Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 24:4

To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau, and to Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it; but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Isaac;   Jacob;   Shechem;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Shechem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Covenant;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Seir;   Shechem;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pillars;   Shechem (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Confessions and Credos;   Covenant;   Ebal;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   Mission(s);   Seir;   Shechem;   Temple of Jerusalem;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Esau;   Shechem;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Jacob (1);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Esau;   Haggadah (Shel Pesaḥ;   Shechem;  

The Biblical Illustrator

Joshua 24:4

I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir.

Certain singular subjects

I. History and the hand of God in it. See: “I gave”; and then again, “I gave.” It is not merely that Esau and Jacob were born of Isaac and Rebekah, but the Lord says, “I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau.” How plainly doth this declare that the hand of God is in human history! At first sight history seems a great tangle, a confusion; but on looking at it more closely we perceive that it is only in appearance a maze, but in fact a marvellous piece of arrangement, exhibiting perfect precision and never-failing accuracy.

1. We see the hand of God in history very strikingly in the raising up of remarkable men at certain special periods. “I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau”: children are the gift of God. This is true not only of Isaac but of all mortal men. God gave to a worthy couple, George Washington; to another pair, John Howard; and to a third, George Whitefield. Each of these, in his own special way, was a Divine gift to men. Children are born with different talents and varied capacities, but all about them which will make them blessings is the gift of God.

2. So also is the hand of God distinctly to be seen in all great events. If Esau captures Mount Seir, then the setting up of the Edomite dominion, bad as it may have been, is from another point of view a matter in which God’s purpose and design are to be noted, for He says: “I gave Esau mount Seir.” In everything that happens, be it small or great, the Lord is present, and His will is done. It is so in all the plottings and manoeuvrings of kings and princes and senates, in the stirs of public opinion, in the marchings of armies, and in all that transpires among mortal men. Though the iniquity of man is seen abundantly, yet the overruling power of God is never absent.

3. To us the hand of God is very visible in our own case. Look at the hand of God that gave to you and to me such parents as we have: I mean those of us who have the great delight of having descended from Christian men and women. Had we anything to do with that? And yet the greatest part of man’s future depends upon the parents of whom he is born. Is not the hand of God in it?

4. And do we not see the hand of God, again, in our children? Bring these gifts of God to God, and say, “Here, Lord, are the children which Thou hast given me. O Lord, let Thy name be named on them, and let Thy grace be glorified in them.”

5. Observe, further, that the Lord’s hand is in all the prosperity which He gives to any. He says, “I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it.” It is by God’s allotment that temporal things fall as they do: even the ungodly have their portion in this life by Divine grant.

6. And, once more, God’s hand is to be seen in the place in which we live. If Esau lives in Mount Seir, it is because God appoints him to be there; and if Israel goes down to Egypt, it is for the selfsame reason. If you and I remove from one place to another, it is sweet to see the cloud moving before us, and to know that the Lord directs our way.

II. Birth and its disappointments. “I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau,” twin children born of godly parents. In that birth there was joy, but sorrow came by it as well as joy. Children are certain cares and doubtful comforts. They may bring to their parents such sorrow that they may be inclined to think the barren happier than the fruitful. Hence it is well for us to leave our hopes of posterity with God; and if we reckon that in a childless house we have missed a great joy, we ought also to reckon that we have missed a mint of trouble by the same fact.

III. Worldlings and their possessions. Why does God so often give possessions to ungodly men? Why do they flourish? Why do they have their portion in this life? Is it not, first, because God thinks little of these things, and therefore gives them to those of whom He thinks little? “Why,” said Luther in his day, “the whole Turkish empire is but a basket of husks that God gives to the hogs, and therefore He hands it over to the unbelievers.” Something infinitely better is reserved for the Lord’s own family. The rich blessing of true grace He reserves for His children and heirs. Do you wish that ungodly men should have less? For my part, I am reconciled to their present prosperity, for it is all they ever will have. Poor souls, let them have as much of it as they may here; they have nothing hereafter. Let those have the treasures of this present evil world who have nothing else. Never quarrel with the Lord for saying, “I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it.” Besides, these comforts may lead them to reflect upon God’s bounty to them; and at any rate they ought to move them to repentance.

IV. The chosen of God and their trials. Esau reigns, but Israel serves; Esau set his nest on high, but Israel crouched by the reeds of the river. The worldling would read the Scripture as if it said, “As many as I love, I caress and pamper”; but the Lord speaketh not so; His word is, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten”; “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.” To carnal reason this seems strange; faith alone can explain it.

1. Israel and his children went down into Egypt, first, for their preservation. Sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions. The salt and bitterness of sorrow often preserves men from the gall and bitterness of sin.

2. They went down into Egypt, next, for their improvement. God often thrusts His people into adversity that He may improve them, arouse them, instruct them, and ennoble them. See to it, that the Lord’s design be fulfilled in you to the full. May the fire and the file, the crucible and the flame, work in you a clearance of dross and rust, and make you pure and bright.

3. They also went down into Egypt for their education. The chosen seed needed teaching; they were getting to be rustic, not to say barbarous, in their manners; acquirements and knowledge were scant among them. They must go down into the seat of ancient learning to acquire arts and sciences and civilisation. For future usefulness it is well that we bear present sorrow, and like Jacob go down into Egypt.

4. And they went down to Egypt, again, that God might display His great power in them. It is worth while to go down into Egypt to come out of it with a high hand and an outstretched arm. Oh, the glory of the Lord in His redeemed! Oh, the lofty destiny of the tried people of God! Oh, the sublimity of their lives even now! There is God in them; there is God about them. “Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.” That is where the story ends, according to my text; but you know the story does not end there after all; for out of Jacob and his children came the Star, the Sceptre, and the Throne. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Joshua 24:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/joshua-24.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; and Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did in the midst thereof: and afterward I brought you out. And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and with horsemen unto the Red Sea. And when they cried out unto Jehovah, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness many days."

True to the ancient form, there appears in these lines a recapitulation of the many gracious actions of the Great King on behalf of his Israelite vassals.

Notice that there is a PRESUMPTION on the part of Joshua here that his audience were in possession of accurate and trustworthy records of all that he mentioned, "rendering it unnecessary to enter into detail."[22] The probability that all of the previous books of the O.T. were written and in existence at the time of this address by Joshua is of a degree that approaches CERTAINTY.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-24.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau,.... When Rebekah was barren, so that the children appeared the more to be the gift of God; though Esau perhaps is mentioned, for the sake of what follows:

and I gave unto Esau Mount Seir to possess it; that Jacob and his posterity alone might inherit Canaan, and Esau and his seed make no pretension to it:

but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt; where they continued many years, and great part of the time in bondage and misery, which is here taken no notice of; and this was in order to their being brought into the land of Canaan, and that the power and goodness of God might be the more conspicuous in it.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-24.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

I gave unto Esau mount Seir — (See on Genesis 36:8). In order that he might be no obstacle to Jacob and his posterity being the exclusive heirs of Canaan.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-24.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

Mount Seir — That he might leave Canaan entire to his brother Jacob and his posterity, Genesis 36:7,8.

Into Egypt — Where they long lived in grievous bondage; which God having delivered us from, I shall now pass it over.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-24.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 24:4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

Ver. 4. But Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.] Where they were held under hard servitude, while Esau and his posterity flourished in mount Seir, having the fat of the earth’s good store, that they might fry the better in hell.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-24.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I gave unto Esau Mount Seir to possess it, that he might leave Canaan entire to his brother Jacob and his posterity, Genesis 36:7,8.

Jacob and his children went down into Egypt, where they long lived in grievous bondage; which God having delivered us from, I shall now pass it over.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-24.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.Mount Seir is a rugged ridge extending along the east side of the Valley of Arabah, from the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf. It was afterwards called Edom. Compare marginal references.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-24.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 24:4. I gave unto Esau mount Seir — That he might leave Canaan entire to his brother Jacob and his posterity, Genesis 36:7-8. But Jacob went down into Egypt — Compelled by a grievous famine, and because the time was not come when God intended to plant him and his posterity in Canaan. In Egypt they suffered a long and grievous bondage, from which God having delivered us, I shall now pass it over.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-24.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Isaac, the promised seed and heir of the blessings, (Calmet) after Ismael was born. (Haydock)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-24.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Jacob and Esau. Compare Genesis 25:25, Genesis 25:26.

Esau. Compare Genesis 36:8. Deuteronomy 2:5

but Jacob. Compare Genesis 46:6.

children = sons.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-24.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

Gave unto Esau mount Seir (see the note at Genesis 36:8-9) - in order that he might be no obstacle to Jacob and his posterity being the exclusive heirs of Canaan.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-24.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
unto Isaac
Genesis 25:24-26
unto Esau
Genesis 32:3; 36:8; Deuteronomy 2:5
Jacob
Genesis 46:1-7; Psalms 105:23; Acts 7:15
Reciprocal: Genesis 15:14 - that;  Genesis 27:39 - Behold;  Genesis 46:6 - into Egypt;  Exodus 5:6 - officers;  2 Chronicles 20:23 - mount Seir;  Psalm 127:3 - children;  Ezekiel 35:2 - mount;  Matthew 1:2 - Isaac begat

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-24.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.But Jacob and his children went down, etc After mentioning the rejection of Esau, he proceeds to state how Jacob went down into Egypt, and though he confines himself to a single expression, it is one which indicates the large and exuberant and clear manifestation of the paternal favor of God. It cannot be doubted, that although the sacred historian does not speak in lofty terms of each miracle performed, Joshua gave the people such a summary exposition of their deliverance as might suffice. First, he points to the miracles performed in Egypt; next, he celebrates the passage of the Red Sea, where God gave them the aid of his inestimable power; and thirdly, he reminds them of the period during which they wandered in the desert.

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-24.html. 1840-57.