Genesis | Chapter 36

Genesis 36:1-43

“The history of the profane”

I. Intro.

II. Vs. 1-8 From the land of promise to the land of compromise

III. Vs. 9-19 Mighty men of a weaker character

IV. Vs. 20-43 Cave dwellers to Kings

I. Intro.

Genesis records history & history is His-story. Not just of godly men & their successes but of ordinary sinful men. One thing is certain, God & men evaluate the their deeds very differently. I suppose if you were to look through Esau’s High school yearbook “The Promise Land Pillars” you would find his picture every where. He would be the captain of his sports team, the most popular kid on campus, voted most likely to succeed. But what happened to Esau? Well that depends upon whose perspective your are looking from:

  • From the perspective of his ancestors, the Edomites, he became very worldly successful.
  • From the perspective of Israel (his brother) Esau had everything except the one thing that mattered the most a relationship with God.
  • From the perspective of the Lord Esau got what he wanted the blessings of inheritance with out spiritual responsibility.

To me there is a profound sadness as I look at the picture of Esau. The truth is that he is the guy I most wanted to be like in school the man who had everything going for him.

  • Esau is a man who is empty even while his glass is full.
  • He is living life without ever knowing what it is all about.
  • He has a never-ending source of things to fill his life up with but they never satisfy.
  • He spends his life thinking he has everything & never finds out that everything he had never mattered.

The famous criminal lawyer Clarance Darrow, who defended evolutionary teaching in the public schools, had a friend who was a young pastor. They were speaking one day on Mr. Darrow’s career & some of his famous trials. When he concluded he asked the pastor if he knew what his favorite bible verse was, the pastor replied that he did not know. “Well it’s Luke 5:5 “…we toiled all night and caught nothing..” The young pastor was puzzled & asked why that was his favorite verse to which Mr. Darrow said, “It spite of all of my success this verse seems to sum up the way I feel about my life.” This is the lesson that Esau & his descendents teach us, “No matter how much money you make, how much stuff you obtain if you leave God out of your life in the end your life will amount to noting.” Henry Ford who was famous for his little sayings said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Perhaps we can look at Esau & learn from him & begin again more intelligently!

II. Vs. 1-8 From the land of promise to the land of compromise

Vs. 1-8 The first eight verses of this chapter deal with Esau’s history while he was still in Canaan close to his parents. In verses 9-14 we are told of his history while in Mount Seir after Jacob came back into the land promised to him by the Lord. From verse 15-30 we are given a genealogy from that time to the end of Jacob’s life. Finally in verses 31-43 Moses writes an epilogue from where Jacob had left off to the present as they were passing through the area of the Edomites on the way to the land of promise.

​Again remember that it is Jacob that writes this section about his brother just prior to giving the history of his family & their moving to the land of Egypt. Reading this chapter in the midst of the life of the people of faith serves us in much the same way that a car that has been pulled over by a police officer does. It reminds us to slow down & obey the law or this too will happen to us!

Right in the first verse we are told that Esau is Edom as well as the fact that the two Canaanite women that Esau married were a Hittite & a Hivite both of which were extremely wicked peoples & enemies of Israel. We know that Esau married them both when he was around 40 & 18 years latter married Basemath the daughter of Ishmael. Esau married these ladies without any consideration of what the Lord wanted nor what his family wanted. As such we can see a lot about this early family of Esau in the names. In comparing the names of his wives in chapter 26:34 & 28:9 seem to be in conflict with the names here several possibilities exist to why:

  1. It was not uncommon for names to change later in life (Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel).
  2. It is possible that Esau had more then just three wives.
  3. It could also be that the names in one section are their names in Hebrew & the other is their name in their native tongues (Daniel is called Belteshazzar in the Chaldean language).

Here then is what their names mean:

    • Aw-daw’ = ornament
    • O’-hol-e-ban-maw’ = tent of height
    • Bos-math’ = fragrance
    • El=ee-faz’ = god of gold
    • Yeh-oosh’ = hasty
    • Yah-lawm = occult
    • Reh-oo-ale’ = friend of gods
    • Ko’-rakh = ice.

Vs. 6-8 bring us to the place where Esau separated from his brother leaving behind the land of promise. In 28:4 God had promised Jacob the land & only now does he receive it. Now think ahead to the present day & the entire dispute over the land that Israel now occupies. The Edomites have been fighting with Israel over the land that their forefather gave up all rights too choosing instead to live South of the Dead Sea. Go back to chapter 27:38 & remember the concern of Jacob as his father had given the rights of the first born to Jacob & not him, “Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me; me also, O my father!” He was blessed but he was blessed in the only way that he cared to “materially”.

Oh dear Christian be careful of what you ask for as you may receive it!

​In Deut 2:1-7, 23:7 & Num. 20:14 God commands Israel not to attack nor take any of the Edomites land. Those words pinned by Moses were written just prior to entering the land of promise as they were in the land of Esau’s descendents. They were to wipe out the Canaanites in the land but not touch the Edomites. We are told in Numbers 20 & 21 that as they went through this area that the Edomites refused to let them pass through their land, which caused the Israel great grief. But still God spoke to them too “not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother.” (Deut. 23:7). Here is the point, you can’t change how someone treats you can only change how you react to them! Israel was to treat the Edomites as their brothers in spite of how they treat Israel! There is no doubt that Moses read this section (perhaps often ) to the nation as their cousins mistreated them.

​Amazing how God holds us to a higher standard isn’t it? You could look at the Edomites & they had everything, they looked as if they had everything going for them. They had been in their own land & country hundreds of years while Israel was in bondage to Egypt. They outwardly looked as if they were God’s chosen nation & not Israel & when Israel only asks to go through their land they are refused & God says don’t miss treat those cousins of yours. “Hey, Lord what about us aren’t we suppose to be the apple of your eye?” The difference is in the truth that he is interested in the eternal qualities of a heavenly nature & not the temporal blessings of a life of ease. What’s more valuable a candy bar or a bar of gold?

III. Vs. 9-19 Mighty men of a weaker character

Vs. 1-14 Jacob now moves to Esau’s growth while living in Mount Seir South East of the Dead Sea & in verse 11-14 we are told the important names. Briefly I will go through this:

Reh-oo-ale’ = friend of gods who was Esau’s son through Ishmael’s daughter Basemath (Mahalth) had four sons:

  1. Nakh’-ath (quite)
  2. Zeh’-rakh
  3. Sham-man’
  4. Miz-zan’ (terror)

Aholibamah (Judith) O’-hol-e-ban-maw’ (tent of height) Esau’s wife who was a Hivite had three sons Yeh-oosh’ = hasty, Yah-lawm = occult & Ko’-rakh = ice. Their children are not given.

El-ee-faz’ = god of gold, Esau’s son through Adah the Hittite has six sons five through his wife & one through a concubine named Tim-naw * (restraint) they are:

  1. Tay-mawn
  2. O-mawr (talkative)
  3. Tsef-o (observant)
  4. Gah-tawm’
  5. Ken-az’ (hunter)
  6. * Am-an-lake’

Vs. 15-19 Here we see those names that rose to the rank as chief amongst their people as they ruled over many families. What is interesting in this genealogy is Esau’s wives names are used to reference to the leader which shows the Edomites linked their ancestry through maternal descent & not paternal. It is interesting to me to note the differences between the descendants of Jacob & the descendants of Esau; Esau’s descendants seemed to like the title’s where you don’t see that with Jacob’s ancestors. This is further picked up by the prophet Obadiah who says in 1: 1,3-4 “Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom …Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” says the LORD.” The pride of their heart was a declaration of their independence from God, as they declared that they did not need God, & could live without Him. This is why the prophet declared Mal 1:3 & Paul quoted it again in Roman’s 9:13 “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” The word hated actually means “loves less” Esau stands as a man & typology of those that whose pride & self-sufficiency keep them from God. Well did James say, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

IV. Vs. 20-43 Cave dwellers to Kings

Vs. 20-30 It is not apparent at first glance why this group of ancestors are included into the lineage of Esau until you come down to verse 22 & find out that one of the sons of Seir was Lotan whose sister was Timna who was the concubine of Eliphaz & the mother of Amalek. When Esau & his clan moved to Mount Seir they moved back into Horite  “cave dweller” lands that had been settled by Seir. He had seven sons who gave him 19 grandsons:

  1. Lo-tawn (covering) who had two sons: Kho-ree & Hay-mawn’
  2. Sho-bawl’ (overflowing) who had five sons: Al-vawn (lofty), Maw-nakh (rest), Ay-bawl (bald), Shef-O’ (baldness), O-nawm’ (strong).
  3. Tsib-owe’ (variegated) who had two sons: Ah-yaw, & An-aw’ (answer).
  4. An-aw (answer) who had two children a son named Dee-shone & a daughter named O’-hol-e-baw-naw (tall tent) who was Esau’s wife.
  5. Dee-shone had four sons: Nhem-dawn (pleasant) Esh-bawn’ (vigorous), Yith-rawn’ (excellent) & Cheran.
  6. Ay’-tser (treasure) had three sons: Bil-hawn (timid), Zah-au-awn (disquiet), Aw-kawn’ (tortuous).
  7. Dee-shawn has two sons: Uwts (consultation) & Ar-awn (shrill).
  8. Of note here is Uwts as it is believed that Job came from the land that bares his name.

Vs. 31-39 This appears to be where Moses inserted the rest of the names at the time of the Exodus knowing the Israelites would encounter their cousins in the wilderness & need to treat them in accordance to God’s word. Of even more curiosity are the words of Moses that says, “before any king reigned over the children of Israel”. Moses prophesies that one-day Israel would want a king over them even though at that time they did not.

Vs. 40-43 the purpose of listing these folks yet again is to link them to areas of land that their ancestors occupied so that Israel would behave properly towards them when they encountered them.