Genesis 36:7
For 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.
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(7) The land wherein they were strangers.—The large growth of their wealth made the separation of Esau and Jacob as inevitable as had been that of Abraham and Lot. It is a usual incident in the life of nomads, and a tribe can multiply only to the extent of the capabilities of their district to support them. When this is reached, one portion of the tribe must seek a new home. This necessity was in the present case aggravated by Esau and Jacob being only sojourners in Canaan, surrounded by tribes who claimed to be owners of the soil: and this may have helped in determining Esau’s choice; for in right of Aholibamah, he was in her country a duke. Maimonides also observes, that though Esau had gone on hunting expeditions to Seir, and even possibly for plunder, yet that he was not sufficiently powerful to take possession of the country until by Isaac’s death the number of his retainers was largely multiplied.

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. Which words contain the reason why that land which was large and fruitful could not bear them, because they were not entire possessors of it, but only sojourners in it, and therefore must take the owners’ leavings, which were not sufficient for both of them and their numerous families.

For their riches were more than that they might dwell together,.... And therefore it was proper to part, as Abraham and Lot had done before, Genesis 13:6,

and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them, because of their cattle; their cattle were so numerous that they could not get pasturage for them, there not being enough left them by the inhabitants of it for them to occupy; nor could they hire land of them sufficient for them both; they being not possessors but sojourners in it, and therefore could have no more of it than the inhabitants thought fit to let unto them.

For 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.
7. For their substance was too great] The departure of Esau into Seir is here explained as necessitated by the growing wealth of Esau and Jacob in Canaan: cf. the separation of Abraham and Lot in ch. 13. Obviously the explanation given here does not agree with the representation in Genesis 32:3 and Genesis 33:14-16. “Substance,” cf. Genesis 12:5, Genesis 15:14.

Verse 7. - For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers - literally, of their wanderings (cf. Genesis 28:4; Genesis 37:1) - could not bear them because of their cattle. This does not necessarily imply that Jacob was established in Canaan before Esau removed. Esau may have recognized the impossibility of two so rich and powerful chieftains as himself and his brother occupying Canaan, and may have retired Before Jacob actually took possession (Keil, Inglis). Genesis 36:7Esau'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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