Genesis 35:16-36:43 Conclusion of Isaac's line; Book of Esau's
The book of
Genesis is structured around ten accounts of history or genealogies
specified by the Hebrew word hdlt
tôledôt ‘the account of’
or ‘the generations of’
The account of the line of the heavens and the earth 2:4—4:26
are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were
The account of Adam’s line 5:1—6:8
is the book of the generations of Adam.’
The account of Noah’s line 6:9—9:29
are the generations of Noah.’
The account of the line of Noah’s sons 10:1—11:9
are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.’
The account of Shem’s line 11:10—26
are the generations of Shem.’
The account of Terah’s line 11:27—25:11
these are the generations of Terah.’
The account of Ishmael’s line 25:12— 18
are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the
Egyptian, Sarah’s servant, bore to Abraham.’
The account of Isaac’s line 25:19—35:29
are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son:’
The account of Esau’s line 36: 1—37:1
are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).’
The account of Jacob’s line 37:2—50:26
are the generations of Jacob.’
Last time we saw
Jacob, now a broken old man, lead his family in the right direction
and do some spiritual housecleaning in preparation to meet with God.
Jacob was broken by God, but he had been broken in order to be
blessed. In spite of all his failures and shortcomings, we saw God
re-confirm his promises to him. Then we saw Deborah, Jacob's mother
Rebekah's nurse, die. She was buried at the Oak of Weeping. Jacob
has not had it easy. He has led a painful, difficult life. Yet he
has the promise of God's blessing and the comfort of God's presence
with him. God is at work in Jacob. God is working these painful
circumstances out for good in Jacob's life. And it's not over yet!
John 12:24 Truly,
truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth
and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
God is stripping
away those things that are distracting Jacob from following him.
Jacob is dying to self so that he can bear fruit for God.
Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance
from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. 17
And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do
not fear, for you have another son.” 18 And as her soul was
departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben–oni;
but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was
buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set
up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb,
which is there to this day.
was the only son born to Jacob in the promised land. Rachel, his
favorite wife had Joseph and now Benjamin. She chose the name
'Joseph' which means 'may the Lord add another son'. Before, she had
Genesis 30:1 When
Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister.
She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!”
words became prophetic, as she now dies in childbirth. As she was
dying, she named the boy 'Ben-oni' which means 'son of my suffering'
or 'misfortune'; but Jacob changed his name to 'Benjamin' which
means 'son of my right hand' or 'fortunate'. This is the only one of
his children that Jacob named. Jacob had to bury his dearest wife.
Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah
his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it.
was the firstborn son to Jacob by Leah, the unloved wife. Bilhah was
Rachel's handmaid. This was a political move on Reuben's part after
Rachel's death to dishonor Rachel's servant Bilhah so that she would
not become the chief wife. Reuben was attempting to seize leadership
of the family from Jacob at an opportune time. We are told that
Israel heard of it. But just as he did nothing when he heard of
Dinah's rape, he does nothing in response to this moral outrage. But
he will remember this when it comes time to bless his children.
Reuben, the firstborn son, has disqualified himself from his
position of leadership in the family by this incestuous adultery.
Levi and Simeon had disqualified themselves by their act of mass
murder. This leaves Judah as the next in line for leadership.
family now complete, the 12 sons are listed, grouped by their
Now the sons of
Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s
firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons
of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s
servant: Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s
servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born
to him in Paddan–aram.
the story jumps ahead to record an event that will take place about
12 or 13 years later in the chronology.
27 And Jacob came
to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath–arba (that is,
Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. 28 Now the days of
Isaac were 180 years. 29 And Isaac breathed his last, and he died
and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons
Esau and Jacob buried him.
closes the account of Isaac's descendants that started back in:
25:19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son
returned to the father that he had deceived. He has reconciled with
his brother Esau, and they are back together again at the burial of
their father. The same thing that was said of Abraham at his death
is now said of Isaac at his death – he was old and full of
days. He had lived a full life. And he had a peaceful passing. He
breathed his last, and was gathered to his people. He simply
transitioned from here to there. He followed in the faith of his
father Abraham, he had made peace with God, and God welcomed him
narrative moves to summarize Esau's descendants, before focusing our
attention for the rest of the book on the descendants of Israel.
Esau's wives and children and their settlement in Seir
1 ¶ These are
the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). 2 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, 3 and
Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. 4 And
Adah bore to Esau, Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; 5 and Oholibamah
bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were
born to him in the land of Canaan. 6 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. 7 For their possessions were too great for them to dwell
together. The land of their sojournings could not support them
because of their livestock. 8 So Esau settled in the hill country
of Seir. (Esau is Edom.)
As we have
already seen, Esau takes his wives from the corrupt culture that he
is surrounded by. But God has blessed Esau. Esau had so much
material blessing that he had to move away. We're not told why, but
he voluntarily vacates the promised land and settles in Seir to make
room for Jacob to possess the land. This is similar to the parting
of Abraham and Lot when Lot chose the plains of Sodom because they
were attractive and left Abraham God's promised land. Remember, God
had declared to Rebekah:
Genesis 25:23 And
the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two
peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger
than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
when Isaac blessed Esau, he said:
Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, away
from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from
the dew of heaven on high. 40 By your sword you shall live, and
you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall
break his yoke from your neck.”
Later, when the
children of Israel have left Egypt and are traveling back to the
promised land, God tells them:
and command the people, “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. 5 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. 6 You shall purchase food
from them for money, that you may eat, and you shall also buy water
of them for money, that you may drink.
Ishmael before him, God has made promises to bless even the
unbelieving line and he will keep those promises.
36:9-14 Esau's descendants
¶ These are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites
in the hill country of Seir. 10 These are the names of Esau’s
sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of
Basemath the wife of Esau. 11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar,
Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 12 (Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz,
Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These are the sons of
Adah, Esau’s wife. 13 These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath,
Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These are the sons of Basemath, Esau’s
wife. 14 These are the sons of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the
daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife: she bore to Esau Jeush,
Jalam, and Korah.
The Edomite chiefs
These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz the
firstborn of Esau: the chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16 Korah,
Gatam, and Amalek; these are the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of
Edom; these are the sons of Adah. 17 These are the sons of Reuel,
Esau’s son: the chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah;
these are the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the
sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. 18 These are the sons of
Oholibamah, Esau’s wife: the chiefs Jeush, Jalam, and Korah;
these are the chiefs born of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau’s
wife. 19 These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are
Esau has been blessed with many possessions and a large family, and
not only that, but his children become successful and powerful.
Remember that Esau is living in occupied territory. The next section
describes the existing power structure in the land.
36:20-30 The Horite chiefs
These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land:
Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are
the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22
The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan’s sister was
Timna. 23 These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal,
Shepho, and Onam. 24 These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah;
he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness, as he
pastured the donkeys of Zibeon his father. 25 These are the
children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26
These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27
These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 28 These are
the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These are the chiefs of the
Horites: the chiefs Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer,
and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, chief by chief in
the land of Seir.
are the occupants of the land that is to be Esau's. Moses tells us
2:12 The Horites also lived in Seir formerly, but the people of
Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them and
settled in their place, as Israel did to the land of their
possession, which the LORD gave to them.)
Isaac had predicted, Esau lived by the sword. He dispossessed the
inhabitants of the land by both military power and by intermarrying
with them. We see Oholibama, daughter of Anah and granddaughter of
Zibeon becomes Esau's wife, and Timnah becomes a concubine to Esau's
son Eliphaz, and produced the Amalekites.
we have a list of kings that reigned in Edom. King Saul, the first
king over Israel, was appointed around 1020 BC. These kings of Edom
probably began to reign some time around 1850 BC.
36:31-39 the Edomite kings
These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king
reigned over the Israelites. 32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in
Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. 33 Bela died, and Jobab
the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. 34 Jobab died, and
Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. 35 Husham
died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country
of Moab, reigned in his place, the name of his city being Avith. 36
Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. 37 Samlah
died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates reigned in his place.
38 Shaul died, and Baal–hanan the son of Achbor reigned in
his place. 39 Baal–hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar
reigned in his place, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s
name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.
we have another list of the chiefs of Esau, this time organized
according to their locations:
the Edomite chiefs according to their places
These are the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their clans
and their dwelling places, by their names: the chiefs Timna, Alvah,
Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43
Magdiel, and Iram; these are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the
father of Edom), according to their dwelling places in the land of
So what do we do
with all this? This is some really great information if you're into
ancient history and middle-eastern archeology, but what practical
value does it have for us today? It feels like we just read a page
ripped from a Cannanite phone book. Was that a big waste of time? We
believe that all scripture is God breathed and useful, so God must
have something he's trying to communicate to us today.
I think there's
quite a contrast here between Jacob and Esau. Jacob is an old man
walking with a limp. In many ways, he's made a mess of his life. His
family is a disaster. His daughter was raped, two of his sons became
mass-murderers, and his firstborn had sexual relations with his own
step-mother. Jacob's mother's nurse died, and now he has had to bury
his own favorite wife. And that's only the beginning. As we will
see, his boys continue to do horrible things. Esau, on the other
hand, comes out to meet Jacob with 400 men. He has a large family,
and all his kids seem to do very well. They become chiefs and take
over territory. They have a line of kings long before Israel is
organized in that way. In fact, in Numbers, the children of Israel
are seeking safe passage through the land of Edom, they are denied
and turned away.
Numbers 20:14 Moses
sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom: “Thus says
your brother Israel: You know all the hardship that we have met:
Numbers 20:21 Thus
Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory, so Israel
turned away from him.
But we know that
Esau despised his birthright. The author of Hebrews says:
that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his
birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when
he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no
chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
So we have the
believer whose life is a mess and seems to be falling apart, and we
have the unbeliever who seems to have it all together. This is the
view of Asaph in Psalm 73:
Psalm 73:1 Truly
God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as
for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the
wicked. 4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat
and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not
stricken like the rest of mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their
necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7 Their eyes swell
out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. 8 They
scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. 9
They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts
through the earth. 10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and
find no fault in them. 11 And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are
the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in
vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every
I thought coming
to Jesus would make my life better and things would go all right.
Instead, I'm a mess but the people who don't have Jesus in their
life seem to have things all together. He continues:
15 If I had
said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the
generation of your children. 16 But when I thought how to
understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went
into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly
you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19
How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself,
you despise them as phantoms.
psalmist stepped back and got an eternal perspective, it began to
make sense. Wicked people will be punished in the end, and those who
trust in Jesus will get to spend eternity in glory. Paul said:
Romans 8:18 For I
consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth
comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Look how the
psalmist describes what we have to look forward to:
21 When my soul
was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and
ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am
continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with
your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom
have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I
desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is
the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For behold,
those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone
who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your
Jesus said in
Matthew that God:
Matthew 5:45 For
he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on
the just and on the unjust.
Esau was an
unbeliever. He rejected God's grace. He had no interest in God. Yet
God allowed him to live and have a family and possessions and
prosper. This is sheer grace. Esau deserved hell. Yet God allowed
him to live a full life. Every good gift is from God.
Romans 2:4 Or do
you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and
patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you
God is rich in
kindness and forbearance and patience toward all men. We are all
sinners, and we all deserve hell. The fact that we aren't there
right now is evidence of God's grace and mercy toward us. That is
designed to lead people to recognize the good hand of God and give
him thanks. But instead we conclude that our sin isn't really that
bad or that God isn't really offended by it. That's where Esau was.
But God pursued Jacob and disciplined Jacob and weaned Jacob from
his prayerless thankless self-sufficient existence and brought him
to a low place where Jacob helplessly threw himself upon the mercy
of God and gave thanks to God for being with him and blessing him.
That's what Malachi points to when he says:
Malachi 1:2 “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 3 but Esau I have
hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to
jackals of the desert.”
my grace but he persisted in his unbelief. I left Esau to reap the
consequences of his sin. But I loved Jacob. I pursued Jacob. I
crushed Jacob so that I could bless Jacob. I brought Jacob to the
place where he turned to me in dependence and trust. I kept my
promises to Jacob. “I have loved you,” says the LORD!