Genesis 36:6
And 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.
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(6) Into the country from the face.—Heb. into a land away from the face, &c.

Genesis 36:6. Esau took his wives and all his substance, &c. — Although he had begun to settle among his wives’ relations in Seir, before Jacob came from Padan-aram, Genesis 32:3; yet, it is probable, that during the life of Isaac, he had still some effects remaining in Canaan; but after his death, he wholly withdrew to mount Seir, took with him what came to his share of his father’s personal estate, and left Canaan to Jacob, not only because Jacob had the promise of it, but because he saw, if they should both continue to thrive, as they had begun, there would not be room for both.

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.The sentence that was left incomplete in Genesis 36:2 is now resumed and completed. His departure from Kenaan is ascribed to the abounding wealth of himself and his brother. What remained in the hands of Isaac was virtually Jacob's, though he had not yet entered into formal possession of it. Mount Seir is the range of hills extending from the Elanitic Gulf to the Salt Sea; the northern part of which is called Jebal Γεβαλήνη Gebalénē and the southern part esh-Sherah, and parallel to which on the west lies Wady Arabah. In this range is situated the celebrated rock city, Sela or Petra, adjacent to Mount Hor.6, 7. Esau … went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob—literally, "a country," without any certain prospect of a settlement. The design of this historical sketch of Esau and his family is to show how the promise (Ge 27:39, 40) was fulfilled. In temporal prosperity he far exceeds his brother; and it is remarkable that, in the overruling providence of God, the vast increase of his worldly substance was the occasion of his leaving Canaan and thus making way for the return of Jacob. 1740


1. Why went he thither?

Answ. Partly by his own choice, that wild and mountainous country being very commodious for hunting, to which he wholly addicted himself; partly by his wives’ persuasions, who were both utterly averse from cohabitation with Isaac or Jacob, and strongly inclined to their own country; but principally from the secret conduct of Divine Providence, thus accomplishing his promises. See Joshua 24:4 Malachi 1:3.


2. When went he thither?

Answ. He went thither before this time in discontent at his parents, and dwelt in Seir before Jacob’s return to Canaan, as appears from Genesis 32:3 33:14,16; yet so as he came sometimes to Canaan, and to his father’s house, and did not quit his interest in his father’s estate. But when his father was dead, and Jacob and he agreed about the partition of the estate, he did totally and finally forsake Canaan, partly, for the reason here following; partly, for the other reasons now alleged; and partly, to avoid all occasion both of communication and contention with his brother.

And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters,.... The names of his wives and sons are before given; but what were the names of his daughters, or their number, is not said:

and all the persons of his house: his menservants and maidservants that were born in his house, or bought with his money; the word for "persons" signifies "souls" (o), and is sometimes used for slaves that are bought and sold, see Ezekiel 27:13,

and his cattle, and all his beasts; his sheep and oxen, camels and asses:

and all his substance which he had got in the land of Canaan: before he went to Seir the first time, part of which he might leave behind in Canaan, with servants to improve it; and also that part of his father's personal estate which fell to him at his death, as well as what he might further acquire after his death, during his stay in Canaan:

and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob; not into another part of the same country; but into another country, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan supply it, and so the Arabic version, even unto Seir, as appears by what follows; and whither he had been before, and had obtained large possessions, and now having got all he could at his father's death, and collecting together all his other substance, thought fit to retire from thence to Seir, which he liked better, and for a reason afterwards given; God thus disposing his mind, and making the circumstances of things necessary, that he should remove in order to make way for Jacob, and his posterity, to dwell in a land which was designed for them: and so the Samaritan and Septuagint versions read it, "and he went out of the land of Canaan": and the Syriac version is, "and he went to the land of Seir". Some render the words to this sense, that he went thither "before the coming of Jacob" (p); and it is true that he did go thither before his brother came again into Canaan; but of this the text speaks not, for what follows will not agree with it; others better, "because of Jacob" (q); not for fear of him, as the Targum of Jonathan, which paraphrases the words,"for the terror of his brother Jacob was cast upon him;''but because he knew, by the blessing of his father, and the oracle of God, and his concurring providence in all things, that the land of Canaan belonged to him, and also for a reason that follows.

(o) "animus", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (p) "ante adventum", Jahakobi, Junius & Tremellius. (q) "Propter Jacobum", Piscarat.

And 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 {c} went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob.

(c) In this, God's providence appears, which causes the wicked to give place to the godly, that Jacob might enjoy Canaan according to God's promise.

6–8. Esau in Mount Seir

6. a land away from his brother Jacob] The Syr. reads “the land of Seir,” which is possibly the original reading. The Lat. abiit in alteram regionem. The present passage ignores the previous mention of Esau’s residence in “the land of Seir, the field of Edom,” Genesis 32:3. Seir was the mountainous country between the Dead Sea and the Elamitic Gulf.

Verse 6. - And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons (literally, souls) of his house, and his cattle (mikneh), and all his beasts (behe-mah), and all his substance (literally, all his acquisitions), which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country - literally, into a land; not ἐκ τῆς γῆς (LXX.), or in alteram regionem (Vulgate), but either into the land, so. of Seir (Keil), or, taking the next as a qualifying clause, into a land apart (Murphy, Lange) - from the face of - or, on account of (Rosenmüller, Kalisch) - his brother Jacob. Genesis 36:6Esau'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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