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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 36

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-8


Verses 1-8:

The list of the generations of Esau contains the names of his wives:

"Adah," meaning "ornament" or "beauty," daughter of Elon the Hittite.

"Aholi-bamah," meaning "tent of the high place," daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite.

"Bashe-math," meaning "sweet-smelling," daughter of Ishmael.

There appears to be a discrepancy in this list of Esau’s wives, with that given previously: in Ge 26:34, 35; 28:6.

Genesis 26:34, 35; 28:6

1. Judith, daughter of Berri the Hittite.

2. Bashemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite

3. Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael.

Genesis 36:2-5

1. Aholibamah, daughter of Anah, daughter of Zibeon the Hittite.

2. Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite.

3. Bashemath, Ishmael’s daughter.

The apparent discrepancy is explained in the light of the customs of that time. It was not unusual that a person be known by two names: e.g., Jacob -Israel; Esau - Edom, etc. This accounts for a variation of names in the list of Esau’s wives.

Also: Berri, meaning "well man" could be the same person as Anah, as v. 24 implies.

The designations "Hittite, Hivite, and Horite" are explained: the first is the generic term for a race of people; the second is a designation of a tribe; and the third is the name for the inhabitants of the district in which he lived.

It is also possible that Esau had four wives, rather than three. The omission of any descendants through Judith implies that she was childless, though possibly still living, and thus was not listed in the present text.

Esau took his large household and moved from the territory where Jacob lived, into the region to the south, where he took up residence. This country eventually became known by his name, as Edom.

Verses 9-14

Verses 9-14:

These verses list various "generations of Esau." He was the founder of the Edomite nation. Various districts in the territory occupied by Esau were later known by the names of his sons and grandsons; for example, Teman.

The name Amalek occurs in the Old Testament, as an adversary of Israel. He was the son of Esau’s son Eliphaz, by a concubine. The violation of God’s marriage provision (Ge 2:24; Mt 19:4-6) resulted in conflict in future generations.

Verses 15-19

Verses 15-19:

"Duke" alluph, denotes tribal leaders or phylarchs. The Septuagint word is hegemones, chieftians of a thousand men. The term came to be applied to chiefs among the Jews after the return from Babylonian captivity, Zec 9:7; 12:5.

This list shows that the descendants of Esau must have reached a considerable number, within a relatively short time.

Verses 20-30

Verses 20-30:

The original inhabitants of Edom (Idumea) were Horites, see Ge 14:6. Their ancestor Seir gave his name to the rugged region where he lived. Esau’s descendants eventually dispossessed the native population, De 2:12; although there was apparently extensive inter-marriage between the Edomites and the Horites. Esau himself had a Horite wife, Aholibamah, and his son Eliphaz had a Horite concubine, Timna. The Horites were apparently cave-dwellers. The region abounds in limestone and sandstone caves. These were no crude shelters, but consisted of palaces and temples and tombs of a grandeur amazing today.

Verse 24 indicates that the Horites were herdsmen, skilled in the field of animal husbandry.

Verses 31-43

Verses 31-43:

The reference to the kings of Israel (verses 31) does not imply a post-Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. In Ge 35:11 is God’s promise that kings should arise from Jacob’s lineage. Esau’s descendants established a monarchial system of government before those of Israel (Jacob). At least eight kings of Edom are listed in this text.

Verse 35 shows the aggressive nature of the Edomites, that they engaged in warfare with their neighbors.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 36". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-36.html. 1985.
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