Genesis 36:1
Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXVI.

THE TÔLDÔTH ESAU.

(1) The generations of Esau.—This tôldôth, consisting of Genesis 36:1 to Genesis 37:1, is very remarkable, if it were only for the difficulties with which it abounds, and which have too often been aggravated by the determination of commentators to make Holy Scripture bend to their pre-conceived ideas as to what it ought to be, instead of dutifully accepting it as it is. It begins with an enumeration of Esau’s wives, in which the names are different from those given in Genesis 26:34; Genesis 28:9. Next we have the genealogy of Esau, upon the same principle as that whereby the tôldôth Ishmael was inserted immediately after the history of Abraham’s death (Genesis 25:12-18); but this is followed, in Genesis 36:20-30, by a genealogy of the Horite inhabitants of Mount Seir. Among these Esau dwelt as the predominant power, but nevertheless on friendly terms, for a reason which we shall see hereafter. We next have a list of kings who are said to have reigned in Edom “before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.” This is not a prophetical portion of the Bible, but a dry genealogical table, and the attempts made to evade the plain meaning of the words, namely, that at the time when this list of kings was written there were kings in Israel, are painful to read, and can have no other effect than to harden sceptics in unbelief. Of these Edomite kings, it is remarkable that they do not succeed one another by hereditary succession, nor have they the same capital, but seem to belong to a time of anarchy, like that which existed in Israel under the Judges. During this period the Edomites and Horites were fused together, chiefly by conquest (Deuteronomy 2:12; Deuteronomy 2:22), but partly also by the gradual dying out of the inferior race, just as the red man is fading away in North America, and the Maori in New Zealand. Finally, we have a list of the eleven dukes of Edom, “after their places.” As these dukes represented tribes or clans, this catalogue is geographical, and as such it is described in Genesis 36:43, and was intended to give the political arrangement of the land at the later date when this addition was made, and when considerable changes had taken place since the time of the first settlement.

These last two documents, forming Genesis 36:31-43, were probably added at the time when the Books of Samuel were composed; but as we find the list of the kings given also in 1Chronicles 1:43-50, and as at that date great activity existed in completing the canon of Holy Scripture, some suppose that the lists in both places are by the same hand. It is entirely wrong to describe them as interpolations; for it was the rule to add to and complete genealogies; and besides there existed in the Jewish Church a living authority in the prophets who had the right and power to make necessary additions to the Divine record. It is to the “schools of the prophets” that we owe, under God’s providence, the existence of most of the Old Testament Scriptures, and the preservation of all of them; and they did not preserve them for the sake of the authors, but for the sake of what was written. And there is nothing derogatory to the authority or inspiration of Holy Scripture in believing that the prophets were from time to time moved by the Spirit to add to what had been written. The contents of the Old Testament bear witness everywhere to the scrupulous fidelity with which men guarded in the prophetic schools the sacred deposit entrusted to their care; but it is equally certain that we find notes inserted from time to time, as in Genesis 35:20. No one can doubt but that the remark that the pillar standing on Rachel’s grave “unto this day” was the same stone which Jacob had set up, was inserted at a later date, and apparently after the conquest of Canaan. So in Genesis 14:7 we have a note inserted subsequently to the establishment of the kingly office. Why should there be any difficulty in believing that these two lists of kings and dukes, added to complete a genealogy, belonged also to a time when there were kings in Israel?

It is probable, however, that the list of kings given here is of an earlier date than that in the first chapter of Chronicles, for Hadar (more correctly, in Chronicles, Hadad) seems to have been living when this document was composed, and hence the full information about his wife.” In Chronicles (1Chronicles 1:51) there is added “Hadad died-also.” And if he really were alive when this catalogue was written, he had by that time been dead for centuries; for its date would then be one comparatively early.

Genesis 36:1. These are the generations of Esau — Esau has the honour of having an account of his posterity recorded, for the sake of his progenitors, Abraham and Isaac, and because the Edomites, his descendants, were neighbours to Israel, and their genealogy would be of use to cast light on the following relations of what passed between them. Hereby also is shown more fully the performance of the promise to Abraham, that he should be the father of many nations, of that declaration made to Rebekah, when she inquired of the Lord, “Two nations are in thy womb,” and of the blessing given to Esau by Isaac, Thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth. Who is Edom — That name perpetuated the remembrance of the foolish bargain he made when he sold his birthright for that red pottage.

36:1-43 Esau and his descendants. - The registers in this chapter show the faithfulness of God to his promise to Abraham. Esau is here called Edom, that name which kept up the remembrance of his selling his birth-right for a mess of pottage. Esau continued the same profane despiser of heavenly things. In outward prosperity and honour, the children of the covenant are often behind, and those that are out of the covenant get the start. We may suppose it a trial to the faith of God's Israel, to hear of the pomp and power of the kings of Edom, while they were bond-slaves in Egypt; but those that look for great things from God, must be content to wait for them; God's time is the best time. Mount Seir is called the land of their possession. Canaan was at this time only the land of promise. Seir was in the possession of the Edomites. The children of this world have their all in hand, and nothing in hope, Lu 16:25; while the children of God have their all in hope, and next to nothing in hand. But, all things considered, it is beyond compare better to have Canaan in promise, than mount Seir in possession.This passage is introductory, and records the settlement of Esau with his family in Mount Seir. "Esau, who is Edom." This is a fact of which we were informed in the previous history Genesis 25:25, Genesis 25:30. It is mentioned here because the latter name gave origin to the national designation; namely, the Edomites or Idumaeans. The occurrence of this explanatory or definitive clause here and in other parts of this chapter throws light on the manner in which this work was composed. Such parenthetical explanations are sometimes ascribed to the reviser or redactor of the original text. And to this there is no theoretic objection, provided the reviser be allowed to be of equal authority with the original author, and the explanatory addition be necessary for the reader of a later period, and could not have been furnished by the original author. Otherwise, such a mode of accounting for these simple clauses is unnecessary, and therefore, unwarrantable. The present case the writer has already explained, and the latest reader requires the clause no more than the earliest, as he is aware from the previous notices that Esau is Edom. We are thus led to regard these explanatory clauses as marks of an early or artless simplicity of style, and not as any clear or certain traces of revision.CHAPTER 36

Ge 36:1-43. Posterity of Esau.

1. these are the generations—history of the leading men and events (compare Ge 2:4).

Esau who is Edom—A name applied to him in reference to the peculiar color of his skin at birth [Ge 25:25], rendered more significant by his inordinate craving for the red pottage [Ge 25:30], and also by the fierce sanguinary character of his descendants (compare Eze 25:12; Ob 10).Esau’s wives and children born in Canaan, Genesis 36:1-5. They remove from Jacob to Seir; the reason, Genesis 36:6-8. His posterity, Genesis 36:9-19; as also that of Seir the Horite, Genesis 36:20; among whom is Anah, who first found out mules in the wilderness, Genesis 36:24. His children, Genesis 36:25-30. A catalogue of kings and princes in Edom, Genesis 36:31-43.

1796 They are here mentioned partly to show the effect of his father’s blessing, Genesis 27:39; partly that the Israelites might be admonished to treat the Edomites like brethren, and not to invade their land. See Deu 23:7.

Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. Who was surnamed Edom, from the red pottage he sold his birthright for to his brother Jacob, Genesis 25:30; an account is given of him, and his posterity, not only because he was a son of Isaac, lately made mention of as concerned in his burial; but because his posterity would be often taken notice of in the sacred Scriptures, and so their genealogy would serve to illustrate such passages; and Maimonides (m) thinks the principal reason is, that whereas Amalek, a branch of Esau's family, were to be destroyed by an express command of God, it was necessary that all the rest should be particularly described, lest they should all perish together; but other ends are answered hereby, as partly to show the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham, concerning the multiplication of his seed, and the accomplishment of the oracle to Rebekah, signifying that two nations were in her womb, one of which were those Edomites; as also to observe how the blessing of Isaac his father came upon him with effect, Genesis 22:17.

(m) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 50. p. 510.

Now these are {a} the generations of Esau, who is Edom.

(a) This genealogy declares that Esau was blessed physically and that his father's blessing took place in worldly things.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1–5. Esau’s Wives and Children

1. the same is Edom] A gloss introduced here and in Genesis 36:8; Genesis 36:19.

Verse 1. - Now these are the generations (cf. Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1, &c.) of Esau, - Hairy (vide Genesis 25:25) - which is Edom - Red (vide Genesis 25:30). Genesis 36:1Esau's Wives and Children. His Settlement in the Mountains of Seir. - In the heading (Genesis 36:1) the surname Edom is added to the name Esau, which he received at his birth, because the former became the national designation of his descendants. - Genesis 36:2, Genesis 36:3. The names of Esau's three wives differ from those given in the previous accounts (Genesis 26:34 and Genesis 28:9), and in one instance the father's name as well. The daughter of Elon the Hittite is called Adah (the ornament), and in Genesis 26:34 Basmath (the fragrant); the second is called Aholibamah (probably tent-height), the daughter of Anah, daughter, i.e., grand-daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and in Genesis 26:34, Jehudith (the praised or praiseworthy), daughter of Beeri the Hittite; the third, the daughter of Ishmael, is called Basmath here and Mahalath in Genesis 28:9. This difference arose from the fact, that Moses availed himself of genealogical documents for Esau's family and tribe, and inserted them without alteration. It presents no irreconcilable discrepancy, therefore, but may be explained from the ancient custom in the East, of giving surnames, as the Arabs frequently do still, founded upon some important or memorable event in a man's life, which gradually superseded the other name (e.g., the name Edom, as explained in Genesis 25:30); whilst as a rule the women received new names when they were married (cf. Chardin, Hengstenberg, Dissertations, vol. ii. p. 223-6). The different names given for the father of Aholibamah or Judith, Hengstenberg explains by referring to the statement in Genesis 36:24, that Anah, the son of Zibeon, while watching the asses of his father in the desert, discovered the warm springs (of Calirrhoe), on which he founds the acute conjecture, that from this discovery Anah received the surname Beeri, i.e., spring-man, which so threw his original name into the shade, as to be the only name given in the genealogical table. There is no force in the objection, that according to Genesis 36:25 Aholibamah was not a daughter of the discoverer of the springs, but of his uncle of the same name. For where is it stated that the Aholibamah mentioned in Genesis 36:25 was Esau's wife? And is it a thing unheard of that aunt and niece should have the same name? If Zibeon gave his second son the name of his brother Anah (cf. Genesis 36:24 and Genesis 36:20), why could not his son Anah have named his daughter after his cousin, the daughter of his father's brother? The reception of Aholibamah into the list of the Seirite princes is no proof that she was Esau's wife, but may be much more naturally supposed to have arisen from the same (unknown) circumstance as that which caused one of the seats of the Edomitish Alluphim to be called by her name (Genesis 36:41). - Lastly, the remaining diversity, viz., that Anah is called a Hivite in Genesis 36:2 and a Hittite in Genesis 26:34, is not to be explained by the conjecture, that for Hivite we should read Horite, according to Genesis 36:20, but by the simple assumption that Hittite is used in Genesis 26:34 sensu latiori for Canaanite, according to the analogy of Joshua 1:4; 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6; just as the two Hittite wives of Esau are called daughters of Canaan in Genesis 28:8. For the historical account, the general name Hittite sufficed; but the genealogical list required the special name of the particular branch of the Canaanitish tribes, viz., the Hivites. In just as simple a manner may the introduction of the Hivite Zibeon among the Horites of Seir (Genesis 36:20 and Genesis 36:24) be explained, viz., on the supposition that the removed to the mountains of Seir, and there became a Horite, i.e., a troglodyte, or dweller in a cave. - The names of Esau's sons occur again in 1 Chronicles 1:35. The statement in Genesis 36:6, Genesis 36:7, that Esau went with his family and possessions, which he had acquired in Canaan, into the land of Seir, from before his brother Jacob, does not imply (in contradiction to Genesis 32:4; Genesis 33:14-16) that he did not leave the land of Canaan till after Jacob's return. The words may be understood without difficulty as meaning, that after founding a house of his own, when his family and flocks increased, Esau sought a home in Seir, because he knew that Jacob, as the heir, would enter upon the family possessions, but without waiting till he returned and actually took possession. In the clause "went into the country" (Genesis 36:6), the name Seir or Edom (cf. Genesis 36:16) must have dropt out, as the words "into the country" convey no sense when standing by themselves.
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