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Verse 11

Edom - God had impressed on Israel its relation of brotherhood to Edom. Moses expressed it to Edom himself , and, after the suspicious refusal of Edom to allow Israel to march on the highway through his territory, he speaks as kindly of him, as before; “And when we passed by from our brethren, the children of Esau” Deuteronomy 2:8. It was the unkindness of worldly politics, and was forgiven. The religious love of the Egyptian and the Edomite was, on distinct grounds, made part of the law. “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite, for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land” Deuteronomy 23:7. The grandchild of an Egyptian or of an Edomite was religiously to become as an Israelite Deuteronomy 23:8. Not a foot of Edomite territory was Israel to appropriate, however provoked. It was God’s gift to Edom, as much as Canaan to Israel. “They shall be afraid of you, and ye shall take exceeding heed to yourselves. Quarrel not with them, for I will give you, of their land, no, not so much as the treading of the sole of the foot, for I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession” Deuteronomy 2:4-5.

From this time until that of Saul, there is no mention of Edom; only that the Maonites and the Amalekites, who oppressed Israel Judges 6:3; Judges 10:12, were kindred tribes with Edom. The increasing strength of Israel in the early days of Saul seems to have occasioned a conspiracy against him, such as Asaph afterward complains of; “They have said, come and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent, they are confederate against Thee; the tabernacles of Edom and the Ishmaelites; of Moab and the Hagarenes; Gebal and Ammon and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them; they have been an arm to the children of Lot” Psalms 83:4-8. Such a combination began probably in the time of Saul. “He fought against all his enemies on every side; against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against the king of Edom, and against the Philistines” 1 Samuel 14:47.

They were “his enemies,” and that, round about, encircling Israel, as hunters did their prey. “Edom,” on the south and southeast; “Moab” and “Ammon” on the east; the Syrians of “Zobah” on the north; the Philistines on the west enclosed him as in a net, and he repulsed them one by one. “Whichever why he turned, he worsted” them. It follows “he delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them” 1 Samuel 14:48. The aggression was from Edom, and that in combination with old oppressors of Israel, not from Saul . The wars of Saul and of David were defensive wars. Israel was recovering from a state of depression, not oppressing. “The valley of salt” 2 Samuel 8:13, where David defeated the Edomites, was also doubtless within the borders of Judah, since “the city of salt” was Joshua 15:62; and the valley of salt was probably near the remarkable “mountain of salt,” 5 56 miles long, near the end of the Dead Sea , which, as being Canaanite, belonged to Israel. It was also far north of Kadesh, which was “the utmost boundary” of Edom Numbers 20:16.

From that Psalm too of mingled thanksgiving and prayer which David composed after the victory, “in the valley of salt” (Psalms 60:1-12 title), it appears that, even after that victory, David’s army had not yet entered Edom. “Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?” Psalms 60:9. That same Psalm speaks of grievous suffering before, “in” which God had “cast” them “off” and “scattered” them; “made the earth tremble and cleft it;” so that “it reeled” Psalms 60:1-3, Psalms 60:10. Joab too had “returned” from the war in the north against the Syrians of Mesopotamia, to meet the Edomites. Whether in alliance with the Syrians, or taking advantage of the absence of the main army there, the Edomites had inflicted some heavy blow on Israel; a battle in which Abishai killed 18,000 men 1 Chronicles 18:12 had been indecisive. The Edomites were relpalsed by the rapid counter-march of Joab. The victory, according to the Psalm, was still incomplete 1 Chronicles 18:1, 1Ch 18:5, 1 Chronicles 18:9-12. David put “garrisons in Edom” 2 Samuel 8:14, to restrain them from further outbreaks. Joab avenged the wrong of the Edomites, conformably to his character 1 Kings 11:16; but the fact that “the captain of the host” had “to go up to bury the slain” (1 Kings 11:15. It should be rendered, not, after he had slain, but, and he killed, etc.), shows the extent of the deadly blow, which he so fearfully avenged.

The store set by the king of Egypt on Hadad, the Edomite prince who fled to him 1 Kings 11:14-20, shows how gladly Egypt employed Edom as an enemy to Israel. It has been said that he rebelled and failed . Else it remained under a dependent king appointed by Judah, for 1 12 century (1 Kings 22:47; 2 Kings 3:9 ff). One attempt against Judah is recorded 2 Chronicles 20:10, when those of Mount Seir combined with Moab and Ammon against Jehoshaphat after his defeat at Ramoth-gilead. They had penetrated beyond Engedi 2 Chronicles 20:2, 2 Chronicles 20:16, 2 Chronicles 20:20, on the road which Arab marauders take now , toward the wilderness of Tekoa, when God set them against one another, and they fell by each other’s hands 2 Chronicles 20:22-24. But Jehoshaphat’s prayer at this time evinces that Israel’s had been a defensive warfare. Otherwise, he could not have appealed to God, “the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom Thou wouldest not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not, behold, they reward us, to come to cast us out of Thy possession, which Thou hast given us to inherit” 2 Chronicles 20:10-11.

Judah held Edom by aid of garrisons, as a wild beast is held in a cage, that they might not injure them, but had taken no land from them, nor expelled them. Edom sought to cast Israel out of God’s land. Revolts cannot be without bloodshed; and so it is perhaps the more probable, that the words of Joel, “for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land” Joel 3:19, relate to a massacre of the Jews, when Esau revolted from Jehoram 2 Kings 8:20-22. We have seen, in the Indian Massacres, how every living being of the ruling power may, on such occasions, be sought out for destruction. Edom gained its independence, and Jehoram, who sought to recover his authority, escaped with his life by cutting through the Edomite army by night 2 Kings 8:21. Yet in Amaziha’s time they were still on the offensive, since the battle wherein he defeated them, was again “in the valley of salt” 2 Kings 14:7; 2Ch 25:11, 2 Chronicles 25:14.

Azariah, in whose reign Amos prophesied, regained Elath from them, the port for the Indian trade 2 Chronicles 26:2. Of the origin of that war, we know nothing; only the brief words as to the Edomite invasion against Ahaz, “and yet again had the Edomites come, and smitten in Judah, and carried captive a captivity” 2 Chronicles 28:17, attest previous and, it may be, habitual invasions. For no one such invasion had been named. It may probably mean, “they did yet again, what they had been in the habit of doing.” But in matter of history, the prophets, in declaring the grounds of God’s judgments, supply much which it was not the object of the historical books to relate. “They” are histories of God’s dealings with His people, His chastisements of them or of His sinful instruments in chastising them. Rarely, except when His supremacy was directly challenged, do they record the ground of the chastisements of pagan nations. Hence, to those who look on the surface only, the wars of the neighboring nations against Israel look but like the alternations of peace and war, victory and defeat, in modern times. The prophets draw up the veil, and show us the secret grounds of man’s misdeeds and God’s judgments.

Because he did pursue his brother - The characteristic sin of Edom, and its punishment are one main subject of the prophecy of Obadiah, inveterate malice contrary to the law of kindred. Eleven hundred years had passed since the birth of their forefathers, Jacob and Esan. But, with God, eleven hundred years had not worn out kindred. He who willed to knit together all creation, human beings and angels, in one in Christ Ephesians 1:10, and, as a means of union, “made of one blood all nations of people for to dwell on all the face of the earth” Acts 17:26, used all sorts of ways to impress this idea of brotherhood. “We” forget relationship mostly in the third generation, often sooner; and we think it strange when a nation long retains the memories of those relationships . God, in His law, stamped on His people’s minds those wider meanings. To slay a man was to slay a “brother” Genesis 9:5.

Even the outcast Canaan was a brother Genesis 9:25 to Shem and Ham. Lot speaks to the men of Sodom amidst their iniquities, “my brethren” Genesis 19:7; Jacob so salutes those unknown to him Genesis 29:4. The descendants of Ishmael and Isaac were to be brethren; so were those of Esau and Jacob Genesis 16:12; Genesis 25:18. The brotherhood of blood was not to wear out, and there was to be a brotherhood of love also Genesis 27:29, Genesis 27:37. Every Israelite was a brother ; each tribe was a brother to every other Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 18:2; Judges 20:23, Judges 20:28; the force of the appeal was remembered, even when passion ran high 2 Samuel 2:26. It enters habitually into the divine legislation. “Thou shall open thy hand wide unto thy brother Deuteronomy 15:11; if thy brother, a” Hebrew, sell himself to thee Deuteronomy 15:12; thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray and hide thyself from them Deuteronomy 22:1-4; if thy brother be waxen poor, then shalt thou relieve him, though a stranger and a sojourner, that he may live with thee” (Leviticus 25:35-39; add Leviticus 19:17; Deuteronomy 24:7, Deuteronomy 24:10, Deuteronomy 24:14).

In that same law, Edom’s relationship as a brother was acknowledged. It was an abiding law that Israel was not to take land, nor to refuse to admit him into the congregation of the Lord. Edom too remembered the relation, but to hate him. The nations around Israel seem to have been little at war with one another, bound together by common hatred against God’s people. Of their wars indeed we should not hear, for they had no religious interest. They would be but the natural results of the passions of unregenerate nature. Feuds there doubtless were and forays, but no attempts at permanent conquest or subdual. Their towns remain in their own possession . Tyre does not invade Philistia; nor Philistia, Tyre or Edom. But all combine against Israel. The words, “did pursue his brother with the sword,” express more than is mentioned in the historical books.

To “pursue” is more than to fight. They followed after, in order to destroy a remnant, “and cast off all pity:” literally, and more strongly, “corrupted his compassions, tendernesses.” Edom did violence to his natural feelings, as Ezekiel, using the same word, says of Tyre, “corrupting Ezekiel 28:17 his wisdom,” that is, perverting it from the end for which God gave it, and so destroying it. Edom “steeled himself,” as we say, against his better feelings,” his better nature,” “deadened” them. But so they do not live again. Man is not master of the life and death of his feelings, anymore than of his natural existence. He can destroy; he cannot re-create. And he does, so far, “corrupt,” decay, do to death, his own feelings, whenever, in any signal instance, he acts against them. Edom was not simply unfeeling. He destroyed all “his tender yearnings” over suffering, such as God has put into every human heart, until it destroys them. Ordinary anger is satisfied and slaked by its indulgence; malice is fomented and fed and invigorated by it. Edom ever, as occasion gratified his anger; “his anger did tear continually;” yet, though raging as some wild ravening animal, without control, “he kept his wrath for ever,” not within bounds, but to let it loose anew. He retained it when he ought to have parted with it, and let it loose when he ought to have restrained it.

“What is best, when spoiled, becomes the worst,” is proverbial truth. : “As no love wellnigh is more faithful than that of brothers, so no hatred, when it hath once begun, is more unjust, no odium fiercer. Equality stirs up and inflames the mind; the shame of giving way and the love of preeminence is the more inflamed, in that the memory of infancy and whatever else would seem to gender good will, when once they are turned aside from the right path, produce hatred and contempt.” They were proverbial sayings of paganism, “fierce are the wars of brethren” , and “they who have loved exceedingly, they too hate exceedingly.” : “The Antiochi, the Seleuci, the Gryphi, the Cyziceni, when they learned not to be all but brothers, but craved the purple and diadems, overwhelmed themselves and Asia too with many calamities.”

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