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Obadiah 19-20

19. And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead

19..Et possidebunt meridiem montis Esau, et planietiem Philistim, et possidebunt agros Ephraim et agros Samariae; et Benjamin possidebit Gilead.

20. 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.

20. Et migratio exercitus hujus filiorum Israel, quod Chananaeorum fuit usque ad Zerphath (vel, qui sunt in Chananaeis,) et migratio Jerusalem, quod in Sepharad, possidebunt (in quam) urbes Australes (vel, meridionales.) 7676     The rendering of the first of these two verses is materially different from our version. There are difficulties here which are considerable. Our version in the first part follows Septuagint; and others have followed the same, such as Newcome and Henderson, though Junius and Tremulius and Dathius have rendered it materially the same with Calvin, and certainly more in consistency with the Hebrew text. The following may be considered as a literal version of the whole verse: —
   19. And they shall inherit the south, the mount of Esau,
And the plain,
even that of the Philistines,
And they shall inherit the field of Ephraim and the field of Samaria,
And of Benjamin, even Gilead.

   The word “to possess” does not convey the meaning of ירש, which means to inherit, or to possess by inheritance, as Junius and Tremelius render it — haereditario jure possidebunt — “They shall possess by an hereditary right.” And this exactly corresponds with Calvin’s explanation. Though our version follows the Septuagint in the two first lines, it yet departs from it the two last.

   But the 20th verse is the most difficult. “Captivity” is more properly “migration” or transmigration, as Calvin renders it. Then follow the words, החל-חזה לבכי ישראל, literally, in my view, “the beginning, this, to the children of Israel.” So the Septuagint takes the word החל, as meaning “beginning,” and not “host:” it wants the ו except in three copies, and it always has this, when it means a host. I propose the following translation: —

   And the migration, which commenced with the children of Israel,
Shall inherit what the Canaanites had as far as Sarephath;
And the migration from Jerusalem, which are in Saphrad,
The cities of the south.

   The latter verse is a fuller explanation of the former; and, as is the case commonly in Hebrew, when two things previously mentioned are referred to, the order is reversed, the last particular is mentioned first, so it is here. The verb “inherit” is in the last clause in Hebrew; but the idiom of our language requires it to be in the first. — Ed.


The Prophet proceeds with the same subject, — that God would not only gather the remnants of his people from the Babylonian exile, but would restore the exiles, that they might rule far and wide, and that their condition might be better than it was before: for the Prophet, as I think, directs the attention to the first blessing of God, which had been deposited in the hand of Abraham. God had promised to the posterity of Abraham the whole land from Euphrates to the sea. Now this land had never been possessed by the children of Abraham. This happened, as it is well known, through their sloth and ingratitude. David in his time enlarged the borders; but yet he only made those tributaries whom God had commanded to be destroyed. So this blessing had never been fulfilled, because the people put a hindrance in the way. The Prophet now, speaking of the restoration of the Church, tells the people, who would return from exile, that they were to occupy the country which had been promised to their fathers as though he said, “There will come to you a full and complete inheritance.”

Now it is certain that this prophecy has never been completed: we know that but a small portion of the land was possessed by the Jews. What then are we to understand by this prophecy? It does unquestionably appear that the Prophet speaks here of the kingdom of Christ; and we know that the Church was then really restored, and that the Jews not only recovered their former state from which they had fallen, but that their kingdom was increased: for how great became the splendor of the kingdom and of the temple under Christ? This then is what the Prophet now means, when he promises to the Jews the heritage which they had lost; yea, God then enlarged the borders of Judea. Hence he shows that they should not only be restored to their former condition, but that the kingdom would be increased in splendor and wealth, when Christ should come. Let us now run over the words.

Possess then shall they the south of the mount of Esau. The space was no doubt great: even when David reigned, the Jews did not possess that part or south portion of mount Seir. Then the Prophet, as I have said, shows that the borders of the kingdom would be more extensive than they had been. And the plain, he says, of the Philistines On that side also the Lord would cause that the Jews would extend farther than their kingdom. And possess they shall the fields of Ephraim Here I will not spend much labor in describing the land: but it is enough for us to understand that the design of the Prophet was to show, that the state of the people after their exile would be far more splendid than it had been before, even under the reign of David. What he means by Gilead is not very clear: but it is not probable that mount Gilead is referred to here, which was not far distant from the tribe of Benjamin, but rather that a town or some place distant from that part, and not included in their portion, is pointed out.

He afterwards adds, And the migrations of this host of the children of Israel, etc. There is here an obscurity in the words. The Hebrews by Canaan mean the Illyrians as well as Germans, and also the Gauls: for they say, that the migration, which shall be dispersed in Gaul, and in Germany, and in these far regions, shall possess the southern cities. Now by Zarephath they understand Spain. But we know, as we have elsewhere said, that the Jews are very bold in their glosses: for they are not ashamed to trifle and to blend frivolous things; and they assert this as though it were evident from history, and easily found out. Thus they prattle about things unknown to them, and this they do without any reason or discrimination. The Prophet, I doubt not, means here that all those territories, which had been formerly promised to the children of Abraham, would come into their possession when the Lord would send his Christ, not only to restore what had fallen, but also to render the state of the people in every way blessed. The import of the whole then is, that the Jews shall not only recover what they had lost, but what had not hitherto been given them to possess: all this the Lord would bestow on them when Christ came. It follows —

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