The Generations of Esau
Genesis 36. In this chapter we have “the generations of Esau” whereas ch.37 gives us “the generations of Jacob”. Joseph is a beautiful type of Christ, the second man. But before we have the history of the second man, we must have that of the first man; “But that which is spiritual was not first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual” (1 Cor. 15:46).
Esau Comes to Mt. Seir (36:1-8)
1 And these are the generations of Esau, that is Edom. 2 Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, 3 and Basmath Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. 4 And Adah bore to Esau Eliphaz; and Basmath bore Reuel. 5 And Oholibamah bore Jeush and Jaalam and Korah. These are the sons of Esau that were born to him in the land of Canaan. vv.1-5 This is one of ten generations mentioned in Genesis, all beginning with the words “the generations of”, etc. Read more… The genealogy of Esau breaks into the scene, and we immediately read of his three wives, not of the family of Nahor, but of the Canaanites. The third wife was the daughter of Ishmael, whom Esau married to please his parents when the other two wives were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebecca (Gen 26:35; 28:8-9). Esau represents the irreverence or carelessness of the flesh (Heb. 12:15-17), and Ishmael represents the legality of the flesh, and opposition to grace. It is instructive that these two families come together. The same character that has no respect for God or His claims can find compatibility in a natural religion.
6 And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the souls of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his possessions, that he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went into a country away from his brother Jacob. 7 For their property was too great for them to dwell together, and the land where they were sojourners could not bear them, because of their cattle. 8 Thus Esau dwelt in mount Seir; Esau is Edom. vv.6-8 As with Abraham and Lot, the abundance of cattle forced a separation between Jacob and Esau. The land of Canaan, with its other inhabitants, was insufficient for the two brothers. Jacob dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Esau in mount Seir, which is to the south of Canaan. Notice that Esau’s substance was “acquired in the land of Canaan”. Canaan was a land of blessing, but Esau left it. He despised the birthright, and he also seemed to have less value for the land of promise than Jacob did.
The Generations of Esau (36:9-19)
9 And these are the generations of Esau, the father of Edom, in mount Seir. 10 These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Adah the wife of Esau; Reuel, the son of Basmath the wife of Esau. 11 — And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz. 12 And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau’s son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These are the sons of Adah Esau’s wife. 13 — And these are the sons of Reuel: Nahath and Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These are the sons of Basmath Esau’s wife. 14 — And these are the sons of Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah, daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife: and she bore to Esau Jeush and Jaalam and Korah. 15 These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz, the firstborn of Esau: chief Teman, chief Omar, chief Zepho, chief Kenaz, 16 chief Korah, chief Gatam, chief Amalek. These are the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Adah. 17 And these are the sons of Reuel Esau’s son: chief Nahath, chief Zerah, chief Shammah, chief Mizzah: these are the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Basmath Esau’s wife. 18 — And these are the sons of Oholibamah Esau’s wife: chief Jeush, chief Jaalam, chief Korah; these are the chiefs of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau’s wife. 19 These are the sons of Esau, and these their chiefs: he is Edom. vv.9-19 We find that Esau had five sons and many grandchildren, and they were organized into bands with a duke or chief leading them, which were either sons or grandsons of Esau. There were fourteen tribes in all, with fourteen chiefs. Jacob’s household meanwhile was far from organized. As we will see in the following chapter, there was not harmony between the sons. Of note is the sixth son of Eliphaz the son of Esau: Amalek. The general character of the Edomites was of bitterness and hatred for the children of Israel, which began in a “root” in Esau (Heb. 12:15), but defiled a whole nation. The book of Obadiah unfolds the judgment of Edom and the moral reasons for it. Amalek and the Amalekites were a tribe of the Edomites. We see their activity in the book of Exodus when the children of Israel passed through the wilderness of Sin and came to Rephidim. There Amalek fought against Israel, and through the intercession of Moses, they were defeated. The Lord promised to wipe out Amalek eventually, but Israel would have war with them from generation to generation. “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; how he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God” (Deut. 25:18). Amalek was a tribe of the Edomites the especially embodied cruelty, bitterness and hatred toward Israel.
The Sons of Seir the Horite (36:20-30)
20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitant of the land: Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah, 21 and Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan. These are the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22 — And the sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23 — And these are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, and Manahath, and Ebal, Shepho and Onam. 24 — And these are the sons of Zibeon: both Ajah and Anah. This is the Anah that found the warm springs in the wilderness as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father. 25 — And these are the sons of Anah: Dishon, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26 — And these are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, and Eshban, and Ithran, and Cheran. 27 — These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, and Zaavan, and Akan. 28 — These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These are the chiefs of the Horites: chief Lotan, chief Shobal, chief Zibeon, chief Anah, 30 chief Dishon, chief Ezer, chief Dishan. These are the chiefs of the Horites, according to their chiefs in the land of Seir. vv.20-30 The Horites were the inhabitants of Mt. Seir long before Esau relocated there (Gen. 14:6; Deut. 2:12). The mountain was full of clefts or caves that afforded great protection to those who lived there, and made Mt. Seir a natural fortress against attack (Obadiah 1:3). Later in Obadiah, the Lord warns Edom that these caves would not protect them from God’s judgment. The Lord drove out the Horites to give Edom a place to live; “As he [Jehovah] did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day” (Deut. 2:22). The sons of Seir, whose name was given to the mountain they inhabited, are given because the Edomites succeeded them.
The Kings of Edom (36:31-39)
31 And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom before there reigned a king over the children of Israel. 32 And Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom; and the name of his city was Dinhabah. 33 And Bela died; and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his stead. 34 And Jobab died; and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his stead. 35 And Husham died; and Hadad the son of Bedad, who smote Midian in the fields of Moab, reigned in his stead. And the name of his city was Avith. 36 And Hadad died; and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his stead. 37 And Samlah died; and Saul of Rehoboth on the river reigned in his stead. 38 And Saul died; and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his stead. 39 And Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died; and Hadar reigned in his stead; and the name of his city was Pau; and his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred daughter of Mezahab. vv.31-39 The kings of Edom are given next. Eight kings are listed, and it does not appear they the crown was passed from father to son. Special note is made that these kings reigned in Edom “before there reigned a king over the children of Israel”. From this we gather that Edom advanced in its political development much faster than the children of Israel. We saw a similar thing by comparing the line of Cain in Genesis 4 with the line of faith in Genesis 5. While there was rapid technological and cultural advancement with the line of Cain, the line of Seth appears very ordinary by contrast. The flesh often makes an impressive start, but in the end no flesh will glory in God’s presence.
The Dukes of Edom (36:40-43)
40 And these are the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their families, after their places, with their names: chief Timna, chief Alvah, chief Jetheth, 41 chief Oholibamah, chief Elah, chief Pinon, 42 chief Kenaz, chief Teman, chief Mibzar, 43 chief Magdiel, chief Iram. These are the chiefs of Edom, according to their dwelling-places in the land of their possession. This is Esau, the father of Edom. vv.40-43 The dukes (or chiefs) of Edom are given. Notice that there are eleven names, compared with fourteen in vv.15-19, and the names are almost completely different. I do not know why the difference.