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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 36

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Esau's wives and children born in Canaan, Genesis 36:1-5.

They remove from Jacob to Seir; the reason, Genesis 36:6-8.

His posterity, Genesis 36:9-19; as also that of Seir the Horite, Genesis 36:20; among whom is Anah, who first found out mules in the wilderness, Genesis 36:24.

His children, Genesis 36:25-30.

A catalogue of kings and princes in Edom, Genesis 36:31-43.

Verse 1

They are here mentioned partly to show the effect of his father's blessing, Genesis 27:39; partly that the Israelites might be admonished to treat the Edomites like brethren, and not to invade their land. See Deuteronomy 23:7.

Verse 2

If this account be compared with that Genesis 26:34, we shall find some difficulties, which yet admit of an easy reconciliation, if these things be considered.

1. That it is very usual, and confessed by all, that the same persons are oft called by several names.

2. That the names of some persons are in Scripture given to others, because of a great resemblance between them. Upon which account the parents of the Israelites are called Armorites and Hittites, Ezekiel 16:3; and the governors of Jerusalem are called the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaiah 1:10; and John the Baptist is called Elias, Matthew 17:12.

3. That the same men ere ofttimes denominated from several countries, as Christ is noted to have a threefold country in Scripture; Bethlehem by his birth, Nazareth by his education, and Capernaum by his much residence and preaching there.

4. That the same names are sometimes common to men and women.

5. That persons are called the children, not only of their immediate parents, but of their grandparents, and of those who adopted them. These things premised, the seeming contradictions objected by infidels do vanish. She who was properly called Judith, Genesis 26:24, is here called Aholibamah, a name which seems to be given her either by Isaac or by Moses, from her settledness in her idolatrous courses. And Adah was also called Bashemath, Genesis 26:34; and Mahalath, Ishmael’s daughter, was called Bashemath, either because in her principles and manners she resembled Esau’s other wife so called, or to show that Ishmael’s marriage to a third wife was no less opprobrious to him and displeasing to his parents than the former.

Anah, a man, and the son of Zibeon, as appears from Genesis 35:24, called here a Hivite, is called Beeri the Hittite, Genesis 26:34, either because those two people were mixed together in habitation and by marriage, or because the one people were larger than the other, and comprehended under their name, or because he was a Hivite by birth, a Hittite by habitation or incorporation with them. Hence also we may learn how Aholibamah here comes to be the daughter both of Anah and of Zibeon; the one being either the natural or proper father, and the other either the grandfather, or father by adoption.

Verse 4

Eliphaz, the progenitor of that Eliphaz, Job 2:11.

Reuel, the father of Jethro. See Exodus 2:18; Numbers 10:29.

Verse 5

He had also daughters, Genesis 36:6, though their names be not here mentioned.

Verse 6



1. Why went he thither?

Answ. Partly by his own choice, that wild and mountainous country being very commodious for hunting, to which he wholly addicted himself; partly by his wives’ persuasions, who were both utterly averse from cohabitation with Isaac or Jacob, and strongly inclined to their own country; but principally from the secret conduct of Divine Providence, thus accomplishing his promises. See Joshua 24:4; Malachi 1:3.


2. When went he thither?

Answ. He went thither before this time in discontent at his parents, and dwelt in Seir before Jacob’s return to Canaan, as appears from Genesis 32:3; Genesis 33:14,Genesis 33:16; yet so as he came sometimes to Canaan, and to his father’s house, and did not quit his interest in his father’s estate. But when his father was dead, and Jacob and he agreed about the partition of the estate, he did totally and finally forsake Canaan, partly, for the reason here following; partly, for the other reasons now alleged; and partly, to avoid all occasion both of communication and contention with his brother.

Verse 7

Which words contain the reason why that land which was large and fruitful could not bear them, because they were not entire possessors of it, but only sojourners in it, and therefore must take the owners’ leavings, which were not sufficient for both of them and their numerous families.

Verse 8

This seems to be mentioned by the Holy Ghost by way of contempt or reproach; this is he who sold his birthright for a mess of red pottage, and therefore was called

Edom or red.

Verse 15


These were dukes, princes or heads of their several families and little principalities, according to the manner of those times, who ruled their dominions, either severally, each his own, or jointly, by common advice, or it may be under one chief prince, their superior either in title or in power. And in this division Eliphaz, as he was Esau’s first-born, so he had more than a double portion, his six sons being made dukes, as Esau’s immediate sons were. Compare 1 Chronicles 5:1.

Verse 16

Korah is not mentioned among the sons of Eliphaz, and therefore is thought to be his grandson. There is another Korah, Genesis 36:14,Genesis 36:18.

Verse 20


The sons of Seir are here mentioned, partly because of their alliance with Esau’s family, Genesis 35:2,Genesis 35:20,Genesis 35:22,Genesis 35:24,Genesis 35:25, and partly because the government was translated from his to Esau’s family.

Who inhabited the land, and ruled there, till Esau and his posterity drove them out, Deuteronomy 2:12,Deuteronomy 2:22.

Verse 24

Mules; so most understand the word Jemim, which is no where else used, and give this sense of it, that he found out the way of the generation of mules by the copulation of a horse and a mare. Others render it waters, that he found out some springs of water, which in those hot countries were rare and precious; or hot waters, some hot and medicinal springs. But the Chaldee renders it giants, and the Samaritan version Emims, a sort of giants mentioned Deuteronomy 2:10,Deuteronomy 2:11; who also were neighbours to the Horites here spoken of, as appears from Genesis 14:5,Genesis 14:6; and therefore might, according to the manner of those times, make inroads one upon another. So Jemim is put for Emim, either by an apocope of the first letter, or by the change of the Hebrew letter Jod into Aleph, both which are frequent among the Hebrews. And the sense is, that Anah the Horite found out the Emims; that is, he met with them, or came upon them suddenly, and smote them. In this sense the word finding is oft used, as Judges 1:5; 1 Samuel 31:3; Psalms 21:8; Isaiah 10:10.

Verse 25

The children, Heb. sons, though but one son be mentioned. Either then he had other sons not here expressed; or the plural number is put for the singular, as Genesis 21:7.

Verse 30

Among other dukes which were in that country. Or, according to their dukedoms or principalities; the word duke being here put for dukedom as the word king is put for kingdom, Isaiah 23:15; Daniel 7:17.

Verse 31

He speaks of the posterity of Esau, who after they had subdued the Horites, erected a kingdom there.

Here profane wits triumph. How, say they, could Moses write this, when as yet there was no king in Israel?


1. The word may be taken for any chief governor, in which sense the title of king is given to Moses, Deuteronomy 33:5; and to the judges, Judges 17:6; and to others who were not kings, properly so called, Psalms 119:46; Luke 22:25; Acts 9:15, &c.

Answ. 2. Moses might well say thus, because he did by the Spirit of prophecy foresee, and therefore could foretell, that the Israelites would have a king, as appears from Deuteronomy 17:14,Deuteronomy 17:15.

Answ. 3. This, with other clauses of the same nature, might be inserted afterwards by some holy and inspired man of God, as it is confessed that part of the last chapter of Deuteronomy was.

Verse 32

Where he was born or dwelt, and so in the rest. The diversity of their cities makes it probable, that these kings had not their power by succession, but either by election, or by usurpation, according to Isaac’s prophecy of them, Genesis 27:40; By thy sword thou shalt live.

Verse 34

Of which land, see Jeremiah 49:7,Jeremiah 49:20, so called either from the city Teman, or from Teman the son of Eliphaz, Genesis 36:11. Or, of the south country, as the ancient translations render it.

Verse 37

The river; either Euphrates, or a branch of it, called Chabras, by which there is even at this day a city called Rahabath-melic, i.e. King’s Rahabath, as the learned observe; or some other river of note in those times and parts.

Verse 39


Matred was the father, and

Mezahab the mother; or

Matred was the mother, and

Mezahab the grandmother.

Verse 40


The names of the dukes, of their persons, and generations, and families. The state of Edom between the times of Esau and Moses seems to have been this; there were first dukes, then kings, and after them dukes again. But if it be objected, that the time was too short for a succession of so many persons, it may be replied, that what is confessed concerning the dukes preceding the kings, might be true also of these succeeding dukes, and that the Edomites either having taken some distaste at kingly government, or differing about the choice of a new king, divided themselves again into several petty principalities or dukedoms; and so several of those were dukes at the same time in divers parts.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 36". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/genesis-36.html. 1685.
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