Before we turn the corner on the life of Jacob and begin to delve into that of Joseph, Moses provides the extensive genealogy of Esau. Here is a taste of what the chapter holds:
These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. And Adah bore to Esau, Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan. Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together. The land of their sojournings could not support them because of their livestock. So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom.)
Genesis 36:1-8 ESV
Esau is Edom
Written by Moses after 400 years of slavery, God knew that the Israelites would need a reminder of their heritage. They’d heard about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They knew about Joseph and his brothers, but did they remember much about Esau? Maybe not, since we know little about him after he’d been denied his birthright and blessing by his twin brother, Jacob. That does not mean, however, that Esau’s descendants, the cousins of the Hebrews, would never meet again.
No, for this reason, it’s mentioned three times in chapter thirty-six: Esau is Edom. You see it in the passage at the beginning of the chapter and again at the end after listing all the kings and chiefs of Edom:
These are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession.Genesis 36:43
Edom and the Edomites are mentioned one hundred and thirty times in the Bible. They would be an important group of neighbors to Israel.
They are your brothers.
The Edomites would occupy a land through which the Israelites must pass on their way back to the promised land. Moses, in recounting their journey, reminded them of this fact:
“You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful. Do not contend with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.
“You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land. 8 Children born to them in the third generation may enter the assembly of the Lord.
God would deal with Edom.
But Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through, lest I come out with the sword against you.” And the people of Israel said to him, “We will go up by the highway, and if we drink of your water, I and my livestock, then I will pay for it. Let me only pass through on foot, nothing more.” But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory, so Israel turned away from him.Numbers 20:18-21
For this slight between family members, God would speak through his prophets against Edom on multiple occasions. They would pay the price for hindering the return of the chosen tribes of God.Esau was blessed with many children and a great land but hated due to his disobedience and rejection of the God of his father.
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
Esau is the father of Edom.
Grace and Peace