Genesis 36:1-43

1 Now this is the genealogy of Esau, who is Edom.

Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite; Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;

and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth.

Now Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore Reuel.

And Aholibamah bore Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. These were 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 persons of his household, his cattle and all his animals, and all his goods which he had gained in the land of Canaan, and went to a country away from the presence of his brother Jacob.

For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together, and the land where they were strangers could not support them because of their livestock.

So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. Esau is Edom.

And this is the genealogy of Esau the father of the Edomites in Mount Seir.

10 These were the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, and Reuel the son of Basemath the wife of Esau.

11 And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz.

12 Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife.

13 These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife.

14 These were the sons of Aholibamah, Esau’s wife, the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon. And she bore to Esau: Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah.

15 These were the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz, the firstborn son of Esau, were Chief Teman, Chief Omar, Chief Zepho, Chief Kenaz,

16 Chief Korah, Chief Gatam, and Chief Amalek. These were the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom. They were the sons of Adah.

17 These were the sons of Reuel, Esau’s son: Chief Nahath, Chief Zerah, Chief Shammah, and Chief Mizzah. These were the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom. These were the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife.

18 And these were the sons of Aholibamah, Esau’s wife: Chief Jeush, Chief Jaalam, and Chief Korah. These were the chiefs who descended from Aholibamah, Esau’s wife, the daughter of Anah.

19 These were the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these were their chiefs.

20 These were the sons of Seir the Horite who inhabited the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah,

21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir, in the land of Edom.

22 And the sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam. Lotan’s sister was Timna.

23 These were the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam.

24 These were the sons of Zibeon: both Ajah and Anah. This was the Anah who found the water in the wilderness as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon.

25 These were the children of Anah: Dishon and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah.

26 These were the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran.

27 These were the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.

28 These were the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran.

29 These were the chiefs of the Horites: Chief Lotan, Chief Shobal, Chief Zibeon, Chief Anah,

30 Chief Dishon, Chief Ezer, and Chief Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, according to their chiefs in the land of Seir.

31 Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel:

32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhabah.

33 And when Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place.

34 When Jobab died, Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place.

35 And when Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who attacked Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his place. And the name of his city was Avith.

36 When Hadad died, Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place.

37 And when Samlah died, Saul of Rehoboth-by-the-River reigned in his place.

38 When Saul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place.

39 And when Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor died, Hadar reigned in his place; and the name of his city was Pau. His wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab.

40 And these were the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their families and their places, by their names: Chief Timnah, Chief Alvah, Chief Jetheth,

41 Chief Aholibamah, Chief Elah, Chief Pinon,

42 Chief Kenaz, Chief Teman, Chief Mibzar,

43 Chief Magdiel, and Chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession. Esau was the father of the Edomites.

By the time Isaac died, when Jacob and Esau spent some time together in connection with Isaac’s burial, Esau and Jacob were each 120 years old (Genesis 25:26; 35:28). Esau had been married for eighty years (Genesis 26:34), whereas Jacob had been married less than forty. Esau, consequently, had at least a full generation of descendants more than Jacob, and this fact is reflected in the extensive list of names given in this chapter. … It is also probably that Moses later augmented these original records with additional data that had come into his possession. by Moses’ time, the descendants of Esau (by then known as the Edomites) were a nation of considerable concern to the Israelites. — Morris, page 525.


[There is an] apparent contradiction between the names of Esau’s wives as given here [Aholibamah, daughter of Anah; Adah, daughter of Elon; Bashemath, daughter of Ismael] and as given in Genesis 26:34 [Judith, daughter of Beeri; Bashemath, daughter of Elon] and 28:9 [Mahalath, daughter of Ismael].

Comparison of the names above indicates that, probably, Judith is the same as Aholibamah; Bashemath, daughter of Elon, is the same as Adah; and Bashemath, daughter of Ishmael, is the same as Mahalath. That it was not uncommon for one person to have two names is well known. The women were probably known by the first set of names early in their lives (when Jacob had known them, as recorded in his “generations”), and by the second set of names later, at the time Esau wrote them down in his “generations.” It is possible that the women were given new names at the time of marriage, and the first set of names corresponded to their unmarried, given names. Similarly, Beeri must have been the same man as Anah.

Aholibamah is also said to have been the “daughter” of Zibeon, but since she is clearly the daughter of Anah (v.25), she must have been the daughter of Zibeon in the sense of being his descendant, probably his granddaughter. The fathers of Esau’s first two wives were said to  be Hittites (Genesis 26:34), but one of them here (v.2) is said to be a Hivite and also (v.20) a Horite (the same people known to archaeologists as Hurrians). All three groups were scattered throughout Canaan, and were Canaanite tribes; so there was undoubtedly much intermarriage among them, and the names were frequently used interchangeably.

Esau had five sons and an unknown number of daughters, as well as many servants and much cattle. After realizing that Jacob was destined to be the heir of Isaac and to possess the land of Canaan, he realized there would not be enough room for both of them, so began to move southward into the mountainous regions southeast of the Dead Sea. Both he and Isaac, and Jacob when he returned, were still “strangers” (foreigners) in these lands, owning little property of their own but pasturing their flocks and herds wherever there was room for them.

The region into which Esau (also known as Edom) migrated had previously been settled by the descendants of Seir, and the central range of mountains had come to be known as Mount Seir. To some extent the children of Esau had subjugated the Horites (equivalent to Horims, or Hurrians) by force (Deuteronomy 2:12, 22), but perhaps to an even greater extent had essentially assimilated them through intermarriage, so that the people eventually known as Edomites were a misture of Semitic (through Isaac and Esau) and Canaanitic (through Seir) inheritance. — Morris, page 527.


The listing of Korah as one of the dukes in the family of Eliphz (when he is not listed in v.11 as one of Eliphaz’ natural sons) is probably best explained by assuming he was Eliphaz’ son-in-law. It is interesting that the name of Eliphaz’ concubine, Timna, is given, whereas that of his wife is not given. [Perhaps] this is because of the future prominence of her son, Amalek, who became the ancestor of the notorious Amalekites, the inveterate enemies of Israel in later years. The mention of Amalekites at the time of Abram (Genesis 14:7) is presumably an editorial addition by Moses to identify the region as it was known in his day. … The Amalekites in general lived west of the rest of the Edomites. — Morris, pages 527-528.


chiefs (v.15) — The word translated “chiefs” (“dukes” in the KJV) means leader. It’s literal meaning is “ox.” Bultema says:

The ox was in Israel the leading and most useful animal which first in plowing and threshing gave the main pull and thus it became the symbol of a leader of the people. It became even the letter of the alphabet which once had the form of an ox head. The dukes of Edom then were … leaders of their people. — Bultema, page 67.


If we assume [verses 31-35] to be an insertion of Moses, it is interesting to see that he began by stating these kings of the Edomites reigned long before there was any king in Israel. Of course, the Israelites had no kings even in Moses’ time, but Moses did know prophetically that they eventually would have kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).  …

It is interesting that the Edomite kings never became a family dynasty. When each king died, another unrelated individual acceded to the throne, probably by force of arms. Altogether, eight such kings are listed. The fact that each king died is also noted, except in the case of the last one, Hadar, who [may have been] still alive at the time Moses wrote. Three of them are listed as having a particular city of their own; there was evidently no permanent capital city in Edom. … The Midianites lived south of Edom, and the Moabites north of Edom. It seems probable that the Midianites during this period had swept northward through Edom (or perhaps around to the east of Edom’s mountains) on a mission of conquest into Moab, and that Hadad had taken his own army into Moab to defeat them (v.35). — Morris, pages 530-531.


… Most of these “generations of Esau,” including the material from about 36:15 through 36:43 (most of it, at least), have been incorporated in the genealogical lists of 1 Chronicles 1:35-54. — Morris, page 531.

After reading this chapter, my response was “So what?” Morris’ attempt to explain its inclusion on the basis that God is concerned with each individual obviously doesn’t hold water—millions of people aren’t listed in the Bible. Wechsler, however, addresses it convincingly.

Just as for Ishmael in Genesis 25:12-18, so too here for Esau we are presented with a record of the generations of the older brother who was not chosen by God as a link in the line of Promise (i.e., the Abrahamic Covenant). One of the purposes for this—which is in the main a purpose shared by the genealogy of Ismael—is to bear out the fulfillment of God’s word concerning the older brother, that his descendants would likewise come to constitute a nation. There is, however, an important difference: whereas Ismael is blessed by God and promised to become a great nation (see Genesis 17:20)—ensuring that his descendants will be eternally represented in God’s Kingdom— Esau is simply declared to become a “nation” (Genesis 25:23), without explicit connection to divine blessing; and in fact Esau’s descendants—i.e., the nation of Edom (36:8)—are eventually wiped out as a distinct people because of their opposition to the LORD and His people (see Malachi 1:3-4).

it will also be observed that the presentation of Esau’s “generations” is roughly six times longer than that of Ishmael, the reason having to do with the nature (both immediate-practical and general-theological) of two addition purposes unique to the genealogy of Esau. The first of these concerns the sons of Seir the Horite presented in verses 20-30. Though Seir was not a descendant in the Abrahamic line, his descendants, as we’ve seen here, became interlinked with those of Esau through intermarriage with Esau’s descendants. Among the descendants common to both was Amalek, the son of Esau’s son Eliphaz and Seir’s daughter Timna (vs. 12, 22). Now because the descendants of Esau (i.e., the Edomites) became more numerous and prominent than the descendants of Seir, the entire region, which included the dwelling place of the sons of Seir, was designated after the former—i.e., the land of Edom (v.21)—and its inhabitants, though not all linked to Esau, known generally as “Edomites,” and in particular “Amalekites,” since these latter became the predominant tribe among the Edomites (analogous to the eventual use of the term “Judean” [hence, “Jew”] for a descendant of any of the 12 tribes). Amalek, however, was one of the few tribes cursed by God with complete annihilation (at the hands of Israel) because of their extreme perversity and opposition to His people (see Exodus 17:14), yet had the specific details of Amalek’s descent, together with those of Seir, not been here presented, the Israelites would inevitably have killed all those people known after the predominant tribe as “Amalekites” who were not in fact related to the Amalekites at all.  These details thus serve the binary purpose of preventing the Israelites from the sin (albeit committed in ignorance) of “shedding innocent blood” (cf. Deuteronomy19:10; 21:7-9) and exemplifying God’s discriminating application of justice (as earlier affirmed by Abraham in Genesis 18:23).

The second purpose unique to Esau’s genealogy concerns the kings who reigned in the land of Edom presented in verses 31-39. The eight kings enumerated (Bela, Jobab, Husham, Hadad, Samlah, Shaul, Baal-hanan, and Hadar) provide a striking contrast with the monarchy later established in Israel. Each of these kings of Edom epitomizes enthronement by human effort, since each one of them is explicitly associated with a different city (and not all of them in Edom, at that, such as Bozrah, which is in Moab (see Jeremiah 48:24), hence discounting genealogical succession, whereas the later monarchy of Israel epitomizes enthronement by divine effort, since it is founded, maintained, and in the end personally upheld by God alone (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-16). Indeed, this contrast is even more vividly borne out by explicit statement that these eight Edomite kings reigned well before any king reigned over the sons of Israel (i.e., they had a substantial “head-start” of the Israelite monarchy), yet already by the eighth king in the true Israelite (Judaean) monarchy—i.e., Jehoshaphat (those before him being Asa, Abijah, Rehoboam, Solomon, David, Ish-bosheth, and Saul)—there was no longer any king in Edom (1 Kings 22:47), thus also bearing out the fulfillment of God’s declaration in Genesis 25:23b. — Wechsler, pages 244-246.

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