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Most Christians would skip over this chapter. Why should they read a long list of names? Why not go to a more exciting chapter instead? This chapter is not dead! It contains the names of real people. If we could trace their ancestry we would get right back to some of us! The list contains names of the ‘dukes’ or chiefs of tribes, the founders of nations later to be vanquished by the Israelites who came out of Egypt…their own distant relatives.

Bible chapters containing nothing but names are important, because they show us real people in real time. They truly lived and died. They are, or were, like us, and God determined to have them listed, for His own purposes.

These people are not the line of Abraham but the line of Esau…the ‘others’ in the world. Christians are the remnant who are saved. The ‘rest’, like those listed here, are the others. We don’t know, of course, if any of those listed were believers. The text does not tell us.

Before I sat down to write this study I heard a well-known comedy writer on the radio saying that it was not likely he would succumb to any religion at his age (middle age). That is where God excels! He calls ‘whoever’ and that is the end of the argument! Often, we think of this or that unbeliever – maybe in our own family – and think all is lost. But, if God has chosen that person, he or she will come to Christ, at the appointed time.

Even the worst sinner can come to Christ. It is up to God, not us. That is why we must keep praying for our loved ones, and for those who appear to be the most ardent offenders of God and Man.

Verses 1-8

  1. “Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.

  2. Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;

  3. And Bashemath Ishmael's daughter, sister of Nebajoth.

  4. And Adah bare to Esau Eliphaz; and Bashemath bare Reuel;

  5. And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these are the sons of Esau, which were born unto him in the land of Canaan.

  6. And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob.

  7. For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.

  8. Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.”

We are now given a long list of Esau’s descendants, and the name given to Esau by others – Edom (‘red’), obviously because it accurately described his general appearance of ruddiness and red hair. The list begins with the wives he took when his father was alive, knowing he should not have gone outside of his own kin. The wives were Adah (‘ornament’: also called Bashemath) and Aholibamah (‘tent of the high place’).

Adah was from the Hittite nation, the Hittim, descendants of Heth, son of Canaan (whose father was Ham). Aholibamah descended from Ham, also, through Canaan. Though descended from Heth, his tribes, living in Turkey, were overcome by Indo-Europeans who spoke a language called Nesian, which replaced the original Hattili. It is unsure where these Hittite women actually came from – north of Palestine, the Hittite nation? Possibly Egypt, where some had migrated. On the other hand Jewish scholars believe the writer of Genesis used the name ‘Hittite’ loosely in away that was usual by both Assyrians and Hebrews at that time, so we might never know. All we really know is that Adah was from Hittite stock.

The Hivites lived around the Shechem region. Some scholars think the Hivites are also known as the Hurrians or Horites, both names being used interchangeably. It seems that the Hivites originally came from Eastern Turkey.

Bashemath (‘spice’) was Ishmael’s daughter. Adah had a son, Eliphaz (effectively this means ‘my God is fine gold’). Bashemath, had Reuel (‘friend of God’). Aholibamah had three sons – Jeush (‘assembler’), Jaalam (‘concealed’), and Korah (‘bald’) who is also mentioned as one of the ‘dukes of Edom’.

To give Jacob and his flocks and herds an opportunity to use the land freely, Esau took all his family and goods away to Edom at Mount Seir (‘hairy’ or ‘shaggy’). This was either in northern Judah or south of the Dead Sea. By this time both brothers were very rich.

Verses 9-16

  1. “And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir:

  2. These are the names of Esau's sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau.

  3. And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz.

  4. And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau's son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau's wife.

  5. And these are the sons of Reuel; Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah: these were the sons of Bashemath Esau's wife.

  6. And these were the sons of Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau's wife: and she bare to Esau Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah.

  7. These were dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn son of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz,

  8. Duke Korah, duke Gatam, and duke Amalek: these are the dukes that came of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons of Adah.”

For a reason not given to us, some of the information is repeated. No doubt it was repeated because, at the time Genesis was written, it had more relevance for those reading it. We are then given the name of six sons born to Eliphaz: Teman (‘south’); Omar (‘speaker’ or ‘eloquent’); Zepho (‘watch-tower’); Gatam (‘a burnt valley’); and Kenaz (‘hunter’). Eliphaz had a concubine named Timna (‘restrained’), and she had a son by Eliphaz, named Amalek (‘dweller in a valley’). He later became the founder of the Amalekites in southern Canaan.

Reuel, Adah’s son, had: Nahath (‘rest’); Zerah (‘rising’); Shammah (‘astonishment’); Mizzah (‘fear’). These were the “sons of Bashemath, Esau’s wife”. That is, the sons born to her children. Seven sons were ‘dukes’. In this text the word means chiefs or tribes.

Verses 17-19

  1. “And these are the sons of Reuel Esau's son; duke Nahath, duke Zerah, duke Shammah, duke Mizzah: these are the dukes that came of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Bashemath Esau's wife.

  2. And these are the sons of Aholibamah Esau's wife; duke Jeush, duke Jaalam, duke Korah: these were the dukes that came of Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau's wife.

  3. These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes.”

More sons, already mentioned, are referred to as ‘dukes’ and most of them were founders of tribes later to be displaced by the Hebrews when they came out of Egypt. Thus, distant families warred with each other when the Hebrews took over Canaan.

Verses 20, 21

  1. “These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah,

  2. And Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan: these are the dukes of the Horites, the children of Seir in the land of Edom.”

We are now given the names of the sons of Seir the patriarch of the Horites, who lived in the land of Edom when Esau’s tribes moved there. The sons were: Lotan (‘covering’); Shobal (‘flowing’); Zibeon (‘coloured’); Anah (‘answer’); Dishon (‘thresher’); Ezer (‘treasure’) and Dishan (same as Dishon, his brother: ‘thresher’).

Verses 22-24

  1. “And the children of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan's sister was Timna.

  2. And the children of Shobal were these; Alvan, and Manahath, and Ebal, Shepho, and Onam.

  3. And these are the children of Zibeon; both Ajah, and Anah: this was that Anah that found the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father.”

Then we come to the children of Lotan, grandsons of Seir: Hori (‘cave dweller’); Hemam (‘exterminating’); and a granddaughter, Timna (‘restrained’). The children of Sobal were: Alvan (‘tall’); Manahath (‘rest’); Ebal (‘stone’ or ‘bare mountain’); Shepho (‘bold’); Onam (‘vigorous’).

Zibeon had Ajah (‘falcon’); Anah (‘answer’) – the one who ‘found the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father.’

Verses 25-28

  1. “And the children of Anah were these; Dishon, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah.

  2. And these are the children of Dishon; Hemdan, and Eshban, and Ithran, and Cheran.

  3. The children of Ezer are these; Bilhan, and Zaavan, and Akan.

  4. The children of Dishan are these: Uz, and Aran.”

The children of Anah were Dishon (‘thresher’); and Aholibamah (‘tent of the high place’). The children of Dishon were Hemdan (‘desire’); Eshban (‘fire of discernment’); Ithran (‘advantage’); and Cheran (‘lyre’). Ezer’s children were: Bilhan (‘their decrepitude’); Zaavan (‘troubled’); and Akan (‘sharp-sighted’). Dishan had two children: Uz (‘wooded’); and Aran (‘joyous’).

Verses 29, 30

  1. “These are the dukes that came of the Horites; duke Lotan, duke Shobal, duke Zibeon, duke Anah,

  2. Duke Dishon, duke Ezer, duke Dishan: these are the dukes that came of Hori, among their dukes in the land of Seir.”

The names of the dukes or chiefs are now repeated. They were the founders of tribes that became small nations, those conquered by the Israelites later.

Verses 31-35

  1. “And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.

  2. And Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom: and the name of his city was Dinhabah.

  3. And Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his stead.

  4. And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his stead.

  5. And Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who smote Midian in the field of Moab, reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Avith.”

We are now given the names of ancient kings who ruled over Edom before Israel took the land: Belah (‘destruction’) son of Beor (‘burning’), whose chief city was Dinhabah (‘give thou judgement’). Next in line came Jobab (‘a desert’), son of Zerah (‘rising’) of Bozrah (‘sheepfold’ or ‘fortress’). After him came a new king from Temani (‘southward’), named Husham (‘haste’).

Then came Hadad (‘mighty’), son of Bedad (‘solitary’), who won a decisive battle over the Midianites in Moab. His chief city was Avith (‘ruins’).

Verses 36-39

  1. “And Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his stead.

  2. And Samlah died, and Saul of Rehoboth by the river reigned in his stead.

  3. And Saul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his stead.

  4. And Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Pau; and his wife's name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab.”

Samlah (‘garment’) of Masrekah (‘vineyard of noble vines’) was the next king, followed by Saul (‘desired’) of Rehoboth (‘wide places of streets’) ‘by the river’. When he died, there came Baal-hanan (‘Baal is gracious’) son of Achbor (‘mouse’).

His successor was Hadar (‘honour’), whose chief city was Pau (‘bleating’). For reasons not given we are also given the name of his wife, Mehetabel (‘favoured of God’). She was the daughter of Matred (‘pushing forward’), and the granddaughter of Mezahab (‘waters of gold’). Hadar is the last named kind of ancient Edom. For us today the names mean nothing, but they show us that the history of the Bible is real. The people were real. Their kingdoms were real; they arose and fell as do all kingdoms of men.

Verses 40-43

  1. “And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families, after their places, by their names; duke Timnah, duke Alvah, duke Jetheth,

  2. Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon,

  3. Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar,

  4. Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites.”

“He is Esau the father of the Edomites”. Esau was the patriarch of many chiefs or dukes. The many thousands who were fought against by Israel descended from Esau, brother of Jacob, because it was prophesied – the eldest son would be the servant of the youngest. The descendants of Esau would bow the knee to the descendants of Jacob. In this chapter we have the names of the tribes who would fall to Israel, a testimony to the factual and accurate foretelling of God.

The dukes were Timnah (restrained’, not to be confused with the daughter of Seir); Alvah (‘evil’); Jetheth (‘a nail’); Aholibamah (‘tent of the high place’, not to be confused with the female name); Elah (‘an oak’); Pinon (‘darkness’). Also, Kenaz (‘hunter’); Teman (‘south’); mibzar (‘fortress’); Magdiel (‘prince of God’); and, finally, Iram (‘belonging to a city’).

You will note that some names include reference to ‘God’. This might simply be an affiliation with Jacob’s ancestry, or with his family’s holy past; it might be a reference to some in Esau’s family who were followers of the one, true God. Whatever the reason for naming Edomite children this way, it still stands that the descendants of these mighty men were removed by God and His people.


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