Genesis 36 – The Family of Esau
A. Esau’s separation from Jacob.
1. (1-5) The wives, sons, and daughters of Esau.
Now this is the genealogy of Esau, who is Edom. Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite; Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth. Now Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore Reuel. And Aholibamah bore Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. These were the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.
a. This is the genealogy of Esau, who is Edom: The Edomite people descended from Esau, the son of Isaac and the twin brother of Jacob.
b. Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Abraham was determined that Isaac not take a wife from among the daughters of Canaan (Genesis 24:37). Esau’s marriage to Canaanite women caused much grief to Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 26:34-35).
2. (6-8) The separation of Jacob and Esau.
Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the persons of his household, his cattle and all his animals, and all his goods which he had gained in the land of Canaan, and went to a country away from the presence of his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together, and the land where they were strangers could not support them because of their livestock. So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. Esau is Edom.
a. Their possessions were too great for them to dwell together: Esau’s painful cry to Isaac Have you only one blessing, my father? (Genesis 27:38) proved unfounded. God blessed Esau because he was a descendant of Abraham, and God blessed him in the only way he really cared about – materially.
b. So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir: This was land to the south and east of the Dead Sea, and became known as the land of Edom.
B. The descendants of Esau.
1. (9) The Edomites descend from Esau.
And this is the genealogy of Esau the father of the Edomites in Mount Seir.
a. Esau the father of the Edomites: Edom and the Edomites are mentioned some 130 times in the Bible. They were an important group of neighbors to Israel.
· When the Israelites came through the wilderness to the Promised Land in the time of Moses, the Edomites refused them passage through their land (Numbers 20:21). This was a source of great discouragement for the nation (Numbers 21:4).
· Even so, God commanded special regard for the Edomites among Israel: You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother (Deuteronomy 23:7).
· In the days of Saul, Edom was made subject to Israel (1 Samuel 14:47), and David established garrisons there (2 Samuel 8:14). But later, in the days of Joram, the son of Ahab, the Edomites became independent of Israel (2 Kings 8:16-22).
· Several of the prophets spoke about and against Edom, including Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:17-18) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 25:12-14).
· From the time Islam conquered the Middle East, the region has been mostly unoccupied, except for a few Bedouins and military outposts. It has been brought to nothing, as Obadiah had prophesied (the entire book of Obadiah records an extended prophecy against Edom).
b. The Edomites in Mount Seir: The Edomites also held the rock city of Petra, or at least its early version. This city can only be reached through a narrow, winding gorge. Petra was so defensible that it was said that a dozen men could protect Petra against a whole army.
2. (10-43) The descendants of Edom and the chiefs of the Edomites.
These were the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, and Reuel the son of Basemath the wife of Esau. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife. These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. These were the sons of Aholibamah, Esau’s wife, the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon. And she bore to Esau: Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. These were the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz, the firstborn son of Esau, were Chief Teman, Chief Omar, Chief Zepho, Chief Kenaz, Chief Korah, Chief Gatam, and Chief Amalek. These were the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom. They were the sons of Adah. These were the sons of Reuel, Esau’s son: Chief Nahath, Chief Zerah, Chief Shammah, and Chief Mizzah. These were the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom. These were the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. And these were the sons of Aholibamah, Esau’s wife: Chief Jeush, Chief Jaalam, and Chief Korah. These were the chiefs who descended from Aholibamah, Esau’s wife, the daughter of Anah. These were the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these were their chiefs. These were the sons of Seir the Horite who inhabited the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir, in the land of Edom. And the sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam. Lotan’s sister was Timna. These were the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. These were the sons of Zibeon: both Ajah and Anah. This was the Anah who found the water in the wilderness as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon. These were the children of Anah: Dishon and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah. These were the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. These were the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. These were the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. These were the chiefs of the Horites: Chief Lotan, Chief Shobal, Chief Zibeon, Chief Anah, Chief Dishon, Chief Ezer, and Chief Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, according to their chiefs in the land of Seir. Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel: Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. And when Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. When Jobab died, Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. And when Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who attacked Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his place. And the name of his city was Avith. When Hadad died, Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. And when Samlah died, Saul of Rehoboth-by-the-River reigned in his place. When Saul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. And when Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor died, Hadar reigned in his place; and the name of his city was Pau. His wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab. And these were the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their families and their places, by their names: Chief Timnah, Chief Alvah, Chief Jetheth, Chief Aholibamah, Chief Elah, Chief Pinon, Chief Kenaz, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar, Chief Magdiel, and Chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession. Esau was the father of the Edomites.
a. These were the chiefs of the sons of Esau: When we see the kings and chiefs among the descendants of Esau, we see more clearly what God meant when He said, Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated (Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:13). Esau was obviously a blessed man, but he was hated and rejected in regard to being chosen to inherit the covenant God made to Abraham.
i. “If God blesses so abundantly those who are not chosen, what is the magnitude of His blessings for those who are chosen? If nonspiritual people experience such outpourings of merely common grace, how great must the special grace of the regenerate be!” (Boice)
b. She bore Amalek to Eliphaz: Notable among this list is Amalek. From him came the Amalekites, notable enemies of Israel (Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy 25:17-19; 1 Samuel 15:1-8).
i. In addition, the names of the descendants of Esau don’t reflect a godly heart.
· Dishon (Genesis 36:21) means gazelle.
· Alvan (Genesis 36:23) means wicked.
· Ithran (Genesis 36:26) means advantage.
· Aran (Genesis 36:28) means mountain goat.
· Baal-Hanan (Genesis 36:38) – his name embraced the false god Baal.
ii. Jobab the son of Zerah: “Many have supposed that Jobab is the same as Job, so remarkable for his afflictions and patience; and that Eliphaz… was the same who in the book of Job is called one of his friends: but there is no proper proof of this, and there are many reasons against it.” (Clarke)
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