Obadiah Table of Contents

Main Table of Contents


Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter One of Obadiah

Obadiah 1:1-3

"The vision of Obadiah.

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom (we have heard a report from the Lord, and a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, ‘Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle’): ‘Behold, I will make you small among the nations; you shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you. You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’".

Passages From the Writings


AC 3322 [8]

Apocalypse Revealed (AR) 338

Posthumous Theological Works, Vol. 1, Invitation to the New Church 35.


AC 10582

Apocalypse Explained (AE) 410 [5]

Derived Doctrine

"The vision of Obadiah."

"We have heard a report from the Lord."

"…a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying…"

"Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle."

"Behold, I will make you small among the nations;"

"You shall be greatly despised."

"The pride of your heart has deceived you…"

"You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high…"

  • This passage is well covered in the Passages from the Writings.

"You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’"

Putting It All Together

1. The passage in P&P pulls all of the above together beautifully. "…those who are in self-intelligence, and who pervert the literal sense of the Word…they are to be combated, because they imagine themselves more intelligent than the rest…" We are called to be brave soldiers in the Lord’s army. We need to despise the life of evil because it loves falsity and hates truth: it favors self and hates the Lord.

The choice is plain. It’s Edom’s way or the Lord’s way. The outcome is not debatable. Edom will be made low in spite of its pretentious bragging. No matter how cleverly Edom lays out its strategy, it will fall. Edom’s height on the mountain will not save it from the Lord’s presence. Wherever the Lord brings good and truth, evil and falsity cannot remain in His presence.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P again.

Read Obadiah 1:1-3 again.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. Have you ever met, read, or heard someone who imagines they are more intelligent than the rest of the human race? How does that person relate to other people? How do other people relate to him or her?

2. Did you try to wage a mental battle against their thinking? What was the outcome?

3. Hiding up in the mountain gives the person up an advantage on the one below who is climbing up the mountain. Those on top can cause an avalanche of stones to advance on the persons below. They can use poles, javelins, arrows, or hot oil to push people backwards. What does this tell us about hell’s imagined defense against the truth of the Lord?

4. What about the other side of this issue? Is there confidence in these verses that the up-hill battle can be won with the Lord’s help? Give examples.

5. The confederation of nations, the brotherhood of the will and understanding being called by the Lord, is a force to fight with against hell. What ways can you see this happening in the church? What about in daily life?

6. If a modern-day prophet were to give us a report on what we are doing to the literal sense, do you imagine we might hear some strong words of condemnation? How do we treat the Lord’s Word as an organization? As individuals? What informs our choices about the Word?

Obadiah 1:4-5

"Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," says the Lord.

"If thieves had come to you, if robbers by night- Oh, how you will be cut off! – Would they not have stolen till they had enough? If grape gatherers had come to you, would they not have left some gleanings?"

Passages From the Writings


AC 10582 [8]

AE 410 [5]

AC 3901 [7 & 8]

AR 649

AE 920 [5]

  • "In Obadiah 1:5… ‘Grape-gatherers’ signify falsities, and ‘thieves’ evils, which lay waste the truths and goods of the church; but ‘destroyers’ signify both falsities and evils; that ‘they would leave no clusters’ signifies that there are no goods because there are no truths. But ‘to gather the vintage’ signifies to gather for uses such things especially as will be serviceable to (the person’s) understanding …"

AC 5135 [8]

AC 8906 [3]

AR 164

True Christian Religion (TCR) 317

AE 193 [6]

  • "In Obadiah 1:5…falsities and evils are called ‘thieves,’ and are said to ‘steal’; falsities are ‘thieves,’ and ‘robbers by night’; it is said ‘by night,’ because ‘night’ signifies a state of no love and faith."

AE 1005

Derived Doctrine

"Would they [robbers and thieves] not have stolen till they have enough?" "Would they not have left some gleanings?"

Putting It All Together

1. Building on the last point in the derived doctrine section might help us pull things together. Edom saw itself as smarter than anyone else in the world. They polished their external reasoning with such brilliance that it impressed their sensual nature. They were able to bend truth with "wrong applications." Was there anything they couldn’t do? Couldn’t they rob people of the truths if they put their minds to finding just the right blend of falsity? Edom believed so!

2. Edom did plunder good and truth. They hurt the people to whom they should have ministered, but the Lord still had their "remains" in His control. Why? When the insanity in hell is almost totally out of control, the Lord brings the hells back into order for the briefest of moments. In that "sane" moment, they return to a degree of clarity and feel shame for their actions. But then they lapse (leap) back into the falsities of self-intelligence. What does the Lord touch within them? He touches their gleanings, their remains, or their soul. He touches what could have been their greatest individual and unique potential. They could not rid themselves of the delights of innocence that were impressed on their memories of childhood. Not the smallest of them is lost. (AC 530 and 561) Edom might have forgotten them, but the Lord does not forget them. He knows where they are. He protects them to eternity.

3. These verses, like a Divine beacon, tell everyone that Edom’s natural light and its falsities will perish. Edom cannot extinguish the light of the Lord. He will not be robbed. Edom is not wiser than the Infinite Mind.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Obadiah 1:4-5.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. TCR 317 mentions priests preaching and teaching things they know are wrong and contrary to the Word. I wonder what contrary things might be taught in our day. I have tried to think how that might be true today. Can you identify with this portion of the prophecy?

2. If you were asked to share your views about the power of the soul, or remains, what points would be your favorite to highlight in your response?

3. Without feeling smug, is it not good to read that evil will be vanquished? The loud, bragging voice of the "intimidator" will be silenced. Its imagined strong defense in the caves of the mountains will be emptied of its arsenal.

4. Most of us have encountered bullies in our lives. How is hell like a bully? How do you vanquish a bully?

5. Our reading referred to the negative correspondence of eagles. In this case, eagles represent a pride in learning from self-intelligence. At the time I read that, I wanted to quote Isaiah 40:31: "…those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." AR 244 explains that eagles in this passage from Isaiah signify rising into knowledges of truth and good, and so into intelligence. This isn’t so much a question as it is a reminder that "good eagles" study with a purpose to learn and apply the good and truth we receive from the Lord.

Obadiah 1:6

"Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after!"

Passages From the Writings


  • "…that they are haughty and conceited, ver. 6…"

Derived Doctrine

"Esau shall be searched out!"

"How his hidden treasures shall be sought after."

Putting It All Together

1. P&P sets the tone for what is at issue: it is a haughty and conceited spiritual state that the Lord visits. He comes to search out the reins and the heart of everyone. He visits the hidden treasures He gave us without our knowledge. These gifts were hidden for our protection. They do not remain dormant or passive. Like a vital power source, they contribute daily in thousands of secret ways. So the Lord also comes "to see." Have we lost sight of the treasure through neglect or because we put up a defense against the influx of heaven? Did we lose it because we denied the Lord’s Divine Human? Did the treasure get layered over with a hardened heart?

2. In the parable of the talents, the one who buried his talent in the ground said he did so because he perceived the master as a hard taskmaster. Fear of his master led him to burying the talent lest it be lost. What happened to this man and his talent? It was taken from him and given to those who wisely invested their talent and earned a return for the Master.

3. There seems to be a bit of this parable in Esau’s hidden treasure being sought after. The evil perceive the Lord as someone who wants to plunder the hidden treasure. What they forget is that the Lord is the owner of the treasure. The hiding place of these gifts is to be known by Him. They are the ones who want to put the treasure in harm’s way through their haughty and conceited ways.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Obadiah 1:6.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. Please remember that the Writings teach that each truth has a myriad of avenues to follow. The summary offered above is but one little side trip. You must find and trace the spiritual sense, too. What other avenues would you like to pursue? Are you pursuing your own questions and insights along the way?

2. What do you think about the meaning of those who come to seek out Esau’s hidden treasure? Do they really represent the Lord’s good and truth coming in to see our internal state? Do we notice when the Lord does this? How might we know He is present?

3. The Writings teach us that the angels greet us in the World of Spirits with a question: What have you loved? That question is so powerful that it begins the opening process of the 3 steps a newly arrived spirit passes through. How ready are we to have our hidden treasures looked at? What might we tell an angel about what we love?

4. "Oh, how Esau shall be searched out!" These words are filled with reality, forewarning, and certainty. What else comes to mind when you read them regarding the haughty and the conceited?

Obadiah 1:7

"All the men in your confederacy shall force you to the border; the men at peace with you shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…that they have no truths, ver. 7…"


Derived Doctrine

"…your confederacy…"

"…shall force you to the border…"

"…the men at peace with you shall deceive you and prevail against you."

"Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you."

  • Eating represents to communicate, to be conjoined, and to appropriate. See AC 2343.
  • Bread signifies love. To eat bread represents to communicate, conjoin and appropriate love.
  • To lay a trap signifies having a plan or desire to destroy the love of a spiritual life. See AC 9348 [7].

"No one is aware of it."

Putting It All Together

1. Imagine thinking that you are so right and everyone else is so wrong. Imagine believing you see things more clearly than anyone else. And then all of what you believed and did is exposed as not only empty but SO WRONG! Those who "appeared" to be your best friends are gone when you turn to them in your moment of need. They are not there to give approval. Instead, they are now on the other side providing incidents and intimate details proving what foolishness you participated in all of your life. No longer are you the trendsetter. On the contrary, you become the epitome, to eternity, of what not to be and what not to do.

2. Listen again to the words of P&P: "…they have no truths…" In effect, the Lord’s revelation of what IS showed up their what is not. They were spiritually, morally, and ethically bankrupt. It is a sad commentary on the heritage of Esau. "For Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field …and he sold his birthright to Jacob." A red stew or mass of pottage was the asking price. Not a good beginning for those who fell in love with their own wisdom and imagined they were wiser than all the people of the world.

3. So we have the story of Esau to awaken us, to alert our minds so we see the approach of the enemy and the traps set to snare us. More than that, we need to know that we do have someone to help us see and confront the enemy. The Lord will be with us, and He is aware of all things that hell wants to confuse us about.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Obadiah 1:7.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. Going back to the first quote from P&P, what two major evils brought Esau to its spiritual demise?

2. How many times have we felt that we were all alone with, seemingly, no one alert to our plight? Does this have to be the case? The Writings remind us that we feel alone during temptation, but the reality is just the opposite. The Lord is near and fighting for us. Will we believe it is so? What can we do to remind ourselves?

3. Breaking bread with the enemy is something we need to avoid. Do you remember the story about Peter on the night of the Lord’s religious interrogation? Where was Peter? He was outside warming his hands by the fire with those who were curious, neutral, or against the Lord. As finite beings, we find ourselves eating with those who would set traps for our spiritual life. How can we be better prepared to not be compromised with time/space values or antagonism regarding eternal ends?

4. Could this prophecy have another meaning about eating bread, falling into snares, and being alone? To the haughty and conceited, the Lord might be perceived as the One deceiving them. He seeks to share the bread of life with all. But those who reject Him and His Word see the Word as worthless and empty of help. Do you remember the words of Karl Marx? "Religion is the opiate of the masses." He saw religion as a means to dull and confuse the people. It appears that Marx saw religion as a cruel and heartless trap.

Obadiah 1:8-9

"Will I not in that day," says the Lord, "even destroy the wise men from Edom, and understanding from the mountains of Esau?

Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau may be cut off by slaughter."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…that they will perish in the day of judgment, because they have oppressed the church, vers. 8, 9…"

AE 448 [11]

Doctrine of the Lord 4

Derived Doctrine

"Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed."

"…everyone from the mountains of Esau may be cut off by slaughter."

Putting It All Together

1. We need to use a notebook or pad of paper for a moment. Let’s first put down the direct teachings from the Word about the wise men "from Edom and understanding from the mountains of Esau." Then let’s write out the second prophecy about "your mighty men, O Teman…everyone from the mountains of Esau…."

Before we begin making specific applications, circle every "from" you see in the two prophecies.

2. How are they being used? I am "from" Bryn Athyn, PA. The use of "from" in this instance helps to identify my place of residence. If I say I borrowed this book "from" the library, it helps to identify where I got the book and where it is to be returned. If someone runs away "from" home, that "from" indicates what they tried to leave behind—perhaps parental or jurisdictional control. If someone is tied down or blocked, we say they were kept "from" playing or completing their task. If someone changes, for better or worse, we note that they are long way "from" what they used to be. Again, in what sense is the word "from" being used in these prophecies?

3. In the positive sense, Edom represents wonderful things: the Lord’s human essence; His strength; His power or good of the natural principle. (AC 3322) If Edom operated "from" these spiritual things, the "from" would be significant and laudable. But that is not what happens here. There was movement away from their good beginnings. Shouldn’t we note this to see how far they had come "from" those principles? Instead of acknowledging the Lord’s essence, power, and good in the natural, they were using the letter of the Word to get away "from" the jurisdiction of the Lord to confirm themselves and their loves. They were not "from the mountain of the Lord," but they were "from" the mountain of self-love.

3. Esau in the positive sense signifies the Lord’s infancy; the celestial good in the natural principle. (AC 3599 and AC 4239) These principles can lift a person into the mountains of celestial splendor. But that is not where Esau’s people stayed. They traveled from such beginnings, and now "everyone" from the mountains of Esau rejected and despised the celestial good in the natural principle. Could this be the reason their movement away from celestial good caused the words such as "slaughter, perdition, and damnation" to be used?

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Obadiah 1:8-9.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. Did you look up the word "perdition"? If you did, were you surprised with its meaning and application to our lesson? Where else have you heard this word used?

2. Loss of one’s innocence, loss of solid foundational principles, is an issue in this prophecy. Growing up, maturing, moving from innocence of ignorance to innocence of wisdom is a step-by-step process. We move "from former states" into "newer states." The Writings give us a look at the steps of faith: Historical, Persuasive, Blind, Hypocritical, and Spurious. All of these may be passed through, but an end must be in view. True Faith is the goal. This faith is FROM the Lord. Can you identify with any of these?

3. Misuse of the literal sense is a prevalent topic of the Writings. We are not perfect in our thinking process. Errors in judgment and application will occur. How might we avoid the extreme of being fearful to apply the literal sense of the Word and being careless with applications? How can we guard against and correct any errors?

Obadiah 1:10-14

"For violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off that you stood on the other side- in the day that strangers carried captive his forces, when foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem- even you were as one with them.

But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress. You should not have entered the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained in the day of distress."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…that they destroy the church still more, and that this their delight, vers. 10-14…"

AC 10287 [14]

AR 591

AE 811 [16]

AC 2851

Derived Doctrine

"For violence against your brother Jacob…"

  • Let’s look first at the meaning of violence.
  • Violence signifies filthy lusts to which those of the declining church had degenerated. (AC 621 [3])
  • Violence signifies that there is no longer any good-will. (AC 632)
  • Violence signifies falsities and evils are against goods and truths. (AC 4502)
  • Violence signifies the purposeful perversion of the truths of the Word. (AE 734 [17])
  • Violence signifies the adulteration of the good of the Word. (AE 730)

"…your brother Jacob…"

"Shame shall cover you…"

"…you stood on the other side -…"

"In the day that strangers carried captive his forces…foreigners entered his gates…"

"…and cast lots for Jerusalem-even you were as one of them."

"…you should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity…"

"…the children of Judah and the day of their destruction…"

"…nor should you have spoken proudly…"

  • To speak signifies to both perceive and to will. (AC 2965)
  • Pride signifies love of self. (AC 2220)
  • Pride extinguishes and suffocates the light of heaven. (AC 2959)
  • Pride glues falsities together. (AR 421)

"…nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity."

"…you should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off [block]…them who escaped…"

  • We have no correspondences for crossroad. We do for "the way." "Way" signifies a desire to make a change of state. It means to abstain from some attitude toward truth and good. (AC 2333) "Way" signifies some doctrine by which one may be instructed or led into a deeper understanding of truth. (AC 2231)
  • These teachings help us to see the gravity of Esau’s transgression. He offered discouragement when an escape plan came to mind, blocking the attempt with reasons why this or that doctrine would not work.

"…nor should you have delivered up those among them that remained in the day of distress."

Putting It All Together

1. Read the selection from P&P again. "…they will destroy the church still more, and that this is their delight." Can we review our notes and see that clearly? All of our references highlight the hellish glee Edom (Esau) had in watching and participating in the demise of Jerusalem and Judah.

2. What is sobering is that we probably found ourselves thinking of personal examples of similar things happening to us. We all have had the experience of wanting to make amends, make a change, to improve. Before we get underway, a voice in our mind throws "cold water" on the intention. Past efforts to change are paraded before us. With glee the voice mocks and asks us, "Who are you trying to kid?" It reminds us many times of past failures. That voice stands in the crossroad of our intention, blocking our effort to make a change.

Look back and notice how many times the Lord told Edom, "You should not!" Can we hear hell saying, "That is just like the Lord. He always expressed things in the negative. Negative phrases cause the mind to dwell on obsessive themes and ultimately retard our freedom."?

3. The Lord is saying "you should not" specifically to the hells and not to us. The Lord calls us to His presence. Take My yoke. My burden, He says, is light. The "you should not" is a phrase we need to use. We can say to hell, "You should not assume that you can take from me the power of regeneration." All that we have and receive from the Lord is freedom. It is hell that brings us the blockage. Hell stands in the way with its pride and tries to remove from us the light of heaven. Hell’s pride is the thing that tries to glue all kinds of falsity together. Prayerfully, we need to say with the Lord to hell, "You should not…" because the Lord says so. That, with a loving heart, "should" send them off and out of our way.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Obadiah 1:10-14.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. The Introduction section of this study called your attention to the cruelty of feet, heart, tongue, eyes, and hands. Do you think that series (which we just looked at) might be helpful to remember what kind of delight Esau (Edom) had in the destruction of Jerusalem? How can knowledge of this delight help us?

2. Do you have any ways to push or fight off the boastful phrases hell uses to block or discourage us? Do you have a verse or series of verses that stand the test and trials of hell? If not, do you think any of what we just studied might become one of your verses?

3. Were you asked to memorize verses from the Word when you were in school? Have you ever found that you have something memorized simply because you have read or enjoyed it frequently? What purpose can be served by memorizing passages?

Obadiah 1:15-16

"For the day of the Lord upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head. For as you drank on My holy mountain, so shall the nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…that ruin will come over them in the day of judgment, vers. 15, 16…"

AC 10011 [3]

  • "That by the ‘head;’ is meant the whole man, is…evident from many passages in the Word…" Obadiah 1:15 is cited as an example.

AR 706

Derived Doctrine

"All nations…"

"…as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head."

  • So there is no mistake thinking this is the Lord getting revenge or retaliation, let’s look at a passage in AC 8223 [3]:
    • It frequently happens in the other life that when evil spirits wish to inflict evil on the good…the evil they intend to others returns upon themselves. At the time this appears as if it were revenge from the good; but it is not revenge, neither is it from the good, but from the evil…they who are in heavenly love ought not to have delight in retaliation or revenge, but in imparting benefits…."

"For as you drank on My holy mountain…"

"All the nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink, and swallow…"

  • The RSV has the following wording: "all nations round about shall drink; they shall drink, and stagger…" How are the words "swallow" and "stagger" similar in meaning? The RSV has a footnote indicating the Hebrew word for "stagger" comes from their word for "swallow." So we are left with a temporary dilemma because the Writings teach that to swallow, or devour, signifies the extermination of useful knowledges by those (knowledges) which are useless. See AC 5217 and 5258.

"And they shall be as though they had never been."

Putting It All Together

1. There is a happy summation coming to Obadiah’s prophecy. The Lord is rounding up His angels, and the great day of "right winning out over evil" is at hand. This theme comes back to us often. We need it. Otherwise the hells will try to convince us that we are alone. The Psalmist felt the mocking of hell: "…they continually say to me, ‘where is your God?’" (Psalm 42:3) Our answer? "Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save." (Isaiah 59:1) "With God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26) Edom’s end is at hand.

2. What happens to Edom is not the result of anger and retaliation from the Lord. It is a return of the evil and falsity Edom planted. It brings meaning to the literal sense when it says that we shall reap what we sow. For us, there is time to sow a new crop that will yield "some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:23)

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Obadiah 1:15-16.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. What "staggering" drinks or concepts of "faith" does the world offer us to swallow? What, in hindsight, would have been harmful in your life if you had swallowed it? Put another way, can you recall something you wanted (badly) but were not able to get – only to find out later that not getting your wish was a blessing in disguise?

2. We all have to go through varying degrees of vastations. Vastation is that great emptying out of concepts formed by self-intelligence and self-love. Do you think we ought to pray for that process to come about in our lives? Would it be best to let the Lord show us the right time to face vastation? What comes to mind is that parable about the enemy coming to sow seeds of darnel while the owner slept. The owner of the field told his workers to wait until harvest time. If they had pulled the tares out too soon, they probably would have pulled out the good with the bad. Good idea? On the other hand, procrastination seems to be a common weakness when it comes to doing painful things. I wonder what little push might get us started on the task of regeneration?

3. P&P reminds us that "ruin" will come to those who knowingly abuse the letter of the Word. It doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Hold on because the next section promises better news. Those who love the Lord will not lose but gain back all that Edom took away. Do you find your heart and mind refreshed with another "good" winning out over the bad story? Why is this comforting? How do we feel about regaining something precious that was lost? Think of real life examples.

4. The words in Obadiah 1:15, "as you have done, it shall be done to you," remind us of the Lord’s Prayer. What do you think of when you reflect on these words? Are we subject to being treated the way we treat others? What motivations are in play when we act on this principle in real-life situations?

Obadiah 1:17-18

"But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,’ For the Lord has spoken."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…that a new church will arise, ver. 17, in place of the former church, which has been condemned, ver. 18…"

AE 448 [11]

  • "In Obadiah (1: 17, 18) ‘Esau and his house’ mean those who believe themselves to be intelligent and wise not from the Lord but from self; for in he eighth verse of this chapter it is said ‘I will destroy the wise out of Edom, and the intelligent out of the mount of Esau,’ meaning those who from the letter of the Word have confirmed themselves in such things as favor their own loves. ‘The house of Jacob and the house of Joseph’ mean such as are in good of life according to truths of doctrine, ‘house of Jacob’ meaning those who are in good of life, and ‘house of Joseph’ those who are in truths of doctrine; ‘mount Zion,’ where there will be escape and holiness, signifies love to the Lord, by which is salvation and from which is Divine truth. ‘The house of Jacob shall be heir to the inheritances of the house and mountain of Esau,’ and ‘the house of Jacob shall be to him a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame,’ signifies that in place of those meant by ‘Esau’ there will be those who are in good of life according to truths of doctrine. In the spiritual world this so occurs, that those who have been in the pride of self intelligence, and have confirmed themselves from the Word in such things as favor the loves of self and the world, occupy certain tracts and mountains, and make for themselves a semblance of heaven, believing that heaven belongs to them more than to others; but when the time has been fulfilled they are cast out of their places, and those succeed to them who are in good of life according to the truths of doctrine from the Lord….this makes clear what is signified in the internal sense by ‘the house of Jacob shall be heir to their inheritances, and shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble."

AE 405 [26]

Derived Doctrine

"…on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance…"

"And there shall be holiness…"

  • What qualities bring one into a state of holiness? A clean heart and mind.
  • AR 666 gives us this standard of what makes holiness: believing the Lord is the Word, the truth, and the enlightenment.

"The house of Jacob shall possess [inherit] their possessions [inheritance]."

"…the house of Jacob shall be a fire…the house of Joseph a flame"


"…the house of Esau shall be stubble…"

"They shall kindle them and devour them…"

  • Note that the word "kindle" expresses the same meaning as "inflame" or "burn." Look above at the quote from TCR 383 to capture the essence of this passage.

Putting It All Together

1. Let’s begin with the goal of understanding two terms: the good of life and the truth of doctrine. Please don’t turn away from these terms as "doctrinal talk." Look at ways these terms can come alive. For instance, try reading "love of life" where you see the words "good of life." Now we have "the love of life." Every love we have follows us to eternity. When the angels greet us in the spiritual world, they inquire or seek to find out what we loved most. Was it a love for the Lord and the neighbor, or was it a love for self and the world? Our loves will have varying degrees of application. Celestial love holds the Lord in the highest esteem. Spiritual love holds the Word and its truths in high esteem as the means for us to regenerate. There is a natural love that is essential for us to live and work within the world of natural uses. All three have a unified or common purpose: Eternal life. We want to live in heaven with the Lord as our source of joy and loving our neighbors more than ourselves.

2. Let’s try some transposing on the "truth of doctrine," too. Doctrine is best seen or viewed as "that which points the way." If we plan to take a trip, we pull out a map and choose what route to take. If we have plenty of time, we pick a scenic way. If we are in a hurry, we pick the most direct way. Regardless, we need a map to find the way. The Lord’s doctrine is a directional help. We need the "truth of doctrine" to point out our way.

3. On the other hand, the "house of Esau" works to ignore the good of life. In its place, it offers the "good of self." Me, myself, and I are the essentials in the "house of Esau." Others are accepted if and when they serve egocentric purposes. The doctrine of "the house of Esau" studies ways to take advantage of the neighbor.

Stubble is the way the Word pictures this for us. Stubble is the part of the stalk that is now void of fruit and is highly flammable and dangerous. Self-love, highly volatile, sparks when it is ruffled, and thus we have a kindling and destroying fire.

The Lord in the midst of this "stubble" calls us to calmness. Esau will have no survivors. Esau will not remain a troublesome force. How do we know this? The closing words of these verses say it clearly: "For the Lord has spoken."

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Obadiah 1:17-18.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. Did you make note of the "houses" of Jacob, Joseph, and Esau? Think about the quote from AC 4592 [11] and the issue of spiritual realities.

2. How did you do with the "good of life and truth of doctrine" exercise? Don’t become a literalist with doctrine. The Lord offers various ways to express "good and truth." Good is called Love. Good is called Esse. Good is called Substance. Good is called the First. Good is called Heat. (How many more can you add to this list?)

Truth on the other hand is called Wisdom. Truth is called Existere. Truth is called Form. Truth is called Middle. Truth is called Light. (How many more can you add to this list?)

3. What present things in life would you identify as stubble? Have you ever experienced the volatile nature of self-love? Have you ever felt that rush to judgment and said things that were hurtful and vindictive? What is our protection against this?

4. For those who would like to think that hell is not eternal, how would they explain the words "no survivors shall remain"?

5. "For the Lord has spoken" certainly puts things in perspective. The Lord is in charge. Esau, with its bragging nature, is not in charge at its own demise. It is kind of sad in one way, but positive in another way. What feeling came first, the sad or the happy? This might be a good time to talk about the expression "fear of the Lord." Talk about the two sides of this "fear" and how it differs from other fears. Also think about the phrase, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Psalm 111:10)

Obadiah 1:19-21

"The south shall posses the mountains of Esau, and the lowland shall possess Philistia. They shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead. 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. Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s."

Passages From the Writings


  • "…that the new church will have an understanding of the truth, and those who are in the church will be saved, vers. 19-21."

AC 4592 [11]

AC 1197 [4]

  • Philistia "signifies…no love and no faith…" in things that are spiritual and celestial. Obadiah 1:19 is cited.

AC 4117 [3]

AC 9340 [9]

AC 1458 [4]

  • "…‘the south’ signifies a state of light…‘the south’…signifies the intelligence which is procured by means of knowledges. These knowledges are celestial and spiritual truths, which in heaven are so many radiations of light…. In Obadiah (1:20)…‘the cities of the south’ denote in like manner truths and goods; hence the very truths and goods of which they are heirs: the Lord’s kingdom is here treated of."

Derived Doctrine

Please note that we have our work cut out for us in this section. AC 4592 [11] says, "unless it is known what is signified by [all the names in these verses]…nothing can possibly be comprehended…the man who knows …will find heavenly arcana…."

The difficulty is that I can only find correspondences for some of the names, which prevents us from using derived doctrine to understand them. Here are the names for which I found no explanation:

  • The RSV translation gives us "Negeb shall possess Mount Esau.";
  • "those of the Shephelah the land of the Philistines…";
  • "the exiles in Halah who are the people of Israel; and
  • "and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad."

  • The NKJV presents us with "the south" instead of Negeb;
  • "the lowland possessing Philistia instead of Shephelah possessing it; and
  • "captives" instead of "Halah" who are the people of Israel.

Question: What are we to do about this void of correspondential information? Will it take away our ability to comprehend these verses? Will we lack the heavenly arcana promised?

Answer: "Let’s roll." We will do the best we can with what is given and pray for the enlightenment the Lord promises to sincere and active seekers.

"And the lowland shall possess Philistia…"

"…the fields of Ephraim…"and "…the fields of Samaria…"

"Benjamin shall possess Gilead."

"…the captives of the host of the children of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites…"

"As far as Zarephath."

"The captives of Jerusalem…shall possess the cities of the south."

"Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau…"

"And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s."

Putting It All Together

1. "The new church will have an understanding of the truth, and those who are in the church will be saved." (P&P)

2. We often agonize over the size of our denomination. We equate size with rightness. The fact that other churches seem to be growing faster than the New Church bothers us. What really "hurts" is that some "doomsday cult" has a larger group of followers willing to gather on top of a mountain waiting for the final judgment day. How can such nonsense attract so many devoted (fanatical) followers in such a short time? We look at the Jones massacre in Guyana and the Waco Cult in Texas, and we wonder where we are missing the boat. How can anyone really believe what they say is the matrix of their doctrinal beliefs?

3. In matters of doctrine, we can’t seem to agree on much between ourselves and other New Church organizations and offer a hand of cordiality to them. Is there a sense of despair as we think of these things? I hope so. Let us use our knowledge of our church to focus on the Lord’s promise of resolution.

He says that He will "possess" and purify truths from falsities. He will return to our "Gilead" state and possess the "first goods" and the senses of the body and will pull forth remains of innocence.

He will visit the "lowlands" to bring good and truth to the natural man. Next, He will possess and make the fields of the church productive again. The field of Ephraim will once again have an understanding of the Word; the fields of Samaria will have a thirst for the good of truth.

Self-interests will lose their appeal and haughtiness. Uses that are idle will be judged and removed. The Lord’s people will be "from use, by use, and according to use." The "new church" will have an understanding of the truth and will be saved. The kingdom will be the Lord’s.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Obadiah 1:19-21.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

1. How much could we fill in the void of correspondences we had for names and places mentioned in the verses? Were we able to open some of the arcana in these verses? Did you feel a confidence building as we pushed on? What did you learn?

2. The stubble of Esau is still an issue we have to face every day. Television and magazine commercials tell us what we need. They tell us what the good life is, and they boldly tell us that "it doesn’t get any better than this." Really? How can we take all of this with a degree of good humor and yet not buy into the "stubble" of it all?

3. To what degree should we become cautious of a "church family" member’s view of doctrines if it sounds like "doctrinal heresy"? What is the best or most charitable way to resist falsity? What is the best way to confirm whether it is indeed false?

4. How do we look for our "saviors"—LOVE, WISDOM AND USE—and try as hard as possible to keep them as our unified trine? Idleness will not endure. At the mountains of Esau, the judgment of the Lord’s saviors will perceptively sort it out. Do we wait for Providence to do this?

5. What is your feeling about this derived doctrinal view of the mountains of Esau?

To Epilogue