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Bible verses about Esau's Descendants
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 25:21-23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God's revelation to Rebekah regarding the struggling twins is that two kinds or types of people were in her womb. They were definitely not identical twins. The word "manner," as used in the King James Version, indicates the reason for their rivalry; they were so different despite having the same parents. Their struggling in Rebekah's womb was a precursor of what continued after their birth, which significantly influenced the history of Isaac's descendants.

Each son's approach toward and manner of life irritated the other. Each rubbed the other the wrong way. Rebekah seems naturally drawn to Jacob and Isaac to Esau, exacerbating an already volatile situation. Thus, each boy became a victim of the parent's favoritism and was encouraged to take advantage of it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Two)


 

Genesis 25:22-23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God put this in perspective for her. In these two little babies were the seeds of two great peoples who would become populous and powerful nations that would compete with each other for many generations to come. When we consider that this contentious relationship has directly and adversely affected many nations throughout history, along with the resultant sufferings and deaths of millions of people, it is no laughing matter.

Notice that in His explanation, God predicted who would ultimately prove dominant: the younger, whom we know as Jacob or Israel. The apostle Paul comments on this in Romans 9:10-13:

And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated."

The apostle uses this situation to illustrate that God's choice, or election, is based entirely on His grace, not on any kind of human merit. The human reasons often advanced for the ongoing strife between the descendants of Esau and Jacob are therefore groundless, as God for His own purposes has chosen to show favor to the nations of Israel and not to Edom. However, despite their being denied national greatness, Esau's descendants are not without hope of salvation, though they must swallow their pride and admit that "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22), through the Messiah, who descends from Judah, son of Jacob (see Matthew 1:2, 16; Luke 3:23, 33-34; Hebrews 7:14).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part One)


 

Genesis 27:39-41   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Once Isaac had given his - really God's - blessing, there was nothing left for Esau. The blessing was an "all or nothing" addition to the inheritance; it could not be portioned between Isaac's two sons. In reality, the subsequent "blessing" Esau receives is tantamount to a curse. In the New King James Version, it reads as if Isaac blesses Esau in Genesis 27:39-40, yet it is not a blessing but a prophecy.

As shown here, the two uses of "of" in verse 39 have been mistranslated; in this context, the Hebrew word implies, not "belonging to," but "from" or "away from." On this verse, the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament observes, "By a play upon the words Isaac uses the same expression as in v. 28, 'from the fat fields of the earth, and from the dew,' but in the opposite sense, min being partitive [imparting] there, and privative [depriving] here, 'from = away from.'" Thus, Isaac prophesies that Esau's descendants would live in an infertile, arid area.

One consequence of this is prophesied in verse 40: There will be continual strife between the "have," Jacob, and the "have-not," Esau; they would engage in a constant, internecine quarrel over "the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven." More often than not, Jacob would be dominant - until Esau would rebel in frustration and anger. Isaac predicts that they will frequently come to blows, and occasionally, Esau's descendants will enjoy the upper hand for a time.

Esau's utterly human reaction upon hearing Isaac's words is consistent with what we know of his personality: "So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob" (Genesis 27:41). Too late, he realized the value of the blessing, and now his entire attention was focused in hatred against his brother. Hebrews 12:15-16 describes his attitude toward Jacob as a "root of bitterness," a profound and deep-set animosity that ultimately corrupts and defiles one who maintains it.

This reveals the mindset of Esau and his descendants, the Edomites. Everything that should have been theirs was now Jacob's, and they will fight until the bitter end of days to get it back! Yet God says it is not to be. His prophecy in the "blessing" allows Esau only occasional supremacy. Since Jacob's seed possessed both the birthright and the blessing, they would normally prevail and ultimately have the ascendancy.

The birthright made Jacob the recipient of a double portion of the inheritance, and the blessing was a gift of God by which the patriarch passed on the promised family blessings. These blessings included the patriarchy - "Be master over your brethren" (Genesis 27:29) - which was now Jacob's! This meant that, upon Isaac's death, the leadership position in Abraham's family passed not to the elder, Esau, but to the younger, Jacob. Esau was left to form his own house, but without the power, position, and wealth inherent within the birthright and the blessing.

In these prophecies, the Bible shows that dominant family traits are passed down to succeeding generations. Therefore, even today, Israelites generally think and behave much like their father Jacob, while Edomites still retain the attitudes and drives of Esau. Though not every Israelite or Edomite will imitate his ancestor's personality to the letter, these traits will surface as national characteristics, allowing perceptive observers to identify their origins and fit them into Bible prophecy.

For Jacob's thefts of the birthright and blessing, Esau hated his brother enough to begin to plot his death! This burning hatred has been passed on from generation to generation ever since that time, for approximately 3,700 years. This, then, provides us with a basic understanding of the contentious relationship between these two peoples.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part One)


 

Genesis 27:39-40   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In Genesis 27:39-40, Isaac prophesies concerning his elder son, Esau, after the young man had discovered that Jacob had stolen the patriarchal blessing from him, and tearfully begged his father to bless him also.

The gist of the prophecy is actually a curse, predicting that Esau's descendants would dwell away from fertile lands and plentiful rainfall, live in near-constant conflict, and serve Jacob's offspring except in infrequent instances of rebellion. It is no wonder that Esau's hatred for his younger brother burned so intensely.

Since Jacob would inherit the patriarchy from Isaac upon their father's death, Esau chose to move away to another land rather than chafe under his brother's future headship in 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" (Genesis 36:6).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Genesis 32:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Esau had built up a considerable following, amassing an army of 400 men (Genesis 32:6; 33:1). Obviously, over such a short time, these men could not all have been Esau's direct descendants or even all his servants. We can deduce their identity by assembling the clues found in Genesis 36:2, 8, 20, and 24. Evidently, Esau's wife "Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite" (verses 1, 24) was also a Horite, who were the people who "inhabited the land" of Seir (verse 20). When Esau migrated to Seir (verse 8), he essentially went to live with his Horite wife's family, aristocrats of the area (verses 29-30). Many of the 400 men, then, were probably Horites, relatives of Esau's wife.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Genesis 36:1-3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Edom heads the list of Israel's enemies in Psalm 83. From the days of Esau himself, a burning hatred of Israel has been nourished among the Edomites. God says through the prophet Amos, "For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever" (Amos 1:11). If any people would form and lead a confederacy against the Israelites, it would be Edom.

As the man Esau matured, married, and had children, he made critical alliances with surrounding peoples, recorded in Genesis 36. In writing this book of beginnings, Moses took the effort to include an entire chapter on the Edomites alone. He was careful to include specific details about who was born to whom and who ruled this or that area. In addition, he reminds the reader several times of his subject:

» Verse 1: "This is the genealogy of Esau, who is Edom."

» Verse 8: "Esau is Edom."

» Verse 19: ". . . Esau, who is Edom. . . ."

» Verse 43: "Esau was the father of the Edomites."

When God repeats Himself, He is usually trying to convey an important matter. He is reminding Israel not to forget that the Edomites have their source in Esau. To deal with them correctly, the Israelites would have to know who the Edomites were and be prepared for their predictable and incessant attacks—and consciously or not, the Edomites never have stopped trying to win back what Esau lost to Jacob! Further, we today will readily recognize them by the biblical clues recorded about their forefather.

In introducing the family of Esau, Moses includes the names and derivations of Esau's wives: "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" (Genesis 36:2-3). Esau bound himself by marriage to the Hittites, the Hivites—both Canaanite tribes—and the Ishmaelites.

The Hittites, descended from Heth, son of Canaan, were, by far, the strongest and biggest of these tribes, possessing a huge empire that stretched from Asia Minor to Palestine, with its capital in what is today central Turkey. The "Land of Hatti" was the major empire of Abraham's time, having the commercial, cultural, and military power to influence the entire Levant.

The Hivites were a related but less numerous people living in the land of Canaan. They may be those whom the Bible calls elsewhere "Horites" and whom history terms "Hurrians," a people centered in northern Mesopotamia, who had once been a dominant people in the region. In Esau's time, they seem to have had several strongholds in central Canaan, including Shechem. Deuteronomy 2:12, 22 records that the Edomites destroyed and perhaps absorbed a branch of Horites living in Seir, taking their land for themselves.

It is now clear how close the ties were between the Edomites, the Hittites, the Hivites, and the Ishmaelites. They were all related by marriage and blood!

We find another blood-connection in Genesis 36:11-12: "And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 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." The Amalekites, descended from Amalek, a grandson of Esau, fall naturally into the anti-Israel alliance. Verse 16 mentions that Amalek became a chief among the Edomites. Although the son of a concubine, he nonetheless became head of a significant tribe, which in later times distinguished itself as a ruthless enemy of Israel.

Notice, too, that Teman, since he is listed first, is probably the firstborn son of Eliphaz, who is the firstborn son of Esau. Teman's name became attached to the central part of Edomite territory, where he and his clan evidently settled. A city by the name of Teman existed not far from Petra. Habakkuk 3:3 shows the area of Teman in parallel with Mount Paran, which some consider to be a poetic reference to Mount Sinai, but it more likely refers to Mount Seir in central Edom. It is helpful to remember that some of the prophecies concerning Esau use Teman as an alternative name for Edom.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Two)


 

Deuteronomy 2:12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Deuteronomy 2:12 records what happened in later times, when the Edomites grew populous and strong: "The Horites formerly dwelt in Seir, but the descendants of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which the LORD gave them." Because of both the Edomites' blood ties and their later conquest of the Horites of Mount Seir, the descendants of Esau later became identified as "Seir," as well as "Edom" and several other names.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Amos 1:11-12   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Edom, already implicated with Gaza and Tyre in slave trading, is now directly accused of bitter enmity against Israel (verses 11-12). Esau's descendants (Genesis 36:1, 9) never forgave Jacob for stealing the blessing and the birthright. They let their anger smolder within them—blowing it into a flame every now and then lest it die—and it broke out in unreasonable acts of aggression against Israel. This is perhaps the worse sin because hatred concealed in the heart is a transgression without fear and a candidate for the unpardonable sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Obadiah 1:1-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Edom lived in the area east of the Jordan in the mountainous areas south of the Dead Sea—a dry, barren, rocky place. Here, in this end-time prophecy, Edomites are still living in this inhospitable place.

Verse 1 contains a parenthetical statement that informs us that God has sent a messenger among the nations, urging them to "rise up against her." This is how things really work: God is the prime mover of world affairs. He determines His purpose and starts affairs rolling toward its fulfillment by inspiring an idea. Then the political and diplomatic mechanisms of nations take over to bring it to fruition, guided and pushed all the while by God (see Isaiah 46:9-11; Isaiah 55:11).

In this case, a national leader decides to send an ambassador to other nations to form a military alliance against Edom. The complaint, as explained in subsequent verses, is that Edom must be brought down to size, perhaps because she is not a team player, wanting all the glory and plunder for herself. That God is the ultimate author of this message means that it will happen as advertised.

Obadiah 1:2 adds emphasis to verse 1. The "I" is God Himself; it is His purpose to bring about Edom's national deflation. He wants Edom to recognize this! He thinks that the Edomites need to be brought into account for their actions and severely punished. Those among the nations who are scheming against Edom are merely agents God will use to fulfill His decree.

Verse 3 strikes at the root of Edom's problem: "The pride of your heart." It was easy for the Edomites to believe themselves to be invincible due to the nearly uninhabitable territory they dwelled in. To the west, where Israel lay, the geography made their territory nearly impregnable. Otherwise, they could feel secure because their fortresses were carved out of the rock, so they could either hunker down for long periods or engage in guerilla warfare. An attacking army could in no way pry them out, and they knew it. They felt invulnerable, and this filled them with pride.

"Pride" in verse 3 is the Hebrew word zadon, from the root, ziyd. This root is translated "cooked" in Genesis 25:29, where Jacob cooked a stew that the famished Esau desired. "Cooked" would be better translated "boiled" or "seethed." When heat is applied to water, it boils, and from this process, the Hebrews gained their understanding of pride.

Obadiah, it seems, specifically used this word to draw the reader's attention back to this incident, perhaps suggesting that Esau's selling of the birthright was rooted in his pride. Esau became heated and angry, and it manifested itself as haughtiness, arrogance, pride—the major trait he passed on to his descendants. Just as stew boils up under heat, so Edom puffs herself up thinking that she is self-reliant and invincible. God, however, is out to prove her wrong.

The Edomite challenge at the end of Obadiah 1:3 bears some scrutiny: "Who will bring me down to the ground?" This is remarkably similar to the words of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13-14 and to those of the great harlot in Revelation 18:7. This same pride will lead Edom into trouble. The Bible declares that, in all three of these examples, God will have the last word: He will humble them all. In Obadiah 1:4, He decrees, no matter how high and mighty Edom considers herself to be, "from there I will bring you down."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

Obadiah 1:10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Leviticus 19:17, "You shall not hate your brother in your heart," succinctly describes the fundamental flaw in Edom, hatred. Edom's hatred is the primary consequence of her pride. Because he always felt that he should have been the master and received his father's wealth and blessings, Esau nursed his wounded feelings of superiority, and it boiled over into hatred of his brother. This flaw became a prime feature of Edomite character.

Hatred against a brother can lead a person to terrible acts, most often underhanded ones. In the case of the Edomites, their vile attitudes first manifested themselves in such things as gloating and rejoicing over Israel's catastrophes, and led to actions such as pillaging, selling into slavery, and taking the other's territory when Israel and Judah were weak.

God encapsulates the reason for His terrible judgment against Edom into a single word: "violence." In Hebrew, this word is chamas, believe it or not, so strikingly similar to the name of the Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas. In actuality, Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawima al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Resistance Movement. Along with Hezbollah, it has been Israel's chief enemy for many years. It is difficult to see this as a mere coincidence.

Could this be a scriptural clue as to the modern-day identity of Edom or perhaps Amalek? The details revealed in Obadiah support such a conclusion. A survey of recent Middle East history shows how Hamas has set itself against the Jews; no other group bears such vehement hatred for them. Even though it has secured political power in Palestine, it will not renounce its perpetual hatred against the state of Israel - not even to become a viable player on the world stage. Members of Hamas simply want to annihilate Israel.

Chamas suggests immoral, cruel violence, going hand-in-hand with "slaughter" in the previous verse. The two words are undoubtedly linked. Edom will be cut off with the same slaughter and in the same manner by which she treated Israel: with violence, with chamas!

Why does God describe Esau in these terms? What drives Esau to hate Israel so viscerally? Deuteronomy 32 succinctly illustrates God's attentive relationship with Israel, how He found her, cared for her, and formed her into a great nation. God's love for Israel undergirds why hatred and violence against Israel is such a terrible transgression. Indeed, God's relationship with Israel is a driving factor behind Edom's hot anger - it is essentially jealousy!

Zechariah 2:8 describes Israel as "the apple of His eye." If a person pokes another in the eye, it hurts the recipient terribly. Because Esau's perpetual enmity and violence against Israel are fingers in God's eye, He takes extreme umbrage. The Edomites, rebelling against God's will, picked on one whom God has chosen. This is sin, not only against Israel, but also against God. Rather than humbly bowing before His will that the older shall serve the younger, Edom has waged perpetual war against Jacob's descendants. In doing so, she has, in effect, declared war against God - a very serious sin.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment


 

Obadiah 1:15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Recognizing the internal time markers in Obadiah is vital to understanding the prophecy. This little book confirms, not only Edom's part in the confederacy against Israel, but also that the evil alliance is joined at the end time. In Obadiah 1:15, 21, clear indicators of the end time appear:

For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head. . . . Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.

The prophecy will begin to be fulfilled in the years prior to the Day of the Lord, and ends as the millennial reign of Jesus Christ commences.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Three): Obadiah


 

 




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