Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Genesis 36

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 1-43

Genesis 36:1-43

Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom

The history of the generations of Esau



WE LEARN WHAT IS THE PRINCIPLE UPON WHICH OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY IS WRITTEN. This chapter is a kind of leave-taking of Esau and his posterity. The stream of sacred history leads on to the Messiah, the flower and perfection of our human race. Scripture history is written upon this principle--that it was God’s design throughout to bring His only begotten Son into the world, and, therefore, that family alone in which He is to appear shall have a prominent record.

WE LEARN THAT THE ENEMIES OF GOD MAY BE DISTINGUISHED BY GREAT WORLDLY GLORY AND PROSPERITY. Three times in this chapter we meet with the phrase, “This is Edom”; and once “He is Esau, the father of the Edomites” (Genesis 36:1; Genesis 36:9; Genesis 36:19; Genesis 36:43). They were the bitterest enemies of Israel. Esau is the father of persecutors. Yet Esau was prospered in his lifetime more than his brother. Thus the believer is taught that he must toil slowly upwards, and must not envy the rapid and joyful prosperity of the children of this world. His record and his reward are with the Most High. His prosperity may be late and remote, but it is permanent.

WE LEARN HOW GOD WORKS IN THE FORMATION OF PEOPLES AND NATIONS. The subjugation of the Horites by the Edomites, and the fusion of both under one kingdom, is an instance of the manner in which peoples and nations are formed and consolidated. This has often occurred in history. We have examples in the rise of the Samaritans, and in the formation of the Roman people. And in modern times, we have a similar instance in the subjugation of the Gauls by the Franks. We see that the footsteps of God are to be traced throughout all human history. These nations which lay outside the covenant people were yet under the care and control of that Divine providence which appointed the bounds of their habitation, and watched over their growth and development (Acts 17:26).

WE LEARN, ALSO, THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL ELEMENT IN HISTORY. The personal or individual element appears in all history, but in a most marked manner in sacred history. We see how nations are stamped with the character of their ancestor. (T. H. Leale)


1. The genealogy of the wicked God records for His own ends in His Church.

2. God’s record of the wicked’s line is but to brand them to those who read it (Genesis 36:1).

3. Godless hearts take strange wives--Hittites, Hivites, Ishmaelites--whatever God says against it (Genesis 36:2; Genesis 36:8).

4. Providence doth vouchsafe progeny to wicked and multiplied matches, though He like them not (Genesis 36:4-5).

5. In God’s own time He moveth the hearts of wicked enemies, to turn aside from straitening His Church (Genesis 36:6).

6. Outward portions to the wicked satisfy them in and for their departing from God’s Church (Genesis 36:7).

7. Mount Seir pleaseth Esau better than the land of promise, because he is Edom (Genesis 36:8).

8. The reproach of a profane Esau God maketh to rest upon his posterity (Genesis 36:9).

9. Multitudes of wives and children and offspring God may grant unto the wicked.

10. God hath recorded the wicked End their progeny to distinguish them from His Church (verse 10-14).

11. Dukedoms and dignities in the world is only the ambition of the wicked. The saint’s is of another kind (2 Corinthians 5:1-21; 2 Corinthians 6:1-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1-16; 2 Corinthians 8:1-24; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15).

12. Dignities can never blot out the stain of sin from God’s presence. The Dukes are Edomites still (verse 15-19). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


The name and line of the wicked are mentioned by God’s Spirit for distinction, not for honour to them.

2. Horites, Hittites, and Hivites are the national titles of the same sort of sinful people.

3. Uncleanness and unnaturalness are recorded in the wicked’s line to make them stink.

4. A numerous progeny with dignity may be the portion of the wicked here below.

5. Affinity with persons that are wicked, usually bring souls to affinity with their sins.

6. God suffers and orders the wicked to join so in affinity, in order to the destroying of each other. So it was with Seir and Edom (verse 20-30.) (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Worldly men are ambitious of the highest titles of honour. Kings and dukes.

2. Earthly kingdoms God may order to the wicked (a settled government) before His Church (Genesis 36:31).

3. Stinted are the numbers of kings and dignities by God in the world.

4. God maketh some notable for exploits above others. Hadad vanquisheth Midian.

5. Kings and queens are sometimes recorded for their shame by God’s Spirit.

6. God overturneth and changeth states and government at His pleasure.

7. Profane fathers and profane children are branded by God’s Spirit together, where mention is made of them. (G. Hughes, B. D.)

Increase of Esau’s house

The text systematically shows the gradual growth and increase of the house of Esau. Through his three wives he became the father of five sons; Adah and Bashemath gave each birth to one son (Eliphaz the firstborn (Genesis 36:15), and Reuel). and Aholibamah to three (Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah). These children were born to him in Canaan. But he could no longer stay in the land of his birth. His herds and flocks were too numerous to find room, by the side of those of his brother Jacob; and he emigrated spontaneously. But this took place a very considerable time before the events related in the preceding chapter; for when Jacob returned from Mesopotamia, he sent messengers to Esau into Idumea, and promised to visit him later in Seir. But this circumstance does not imply a contradiction. Our portion records the history of Esau as far as it relates to political power; it, therefore, goes back to the fortieth year of his life when he first married. He had then long sold his birthright; he had, no doubt, heard the prophecy given to his mother, that to his younger brother Jacob, the inheritance of the blessings of Abraham was reserved; when, therefore, his father Isaac advanced in years and became afflicted with infirmity, Jacob was regarded as the future head of the house, and as such obtained the superintendence over his father’s property; the cattle of Isaac was, therefore, considered as that of Jacob; and it was within the thirty-eight years between his marriage and Jacob’s flight, that Esau, at that time not inimical to his brother, left Canaan, thus willingly acknowledging the superior rights of Jacob, and spontaneously resigning his own claims upon the land. When Isaac, at the age of nearly 140 years, wish to bless his firstborn and favourite son, he sent for him to his new abodes; and Esau answered to the call, just as he came later to Canaan, at his father’s death, to assist at the funeral duties. (M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

Verse 7

Genesis 36:7

For their riches were more

Riches cannot secure happiness

“I wish I were rich, I would buy everything,” cried Charlie.

“The sun, moon, and stars?” inquired William. “No; everything that can be had for money.” “That’s not happiness,” said William. “Get your hat, Charlie, and come with me to Mr. Morrison’s,” said his father. “Oh, please not, papa, he is such a disagreeable, miserable old man, with his cross looks and gouty foot, hobbling about and groaning.” “I think you would like to live with him,” said his father. “I, papa? I would rather live down a coal-pit!” “With him you would have all that can be bought with money.” “I see it won’t do,” said Charlie. “Health cannot be bought with money.” “Nor good temper, nor friendship, nor life,” said William. “Above all,” added their papa, “the favour of God cannot be bought with money. Be content with as much of it as God gives, and seek to use it aright.”

“The fear of God and sweet content Yield riches that will ne’er be spent.”.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 36". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/genesis-36.html. 1905-1909. New York.
Ads FreeProfile