Genesis 36
Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.
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.

Esau 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;
If this account be compared with that Genesis 26:34, we shall find some difficulties, which yet admit of an easy reconciliation, if these things be considered.

1. That it is very usual, and confessed by all, that the same persons are oft called by several names.

2. That the names of some persons are in Scripture given to others, because of a great resemblance between them. Upon which account the parents of the Israelites are called Armorites and Hittites, Ezekiel 16:3; and the governors of Jerusalem are called the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaiah 1:10; and John the Baptist is called Elias, Matthew 17:12.

3. That the same men ere ofttimes denominated from several countries, as Christ is noted to have a threefold country in Scripture; Bethlehem by his birth, Nazareth by his education, and Capernaum by his much residence and preaching there.

4. That the same names are sometimes common to men and women.

5. That persons are called the children, not only of their immediate parents, but of their grandparents, and of those who adopted them. These things premised, the seeming contradictions objected by infidels do vanish. She who was properly called Judith, Genesis 26:24, is here called Aholibamah, a name which seems to be given her either by Isaac or by Moses, from her settledness in her idolatrous courses. And Adah was also called Bashemath, Genesis 26:34; and Mahalath, Ishmael’s daughter, was called Bashemath, either because in her principles and manners she resembled Esau’s other wife so called, or to show that Ishmael’s marriage to a third wife was no less opprobrious to him and displeasing to his parents than the former.

Anah, a man, and the son of Zibeon, as appears from Genesis 35:24, called here a Hivite, is called Beeri the Hittite, Genesis 26:34, either because those two people were mixed together in habitation and by marriage, or because the one people were larger than the other, and comprehended under their name, or because he was a Hivite by birth, a Hittite by habitation or incorporation with them. Hence also we may learn how Aholibamah here comes to be the daughter both of Anah and of Zibeon; the one being either the natural or proper father, and the other either the grandfather, or father by adoption.

And Bashemath Ishmael's daughter, sister of Nebajoth.
1760 No text from Poole on this verse.

And Adah bare to Esau Eliphaz; and Bashemath bare Reuel;
Eliphaz, the progenitor of that Eliphaz, Job 2:11.

Reuel, the father of Jethro. See Exodus 2:18 Numbers 10:29.

And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these are the sons of Esau, which were born unto him in the land of Canaan.
He had also daughters, Genesis 36:6, though their names be not here mentioned.

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.


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.

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.
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.

Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.
This seems to be mentioned by the Holy Ghost by way of contempt or reproach; this is he who sold his birthright for a mess of red pottage, and therefore was called

Edom or red.

And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir:
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These 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.
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And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz.
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And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau's son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau's wife.
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And these are the sons of Reuel; Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah: these were the sons of Bashemath Esau's wife.
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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.
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These were dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn son of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz,
1715 These were dukes, princes or heads of their several families and little principalities, according to the manner of those times, who ruled their dominions, either severally, each his own, or jointly, by common advice, or it may be under one chief prince, their superior either in title or in power. And in this division Eliphaz, as he was Esau’s first-born, so he had more than a double portion, his six sons being made dukes, as Esau’s immediate sons were. Compare 1 Chronicles 5:1.

Duke 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.
Korah is not mentioned among the sons of Eliphaz, and therefore is thought to be his grandson. There is another Korah, Genesis 36:14,18.

And 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.
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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.
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These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes.
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These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah,
1840 The sons of Seir are here mentioned, partly because of their alliance with Esau’s family, Genesis 35:2,20,22,24,25, and partly because the government was translated from his to Esau’s family.

Who inhabited the land, and ruled there, till Esau and his posterity drove them out, Deu 2:12,22.

And Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan: these are the dukes of the Horites, the children of Seir in the land of Edom.
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And the children of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan's sister was Timna.
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And the children of Shobal were these; Alvan, and Manahath, and Ebal, Shepho, and Onam.
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And 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.
Mules; so most understand the word Jemim, which is no where else used, and give this sense of it, that he found out the way of the generation of mules by the copulation of a horse and a mare. Others render it waters, that he found out some springs of water, which in those hot countries were rare and precious; or hot waters, some hot and medicinal springs. But the Chaldee renders it giants, and the Samaritan version Emims, a sort of giants mentioned Deu 2:10,11; who also were neighbours to the Horites here spoken of, as appears from Genesis 14:5,6; and therefore might, according to the manner of those times, make inroads one upon another. So Jemim is put for Emim, either by an apocope of the first letter, or by the change of the Hebrew letter Jod into Aleph, both which are frequent among the Hebrews. And the sense is, that Anah the Horite found out the Emims; that is, he met with them, or came upon them suddenly, and smote them. In this sense the word finding is oft used, as Judges 1:5 1 Samuel 31:3 Psalm 21:8 Isaiah 10:10.

And the children of Anah were these; Dishon, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah.
The children, Heb. sons, though but one son be mentioned. Either then he had other sons not here expressed; or the plural number is put for the singular, as Genesis 21:7.

And these are the children of Dishon; Hemdan, and Eshban, and Ithran, and Cheran.
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The children of Ezer are these; Bilhan, and Zaavan, and Akan.
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The children of Dishan are these; Uz, and Aran.
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These are the dukes that came of the Horites; duke Lotan, duke Shobal, duke Zibeon, duke Anah,
1780 No text from Poole on this verse.

Duke Dishon, duke Ezer, duke Dishan: these are the dukes that came of Hori, among their dukes in the land of Seir.
Among other dukes which were in that country. Or, according to their dukedoms or principalities; the word duke being here put for dukedom as the word king is put for kingdom, Isaiah 23:15 Daniel 7:17.

And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.
He speaks of the posterity of Esau, who after they had subdued the Horites, erected a kingdom there.

Here profane wits triumph. How, say they, could Moses write this, when as yet there was no king in Israel?


1. The word may be taken for any chief governor, in which sense the title of king is given to Moses, Deu 33:5; and to the judges, Judges 17:6; and to others who were not kings, properly so called, Psalm 119:46 Luke 22:25 Acts 9:15, &c.

Answ. 2. Moses might well say thus, because he did by the Spirit of prophecy foresee, and therefore could foretell, that the Israelites would have a king, as appears from Deu 17:14,15.

Answ. 3. This, with other clauses of the same nature, might be inserted afterwards by some holy and inspired man of God, as it is confessed that part of the last chapter of Deuteronomy was.

And Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom: and the name of his city was Dinhabah.
Where he was born or dwelt, and so in the rest. The diversity of their cities makes it probable, that these kings had not their power by succession, but either by election, or by usurpation, according to Isaac’s prophecy of them, Genesis 27:40: By thy sword thou shalt live.

And Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his stead.
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And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his stead.
Of which land, see Jeremiah 49:7,20, so called either from the city Teman, or from Teman the son of Eliphaz, Genesis 36:11. Or, of the south country, as the ancient translations render it.

And 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.
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And Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his stead.
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And Samlah died, and Saul of Rehoboth by the river reigned in his stead.
The river; either Euphrates, or a branch of it, called Chabras, by which there is even at this day a city called Rahabath-melic, i.e. King’s Rahabath, as the learned observe; or some other river of note in those times and parts.

And Saul died, and Baalhanan the son of Achbor reigned in his stead.
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And 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.

Matred was the father, and

Mezahab the mother; or

Matred was the mother, and

Mezahab the grandmother.

And 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,
1496 The names of the dukes, of their persons, and generations, and families. The state of Edom between the times of Esau and Moses seems to have been this; there were first dukes, then kings, and after them dukes again. But if it be objected, that the time was too short for a succession of so many persons, it may be replied, that what is confessed concerning the dukes preceding the kings, might be true also of these succeeding dukes, and that the Edomites either having taken some distaste at kingly government, or differing about the choice of a new king, divided themselves again into several petty principalities or dukedoms; and so several of those were dukes at the same time in divers parts.

Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon,
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Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar,
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Duke 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.
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Matthew Poole's Commentary

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