so all the nations will drink continually. 3
They will drink, and they will gulp down;
they will be as though they had never been.
1:18 The descendants of Jacob will be a fire,
and the descendants of Joseph a flame.
The descendants of Esau will be like stubble.
They will burn them up and devour them.
There will not be a single survivor 4 of the descendants of Esau!”
Indeed, the Lord has spoken it.
[1:16] 1 tn The identification of the referent of “you” in v. 16a is uncertain. There are three major options: (1) On the surface, it would appear to be Edom, which is addressed in v. 15b and throughout the prophecy. However, when Edom is addressed, second person singular forms are normally used in the Hebrew. In v. 16a the Hebrew verb “you drank” is a plural form שְׁתִיתֶם (shÿtitem), perhaps suggesting that Edom is no longer addressed, at least solely. Perhaps Edom and the nations, mentioned in v. 15a, are both addressed in v. 16a. However, since the nations are referred to in the third person in v. 16b, it seems unlikely that they are addressed here. (2) Another option is to take the final mem (ם) on the Hebrew verb form (שְׁתִיתֶם) as an enclitic particle and revocalize the form as a singular verb (שָׁתִיתָ, shatita) addressed to Edom. In this case v. 16a would allude to the time when Edom celebrated Jerusalem’s defeat on Mount Zion, God’s “holy hill.” Verse 16b would then make the ironic point that just as Edom once drank in victory, so the nations (Edom included) would someday drink the cup of judgment. However, this interpretation is problematic for it necessitates taking the drinking metaphor in different ways (as signifying celebration and then judgment) within the same verse. (3) Another option is that the exiled people of Judah are addressed. Just as God’s people were forced to drink the intoxicating wine of divine judgment, so the nations, including those who humiliated Judah, would be forced to drink this same wine. However, the problem here is that God’s people are never addressed elsewhere in the prophecy, making this approach problematic as well.
[1:16] 2 sn This reference to drinking portrays the profane activities of those who had violated Jerusalem’s sanctity. The following reference to drinking on the part of the nations portrays God’s judgment upon them. They will drink, as it were, from the cup of divine retribution.
[1:16] 3 sn The judgment is compared here to intoxicating wine, which the nations are forced to keep drinking (v. 16). Just as an intoxicating beverage eventually causes the one drinking it to become disoriented and to stagger, so God’s judgment would cause the panic-stricken nations to stumble around in confusion. This extended metaphor is paralleled in Jer 49:12 which describes God’s imminent judgment on Edom, “If even those who did not deserve to drink from the cup of my wrath have to drink from it, do you think you will go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, but you also will certainly drink from the cup of my wrath.” There are numerous parallels between Obadiah and the oracle against Edom in Jer 49:1-22, so perhaps the latter should be used to help understand the enigmatic metaphor here in v. 16.