Dating Obadiah to 801 BC

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Charles Bruce Riding


Currently, Old Testament scholars have accepted that it is virtually impossible to ascertain the provenance and date of the biblical book of Obadiah confidently. The majority views the date as soon after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC, but this is acknowledged to be tentative. Post-exilic and pre-exilic dates are also advocated. This article re-examines the evidence and introduces some more considerations, concluding that an early pre-exilic date for Obadiah is most likely. Elsewhere, the author has redated Joel to 773 BC. Since Joel quotes Obadiah, the book of Obadiah should be dated earlier than that.

This article then examines all nine attacks on Jerusalem recorded in the Old Testament to see if what Obadiah describes can be matched to any of them. This leads to the conclusion that Obadiah should be dated to 801 bce, in conjunction with the raid on Jerusalem by a small band of Syrian soldiers as described in 2 Chronicles 24:23–25:24. I propose that some Edomites aided and abetted them in this attack. Obadiah prophesied in between the events recorded in 2 Chronicles 25:16 and 17.

If this is so, it sheds light on Amaziah’s attacking Edom, not Syria, for justice and/or revenge (2 Chr 25:11–14). It also offers an explanation for Amaziah’s apostasy to Edomite, not Syrian gods (2 Chr 25:14), and his challenge to Jehoahaz, king of Israel (2 Chr 25:17–24). Other confirming data are presented, and some corollaries are then deduced.

Article Details

How to Cite
Riding, Charles Bruce. “Dating Obadiah to 801 BC”. Reformed Theological Review 80, no. 3 (December 1, 2021): 189–217. Accessed February 7, 2023.
Author Biography

Charles Bruce Riding, Presbyterian Church of Australia

Retired Presbyterian Minister 1974-2016 Retired RAAF Reserve Chaplain 1989-2009 PhD Graduate of A C T, 2018


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