Leviticus 19:17, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart,” succinctly describes the fundamental flaw in Edom, hatred. Edom’s hatred is the primary consequence of her pride. Because he always felt that he should have been the master and received his father’s wealth and blessings, Esau nursed his wounded feelings of superiority, and it boiled over into hatred of his brother. This flaw became a prime feature of Edomite character.
Hatred against a brother can lead a person to terrible acts, most often underhanded ones. In the case of the Edomites, their vile attitudes first manifested themselves in such things as gloating and rejoicing over Israel’s catastrophes, and led to actions such as pillaging, selling into slavery, and taking the other’s territory when Israel and Judah were weak.
God encapsulates the reason for His terrible judgment against Edom into a single word: “violence.” In Hebrew, this word is chamas, believe it or not, so strikingly similar to the name of the Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas. In actuality, Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawima al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Resistance Movement. Along with Hezbollah, it has been Israel’s chief enemy for many years. It is difficult to see this as a mere coincidence.
Could this be a scriptural clue as to the modern-day identity of Edom or perhaps Amalek? The details revealed in Obadiah support such a conclusion. A survey of recent Middle East history shows how Hamas has set itself against the Jews; no other group bears such vehement hatred for them. Even though it has secured political power in Palestine, it will not renounce its perpetual hatred against the state of Israel – not even to become a viable player on the world stage. Members of Hamas simply want to annihilate Israel.
Chamas suggests immoral, cruel violence, going hand-in-hand with “slaughter” in the previous verse. The two words are undoubtedly linked. Edom will be cut off with the same slaughter and in the same manner by which she treated Israel: with violence, with chamas!
Why does God describe Esau in these terms? What drives Esau to hate Israel so viscerally? Deuteronomy 32 succinctly illustrates God’s attentive relationship with Israel, how He found her, cared for her, and formed her into a great nation. God’s love for Israel undergirds why hatred and violence against Israel is such a terrible transgression. Indeed, God’s relationship with Israel is a driving factor behind Edom’s hot anger – it is essentially jealousy!
Zechariah 2:8 describes Israel as “the apple of His eye.” If a person pokes another in the eye, it hurts the recipient terribly. Because Esau’s perpetual enmity and violence against Israel are fingers in God’s eye, He takes extreme umbrage. The Edomites, rebelling against God’s will, picked on one whom God has chosen. This is sin, not only against Israel, but also against God. Rather than humbly bowing before His will that the older shall serve the younger, Edom has waged perpetual war against Jacob’s descendants. In doing so, she has, in effect, declared war against God – a very serious sin.