Haftorah Vayishlach

This weeks Haftorah comes from the section of Obadiah (Obadiah 1:1-21), this is part of the book the 'Trei Asar,' in fact as a Haftorah, we will be reading the entire section of Obadiah.

The Haftorah mainly deals with G-d's anger against the behavior of Edom, the descendants of Esav. It was fitting that the prophet Obadiah, who converted to Judaism, would be the man to give the vision of Edom, seeing that he was a descendant of an Edomite proselyte and was the antithesis of Esav. If we compare Esav to Obadiah, we see a direct contrast, Esav lived among his righteous parents, Yitzchak and Rachel, however he did not learn from their excellent character traits, whereas Obadiah was a courtier of two very wicked people, King Achav and Queen Jezebel, yet he stayed righteous, in fact Obadiah sustained more than 100 prophets, helping to save their lives as Queen Jezebel wanted to kill them!

We actual heard very much about Obadiah, as it was his wife, who miraculously was able to afford the repayment of Obadiah's debts, the debt incurred for sustaining all the righteous prophets, the miracle came through a continuous supply of oil flowing through many empty jugs (Kings II 4:1-7).

The Haftorah starts off with some strong words against Edom, 'The wickedness of your heart has misled you (Obadiah 1:3)', Esav who could have used his power in order to serve Yaakov, used all his strength to do so much wicked in the world. As we saw in this weeks reading, before Yaakov had to bribe Esav with many lavish gifts, Esav came with a mighty army of 400 men (Bereishit 33:1)!

The prophet exclaims to Edom, 'Smashed shall be your mighty ones, O Teman, so that cut down will be every man from mount Esav by slaughter!' Many of the descendants of Edom, had done much wicked to the Jewish nation and other nations, however there would be an eventual downfall of Edom and they would be 'smashed up' (Megilla 6a).

On Many occasions throughout the past Esav has been violent against his brother Yaakov (Obadiah 1:10), the prophet exclaims how they would be covered with disgrace and cut off forever (Obadiah 1:10). This especially occurred during the end of the First Temple era, as the Jews were being destroyed by the Babylonians, they did not come to the Jews rescue, and in fact they stirred up the trouble and also beat up the Jews. Furthermore, the next verse states, "On the day the nations took the Jewish people captive, and entered the Jewish gates casting lots over Yerushalayim, you were also amongst them." (Obadiah 1:11). This verse proves that during the destruction of the second Beit Hamikdash, as the Romans were breeching the walls of Jerusalem, the Edomites, gladly contributed to the destruction, in fact many of these were allegedly Jewish converts who were accepted during the reign of Herod.

The prophet strongly advises how the Ediomites should refrain from rejoicing at the suffering of their Jewish brothers (Obadiah 1:12). Similarly, King Solomon summarized the proper Jewish attitude towards our enemies: "Don't rejoice when your enemy falls. Don't let your heart be glad when he is overthrown" (Mishlei 24:17).
The Prophet Obadiah says, "And don't stand by the crossroads to finish off refugees." (1:14) it is explained that this passage refers to the cunning strategy of the Edomites during our first exile. They would station themselves a short distance behind the Babylonian army and wait in ambush for the Jewish refugees. They reasoned, "If the Jews win we'll say we're here to help them and if the Babylonians win we'll help them kill the remaining Jews." Again we are reminded of the unique "brotherhood" of Edom. Due to their two-faced personality, they could easily pass for true brothers waiting to help the Jews in their time of distress. However in reality, this disguise only provided them a great opportunity to eliminate any trace of the Jewish people, should the situation happen (Yalkut Shimoni 549).

We see a connection to this weeks Parshah, we learned how Yaakov was ready to confront Esav, once his first born son to Rachel, Yosef was born (Bereishit 30:22-24). Yosef was the potential fire that could eradicate the wickedness of Esav. It has been said that Yosef's character was shown in the episode with Potiphars wife, she was a beautiful women who begged Yosef for love, however despite Yosef being only a teenager, he ran away and resisted temptation, proving how he can fight fire with fire (Sota 36). The prophet testifies to Yosef's nature, 'it will be the house of Yaakov a fire, the house of Yosef a flame, and the house of Esav will be straw, they will burn in them and consume them and there will not be any survivor of the house of Esav for Hashem has spoken (Ovadia 1:18).' This proves how the rightousness of a Yosef can any day eradicate the wickedness of an Esav!

The Prophecy finishes as Ovadiah states, 'And there will come up saviors on Mount Zion to judge Mount Esav, and there will be unto Hashem the kingdom (Obadiah 1:21).' The commentators have stated that when the children of Esav will accept Hashem's sovereignty over themselves, Hashem's kingship will then be complete. This verse also testifies how Israel's exiles will return and the land will be reformed. Israel will eventually judge Edom for its horrors and the entire world will know that the kingdom will be Hashem's.