Obadiah’s prophecy about Edom is actually a warning to the Western nations of our time – the United States included.

The sages explain that Obadiah’s prophecy speaks of the end of days, about the period of the war of Gog and Magog (Malbim). But while the prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah address the evil Gog himself – the Islamic nations of Ishmael who will actively attack the people of Israel – Obadiah addresses the people of Edom, the Western nations that will support and encourage the Ishmaelites who attack Israel.

An Unholy Alliance

“From the prophecies of Daniel and Isaiah and the statement of our sages it is clear that the advent of the Messiah will take place when the hands of Edom and Arabia (Ishmael) will be mighty and when their kingdoms will spread throughout the world… Daniel in the latter part of his vision alludes to the Kingdom of Ishmael (the Arabs), to the rise of Mohammed and then to the arrival of the Messiah. Similarly, Isaiah intimated that the coming of the Messiah will occur after the rise of Mohammed, in the verse ‘A man riding on an ass, a man riding on a camel, and two men riding on horses.’ (21:7). Now ‘the man riding on an ass’ is a symbolic reference to the Messiah as is evident from another verse which describes him as ‘lowly and riding on an ass’ (Zechariah 9:9). He will follow the ‘man riding on the camel’ that is, the kingdom of Arabia. The statement ‘two men riding on horses’ refers to both empires, Edom and Arabia” (Maimonides, Epistle to the Jews of Yemen, 1172).

Maimonides implies that at the end of days, there will be some sort of union between the nations of Edom and Ishmael, an alliance for which there is biblical precedent. Over three thousand years ago, Esau (Edom) and Ishmael formed a bond through the marriage of Esau to Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael:

“So Esau went to Ishmael, and he took Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, the sister of Nebaioth, in addition to his other wives as a wife” (Genesis 28:9).

The sages explain that ‘Esau went to Ishmael to learn his evil ways and to increase his number of wives’ (Midrash Tanchuma, Exodus 1:6)

This same dynamic is all too common on American college campuses today, in which young, naive and spiritually lost Americans (the people of Edom) turn to radical Muslim professors and student groups (the people of Ishmael) to find direction and purpose in their lives. Tragically, hundreds of thousands of students, many of them raised in Christian and Jewish homes, have been radicalized in this way.

These young “Progressives,” who serve as the foot soldiers of the antisemitic pro-Palestine movement, are the Ishmaelites’ useful idiots. The LGBTQ+ activists who so passionately support Hamas terrorists would be butchered by Hamas if they dared to step foot in the Gaza Strip. Yet they, and millions of other fools, support the jihadists who despise them.

“The vision of Obadiah; So said the Lord God concerning Edom; We have heard tidings from the Lord, and a messenger has been sent among the nations, ‘Arise and let us rise up against them in war!’” (Obadiah 1:1).

Who is this messenger calling the nations to rise up and attack the West? Rabbi Meir Wisser (1809-1879), otherwise known as Malbim, explains that “these are the messengers the children of Ishmael will send to each other to encourage each other to rise up and destroy the West.” Incredibly, Rabbi Wisser wrote his commentary on Obadiah during the 19th century, when the Arab nations were weak and the Ottoman Empire was known as the “Sick man of Europe.”

This is precisely what is occurring today, as imams throughout Europe teach their followers to embrace jihad, hate Jews and overthrow the Judeo-Christian culture of the West. They are openly declaring their true goal – to topple and take over the West from the inside. Is anybody listening?

As Obadiah explains, the people of the West are foolish and asleep. They do not realize that by helping Ishmael in its war against Israel, they are sowing the seeds of their own destruction. Their erstwhile Ishmaelite “allies” do not only hate the Jews. Their ultimate goal is to topple the entire West and bring it under the dominion of Islam. As Hamas terrorists have proudly said, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people!”

The Downfall of the West

“If you go up high like an eagle, and if you place your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the Lord” (Obadiah 1:4).

The Western nations of Edom, who for so long were the world’s dominant powers, will crash down from their great heights. One who falls from a low place is not seriously in danger. Therefore God placed the ‘nest’ of Edom among the ‘stars,’ giving the Western nations dominance over the world, in order to increase the impact of their ultimate demise.

From their heights of power, the Western nations will be brought down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat for divine judgment:

“For behold, in those days and in that time when I return the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and I will take them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will contend with them there concerning My people and My heritage, Israel, which they scattered among the nations, and My land they divided” (Joel 4:1-2).

When God “returns the captives of Judah,” when the Israeli hostages are returned to their families, God will judge the nations for their treatment of Israel. God will ask every nation: “When Islamic terrorists raped, tortured and slaughtered over 1,200 of My beloved children on October 7, how did you respond?” Those nations that supported Hamas and Iran in their goal of dividing the Holy Land and taking it away from the people of Israel will be judged and punished for their betrayal.

The downfall of the West will not occur overnight or in a spectacular fashion. Rather, the enemies of Edom – the Muslim Ishmaelites – will sneak up on the West like thieves who take everything you own as you sleep.

“Did thieves come upon you, did plunderers of the night? How were you silent? Will they not steal till they have enough?” (Obadiah 1:5).

Everyone will ask: “Why did you not awaken from your slumber to expel these Ishmaelite enemies from your midst?” (Malbim). The same question should be asked today, as Europe’s radical Muslim population grows by leaps and bounds. Projections show that Muslims will make up 19.7% of Germany’s population by 2050, with similar numbers in England and France. Meanwhile, leaders who dare call out the danger of Europe’s rising Muslim population, like Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, are marginalized as bigots and “Islamophobes.”

“Shall I not on that day, says the Lord, destroy wise men from Edom and discernment from the mountain of Esau?” (Obadiah 1:8).

The Western nations, once led by wise leaders, will lack wisdom at the end of days. In our generation, European and American leaders are concerned about transgender rights and foolish debates about who qualifies as a “woman” while they are oblivious to the Muslim barbarians at the gates who are preparing to conquer their nations from the inside.

Silence in the Face of Evil

“On that day you stood from afar, on the day strangers captured his possessions, and foreigners came into his cities, and on Jerusalem they cast lots; you, too, are like one of them” (Obadiah 1:11).

As Hamas murdered, raped and tortured, most of the Western nations of Edom remained silent, ignoring the horrors perpetrated by Ishmael against God’s people. In the wake of October 7, international women’s organizations like U.N. Women refused to condemn the brutal sexual crimes perpetrated by Hamas terrorists against hundreds of Israeli women. And where is the global outcry over the hundreds of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas? The silence is deafening.

Obadiah could not be clearer. Those who remain silent in the face of evil “are like one of them.” God will hold the cowardly nations of Edom accountable together with the Ishmaelite Muslims.

“You should not have rejoiced about the children of Judah on the day of their destruction, and you should not have spoken proudly on the day of their distress” (Obadiah 1:12).

Many in the West, like the mealy-mouthed UN Secretary-General António Guterres, did not merely remain silent in the face of evil, but also aided and abetted it. Guterres justified the monstrous actions of Hamas, saying their barbaric slaughter “did not happen in a vacuum.”

Obadiah prophesies that the time will come when the hundreds of thousands who celebrated the murder of Israelis on the streets of London will pay for their callousness. And the day will come when American professors who called the slaughter of October 7th “heroic” and a “great achievement” will be held to account.

“For the day of the Lord over all the nations is close; as you have done shall be done to you; your recompense shall be returned upon your head” (Obadiah 1:15).

The day will soon come when the hypocritical nations of the West will lament their evil doings, but by then it will be too late. As Rabbi David Altschuler of Prague (1687-1769) writes, “You should have thought about the day when you would receive payment from God for your evil deeds, for that day is coming sooner than you think.”

Whither America?

The day of reckoning for the West is coming. Most of the European nations have already caved to Islamicism, cowering helplessly as brazen Muslims and their supporters take over the streets of London and Paris.

What about the ostensible leader of the West, the United States of America? Will the world’s leading democracy join the ranks of Edom, turn its back on Israel and surrender to the tyranny of Islam?

Though the majority of Americans support Israel, over 50% of young people support the Hamas rapists and murderers who gleefully tortured Jewish women and children. As these young people grow older and assume the leadership of the nation, what kind of country will America be? Can these trends be reversed?

God has promised that Israel will be victorious. But will America survive? That is up to us.

Rabbi Elie Mischel

Rabbi Elie Mischel is the Director of Education at Israel365. Before making Aliyah in 2021, he served as the Rabbi of Congregation Suburban Torah in Livingston, NJ. He also worked for several years as a corporate attorney at Day Pitney, LLP. Rabbi Mischel received rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Rabbi Mischel also holds a J.D. from the Cardozo School of Law and an M.A. in Modern Jewish History from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He is also the editor of HaMizrachi Magazine.

Rabbi Elie Mischel

Rabbi Elie Mischel

Rabbi Elie Mischel is the Director of Education at Israel365. Before making Aliyah in 2021, he served as the Rabbi of Congregation Suburban Torah in Livingston, NJ. He also worked for several years as a corporate attorney at Day Pitney, LLP. Rabbi Mischel received rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Rabbi Mischel also holds a J.D. from the Cardozo School of Law and an M.A. in Modern Jewish History from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He is also the editor of HaMizrachi Magazine.

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