And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, Thus said your brother Israel…
Who pleads? Israel. To whom is the plea addressed? To a brother. How did the word "brother " come into the narrative? It came historically. We have here Jacob and Esau. Edom is the name by which Esau was known. Wherever we find the term Edom, our minds may instantly associate with it the history of Esau, and an action of Divine sovereignty in relation to that history. Jacob supplanted Esau, ran away in the night-time, met his brother at some distance of time afterwards, the brothers fell upon one another's necks, kissed each other, and seemed to sink the infinite outrage in grateful and perpetual oblivion. Nothing of the kind. Life cannot be managed thus; things do not lie between man and man only. Herein is the difference between crime and sin. So Jacob and Esau come face to face throughout the ages. The supplanter cannot sponge out his miserable cunning and selfish deceit and unpardonable fraud. Jacob the individual dies, Esau the individual dies: but Jacob and Esau, as representing a great controversy, can never die: to the end of the chapter Edom will encounter Israel with deep and lasting animosity. So Esau had his turn. We pitied the hairy man as he was driven away portionless, without a blessing, his great heart full of sin no doubt, quivering with agony, for which there was no adequate expression in words; but in so far as he has been wronged he will see satisfaction and himself be satisfied. The supplanted family had a land when the supplanter's descendants had only a wilderness. This is the law of Providence. Events are not measured within the compasses of the little day. The cunning man or the strong man, the oppressor or the wrong-doer, may have his victory to-day, and may smile upon it, and regard it with complacency, and receive the incense of adulation from persons who only see between sunrise and sundown. But the heavens are against him; he has to encounter the eternities, long time after his victory shall wither, and in his descendants his humiliation shall be consummated.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us: