- In this chapter we have an account of the posterity of Esau, who were from him, were called Edomites; 1. Because he was the son of Isaac, for whose sake this honour is put upon him. 2. Because the Edomites were neighbours to Israel, and their genealogy would be of use to give light to the following stories of what passed between them. 3. To shew the performance of the promise to Abraham, that he should be the father of many nations, and of that answer which Rebekah had from the oracle she consulted, Two nations are in thy womb; and of the blessing of Isaac, Thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth. Here are, I. Esau's wives, verse 1-5.
- II. His remove to mount Seir, verse 6-8.
- III. The names of his sons, verse 9-14.
- IV. The dukes which descended of his sons, verse 15-19.
- V. The dukes of the Horites, verse 20-30.
- VI. The kings and dukes of Edom, verse 31-43.
Who is Edom-That name perpetuated the remembrance of the foolish bargain he made, when he sold his birth-right for that red pottage.
Esau had begun to settle among his wife's relations in Seir, before Jacob came from Padan-aram, Genesis 32:3. Isaac it is likely, had sent him thither, that Jacob might have the clearer way to the possession of the promised land: yet probably during the life of Isaac, Esau had still some effects remaining in Canaan; but after his death, he wholly withdrew to mount Seir, took with him what came to his share of his father's personal estate, and left Canaan to Jacob, not only because he had the promise of it, but because he saw, if they should both continue to thrive, as they had begun, there would not be room for both.
Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir - Whatever opposition may be made, God's word will take place, and even those that have opposed it will see themselves, some time or other, under a necessity of yielding to it. Esau had struggled for Canaan, but now he retires to mount Seir; for God's counsels shall certainly stand concerning the times before appointed, and the bounds of our habitation.
These are the names - Observe here, 1. That only the names of Esau's sons and grand-sons are recorded: not their history, for it is the church that Moses preserves the records of, not of those that were without. The elders only that lived by faith obtained a good report. Nor doth the genealogy go any farther than the third and fourth generation, the very names of all after are buried in oblivion; it is only the pedigree of the Israelites who were to be the heirs of Canaan, and of whom were to come the promised seed, and the holy seed, that is drawn out to any length, as far as there was occasion for it, even of all the tribes till Canaan was divided among them, and of the royal line 'till Christ came. 2. That the sons and grand-sons of Esau are called dukes. Probably they were military commanders, dukes or captains that had soldiers under them; for Esau and his family lived by the sword, Genesis 27:40. 3. We may suppose those dukes had numerous families of children and servants. God promised to multiply Jacob and to enrich him, yet Esau increases and is enriched first. God's promise to Jacob began to work late, but the effect of it remained longer, and it had its compleat accomplishment in the spiritual Israel.
These are the sons of Seir - In the midst of the genealogy of the Edomites is inserted the genealogy of the Horites, those Canaanites, or Hittites, (compare Genesis 26:34,) that were the natives of mount Seir. Mention is made of them, Genesis 14:6, and of their interest in mount Seir before the Edomites took possession of it, Deuteronomy 2:12,22. This comes in here, not only to give light to the story, but to be a standing reflexion upon the Edomites for intermarrying with them, by which it is likely they learned their way, and corrupted themselves. Esau having sold his birth-right, and lost his blessing and entered into alliance with the Hittites, his posterity and the sons of Seir are here reckoned together. Those that treacherously desert God's church are justly numbered with those that were never in it: apostate Edomites stand on the same ground with accursed Horites. Notice is taken of one Anah, who fed the asses of Zibeon his father, Genesis 36:20, and yet is called duke Anah, Genesis 36:29. Those that expect to rise high should begin low. An honourable descent should not keep men from an honest employment, nor a mean employment baulk any man's preferment.
This Anah was not only industrious in his business, but ingenious too, and successful, for he found mules, or, (as some read it) waters, hot baths in the wilderness. Those that are diligent in their business sometimes find more advantages than they expected.
By degrees the Edomites worked out the Horites, and got full possession of the country. 1. They were ruled by kings who governed the whole country, and seem to have come to the throne by election, and not by lineal descent: these kings reigned in Edom before there reigned any king over the children of Israel - That is, before Moses's time, for he was king in Jeshurun. God had lately promised Jacob that kings shall come out of his loins: yet Esau's blood becomes royal long before any of Jacob's did. Probably it was a trial to the faith of Israel, to hear of the power of the kings of Edom, while they were bond-slaves in Egypt: but those that look for great things from God must be content to wait for them. God's time is the best time. 2. They were afterward's governed by dukes again, here named, who, I suppose, ruled all at the same time in several places in the country. They set up this form of government, either in conformity to the Horites, who had used it, Genesis 36:29, or God's providence reduced them to it, as some conjecture, to correct them for their unkindness to Israel, in refusing them passage through their country, Numbers 20:18.
Mount Seir is called the land of their possession - While the Israelites dwelt in the house of bondage, and their Canaan was only the land of promise, the Edomites dwelt in their own habitations, and Seir was in their possession. The children of this world have their all in hand, and nothing in hope, while the children of God have often their all in hope, and next to nothing in hand. But, all things considered, it is better to have Canaan in promise than mount Seir in possession.