This week’s Haftorah is the entire Sefer Ovadia, detailing everything Ovadia did. In the first Pasuk of this week’s Haftorah we see a vision that Ovadia had. “So says Hashem Elokim concerning Edom:” Other prophets, who received predictions concerning Edom, such as Yirmiyahu, Yeshayahu and Amos have heard a message from Hashem that many nations will decide to go to war against Edom. An ambassador will be sent around among the nations and will inform them all “Arise and we too will arise to wage war against her!”
Hashem will then inspire the nations to attack Edom. The word “Edom” can be explained in two different ways: Rome, or all the nations that are descendents of Esav. To understand this Pasuk we will analyze the last two definitions. The second Pasuk in the Haftorah says, “Behold, I made you small among the nations; you are very despised.” The question then is how does the explanation of this Pasuk tie into the definition of “Edom” as Rome?
The Chachamim explain that Rome lacked the important characteristics to classify it as a distinguished nation. Its language is not considered significant by the Chachamim and succession to the throne was not hereditary. In Hashem’s eyes, the Roman Empire was inconsequential. Hashem said concerning Yitzchak’s son Esav that “I know that your parents found you strong and important and Hashem responded that I find you inconsequential and I am not impressed by your strength.” The Chachamim show us this with a parable:
There was once a lady whose son wished to enlist in the military, but his application was rejected. She went to the headquarters to complain, because she could not understand why her son was not accepted. The captain then asked “Who is your son?” The mother then gave her son’s name and added “He is brave and strong.” The commander replied that “He may be strong in your eyes, but all I detected was weakness and cowardice.”
Similarly, Yitzchak’s son Esav was like nothing in Hashem’s eyes. The same can be said about the Roman Empire. Its impressive external appearance was merely a façade for corruption. From the Pasuk where Hashem says, “In my eyes you are small and lowly” we can understand this very important lesson, regarding our current enemies.