Genesis 35:16-36:43 ~ 20080427 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

4/27 Genesis 35:16-36:43 Conclusion of Isaac's line; Book of Esau's line

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’

1. The account of the line of the heavens and the earth 2:4—4:26

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created,’

2. The account of Adam’s line 5:1—6:8

This is the book of the generations of Adam.’

3. The account of Noah’s line 6:9—9:29

These are the generations of Noah.’

4. The account of the line of Noah’s sons 10:1—11:9

These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.’

5. The account of Shem’s line 11:10—26

These are the generations of Shem.’

6. The account of Terah’s line 11:27—25:11

Now these are the generations of Terah.’

7. The account of Ishmael’s line 25:12— 18

These are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s servant, bore to Abraham.’

8. The account of Isaac’s line 25:19—35:29

These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son:’

9. The account of Esau’s line 36: 1—37:1

These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).’

10. The account of Jacob’s line 37:2—50:26

These 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! Jesus said:

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.

16 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.

Benjamin 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 said:

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!”

These 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.

21 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.

Reuben 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.

Jacob's family now complete, the 12 sons are listed, grouped by their mothers:

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.

Then 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.

This closes the account of Isaac's descendants that started back in:

Genesis 25:19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son

Jacob has 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 home.

Now the narrative moves to summarize Esau's descendants, before focusing our attention for the rest of the book on the descendants of Israel.

Genesis 36:1-8 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.”

And when Isaac blessed Esau, he said:

Genesis 27:39-40 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:

Deuteronomy 2:4-6 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.

Like Ishmael before him, God has made promises to bless even the unbelieving line and he will keep those promises.

Genesis 36:9-14 Esau's descendants

9 ¶ 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.

Genesis 36:15-19 The Edomite chiefs

15 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 their chiefs.

So 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.

Genesis 36:20-30 The Horite chiefs

20 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.

These are the occupants of the land that is to be Esau's. Moses tells us in Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 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.)

As 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.

Next 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.

Genesis 36:31-39 the Edomite kings

31 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.

Then we have another list of the chiefs of Esau, this time organized according to their locations:

Genesis 36:40-43 the Edomite chiefs according to their places

40 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 their possession.

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:

Hebrews 12:16-17 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 morning.

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.

When the 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 works.

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 to repentance?

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.”

Esau experienced 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!