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.)
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.
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. – Genesis 36:1-19 ESV
Isaac has died, leaving his son, Jacob (Israel) as the heir of his estate and the recipient of God’s covenant promises and all the blessings it entails. And as Moses prepares to record Israel’s history as the newly designated leader of the covenant community, he provides a brief recap of Esau’s life and lineage. As the firstborn son of Isaac, Esau had been the rightful heir to the birthright and the blessing, but Jacob had managed to manipulate and deceive his brother so that he took possession of both. While time had healed the rift between these two brothers, they would find themselves going their separate ways. This chapter provides insight into Esau’s fate and a brief description of his family tree.
These first 19 verses seem painfully redundant because they repeat the names of Esau’s wives and sons three separate times. The first five verses list the three wives of Esau and the five sons they bore to him. Then, in verses 6-8, Moses list the wives and sons again, but adds the names of the ten grandsons born to Esau.
It’s important to note that Esau was a son of Isaac and, therefore, still a legitimate conduit through whom God would fulfill His promise to Isaac of many offspring.
“I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…” – Genesis 26:4 ESV
The different between Esau’s descendants and those of his brother was that his sons and grandsons would not be considered part of the chosen nation. When Jacob had managed to deceive Isaac and steal his brother’s blessing, it had left Esau with nothing. When he begged Isaac to provide him with a blessing of his own, all he got was a rather weak consolation prize.
“You will live away from the richness of the earth,
and away from the dew of the heaven above.
You will live by your sword,
and you will serve your brother.
But when you decide to break free,
you will shake his yoke from your neck.” – Genesis 27:39-40 NLT
Not exactly the winning number to the lottery. But God would still bless Esau by providing him with five sons and 10 grandsons and, as the text makes clear, most of these men would grow up to be “the chiefs of the sons of Esau” (Genesis 36:15 ESV). They would become powerful leaders in their own right and from them would come many nations, including the Kenizzites, Edomites, and Amalekites.
While Jacob and Esau had mended their relationship, their descendants would never see eye to eye. In fact, a growing hostility would develop between the two groups, as they eventually found themselves fighting over the land of Canaan. It didn’t help that the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, became pagans, worshiping the false gods of the other nations inhabiting the land of promise. Eventually, the prophets Jeremiah and Obadiah issued prophetic pronouncements that warned of God’s judgment against them.
This message was given concerning Edom. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Is there no wisdom in Teman?
Is no one left to give wise counsel?
Turn and flee!
Hide in deep caves, you people of Dedan!
For when I bring disaster on Edom,
I will punish you, too!
Those who harvest grapes
always leave a few for the poor.
If thieves came at night,
they would not take everything.
But I will strip bare the land of Edom,
and there will be no place left to hide.
Its children, its brothers, and its neighbors
will all be destroyed,
and Edom itself will be no more.” – Jeremiah 49:7-10 NLT
The Lord says to Edom,
“I will cut you down to size among the nations;
you will be greatly despised.
You have been deceived by your own pride
because you live in a rock fortress
and make your home high in the mountains.
‘Who can ever reach us way up here?’
you ask boastfully.
But even if you soar as high as eagles
and build your nest among the stars,
I will bring you crashing down,”
says the Lord.” – Obadiah 1:2-4 NLT
God would bless Esau, resulting in the formation of a variety of nations and people groups. But they would fail to honor God and worship Him alone. Instead, they would seek and serve the false gods of Canaan, resulting in the pouring out of God’s divine wrath.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.