Genesis 36

The Descendants of Esau

What follows is the account of Esau (also known as Edom).
Chapter 36 records what became of Esau. It will list both his actual descendants as well as the people he subsumed under his tribal leadership, people who were aboriginal Edomites. The chapter is long and complicated (see further J. R. Bartlett, “The Edomite King-List of Genesis 36:31–39 and 1 Chronicles 1:43–50, ” JTS 16 [1965]: 301-14; and W. J. Horowitz, “Were There Twelve Horite Tribes?” CBQ 35 [1973]: 69-71). In the format of the Book of Genesis, the line of Esau is “tidied up” before the account of Jacob is traced (37:2). As such the arrangement makes a strong contrast with Jacob. As F. Delitzsch says, “secular greatness in general grows up far more rapidly than spiritual greatness” (New Commentary on Genesis, 2:238). In other words, the progress of the world far out distances the progress of the righteous who are waiting for the promise.


Esau took his wives from the Canaanites:
Heb “from the daughters of Canaan.”
Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and granddaughter
Heb “daughter,” but see Gen 36:24–25.
of Zibeon the Hivite,
in addition to Basemath the daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.

Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, Basemath bore Reuel, and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These were the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, all the people in his household, his livestock, his animals, and all his possessions which he had acquired in the land of Canaan and went to a land some distance away from
Heb “from before.”
Jacob his brother
because they had too many possessions to be able to stay together and the land where they had settled
Heb “land of their settlements.”
was not able to support them because of their livestock.
So Esau (also known as Edom) lived in the hill country of Seir.
Traditionally “Mount Seir,” but in this case the expression בְּהַר שֵׂעִיר (behar seir) refers to the hill country or highlands of Seir.


This is the account of Esau, the father
The term father in genealogical records needs to be carefully defined. It can refer to a literal father, a grandfather, a political overlord, or a founder.
of the Edomites, in the hill country of Seir.

10  These were the names of Esau’s sons:

Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath.

11  The sons of Eliphaz were:

Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz.

12  Timna, a concubine of Esau’s son Eliphaz, bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons
Or “grandsons” (NIV); “descendants” (NEB).
of Esau’s wife Adah.

13  These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons
Or “grandsons” (NIV); “descendants” (NEB).
of Esau’s wife Basemath.

14  These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and granddaughter
Heb “daughter,” but see Gen 36:24–25.
of Zibeon: She bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah to Esau.

15  These were the chiefs
Or “clan leaders” (so also throughout this chapter).
among the descendants
Or “sons.”
of Esau, the sons of Eliphaz, Esau’s firstborn: chief Teman, chief Omar, chief Zepho, chief Kenaz,
16 chief Korah,
The Samaritan Pentateuch omits the name “Korah” (see v. 11 and 1 Chr 1:36).
chief Gatam, chief Amalek. These were the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these were the sons
Or “grandsons” (NIV); “descendants” (NEB).
of Adah.

17  These were the sons of Esau’s son Reuel: chief Nahath, chief Zerah, chief Shammah, chief Mizzah. These were the chiefs descended from Reuel in the land of Edom; these were the sons
Or “grandsons” (NIV); “descendants” (NEB).
of Esau’s wife Basemath.

18  These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: chief Jeush, chief Jalam, chief Korah. These were the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah.

19  These were the sons of Esau (also known as Edom), and these were their chiefs.

20  These were the sons of Seir the Horite,
The same pattern of sons, grandsons, and chiefs is now listed for Seir the Horite. “Seir” is both the name of the place and the name of the ancestor of these tribes. The name “Horite” is probably not to be identified with “Hurrian.” The clan of Esau settled in this area, intermarried with these Horites and eventually dispossessed them, so that they all became known as Edomites (Deut 2:12 telescopes the whole development).
who were living in the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah,
21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, the descendants
Or “sons.”
of Seir in the land of Edom.

22  The sons of Lotan were Hori and Homam;
Heb “Hemam”; this is probably a variant spelling of “Homam” (1 Chr 1:39); cf. NRSV, NLT “Heman.”
Lotan’s sister was Timna.

23  These were the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho,
This name is given as “Shephi” in 1 Chr 1:40.
and Onam.

24  These were the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah (who discovered the hot springs
The meaning of this Hebrew term is uncertain; Syriac reads “water” and Vulgate reads “hot water.”
in the wilderness as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon).

25  These were the children
Heb “sons,” but since a daughter is included in the list, the word must be translated “children.”
of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah.

26  These were the sons of Dishon:
Heb “Dishan,” but this must be either a scribal error or variant spelling, since “Dishan” is mentioned in v. 28 (see also v. 21).
Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Keran.

27  These were the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.

28  These were the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran.

29  These were the chiefs of the Horites: chief Lotan, chief Shobal, chief Zibeon, chief Anah, 30 chief Dishon, chief Ezer, chief Dishan. These were the chiefs of the Horites, according to their chief lists in the land of Seir.

31  These were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites:
Or perhaps “before any Israelite king ruled over [them].”


32  Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom; the name of his city was Dinhabah.

33  When Bela died, Jobab the son of Zerah from Bozrah reigned in his place.

34  When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites reigned in his place.

35  When Husham died, Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated the Midianites in the land of Moab, reigned in his place; the name of his city was Avith.

36  When Hadad died, Samlah from Masrekah reigned in his place.

37  When Samlah died, Shaul from Rehoboth by the River
Typically the Hebrew expression “the River” refers to the Euphrates River, but it is not certain whether that is the case here. Among the modern English versions which take this as a reference to the Euphrates are NASB, NCV, NRSV, CEV, NLT. Cf. NAB, TEV “Rehoboth-on-the-River.”
reigned in his place.

38  When Shaul died, Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place.

39  When Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor died, Hadad
Most mss of the MT read “Hadar” here; “Hadad” is the reading found in some Hebrew mss, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and Syriac (cf. also 1 Chr 1:50).
reigned in his place; the name of his city was Pau.
The name of the city is given as “Pai” in 1 Chr 1:50.
His wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab.

40  These were the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their families, according to their places, by their names: chief Timna, chief Alvah, chief Jetheth, 41 chief Oholibamah, chief Elah, chief Pinon, 42 chief Kenaz, chief Teman, chief Mibzar, 43 chief Magdiel, chief Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their settlements
Or perhaps “territories”; Heb “dwelling places.”
in the land they possessed. This was Esau, the father of the Edomites.

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