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Meaning and etymology of the name Obadiah




Obadiah Obadiah


The name Obadiah is among the most popular in the Bible. Besides the prophet who probably lived in the 9th century BC and who wrote the Book of Obadiah, there are up to twelve Obediah's mentioned: King Ahab's chief housekeeper (1 Kings 18:3), a descendant of Solomon (1 Chronicles 3:21), a descendant of Issachar (1 Chronicles 7:3), a descendant of Saul (1 Chronicles 8:38), one of David's 'mighty men' (1 Chronicles 12:9), a chief of Zebulun (1 Chronicles 27:19), a teacher in the time of king Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:7), a temple repair worker in the time of king Joshiah (2 Chronicles 34:12), a chief in the second wave of return to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:9) who may or may not be the same as the Obadiah who signed the covenant of Ezra (Nehemiah 10:5) or even the Obadiah mentioned among the returning Levites (1 Chronicles 9:16), or the Levite Obadiah who was a gatekeeper (Nehemiah 12:25).

The name Obadiah consists of two parts. The final bit is yah, which is the abbreviated form of YHWH, the Name of the Lord: YHWH.

The first part of the name Obadiah comes from the root abad (abad), meaning to work or serve. Since working or serving is a common activity in any culture, this verb is deployed almost 300 times in the Old Testament. Curiously enough, this verb has the power to take meaning from whatever comes next. If the story tells of "dressing" vines, the Hebrew literally reads "working" vines. When a field is tilled, the Hebrew reads that the field is "worked." The Hebrew idea of "working" can also mean "working something," and that something determines the kind of work that's done. When Jacob "works" Laban, he's not trying to change his mind but simply serving him (Genesis 29:15). This verb can even be used to indicate putting someone to work, or even enslaving someone (Exodus 1:14). HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament makes the observation that, "When service is offered to God, however, it is not bondage, but rather a joyous and liberating experience (Exodus 3:12, Psalm 22:31)."

Since this verb is so rich in meaning and so ubiquitous in use, there are quite a few derivatives:

The noun abad (ebed) meaning slave or servant;
The noun abad (abad) means work.
The noun abad (aboda) means labor or service;
The noun abudda (abudda) means service or the performance of household servants;
The noun abdut (abdut) means servitude, bondage;
The noun mabad (mabad) means work.

For a meaning of the name Obadiah, NOBS Study Bible Name List reads Servant Of Yahweh. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Servant Of The Lord.

Other names derived of the verb abad are Abda, Abdeel, Abdi, Abdiel, Abdon, Abednego, Ebed, Ebed-melech, Obed and Obed-edom.






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