Obadiah: Obadiah 17-A Remnant of the Descendants of Jacob Will Be Holy and Possess Their Land Inheritance Lesson # 18
Obadiah 17 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. (ESV)
“Shall possess their own possessions” is composed of the following: (1) verb yā·rǎš (יָרַשׁ), “shall possess” (2) noun mô·rāš (מוֹרָשׁ), “possessions” (7) third person masculine plural form of the pronominal suffix hēmâ (־הֵמָה), “their own.”
There is a textual problem that we need to address at this point in our study of Obadiah 17.
Many translations follow the reading מוֹרִשֵׁיהֶם (morishehem; literally, “those dispossessing them”; cf. NET, NAB, NRSV, CEV).
On the other hand, some such as the KJV, ASV and NASB follow the reading מוֹרָשֵׁיהֶם (morashehem, “their possessions”) of the MT (cf. LXX, Syriac, and Vg). TNIV, NIV and NIV85 render the latter “its inheritance.”
The reason for these two interpretations is that the same Hebrew consonants were given different vowels by ancient translators.
This first interpretation is preferred by some modern translators and is rendered by the NEB as “Jacob shall dispossess those that dispossessed them” and this relates in a more detailed way with the description in verses 19-20.
However, the difference between the two interpretations is more one of emphasis than of basic meaning, and both fit easily into the context, thus, either interpretation is fully acceptable.
If morishehem (מוֹרִשֵׁיהֶם), “those dispossessing them” is the correct reading, then the verb yā·rǎš means “to dispossess” and thus, these two words would be expressing the idea that the descendants of Jacob will dispossess those who dispossessed them.
This usage of the verb is common in both the qal (Deut. 2:12, 21f; 9:1; 11:23; 12:2, 29; Num. 21:32; Ezek. 36:12; Amos 9:12) and hiphil stems (Josh. 13:13; 14:12; 16:10; 17:13; Judg. 1:29-33).
Interestingly, the verb yā·rǎš and the noun mô·rāš are employed over one hundred times in the Old Testament with regards to Israel’s conquest of the promised land (cf. Ex. 6:8; Deut. 3:8; 4:1, 22).
The verb yā·rǎš pertains to displacing from one’s property, taking by military force, which may or may not be rightfully one’s singular inheritance, implying loss of economic means and benefit.
This dispossession occurs when one nation succeeds another and thus, by capturing territory, one nation divests another nation of its possession of land.
If morashehem (מוֹרָשֵׁיהֶם), “possessions, land inheritance” is correct, then the verb yā·rǎš means “to possess, to take possession of,” thus, these two words would be expressing the idea of the descendants of Jacob will possess their inheritance.
Supporting this interpretation is that the verb yā·rǎš appears twice in Obadiah 19 and once in Obadiah 20 where in each instance it means “to possess, to take possession of” rather than “to dispossess.”
My view is that the correct reading is morashehem (מוֹרָשֵׁיהֶם), “possessions, land inheritance” since it serves as the direct object of the verb yā·rǎš, which in each instance in Obadiah 19-20 means “to possess” rather than “to dispossess.”
In other words, the correct reading is unlikely to be morishehem (מוֹרִשֵׁיהֶם), “those dispossessing them” since the verb yā·rǎš is always used in the immediate context of taking possession of land rather than dispossessing people from the land.
Busenitz writes “Whether one follows the variant reading, ‘possessing their possessors,’27 or whether one advocates the reading handed down by the Masoretes, the sense of the passage remains evident—Israel will possess the inheritance promised to her (Exo 6:8; Ps 136:21–22; Ezk 11:15; 33:24).”
Obadiah 17 “However, a remnant will live on this mountain, which is Zion. In fact, it will for certain be a holy place. Furthermore, Jacob’s descendants will as a certainty possess their own land inheritance.” (My translation)
Obadiah 17 contains three more prophetic declarations which stand in direct contrast with the previous four prophetic declarations recorded in Obadiah 16.
Therefore, the contrast between verses 16 and 17 is that a remnant of Jews will once again be a national entity with geographical boundaries but those Gentile nations which destroyed Judah as a national entity as a result of the Babylonian invasion of 586 B.C. will no longer exist as national entities.
“This mountain, which is Zion” refers to the city of Jerusalem.
Now, in Obadiah 17, the reference to “a remnant” in the first prophetic declaration refers to regenerate Jews who will live during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
The reference to a remnant in the first prophetic declaration recorded in Obadiah 17 is echoed in Joel 2:28-32 and Joel 3:17.
This reference to “a remnant” in Obadiah 17 does not refer to those Jews who returned from the Babylonian exile since Obadiah describes Mount Zion in the second prophetic declaration in this verse, as a holy place and it has never been a holy place during the times of the Gentiles.
By holy, the writer means that Jerusalem will be dedicated and devoted and set apart for the worship of the God of Israel exclusively.
This has never been the case during the times of the Gentiles, which refers to a period of human history in which God is disciplining the nation of Israel for her corporate rebellion against Him.
Further indicating that this remnant is referring to the regenerate remnant of Jews during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ is that Israel has never in her history and even up to the present moment fully possessed the land inheritance promised to her by God.
The reference to “a remnant” in the first prophetic declaration recorded in Obadiah 17 speaks of one of the most critical doctrines found in the Word of God, which is that of the remnant (Obad. 17, 21).
This doctrine asserts that within the Jewish nation, God will always set aside a certain number of Jews who will believe in Him in every dispensation and in every generation of human history.
It is based upon the unconditional promises contained in the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic and New covenants and all of which were given directly to the nation of Israel and not the church.
A member of the remnant must meet two requirements.
First, they must be Jewish meaning that biologically or racially, they are descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whose name was changed to “Israel” by God.
The second requirement which must be met is that of trusting in the Lord.
When Obadiah predicts in Obadiah 17 that a remnant of Jews will as a certainty possess their own land inheritance in the future, he is referring to the Palestinian covenant or promise of land to the descendants of Jacob who exercise faith in the Lord.
The second prophetic declaration in Obadiah 17 asserts that Jerusalem will once again be a holy place which is echoed and expanded upon by the prophet Joel (cf. Joel 3:17-21).
Zephaniah 3:8-20 provides detail information as to why Jerusalem and the land of Israel will be holy and why this regenerate remnant of Jews during the millennial reign of Christ will never be put to shame.
It also tells why this remnant will be holy.
Now, all three prophetic declarations which appear in Obadiah 17 explicitly speak of the future restoration of Israel and implicitly they speak of the future regeneration of Israel.
The term “restoration” is used to describe God fulfilling His promises of land to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, the Jews during the millennial reign of Christ.
This restoration of a future remnant of Israel to the land promised to them under the Abrahamic and Palestinian covenants is echoed in Amos 9:14-15, Ezekiel 36:34-37 and Zephaniah 3:20.
The term “regeneration” speaks of the national regeneration of Israel which will take place at the Second Advent of Christ when the majority of Jews will trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior and only a small remnant will reject Him.
Isaiah 54 speaks of the regeneration and restoration of Israel during the millennium.
The “dry bones” passage in Ezekiel 37 and Romans 11:25-27 both teach that the nation of Israel will experience a national regeneration and thus the forgiveness of their sins at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
So therefore, all three prophetic declarations which are recorded in Obadiah 17 will all be fulfilled or find their perfect fulfillment during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
All of these Old Testament passages that we have noted in our study of Obadiah 17 and this doctrine of the remnant which is taught in this verse and in both the Old and New Testaments makes clear that Israel does have a future in the plan of God and that the church has in no way replaced Israel permanently.
MT Masoretic Text (the traditional rabbinical text of the Hebrew Bible dating from the medieval period)
LXX Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament, translated between 250–100 BC)
Syriac The Syriac tranlsation of the Old Testament, also called Peshitta
Vg The Vulgate version of the Bible in Latin
27 So Allen (163), who contends that ‘it provides a better link with the reference to the nations in the previous stanza and to Edom in the next’ Jeremiah 49:2 suggests a similar understanding, as well as the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate and the Targums.
 So Allen (163), who contends that ‘it provides a better link with the reference to the nations in the previous stanza and to Edom in the next’ Jeremiah 49:2 suggests a similar understanding, as well as the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate and the Targums.
 Busenitz, I. A. (2003). Commentary on Joel and Obadiah (p. 275). Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.