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OBED-EDOM (ō'bĕd-ē'dŏm, Heb. ‘ōvēdh-’ĕdhôm, one who serves Edom)

A man of Gath into whose house David had the ark of God carried after “Perez Uzzah,” when God struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark when the oxen stumbled (2Sam.6.10-2Sam.6.12; 1Chr.13.9-1Chr.13.13). Obed-Edom and his family revered the ark, and God blessed them greatly. He probably is the same Obed-Edom as the one in 1Chr.26.4-1Chr.26.8 who had eight sons and seventy-two early descendants.One of the musical Levites (1Chr.15.18-1Chr.15.24) who played a harp.A son of Jeduthun who was a gatekeeper of the tabernacle (1Chr.16.38).Perhaps the same as no. 3, appointed with his sons over the treasury (1Chr.26.15).A descendant of no. 4 who kept the treasury in Amaziah’s time (2Chr.25.24).

OBED-EDOM ō’ bəd e’ dəm (עֹבֵֽד־אֱדֹ֖ום, servant of Edom, possibly the name of a god.)

1. A contemporary of David. After the death of Uzzah, the Ark was deposited not far from Kiriath-jearim in the house of Obededom “the Gittite” for three months (2 Sam 6:10, 11). When the Ark was taken up to Jerusalem, an Obed-edom was made one of its special guardians (1 Chron 15:24). Apart from the Gittite, a Levite, Obed-edom is mentioned nine times in 1 Chronicles.

It is normally assumed, even by conservatives, that Obed-edom was a Philistine from Gath, though opinions differ whether there was a Levite of the same name as well. (Cf. ISBE, p. 2175a, NBD, p. 904a.) It is improbable that David would have deposited the Ark with a Philistine, or that after the events of 1 Samuel 5:1-6:16 he would have taken the risk, even though his presence in Israelite territory implied that he was a sojourner who worshiped Yahweh. There was, however, also a place Gittaim (2 Sam 4:3; Neh 11:33), prob. not far from Kiriath-jearim; a man from there would also be called a Gittite. There is, therefore, no reason for doubting the clear implication of Chronicles that the Obed-edom who took the Ark into his home was a Levite, who was later specially honored. Where there was no priestly house, a Levite’s home would have seemed the most suitable resting place for the Ark. Obededom was apparently involved in the music of the sanctuary as well (1 Chron 15:21); the names of his companions (cf. 1 Chron 15:18) show that two men of the same name were not involved.

2. A guardian of the sacred Temple vessels, presumably a priest, during the reign of Amaziah (2 Chron 25:24).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Obed-edom is an illustration of the service rendered to Hebrew religion by foreigners, reminding one of the Simon of Cyrene who bore the cross of Jesus (Mt 27:32, etc.). The Chronicler naturally desired to think that only Levites could discharge such duties as Obed-edom performed, and hence, the references to him as a Levite.

David Francis Roberts.