Devotional Short Note to Genesis 36


Lists of generations and relations are sometimes boring for those who are not part of it. But for Moses, who was residing in the land of Midian adjacent to Edom, it was very important to know who was who in previous generations. He included this list of relatives of Esau in detail for firstly, he had to come to grips with meeting some of their descendants in that region between 1490-1451 BCE. This informative knowhow made him an interesting speaker at socials for he knew their forefathers in detail and I can imagine they came to listen to his recounting of the ancestors to see where they themselves fit in. It was common for my dad who had an excellent memory of past events in their family to lay out the family tree for my cousins and nephews and nieces in detail with dates and anecdotes [little notes like Moses did in this chapter] in order for them to feel a strong sense of belonging and psychological “rest”. My father was one of twelve and I have 61 cousins. Very biblical isn’t it?

Then there is evidence in this chapter that the copyist of the Book of Genesis by Moses in later times, included a little footnote or marginal note in his manuscript that was taken up subsequently in the text: Genesis 36:30 “before there reigned any king over the children of Israel” = לִפְנֵי מְלָךְ-מֶלֶךְ לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. It is a footnote by a later copyist. Is it an error? No. It is just someone, maybe the historian Isaiah as professor of history before he became a prophet in the palace court mentioning regularly these footnotes as he was reading the text to the students. The Holy Spirit still edited Genesis and decided that the footnote should not be dropped from it. It is His text, we are reminded and we accepted it so.

Moses painted Esau with broad and mixed colors in Genesis 36:2 and 3: he married Canaanites, a Hittite, a Hivite and a daughter of Ishmael before he left Canaan. The children were “born unto him in the land of Canaan” = אֲשֶׁר יֻלְּדוּ-לוֹ בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן (Genesis 36:5).

In the land and out of the land of Canaan is important. He left Canaan to go to Seir and Moses supplied the reason: space. Jacob and Esau were too blessed by God so that there was not space for both in that area. Esau moved south (Genesis 36:6) “went into a land away from his brother Jacob” = וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל-אֶרֶץ מִפְּנֵי יַעֲקֹב אָחִיו.

Space as Genesis 36:7 repeats: “For their substance was too great for them to dwell together; and the land of their sojournings could not bear them because of their cattle” = כִּי-הָיָה רְכוּשָׁם רָב, מִשֶּׁבֶת יַחְדָּו; וְלֹא יָכְלָה אֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵיהֶם, לָשֵׂאת אֹתָם--מִפְּנֵי, מִקְנֵיהֶם.

Moses allocated Seir to Esau and then said: Esau is Edom (Genesis 36:8). It is at the end of a citation for he summarized the header of a new section with his intention to list: “And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the mountain-land of Seir” = וְאֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת עֵשָׂו, אֲבִי אֱדוֹם, בְּהַר, שֵׂעִיר (Genesis 36:9).

He mentions two sons of Esau: Eliphaz and Reuel and then proceed to list Eliphazes’ children (verse 11) followed by a listing of Reuel’s children (verse 13).

Between the two sandwiches of Esau’s son is a scandalous note or footnote by Moses, it is presumed, that Eliphazes’ son married a concubine: “And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau's son” = וְתִמְנַע הָיְתָה פִילֶגֶשׁ, לֶאֱלִיפַז בֶּן-עֵשָׂ (Genesis 36:12). What’s the big deal? Many post-modernists will ask but their children, the digimodernists are more serious about this: it is moral issue that does matter for them, since they were part of the pains of a high divorce rate among the libertarian minded parents that they have. They do not want to repeat the error of their parents. Concubine. Then we have to remind ourselves that Charles Brooks in his excerpt about “Little Willy” in Youtube recount that in the genealogy of Jesus is listed concubines as well. History is written with blood. We live in a sinful world not heaven. Heaven is up yonder and our citizenship is there not Africa, USA, South America, China, Japan, South Korea or any country around us. These are just “halfway stations”. They are “bus-stops” and “taxi-stands”.

Then Moses used the grandson is also a son principle: “These were the sons of Basemath Esau's wife” but listed are the sons of Reuel, Basemath’s son (Genesis 36:13). It is an Ancient Near Eastern principle that is important when we deal with Nebuchadnezzar and his sons in Daniel.

In the light of the grandson is also a son principle what should one do with the next verse? Genesis 36:14 brings in the name of Anah the son of Zibeon: “And these were the sons of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon, Esau's wife; and she bore to Esau Jeush, and Jalam, and Korah” = וְאֵלֶּה הָיוּ בְּנֵי אָהֳלִיבָמָה בַת-עֲנָה בַּת-צִבְעוֹן--אֵשֶׁת עֵשָׂו וַתֵּלֶד לְעֵשָׂו אֶת-יעיש (יְעוּשׁ) וְאֶת-יַעְלָם וְאֶת-קֹרַח.

Then Moses mentioned that this Anah was a famous person because he discovered some hotsprings in the desert in the past: “this is Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father” = הוּא עֲנָה אֲשֶׁר מָצָא אֶת-הַיֵּמִם בַּמִּדְבָּר בִּרְעֹתוֹ אֶת-הַחֲמֹרִים לְצִבְעוֹן אָבִיו (Genesis 36:23). The learned Moses also enjoyed the hotsprings in the desert while hiding from Thutmosis III the Napoleon of Egypt of those days who made 16 campaigns into Palestine [to look for Moses the throne favorite of Hatshepsut?]. By the way, the Thutmosis III mummy in the Chicago Oriental Institute, and I saw it, with Michael Odusssji in 1989, is not Thut III of fame. He is only 36 years old. He should be only 36 years old because he died a few hours before his father at midnight and his father in his seventies was washed away in the Dead Sea on that Exodus morning in 1450 BCE. Wente et al in their X-Ray account of the mummies confirmed that. Hotsprings and Moses and Anah the father of Esau’s wife. Moses must have received VIP treatment for his historical information at the hotspring in the desert in those days after 1490 BCE.

Keil (1878: 325) commented accepting Jerome’s translation against that of Luther and the Talmud: “he discovered aquae calidae [Vulg.] either the hot sulphur springs of Calirrhoe in the Wady Zerka Maein . . .or those in the Wady el Ahsa to the S.E. of the Dead Sea or those in the Wady Hamad between Kerek and the Dead Sea”. Japan has hotsprings almost in every town.

Moses then listed the chiefs of Seir in Genesis 36:29.

In Genesis 36:31 Moses changed gears and from chiefs he wanted to discuss the kings.

Genesis 36:32-39 goes on with a list of kings in succession, not like the chiefs all at the same time. From a horizontal perspective of names, Moses goes into a vertical list of person – died – next one format.

Start at 1987or 1986 when the separation of Esau and Jacob happened and give everyone in this kinglist a hypothetical 20 years of reign with some slightly shorter and others slightly longer option and go through the list and one ends with the last on in circa 1850 BCE, which is the start of the 400 years of oppression mentioned in the Bible until the Exodus in 1450 BCE.


Dear Lord

Thanks for Your Word that gives us a light on our paths and helps us to get confidence in Your promises and expectations for us in our lives. In Jesus Name. Amen.