Q&A: Obadiah and Joel

Obadiah and Joel

Question

I would greatly appreciate it if you could explain to me about Obadiah and Joel.

Answer

Little is known about this Obadiah, except that he wrote one of the books of the Bible. Scholars are divided over the question of the date of his ministry, though the curse against Edom provided in Obadiah itself indicates that Obadiah wrote after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 or 586 BC (Obad. 11-16). Since the Jerusalemites are still in exile (Obad. 20), it would also seem that Obadiah wrote before the restoration/return from exile in 538 BC.

Little is known of the prophet Joel as well. Since the temple seems to have been standing when he wrote (e.g. Joel 1:14), a date between 586 and 515 BC can be ruled out. Since Joel refers to Judah as "Israel," he probably wrote after the fall of Samaria (the northern kingdom, known in its day as "Israel") in 723 or 722 BC. It also seems likely that the destruction of Jerusalem was yet a future event when Joel wrote (Joel 2:1-11,32), suggesting a date prior to 586 BC rather than after 515 BC. Within the window of 722 BC to 586 BC, two historical occasions may match the reconstructed history from Joel's word: 1) Sennacherib's invasion in 701 BC; and 2) Nebuchadnezzar's invasions from 597 to 586 BC. We think Nebuchadnezzar's invasions are the more likely occasion.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.