By thy sword shalt thou live - This does not absolutely mean that the Edomites should have constant wars; but that they should be of a fierce and warlike disposition, gaining their sustenance by hunting, and by predatory excursions upon the possessions of others. Bishop Newton speaks on this subject with his usual good sense and judgment: "The elder branch, it is here foretold, should delight more in war and violence, but yet should be subdued by the younger. By thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother. Esau might be said to live much by the sword; for he was a cunning hunter, a man of the field. He and his children got possession of Mount Seir by force and violence, expelling from thence the Horites, the former inhabitants. By what means they spread themselves farther among the Arabians is not known; but it appears that upon a sedition and separation several of the Edomites came and seized upon the south-west parts of Judea, during the Babylonish captivity, and settled there ever after. Before and after this they were almost continually at war with the Jews; upon every occasion they were ready to join with their enemies; and when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, they encouraged him utterly to destroy the city, saying, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundations thereof. Psalms 137:7. And even long after they were subdued by the Jews, they retained the same martial spirit; for Josephus in his time gives them the character of ' a turbulent and disorderly nation, always erect to commotions, and rejoicing in changes; at the least adulation of those who beseech them, beginning war, and hasting to battles as to a feast.' And a little before the last siege of Jerusalem they came, at the entreaty of the Zealots, to assist them against the priests and people; and there, together with the Zealots, committed unheard-of cruelties, and barbarously murdered Annas, the high priest, from whose death Josephus dates the destruction of the city." See Dr. Dodd.
And - when thou shalt have the dominion - It is here foretold that there was to be a time when the elder was to have dominion and shake off the yoke of the younger. The word tarid , which we translate have dominion, is rather of doubtful meaning, as it may be deduced from three different roots, yarad , to descend, to be brought down or brought low; radah , to obtain rule or have dominion; and rud , to complain; meaning either that when reduced very low God would magnify his power in their behalf, and deliver them from the yoke of their brethren; or when they should be increased so as to venture to set up a king over them, or when they mourned for their transgressions, God would turn their captivity. The Jerusalem Targum gives the words the following turn: "When the sons of Jacob attend to the law and observe the precepts, they shall impose the yoke of servitude upon thy neck; but when they shall turn away themselves from studying the law and neglect the precepts, thou shalt break off the yoke of servitude from thy neck."
"It was David who imposed the yoke, and at that time the Jewish people observed the law; but the yoke was very galling to the Edomites from the first; and towards the end of Solomon' s reign Hadad, the Edomite, of the blood royal, who had been carried into Egypt from his childhood, returned into his own country, and raised some disturbances, but was not able to recover his throne, his subjects being over-awed by the garrisons which David had placed among them; but in the reign of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king. Jehoram made some attempts to subdue them again, but could not prevail; so the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day, II Chronicles 21:8, II Chronicles 21:10, and hereby this part of the prophecy was fulfilled about nine hundred years after it was delivered." See Bishop Newton.
"Thus," says Bishop Newton, "have we traced, in our notes on this and the25th chapter, the accomplishment of this prophecy from the beginning; and we find that the nation of the Edomites has at several times been conquered by and made tributary to the Jews, but never the nation of the Jews to the Edomites; and the Jews have been the more considerable people, more known in the world, and more famous in history. We know indeed little more of the history of the Edomites than as it is connected with that of the Jews; and where is the name or nation now? They were swallowed up and lost, partly among the Nabathean Arabs, and partly among the Jews; and the very name, as Dr. Prideaux has observed, was abolished and disused about the end of the first century of the Christian era. Thus were they rewarded for insulting and oppressing their brethren the Jews; and hereby other prophecies were fulfilled, viz., Jeremiah 49:7, etc.; Ezekiel 25:12, etc.; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11, etc.; and particularly Obadiah; for at this day we see the Jews subsisting as a distinct people, while Edom is no more, agreeably to the words of Obadiah, Obadiah 1:10 : For thy violence against thy brother Jacob, in the return of his posterity from Egypt, shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. And again, Obadiah 1:18 : There shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau, for the Lord hath spoken it. In what a most extensive and circumstantial manner has God fulfilled all these predictions! and what a proof is this of the Divine inspiration of the Pentateuch, and the omniscience of God!"
Other Adam Clarke entries containing Genesis 27:40:
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