40 And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families, after their places, by their names; duke Timnah, duke Alvah, duke Jetheth,
41 Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon,
42 Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar,
43 Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites.
This genealogy concludes by naming another set of dukes that came of Esau. These are not the same dukes that were named among his sons and grandsons, so my assumption is that these are the dukes of a later generation, perhaps the generation when the Israelites returned from Egypt.
Finally, we get this emphatic exclamation “he is Esau the father of the Edomites!” Like Ishmael, Esau did not inherit the covenant, but he was still the father of a great people. Unlike Ishmael, though, it is not clear where the people of Esau are today. Were they defeated by one of the many powers that rolled through the land of Canaan? Did they intermingle with other cultures to the point that their bloodlines were dispersed throughout the world? Are they a people that we now call by another name, not even aware of their heritage? I do not know, but for the rest of the Biblical record they will still be frequent actors in the unfolding drama.
20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah,
21 And Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan: these are the dukes of the Horites, the children of Seir in the land of Edom.
29 These are the dukes that came of the Horites; duke Lotan, duke Shobal, duke Zibeon, duke Anah,
30 Duke Dishon, duke Ezer, duke Dishan: these are the dukes that came of Hori, among their dukes in the land of Seir.
31 And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.
The account now moves from Esau’s household to describe the other nobility of that land. From the Horites there came a number of dukes and kings, who would be some of the major players when Israel returned from Egyptian captivity.
We have heard briefly of the Horites before. They were among the clans that fought against King Chedorlaomer, which strife resulted in Lot being taken captive and Abraham having to go and rescue him. From this we know that the Horites were in this land for quite some time, even before Abraham and his kin had arrived.
But this land had not been promised to the Horites, they were there on borrowed time. Canaan had been promised to the descendants of Abraham, and more specifically to the descendants of Jacob. From the mortal perspective there were still many years to go before God’s promises would be fulfilled, but it was sure to happen even so.
15 These were dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn son of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz,
16 Duke Korah, duke Gatam, and duke Amalek: these are the dukes that came of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Adah.
17 And these are the sons of Reuel Esau’s son; duke Nahath, duke Zerah, duke Shammah, duke Mizzah: these are the dukes that came of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Bashemath Esau’s wife.
18 And these are the sons of Aholibamah Esau’s wife; duke Jeush, duke Jaalam, duke Korah: these were the dukes that came of Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau’s wife.
19 These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes.
We now continue with the descendants of Esau, and in these verses it specifically lists out the dukes, or tribal chiefs, among his sons and grandsons. Two of Esau’s wives had one son each. Through the first of these Esau obtained seven grandsons, each of which were given the title of duke. Through the second son came four more grandsons, also called dukes.
The pattern was slightly different with Esau’s third wife. Rather than bearing him a single son, Aholibamah gave birth to three, and all of these were also named dukes. Thus in all Esau had eleven duke grandsons and three duke sons, fourteen rulers to steer the clans of the Edomites.
Most of these dukes names I do not recognize, but the third one in verse sixteen is quite significant. Duke Amalek, I imagine, is the progenitor of the Amalekites, who would be a great rival to the Israelites when they returned from Egyptian captivity. This continues a pattern we have seen previously, where the kin of the covenant end up siring the very nations that would compete most hotly with the Israelites.
6 And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob.
7 For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.
8 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.
A couple days ago I mentioned that Esau and Jacob seemed to have minimal interaction after they were reunited in Canaan and now we know why: Esau left. Like Abraham and Lot, the land was not enough to support both of their households, and one of them had to pass over to the other side. And like Abraham, Jacob was the one that kept with Canaan, while Esau went elsewhere.
The two men’s decision of where to live perfectly echoes their preferences specified back in Genesis 25:27. Jacob was always a man of the plains, content to stay put for extended periods of time, while Esau was a wandering hunter. It seems the two men were destined to live as two separate halves. When they were young and forced to share the same space that disparity was likely one of their points of friction, but now that they were grown men they were able to resolve the matter with sufficient space. Like the parting between Jacob and Laban, sometimes the best way to keep the peace is to know when to step apart.
1 Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.
2 Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;
3 And Bashemath Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth.
4 And Adah bare to Esau Eliphaz; and Bashemath bare Reuel;
5 And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these are the sons of Esau, which were born unto him in the land of Canaan.
The narrative is now paused for a chapter as the Bible recounts the genealogy that proceeded from Esau. We are reminded that Esau had two wives of the Hittite and Hivite nations, and a third from the daughters of Ishmael.
As discussed earlier, Esau only married the third wife to appease his parents, who wished him to keep his family within the covenant lineage. However, I am not sure that marrying the daughter of Ishmael fit that bill. Yes, the covenant people would emerge from the children of Abraham, but not all of the children of Abraham would be part of that group. Isaac would be part of the covenant and not Ishmael, just as how Jacob was now part of the covenant but not Esau.
In any case, Esau only had one son from two of the wives, but three from the third. Five sons were enough to assume his lineage would be carried forward, though, and the following verses will show that it was indeed.