1427.) Genesis 36

Esau of stew-for-birthright fame.

Genesis 36   (NRSV)

Esau’s Descendants

This chapter testifies to the fertility, prosperity, and political power that Easu and his descendants find in their homeland of Edom.

–Linda B. Hinton

These are the descendants of Esau (that is, Edom). 2Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah daughter of Anah son of Zibeon the Hivite, 3and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebaioth. 4Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau; Basemath bore Reuel; 5and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

6Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle, all his livestock, and all the property he had acquired in the land of Canaan; and he moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. 7For their possessions were too great for them to live together; the land where they were staying could not support them because of their livestock. 8So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom.

Hebrews 12:14-17 (New International Version)

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

9These are the descendants of Esau, ancestor of the Edomites, in the hill country of Seir. 10These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz son of Adah the wife of Esau; Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. 11The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 12(Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These were the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife. 13These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Esau’s wife, Basemath. 14These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, daughter of Anah son of Zibeon: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

Edom is shown in bright red. The darker red shows the area of Idumea, from Jesus’ time.

Clans and Kings of Edom

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).
  • Herod the Great — the one who tried to kill the young child Jesus — was an Edomite.  From the time Islam conquered the Middle East, the region has been virtually unoccupied, except for a few Bedouins and military outposts. It had been brought to nothing, as Obadiah had prophesied (the entire book of Obadiah records an extended prophecy against Edom).

–David Guzik

15These are the clans of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: the clans Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16Korah, Gatam, and Amalek; these are the clans of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Adah. 17These are the sons of Esau’s son Reuel: the clans Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah; these are the clans of Reuel in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 18These are the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: the clans Jeush, Jalam, and Korah; these are the clans born of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah. 19These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their clans.

20These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the clans of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22The sons of Lotan were Hori and Heman; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon. 25These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah daughter of Anah. 26These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 28These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29These are the clans of the Horites: the clans Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the clans of the Horites, clan by clan in the land of Seir.

31These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. 32Bela son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. 33Bela died, and Jobab son of Zerah of Bozrah succeeded him as king. 34Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites succeeded him as king. 35Husham died, and Hadad son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, succeeded him as king, the name of his city being Avith. 36Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah succeeded him as king. 37Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates succeeded him as king. 38Shaul died, and Baal-hanan son of Achbor succeeded him as king. 39Baal-hanan son of Achbor died, and Hadar succeeded him as king, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Me-zahab.

40These are the names of the clans of Esau, according to their families and their localities by their names: the clans Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43Magdiel, and Iram; these are the clans of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their settlements in the land that they held.

Romans 9:13 (New International Version)

Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Today’s passage is in Genesis 36, covering the generations of Esau’s children.  I continue to be focused on understanding what G-D means when He says, “Esau have I hated” as I listen to this passage.  Let’s see: 

  • Esau fathered numerous sons with his three wives (and we can safely assume that there were numerous daughters among his progeny, as well; daughters who are not mentioned because they did no remarkable acts that would cause them to be remembered specially AND because, in that culture, they would have been counted in the families of their husbands estates when they married out of their father’s household).
  • He is forced to move away from his brother (Israel), not because of smoldering resentments or family feuds, but simply because the land cannot support all of the people and livestock produced by the brothers.  Sounds like a good problem to me!
  • His sons and grandsons became kings and leaders of clans.  They built cities and developed territories — the local equivalent of nations in their time.
  • It seems they didn’t know the God of their great ancestors (Abraham and Isaac), or if they did, they turned away from that faith.  Again, I note that we are never told that G-D ever spoke with Esau.  The lands that they settled and developed were the highly productive lands of Canaan, which Israel’s descendants would later come to take by force, despising the pagan practices of their distant kin in that place and acting upon the direction they received by special revelation without ever questioning the logic or rightness of their actions.

This thing that the Bible describes as hatred looks like something completely different from what we think of as humans when we use the same word.  We think about punishment when we use the word hatred.  It’s not clear to me that G-D meant any such thing when He chose the word.

To an astounding degree, we humans continue to be guilty of the sin of Esau, just the same as the descendants of Israel were when they entered the land beyond the Jordan in the lust of conquest.  We are more intent upon satisfying our appetites and needs than we are on preserving the peace and well-being of the whole family of humankind.  We will sell off our future and all of the incumbent responsibilities/privileges in order to enjoy the satisfaction of our present impulse.

Strangely or not, every problem that plagues our 21st century world can really be traced back to this same type of offense at its root. 

Only Jesus found a different way to deal with human need and impulse.  He didn’t take, He didn’t clamor, He didn’t assert His rights, He simply trusted Abba God to make things come out right.  Granted, I believe He knew His calling and God’s plan when He took His stand, but there He stood.  And even in that knowing, I find guidance.  If I am not equally assured of the unshakable commitment of Abba God in my choice, then I want to exercise discretion until that comes. 

I can’t find another authentically altruistic model anywhere, however much I watch for one.

–Cat Bismuth



Are we not “Lost in Wonder”  by all of what Jesus has done for us?  This song is by Martyn Layzell, a Curate at Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican Church in Central London.  HERE  is an encouragement to make the choice every day to follow Christ!



The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Esau and the stew pot.    http://dailycat.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/artworkesau3.jpg
map.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/28/Edom.PNG/200px-Edom.PNG

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