Genesis Chapter Thirty-Six


Read Genesis 36:1-6 – The Sons of Esau


v.1Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.”


            The Holy Spirit through the pen of Moses has caused the genealogy of Esau to be recorded as part of Scripture.  God also preserves the history of his descendants as the nation of Edom.  We find them as contemporaries with Saul, David and Solomon in I Samuel, I Kings and in Psalms 52.  However, the most prominent descendant of Esau in scripture is Herod the Great, ruler of Judah during at the birth of Jesus the Christ.  Herod was the son of a ruler known as Antipater the Idumaean.  Idumae was the Greek and Roman name for Edom.


v.2Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;”


            In our earlier study we saw that Esau had married daughters from the tribes that surrounded Isaac in Canaan. 


Genesis 26:34And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.”


The names of the women given in the two references are different but they are the same people.  Sources outside scripture tell us that Judith’s name was changed to Aholibamah when she married Esau.


v.3  And Bashemath Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth.”


            The third wife of Esau was a daughter of Ishmael, not a Canaanite but rather a granddaughter of his grandfather Abraham.


v.4And Adah bare to Esau Eliphaz; and Bashemath bare Reuel;”


            Two of the sons of Esau were Eliphaz and Reuel.  Whether this Eliphaz is the same Eliphaz as we find in the book of Job is not known.  He could be as the time it was written and author of the book of Job is not known.  Reuel is a name found several times in the Old Testament including being another name for Jethro, father-in-law of Moses.


v.5And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these are the sons of Esau, which were born unto him in the land of Canaan.”


            Here we have named three sons of Esau that are identified as being born to him while he still lived in Canaan.  Though there were other men in scripture who bore the names of Jeush and Korah; neither the Bible nor secular history tells us anything about these men other than they were sons of Esau.


Read Genesis 36:6-8 – Esau Moves to Seir


v.6And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob.”


            From the time that Jacob went to Haran, apparently Esau had lived in the southern part of what was to become Israel not far from his father, Isaac.  Since Isaac was blind and Rebekah was no longer living it is perfectly logical that he would stay in that region to look after his father.  Now that Isaac is no longer living and Jacob has moved into the region Esau moves into Seir, the land set aside for him and his descendants by God.  As we studied earlier; when Israel came out of Egypt they given instructions regarding Esau:


Deuteronomy 2:4-5And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.”


v.7For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.”


            The problem that Esau and Jacob faced was the very same problem found at the time of the parting of Abraham and Lot.


Genesis 13:6And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.”


God’s blessings were so bountiful; their wealth of flocks and herds was so great that the land simply would not support both of them at the same time.  God had given Seir to Esau as a protected homeland so he moves to that location.


v.8Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.”


            Mount Seir or the region of Seir, is hilly but not really mountainous by the standard of our western mountains, is on east side of the Great Rift Valley that runs from the southeastern corner of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.  Today it is part of the country of Jordan.


Read Genesis 36:9-19 – The Generations of Esau


v.9-10And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir: 10These are the names of Esau’s sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau.”


            Again, we know very little about most of these men, thought more about some of their descendants.  The scripture addresses the sons of Esau’s first wives first.  As we noted earlier, Eliphaz is a name familiar to those who have studied the book of Job, though they may not be the same man.  Another complete listing of the sons of Esau can be found in I Chronicles chapter 1 beginning at verse 35.


v.11. “And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz.”


            Teman is found as the name of an Edomite clan and the name of a city referred to several times as a known location in both the major and minor prophets.

            Omar is mentioned only three times in scripture, all as a descendant or duke of Esau.  It is a very popular name among Muslims all the way from Egypt to Afghanistan and is also found in India among Hindu people.

            Zepho, as a descendant is mentioned only in Genesis 36 and I Chronicles 1 where he is called Zephi.

            Gatam also is unknown to secular history.

            Kenaz here is given as a son or duke of Edom, a more prominent figure in scripture is Kenaz who was the brother of Caleb.


v.12And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau’s son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau’s wife.”


            Apparently as had Jacob when neither Leah nor Rachel could bear sons, the sons of Esau also took concubines.  Timna was possibly also a servant of his wife Adah as Adah claimed Amalek as a son though she did not bear him.  The descendants of Amalek are a trouble to Israel until they disappear from the history in scripture.  As enemies of Israel during the Exodus:


Exodus 17:8Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.”


We find them again during the reign of King Saul who lost his kingdom over them:


I Samuel 15:2-3 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”


But Saul disobeyed God and the Amalekites were not removed from history until the time of King Hezekiah:


I Chronicles 4:43And they smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day.”


v.13And these are the sons of Reuel; Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah: these were the sons of Bashemath Esau’s wife.”


            Nothing further is known about Nahath, though we find the name used again but by a different individual, during the time of King Hezekiah.

            As with Nahath, Zerah, the son of Reuel is not found in history or scripture beyond being listed as a descendant of Esau.

            No history of Shammah is known.  We do find the name used again to designate a son of Agee the Philistine and as an older brother of David in I Samuel 16:9.

            Mizzah is found only in Genesis 36 and I Chronicles 1 as a descendant of Esau.


v.14 And these were the sons of Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife: and she bare to Esau Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah.”


            We have already covered all that we know about the sons of Aholibamah.


v.15-16These were dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn son of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz, 16Duke Korah, duke Gatam, and duke Amalek: these are the dukes that came of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Adah.”


            Again we see the influence of the culture under which our King James Version was translated.  The word duke originated in Middle English around 1100-1150 AD and was drawn from a similar root word in the French language and an even deeper root word in Latin that designates a commander or leader.  It came into wide usage in England during the 1300s.  In every other version that I checked the word is translated “CHIEF” as in the chieftains of tribes.  These listed are the descendants Esau through his wife, Adah.


v.17And these are the sons of Reuel Esau’s son; duke Nahath, duke Zerah, duke Shammah, duke Mizzah: these are the dukes that came of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Bashemath Esau’s wife.”


            We have listed again the descendants of Esau by his wife Bashemath.


v.18-19 “And these are the sons of Aholibamah Esau’s wife; duke Jeush, duke Jaalam, duke Korah: these were the dukes that came of Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau’s wife. 19These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes.”


            And finally we have listed for us again the descendants of Esau through his wife Aholibamah, the daughter of Ishmael.


Read Genesis 36:20-30 – The Sons of Seir


v.20-21These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah, 21And Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan: these are the dukes of the Horites, the children of Seir in the land of Edom.”


            Now we have the genealogy of the Horite people.  In other records we are told that Esau destroyed these people but at present they are living side by side and probably even intermarrying into Edom.


Deuteronomy 2:12The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them.”


Other than the listing that we find here in Genesis and later in I Chronicles, we know very little about these people.  Yet God chose to have their existence recorded for our benefit in the sacred scripture.


v.22-23And the children of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23And the children of Shobal were these; Alvan, and Manahath, and Ebal, Shepho, and Onam.”


            The only significant names among these descendants of Lotan are Timna, previously listed and probably the same person that was the concubine of Esau.  Manahath is also the name of a town in Israel after their occupation of Canaan.  Ebal is also the name of a mountain near Shechem.


v.24And these are the children of Zibeon; both Ajah, and Anah: this was that Anah that found the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father.”


            The word translated mules, in the King James Version, is rendered hot springs in every other translation researched except the NKJV which renders it simply water.


v.25-27And the children of Anah were these; Dishon, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26And these are the children of Dishon; Hemdan, and Eshban, and Ithran, and Cheran. 27The children of Ezer are these; Bilhan, and Zaavan, and Akan.”


            This listing is repeated in I Chronicles 1:42 where the descendants of Esau and the families of Edom are given in the chronicles of the nation of Israel.


v.28-30 The children of Dishan are these; Uz, and Aran. 29These are the dukes that came of the Horites; duke Lotan, duke Shobal, duke Zibeon, duke Anah, 30Duke Dishon, duke Ezer, duke Dishan: these are the dukes that came of Hori, among their dukes in the land of Seir.”


Read Genesis 36:31-43 – The Kings of Edom


v.31-32And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel. 32And Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom: and the name of his city was Dinhabah.”


            Here we have a listing of the kings of Edom, the descendants of Esau.  Historians consider this to be an elective monarchy, i.e. the people chose their ruler rather than their position being inherited or taken by conquest.  We know nothing about this king except what we read here.  The name of his city, Dinhabah, is thought to mean “robber’s den.”  As we learn in the parable of the Good Samaritan, robbery and thievery were common professions along the caravan routes of the ancient world.  This city is thought to have been located near Petra.


v.33-35And Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his stead. 34And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his stead. 35And Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who smote Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Avith.”


            Most of these kings are found only in Genesis 36 and I Chronicles 1 where this listing is repeated.  Two things we’re told about Hadad in contrast to the others:  first of all he defeated the Midianites in the country claimed by Moab, one of the descendants of Lot and he moved their capital to a city called Avith.  This city name means “ruins” and it’s location is unknown.


v.36-39And Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his stead. 37And Samlah died, and Saul of Rehoboth by the river reigned in his stead. 38And Saul died, and Baalhanan the son of Achbor reigned in his stead. 39And Baalhanan 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, the daughter of Mezahab.”


            Again we have a change in location of the rulers of Edom to a city call Pau.  Nothing was found concerning this city in secular history or in any other biblical writings.  Though we do not know the significance of this information we are also told the name of the wife of Hadar, king of Edom, and the names of her mother and grandmother.  About the only thing that my research gathered about the name Mehetabel is that it was in common usage among the Puritan people who settled in the New England colonies.


v.40-43And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families, after their places, by their names; duke Timnah, duke Alvah, duke Jetheth, 41Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon, 42Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar, 43Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites.”


            The chronological order of these scriptures seem to indicate that after Edom had been ruled by kings selected by the people for some years that they reverted back to rule by chieftains, or tribal chiefs, translated dukes in 17th century English.  Though we know little of their history, the influence of the descendants of Esau is felt throughout the history of Israel.  Since Herod the Great who ruled Judea during the Roman occupation and his family were Idumaeans or Edomites this influence continued down to and throughout the life of Christ and the history of the early church.  King Julius Marcus Agrippa that we find sitting in judgment of Paul (Acts 25:13-26:32) at the invitation of Felix is the last of these rulers.  The information available indicates that Agrippa never ruled Judea but rather other parts of the region of Palestine and ended his service to the Romans as a ruler in Syria around 100 AD.  The Edomite people joined Judea in their rebellion against Rome.  When Rome put down that rebellion and destroyed Jerusalem, the Edomites, just like the Jews; ceased to exist as a separate people.