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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Edom

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Idumea. ("red".) Esau's surname, the firstborn of Isaac; Jacob's twin brother, who sold his birthright for the red pottage (of yellow brown lentils, dashim ; the cooking of which is still seen in Egyptian representations), from whence came his surname (Genesis 25:29-34). The name was appropriate to Edom's possession, "mount Seir," the mountainous territory having a reddish hue. Seir means rugged, applicable alike to Seir the hirsute (like Esau) progenitor of the Horites, Edom's predecessors, and to their rugged forest covered territory (Genesis 14:6; Genesis 32:3; Genesis 36:1-8; Genesis 36:20-22). It extended from the Dead Sea S. to the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea. Esau, with his 400 armed men (Genesis 32:6), commenced driving out the Horites, and permanently settled in mount Seir after his father's death, yielding Canaan to Jacob, in accordance with his father's blessing.

It is objected to Genesis 36:31 that the language supposes kings had already reigned over Israel. But in Genesis 35:11 "God Almighty" ('Εel Shaday ) had promised Jacob "kings shall come out of thy loins." Moses, too, foretold of the Israelites having a king over them. Naturally then he notices that eight kings had reigned of Esau's family up to his own time, "before the reigning of any king to the children of Israel." The prosperity of the worldly is often immediate and brilliant, but it is transitory; that of God's people is slower in coming, that they may believingly and patiently wait for it, but when it does come it will abide for ever. Of the kingdom of the Messiah, Israel's king, there shall be no end (Luke 1:33). The dukes did not precede the line of Edomite kings, and afterward succeed again (Genesis 36); but a single king (emir) reigned in all Edom contemporaneous with several dukes (skeikhs) or princes of local tribes. The king is mentioned (Judges 11:17), and the dukes a short while before (Exodus 15:15).

Moreover, the monarchy was not hereditary, but the kings apparently were elected by the dukes. The Edomites became "dwellers in the clefts of the rocks" (Jeremiah 49:16; compare 2 Chronicles 25:11-12), like their Horite predecessors who were troglodytes or "dwellers in caves" (Obadiah 1:3-4) Petra (Sela, Hebrew, rock), their chief city, was cut in the rocks. S. Idumea abounds in cave dwellings. Red baldheaded sandstone rocks are intersected by deep seams rather than valleys. In the heart of these, itself invisible, lies Petra (Stanley), Edom' s stronghold in Amaziah's days (2 Kings 14:7). Bozrah, now Buseireh, was its ancient capital, near the N. border. (See BOZRAH.) Elath and Ezion Geber were Edom's seaports; afterward taken by David and made by Solomon his ports for equipping his merchant fleet (2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Kings 9:26).

Edom (100 miles long, 20 broad) stretched Edom of the Arabah valley, southward as far as Elath. Eastward of Elath lay the desert. Israel, when refused a passage through Moab N. of Edom, as also through Edom, went from Kadesh by the S. extremity of Edom past. Elath into the desert E. of Edom (Deuteronomy 2:8; Deuteronomy 2:13-14; Deuteronomy 2:18; Judges 11:17-18; 2 Kings 3:6-9). The Brook Zered (wady el Ahsy) was the boundary between Moab (Kerak) and Edom (now Jebal, Hebrew Gebal, mountainous, the N. district, along with Esh. Sherah, the S. district), Edom subsequently took also the territory once occupied by Amalek, S. of Palestine, the desert of Et Tih ("wandering") (Numbers 13:29; 1 Samuel 15:1-7; 1 Samuel 27:8). Low calcareous hills are on the W. base of the mountain range of igneous porphyry rock, surmounted by red sandstone.

On the E. is a limestone ridge, descending with an easy incline to the Arabian desert. The promised (Genesis 27:40) "fatness of the earth" is in the glens and terraces of Edom (Genesis 27:39), while from their rocky aeries they sallied forth "living by the sword." When navigation was difficult merchants' caravans took Edom as their route from the Persian gulf to Egypt, which became a source of wealth to Edom. At Kadesh Edom came out against Israel, on the latter marching eastward across the Arabah to reach the Jordan River through Edom, and offering to pay for provisions and water; for the rocky country there enabled them to oppose Israel. The wady Ghuweir (where probably was "the king's highway") would be the defile by which Israel tried to pass through Edom being the only practicable defile for an army, with pasture and springs (Numbers 20:14-21).

But Edom dared not resist Israel's passage along their eastern border, which is more defenseless than their frontier toward the Arabah. Edom then at last made a virtue of necessity and let Israel purchase provisions (Deuteronomy 2:2-8; Deuteronomy 2:28-29). In both accounts Israel offered to pay for provisions, and did so at last on Edom's eastern side, whereas they and Moab ought to have "met (Israel as their brother) with bread and water" (Deuteronomy 23:4). Edom was among the enemies on the frontier from whom Saul at the beginning of his reign delivered Israel (1 Samuel 14:47). Hadad the Edomite, who escaped from David's slaughter to Egypt, returned thence from Pharaoh Shishak to excite Edom to revolt against Solomon (1 Kings 11:14). Jehoshaphat of Judah reduced the Edomites 897 B.C., dethroning their king for a deputy from Jerusalem, and trying by a fleet at Ezion Geber to regain the trade; but his vessels were broken by the Edomites or the Egyptians.

Amaziah of Judah killed many thousands in the Valley of Salt near the Dead Sea, and took Selah, afterward Joktheel, the first mention of this extraordinary city (2 Kings 14:7), and adopted their gods of mount Seir. Uzziah built Elath on the opposite side of the bay from Ezion Geber, the Roman (Etana, now Akabah; but in Ahaz' reign the Edomites (as 2 Kings 16:6 should be read for "Syrians") recovered it (2 Kings 14:22). When Israel and Judah declined Edom "broke off Israel's yoke," as Isaac had foretold, in Jehoram's reign (2 Kings 8:20-22), re-conquered their lost cities and invaded southern Judah (2 Chronicles 28:17). Edom also joined the Chaldaeans against the Jews (Psalms 137:7). Hence, the denunciations against Edom in Obadiah 1:1, etc.; Jeremiah 49:7, etc.; Ezekiel 25:12, etc.; Ezekiel 35:3, etc. At the Babylonian captivity they seized on the Amalekite territory, and even Hebron in southern Judaea, so that Idumaea came to mean the region between the Arabah and the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile mount Stir or Edom proper, was occupied by the Nabathaeans (descended from Nebaioth, Ishmael's oldest son and Esau's brother in law), a powerful people of S. Arabia; they founded the kingdom of Arabia Petraea in ancient Edom, and their monarchs took the name Aretas. Aretas, the father-in-law of Herod Antipas (Matthew 14), took Damascus at the time of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:25; 2 Corinthians 11:32). Rome subdued this kingdom of Arabia A.D. 105. Idumea S. of Palestine was joined to Judaea under Judas Maccabaeus and John Hyrcanus. Antipater, one of the Jewish prefects, an Idumean by birth, by the Roman senate's decree (37 B.C.) became procurator of all Judaea. His son was Herod the Great. Just before the siege under Titus 20,000 Idumeans were admitted into Jerusalem and filled it bloodshed and rapine. Muslim misrule finally destroyed Edom's prosperity in fulfillment of prophecy (Ezekiel 35:3-14).

Psalm 44 was written by the sons of Korah in the midst of Edom's invasion of Israel, taking advantage of David's absence at the Euphrates. David was striving with Aram of the two rivers (Naharaim) and Aram-Zobah when Joab returned and smote of Edom in the Valley of Salt (the scene also of Amaziah's victory over Edom, the plain S. of the Dead Sea, where the Ghor or the Jordan Valley ends; the mount of rock salt, Khasm Usdum, is in its N.W. grainer) 12,000 men (2 Samuel 8:13; 2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 10:8; 2 Samuel 10:10-19; 1 Chronicles 18:12; 1 Kings 11:15-16). Israel's slain lay unburied until Joab returned from smiting Edom along with Abishai. The scattering of Israel among the pagan (Psalms 44:11) was but partial, enough to gratify Edom's desire to falsify the prophecy, "the elder shall serve the younger." Edom's spite is marked (Joel 3:19; Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9; Amos 1:11).

Israel pleads faithfulness to the covenant, which suits David's time; also they had no "armies" in Babylon (Psalms 44:9), which precludes the time of the captivity there. David wrote Psalm 60 when victory was in part gained, and he was sending forth the expedition against Edom. Translated in the title, "when David had beaten down Aram of the two floods," "when Joab returned," which he did not do all he had fully conquered the Syrians; Psalms 60:4, "Thou hast given a banner," etc., alludes to this victory and to that over Edom (in 2 Samuel 8:13 "Edom" should be read for "the Syrians," Aram) in the Valley of Salt, the token that the expedition (Psalms 60:9-12) for occupying Edom in revenge for invading Israel would succeed. "Over (rather, to) Edom I will cast out my shoe," as one about to wash his feet casts his shoe to his slave (Matthew 3:11; John 13:8; Acts 13:25); and the casting of the shoe marked transference of possession (Ruth 4:7; Joshua 10:24).

David as king, Joab as commander in chief and Abishai under Joab, smote Edom. Abishai first killed 6,000, Joab afterward 12,000 (as the title of Psalm 60 states); so in all 18,000 (in 2 Samuel 8:13). Edom was also linked with Ammon and Moab in the desperate effort made to root out Israel from his divinely given inheritance (their main guilt, 2 Chronicles 20:11; Psalms 83:12) under Jehoshaphat, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 20. They joined craft with force, marching S. round the Dead Sea instead of from the E. No news reached Jehoshaphat until the vast multitude was in his territory at Engedi; "they have taken crafty counsel," etc. Psalms 83:3-5; Psalms 83:12 probably was written by Jahaziel, of the sons of Asaph, upon whom'" came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation."

Psalm 47 (compare Psalms 47:4-5; Psalms 47:8-9) was sung on the battle field of Berachah ("blessing") after the victory. Psalm 48 was sung "in the midst of God's temple" (Psalms 48:9); Psalms 48:7 alludes to Jehoshaphat's chastisement in the breaking of his Tarshish ships for his ungodly alliance. This danger from within and the foreign one alike God's grace averted. Psalm 83 is the earliest of the series, for it anticipates victory and is a thanksgiving beforehand, which was the very ground of the victory which actually followed (2 Chronicles 20:21-22). See "Studies in the CL. Psalms," by Fausset. N. Edom is now called El Jebal (Gebal), with the villages Tufileh, Buserah, and Shobek. Its S. part is Esh Sherah, inhabited by fellahin; of these the Ammarin are so degraded as not to have the Bedouin virtue of keeping their word. The Liyathoneh are a branch of the Kheibari Jews near wady Musa.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Edom'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/e/edom.html. 1949.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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