Genesis (Part 163)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis 36: 20-30

20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23 These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24 These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of Zibeon his father. 25 These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26 These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27 These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 28 These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These are the chiefs of the Horites: the chiefs Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, chief by chief in the land of Seir.


This section focuses on the sons of Seir the Horite. From The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 36:20Genesis 36:21

These are the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land. The primitive inhabitants of Idumea were Horites (vide Genesis 14:6), of whom the ancestor, Seir (“Rugged”), either gave his name to, or took his name from, the district in which he lived. Though ultimately driven out by the Edomites (Deuteronomy 2:12), they were probably only gradually dispossessed, and not until a portion of them had coalesced with their conquerors, as Esau himself had a Horite wife, Aholibamah, and his son Eliphaz a Horite concubine of the name of Thuna. They were, as the name Horite, from chor, a hole or cavern, imports a race of troglodytes or cavemen, who dwelt in the sandstone and limestone eaves with which the land of Edom abounds. The cave palaces, temples, and tombs that have been excavated in Mount Seir are still astonishing in their grandeur. Lotan,—”Wrapping up” (Gesenius)—and Shobal,—”Flowing” (Gesenius)—and Zibeon, and Anah (this Anah was the uncle of the Anah mentioned in Genesis 36:25), and Dishan,—”Gazelle” (Gesenius, Furst)—and Eser,—”Treasure” (Gesenius)—and Dishan:—same as Dishon (Gesenius, Furst); “Threshing” (Murphy)—these are the dukes of, the Horites, the children of Seir in the land of Edom.

What do we know about Mount Seir today? From Wiki:

Mount Seir (Hebrew: הַר-שֵׂעִיר, Har Se’ir) is the ancient and biblical name for a mountainous region stretching between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in the northwestern region of Edom and southeast of the Kingdom of Judah. It may also have marked the older historical limit of Ancient Egypt in Canaan. A place called “Seir, in the land of Shasu” (ta-Shasu se`er, t3-sh3sw s`r), thought to be near PetraJordan, is listed in the temple of Amenhotep III at Soleb (ca. 1380 BC).

The modern Arabic equivalent is thought to be Jibal ash-Sharah (Arabic: جبال الشراة, romanizedJibāl ash-Sharāhlit.‘Mountains of Sharāh’) in Jordan.

That’s interesting. “Cave dwellers” takes on a different connotation when the name “Petra” is invoked. Petra conjures images of the magnificent Ad Deir monastery, carved into a cliff face, and a famous Hollywood movie. Is there a connection between the Horites and the people who built the magnificent and still-famous Ad Deir? Not really except perhaps an ancestral one. But let’s establish the establish the timeline and history a little more, anyway. From


boz’-ra (botsrah, “sheepfold”; Bosorrha, Bosor):

(1) The capital of Edom, a city of great antiquity (Genesis 36:33 1 Chronicles 1:44 Isaiah 34:6Isaiah 63:1 Jeremiah 49:13 Amos 1:12). It may be identical with Buceirah, which lies about 7 miles Southwest of Tufileh, on the main road to Petra.

Again, this places Mount Seir in the close vicinity with Petra. When was Petra ruled by the Edomites? According to wikipedia, the area was ruled by Edomites during the Iron Age.

Ad Deir – Monastery – ruins carved in rocky wall at Petra Jordan.

The Iron Age lasted between 1200 and 600 BC, in that time, the Petra area was occupied by the Edomites. This came when the Edomites rebelled after the death of King Solomon in 928 B.C. when Israel split into two kingdoms for Israel to be in the North and Judah in the south. The Edomites were known as descendents of Esau and this was referenced in the Old Testament of the bible. The configuration of mountains in Petra allowed for a reservoir of water for the Edomites. This made Petra a stopping ground for Merchants, making it an outstanding area for trade. Things that were traded here included wines, olive oil and wood.

Initially, the Edomites were accompanied by Nomads who eventually left, but the Edomites stayed and made their mark on Petra before the emergence of the Nabataens. They were then engaged in battle with King Amaziah of Judah and chased back into their own lands. It is said that 10,000 men were thrown off of the mountain Umm el-Biyara. This story has been debated by scholars, as it is in so-called biblical times.

The Edomite site excavated at the top of the Umm el-Biyara mountain at Petra was established no earlier than the seventh century BCE (Iron II).

The blurb here places the Edomites in Petra in 928 B.C. though it does not explicitly rule out an earlier presence. From the standpoint of connecting these people to Esau, this is very relevant, inasmuch as Abraham is often dated to before 2,000 B.C. An early Bronze Age Abraham would seem to mean that Esau lives not long after – and perhaps predated the historical records of the Edomites by hundreds of years. This type of relationship is not entirely unheard of. Many nations are named for an individual person who lived hundreds of years earlier. From historical records, we know the following about Edom:

Edom (/ˈiːdəm/Edomite: 𐤀𐤃𐤌 ’EdāmHebrewאֱדוֹם ʼÉḏōm, lit.: “red”; Akkadian: 𒌑𒁺𒈪 Udumi, 𒌑𒁺𒈬 UdumuAncient Egyptianjdwmꜥ) was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah to the west, and the Arabian Desert to the south and east. Most of its former territory is now divided between present-day southern Israel and Jordan. Edom appears in written sources relating to the late Bronze Age and to the Iron Age in the Levant.

Edomites are related in several ancient sources including the Tanakh, a list of the Egyptian pharaoh Seti I from c. 1215 BC as well as in the chronicle of a campaign by Ramesses III (r. 1186–1155 BC). Archaeological investigation has shown that the nation flourished between the 13th and the 8th century BC and was destroyed after a period of decline in the 6th century BC by the Babylonians. After the fall of the kingdom of Edom, the Edomites were pushed westward towards southern Judah by nomadic tribes coming from the east; among them were the Nabataeans, who first appeared in the historical annals of the 4th century BC and had already established their own kingdom in what used to be Edom by the first half of the 2nd century BC. More recent excavations show that the process of Edomite settlement in the southern parts of the Kingdom of Judah and parts of the Negev down to Timna had started already before the destruction of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar II in 587/86 BC, both by peaceful penetration and by military means and taking advantage of the already-weakened state of Judah.

Once pushed out of their territory, the Edomites settled during the Persian period in an area comprising the southern hills of Judea down to the area north of Be’er Sheva. The people appear under a Greek form of their old name, as Idumeans or Idumaeans, and their new territory was called Idumea or Idumaea (Greek: Ἰδουμαία, Idoumaía; Latin: Idūmaea), a term that was used in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, also mentioned in the New Testament. During the 2nd century BC, the Edomites were forcibly converted to Judaism by the Hasmoneans, and were incorporated into the Jewish nation.

Edom and Idumea are two related but distinct terms; they relate to a historically-contiguous population but to two separate, if adjacent, territories which the Edomites/Idumeans occupied in different periods of their history. The Edomites first established a kingdom (“Edom”) in the southern area of modern-day Jordan and later migrated into the southern parts of the Kingdom of Judah (“Idumea”, or modern-day southern Israel/Negev) when Judah was first weakened and then destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC.

The Edomites may have been connected with the Shasu and Shutu, nomadic raiders mentioned in Egyptian sources. Indeed, a letter from an Egyptian scribe at a border fortress in the Wadi Tumilat during the reign of Merneptah reports movement of nomadic “shasu-tribes of Edom” to watering holes in Egyptian territory. The earliest Iron Age settlements—possibly copper mining camps—date to the 9th century BC. Settlement intensified by the late 8th century BC and the main sites so far excavated have been dated between the 8th and 6th centuries BC. The last unambiguous reference to Edom is an Assyrian inscription of 667 BC; it has thus been unclear when, how and why Edom ceased to exist as a state.

Edom is mentioned in Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions in the form 𒌑𒁺𒈪 Udumi and 𒌑𒁺𒈬 Udumu; three of its kings are known from the same source: Ḳaus-malaka at the time of Tiglath-pileser III (c. 745 BC), Malik-rammu at the time of Sennacherib (c. 705 BC), and Ḳaus-gabri at the time of Esarhaddon (c. 680 BC). According to the Egyptian inscriptions, the “Aduma” at times extended their possessions to the borders of Egypt. After the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians, Edomites settled in the region of Hebron. They prospered in this new country, called by the Greeks and Romans “Idumaea” or “Idumea”, for more than four centuries Strabo, writing around the time of Jesus, held that the Idumaeans, whom he identified as of Nabataean origin, constituted the majority of the population of Western Judea, where they commingled with the Judaeans and adopted their customs. A view shared by modern scholarly works which consider these Idumaeans as of Arab, possibly Nabataean, stock.

The existence of the Kingdom of Edom was asserted by archaeologists led by Ezra Ben-Yosef and Tom Levy, by using a methodology called the punctuated equilibrium model in 2019. Archaeologists mainly took copper samples from Timna Valley and Faynan in Jordan’s Arava valley dated to 1300-800 BC. According to the results of the analysis, the researchers thought that Pharaoh Shoshenk I of Egypt (the Biblical “Shishak“), who attacked Jerusalem in the 10th century BC, encouraged the trade and production of copper instead of destroying the region. Tel Aviv University professor Ben Yosef stated “Our new findings contradict the view of many archaeologists that the Arava was populated by a loose alliance of tribes, and they’re consistent with the biblical story that there was an Edomite kingdom here.

It is a near scholarly consensus that the Nabataean people built the Ad Seir monastery monument, only a few hundred years before Jesus (and well after the time of Esau’s life.) However, there does seem to be some belief that Esau is an ancestor to people of this region, and that his original people co-mingled with “cave dwellers.” Perhaps they carved their own caves and that served as a beginning point for people occupying this land hundreds of years later.

[I plan to eventually dive into Biblical timeline quite deeply later in this study or after its official text-study conclusion. One of the great issues with the Patriarchs seems to be how tricky it is to pin down exactly when they lived and how the Biblical narrative of their lives fits in with the understood archaeology of the surrounding cultures and nations. However, at least starting with Abraham, we are given enough information to undertake the task.]

Alright, after that very long aside, let us return to the text with The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 36:22

And the children of Lotan were Hori—the name of the tribe (Genesis 36:20)—and Hemam:—or, Homam (1 Chronicles 1:39); “Destruction” (Gesenius), “Commotion” (Furst, Murphy)—and Lotan’s sister was Timna—probably the concubine of Eliphaz (Genesis 36:12).

Genesis 36:23

And the children of Shobal were these; Alvan,—or Alian (1 Chronicles 1:40); “Unjust” (Gesenius), “Lofty” (Furst, Murphy)—and Manahath,—”Rest” (Gesenius)—and Ebal,—”Stripped of leaves” (Gesenius, Murphy); “Bare Mountain” (Furst)—Shepho,—or Shephi (1 Chronicles 1:40);” Nakedness” (Gesenius)—and Onam—”Strong” (Gesenius).

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary makes the following note about verse 24:

(24) Anah that found the mules.—Mules is the traditional rendering of the Jews; but as horses were at this date unknown in Palestine, Anah could not have discovered the art of crossing them with asses, and so producing mules. Jerome, moreover, says that “the word in Punic, a language allied to Hebrew, means hot springs;” and this translation is now generally adopted. Lange gives a list of hot springs in the Edomite region, of which those of Calirrhoe, “the stream of beauty,” in the Wady Zerka Maion, are probably those found by Anah.

Here is the Strong’s Dictionary definition of the word whichis the source of this confusion:

יֵם yêm, yame; from the same as H3117; a warm spring:—mule.

I’ll quote the notes from The Pulpit Commentary covering the rest of this section:

Genesis 36:25

And the children of Anah—the brother of Zibeon (Genesis 36:20)—were these; Dishon,—named after his uncle (Genesis 36:21and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah. This Aholibamah was not Esau’s wife, but the cousin of Esau’s wife’s father.

Genesis 36:26

And these are the children of Dishon;—the son of Seir (Genesis 36:21)—Hemdan,—or Amrara (1 Citron. 1.41); “Pleasant” (Gesenius)—and Eshban,—or Heshbon; “Reason,” “Understanding” (Gesenius); “Intelligent,” “Hero” (Furst)—and Ithran,—the same as Jethro and Jithron; “the Superior or Excellent One” (Gesenius, Furst, Murphy, Lange)—and Cheran—”Harp” (Gesenius), “Companion” (Furst).

Genesis 36:27

The children of Ezer are these; Bilhan,—”Modest” (Gesenius), “Tender” (Furst)—and Zaavan,—”Disturbed “(Gesenius)—and Akan—Jakan (1 Chronicles 1:42); “Twisting” (Gesenius, Murphy).

Genesis 36:28

The children of Dishan are these; Uz,—”Sandy” (Gesenius, Furst)—and Aran—”Wild Goat” (Gesenius); “Power,” “Strength” (Furst).

Genesis 36:29Genesis 36:30

These are the dukes that came of the Horites; duke Lotan, duke Shobal, duke Zibeon, duke Anah, duke Dishon, duke Eser, duke Dishan: these are the dukes that came of Hori, among (rather, according to) their dukes in the land of Seir.

These verses are genealogical and verse 30 wraps this section up.

Believe it or not, we still have a long way to go before we are done discussing Esau’s line of descent. If Genesis devotes an entire chapter to this – and a long one at that – so I want to proceed forward with due consideration for how important this information might be.