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Saint and Prophet Obadiah

Obadiah, or in Hebrew עֹבַדְיָה means Servant of God or Worshiper of Yahweh, was born in Sychem and was the third captain sent out by Ahaziah against the Prophet Elijah. He converted to Judaism from Edom and was a descendant of Eliphaz. Rabbinic tradition holds that he was chosen to prophesy against the Kingdom of Edom precisely because he was an Edomite himself. When Jezebel cut off the prophets, he hid fifty in a cave giving them food and water as well as safety. The story is relayed in 1 Kings chapter 18:

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, 3 and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. 4 While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” 6 So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.

7 As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”

8 “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

9 “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? 10 As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. 11 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. 13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”

The Coptic church celebrates his feast day on the 15th of Tobi, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Rite Catholic churches celebrate it on November 19th. He was buried after his death in Sebastia where Elisha and eventually John the Baptist would also be buried.

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