Richard Agee

Genesis 36: Names of the descendants of Esau and Edom reveal Israel’s past, present, future

Richard AgeeWe sometimes gloss over long lists in the Bible of hard-to-pronounce names and places. Yet the meanings of names in God’s word are part of the lessons He wants us to learn. The names in this chapter point to reasons why “Esau” and “Edom” are mentioned continually in the prophets as an adversary to Israel.

This is the merger of family of Seir and the family of Esau. Jacob’s family fought to the death not to assimilate. On the other hand, Gen. 36 shows us how Esau and his sons intermarried. Esau intermarried with Canaanites and the Horites of Seir.

The Horites were the original occupants of the land of Mt. Seir. Horite means “cave dweller.” These are not cave dwellers as defined by evolutionary fables. It’s just a statement of fact. The mountain areas of Seir have many caves. People were able to expand these caves and make them into very large and hospitable homes.

Esau’s first wife is Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite. Her name is “ointment” and the name of her first son is Eliphaz. The oldest book of the Bible is Job and Eliphaz’s name is mentioned in Job. It calls Job, a man of the east and a righteous man. This “man of the east” lived to the east of the land of Israel.

When the sons of Abram turn out to be rotten, was that Abram’s fault? No. When Jacob’s son turn out to be rotten, is that Jacob’s fault? No. Esau and Jacob did have strife in their relationship but Esau repented of that and they were able to bury their father together.

We read here that there was a time when both Esau and Jacob lived in the land of Canaan together. While Jacob was on the other side of the river in Laban’s house, Esau was living in Canaan. Was Esau committing a sin for living in the land of Canaan? Was he a trespasser? No. The bible shows us that Esau and his family became very wealthy and had abundance. Esau’s family were blessed materially while living in the land of Canaan, but the land simply became too small for the two large families, their household and cattle so Esau moved his family to the east to the land of Seir.

Esau had several sons while he was living in Canaan. These sons later became known as “dukes” or “kings” and ruled the land of Edom. Eliphaz (mother is Adah the Hittite), Reuel (mother is Basemath the Hittite), Jeush, Jalam and Korah (born to Oholibamah the Ishmaelite).

Why does God want us to know about this side of the family? The Bible tells us that God “hated” Esau. Yet God “hated” Esau so much that He blessed him with many children, lots of land, lots of cattle and sheep. Esau was a wealthy and well respected man. God simply gave Esau a small amount compared to what He would give to Jacob.

The Bible is not in strict chronological order, some of these stories were written down many generations after the events occurred. Some of the geographical references are references from the time the stories were written, not from the time the stories occurred. Have you ever read a very, very old history book and found a reference to a very old place you have never heard of before? When a historian comes along and tells you the modern name of the same place, you have a better understanding of the story.

Eliphaz was Esau’s firstborn. We are told that had several sons from his wife (who is unnamed). But we are also told that he had a son named Amalek, born to him by a concubine named Timna the Horite. She was one of these “cave dwellers.” This grandson of Esau is specifically mentioned because it is the descendants Amalek who go to war against Moses and the Israelites in a most heinous and despicable manner as they were leaving Egypt towards the Promised Land (Ex.17, Deut.25:17-19). Amalek shows up in prophesy several times. They are the archetype of a people whose primary goal is the genocide of the Jewish people.

The Promised Seed (Messiah) was given to Isaac and Jacob, not Ishmael and Esau. That is who God “loved” Jacob and “hated” Esau. Esau was the first born, yet Jacob was the one given the right to carry the Seed of the Messiah.

On the surface, all of this seems to be a waste of time. Ezekiel is the prophet who God gave the most insight into the future of the people of Seir/Edom. Ezekiel was one of the first captives of Levi in the land of Judah taken to Babylon. God calls Edom “Oh, Mt. Seir…” and calls out a curse on them in Ezekiel 35. Even though the people of Israel were no more, Ezekiel saw the people of Seir would exist and still be under a curse in the future.

There are 17 “dukes” or “chiefs” listed among the descendants of Esau. These titles were not given to Esau or his sons but in future generations. God only gave Esau one promise and that is that he would break the yoke of Jacob.  The prophesies of Jacob and Esau were not about the men themselves but their descendants.

In the “end of time” God comes against the House of Esau, which exists to this day using different names. Esau didn’t just intermarry with the Ishmaelites but they also joined with the Moabites and the Ammonites. When the combined with each other, they became very corrupt and the sworn enemies of Israel. The people who live to the east of Israel are not just “a bunch of Arabs.” There are many groups who live there. There are Assyrians, Kurds, Coptics, etc. They may speak the Arabic language but they are not ethnically Arab. When the Ottoman Empire was broken up after World War 1, the British and the French carved up the land and created artificial countries, such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon.

When we look at all these “Muslim” wars in the Middle East and assume that they are just “civil wars” but what if God is raising up all this ethnic and sectarian strife for a reason: so that we understand that He meant what He said in His Word. I would not be surprised with Saudi were to break up into 4-5 countries or Jordan separates into 2 countries. Syria could fracture into multiple countries, too. There’s lots of chaos and confusion.

We can blame the President of the United States for this chaos if we want to but think about this. What if God is saying, “Pres. Obama, you stay out of this! I am going to complete what I’m starting.” God is involved in all of this. The United States of America is the strongest nation the world has ever known. Even though God loved the children of Israel, He broke their power and He may be in the process of breaking America’s power, which came to a head after World War 2. We became the unwilling “police officers of the world” after that. That gave us a lot of pride in our great military might. Who is winning in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? Our pride is slowly being broken. America’s military pride started to break as early as the Korean War, which ended in a stalemate.

When you look at Esau and his family, don’t blame Esau himself, blame his descendants who made their own choices. We don’t blame Jacob personally for the bad choices of his descendants such as Jeroboam, so we shouldn’t blame Esau for the bad choices of his descendants such as Amalek. 

The Bible talks prophetically about “earthquakes” in diverse places and we live in California and we think of the frequent literal earthquakes we experience which is when the physical land moves and shakes. I would ask you to rethink Yeshua’s earthquake prophesy in Matt. 24. Rather than thinking of the physical land moving and causing destruction, think of earth’s people quaking. When you have a tsunami, that is the earth moving and shaking the water. Tsunamis can wipe out hundreds or thousands of people. The earth is quaking and waiting for the sons of God because the earth itself is waiting for deliverance and restoration. War does the same thing. Rather than chasing bizarre conspiracy theories, we should acknowledge and fear God.

Reader: Daniel Agee. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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