The Old Testament: The Book of Obadiah – For How Long Does One Hold a Grudge?

I may have been an introverted kid but I was very sensitive, so when friends had get togethers or went to the mall or the movies and didn’t invite me, my feelings were very hurt—I thought I was a better friend to them.  This happened a few times with a few select people, and my mother would tell me that maybe I needed to do a better job making friends.  After all, how many times did a person have to shun me for me to get the message?

People show you who they are—for better or worse.  Your job is to listen to the message and gauge your expectations accordingly. If someone wants to be your friend, they’ll act like a friend—or as close to a definition of one as they are capable. You can’t expect something from someone when all they’ve done is shown you otherwise. This doesn’t excuse behavior on a more serious level, but it does enable you to know what you’re in for.

Knowing this, I found it strange that in the Book of Obadiah, that the Israelites are still holding high expectations for Edom.

This short book asserts that Edom will be punished, and not just for failing to help Israel against Babylon.  Apparently Edomites egged on the advancing Babylonian army and then plundered Jerusalem.  Perhaps even worse: their ancestor, Esau, betrayed his brother Jacob (all the way back in Genesis).

Given their longstanding feud, it’s unclear why the Israelites expected different.  Besides, Edom had screwed them before.  On their journey, the Israelites were turned away from Edom territory (Numbers 20:21).  Why? The result of their long standing blood feud, initiated by Esau (who settled Edom) and Jacob (who represented the Israelites).

So in the book’s present context, true, the stakes are a little higher, but why expect something different from these people whom you would like to act differently. Over the course of generations, they had yet to step up and toe the line.

I understand that you want—at some point—for blood to count for something.  You hope that somehow, in some way people would wake up and recognize what is right.  We expect this of the people we care about. But if those people clearly don’t care about you, why still carry the torch?

As I matured, I spent a little more time working on myself and not trying to build my self esteem so heavily on the influence of others.  Doing this allowed me to have a tighter circle of friends in whom I could trust. Israel may not have had a lot of options when it came to needing help, but as their behavior (and much of the Old Testament makes crystal clear), the best friend they had was closer than they realized.  Sadly, this is the one whom they treated about as well as they felt they were being treated by the people they thought they could count on: God.

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About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: http://goo.gl/yvT24K His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to 5Writer.com. On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: www.BibleProjectBlog.com Follow his work at: www.BradWindhauser.com VirgoWriter@gmail.com
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