Genesis (Part 164)

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

Genesis 36: 31-43

31 These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. 32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. 33 Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. 34 Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. 35 Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, reigned in his place, the name of his city being Avith. 36 Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. 37 Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates reigned in his place. 38 Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. 39 Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his place, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.

40 These are the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their clans and their dwelling places, by their names: the chiefs Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel, and Iram; these are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession.


This is the home stretch of the chapter on the legacy of Esau. We’ll see if there are any more interesting bits in this last section. Looking at a note on verse 31 from The Pulpit Commentaries, first:

Genesis 36:31

And these (which follow) are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any (literally, before the reigning of a) king over (or, to) the children of Israel.

1. The reference to Israelitish kings in this place has been explained as an evidence of post-Mosaic authorship (Le Clerc, Bleek, Ewald, Bohlen, et alii)or at least as a later interpolation from 1 Chronicles 1:43 (Kennicott, A. Clarke, Lange), but is sufficiently accounted for by remembering that in Genesis 35:11 kings had been promised to Jacob, while the blessing pronounced on Esau (Genesis 27:40) implied that in his line also should arise governors, the historian being understood to say that though the promised kings had not yet arisen in the line of Jacob, the house of Esau had attained at a somewhat early period to political importance (Calvin, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Gerlach, Havernick, and others).

2. The difficulty of finding room for the dukes (seven, four and three, all grandsons of Esau, Genesis 35:15-19), the kings (eight in number, verses 32-39), and again the dukes (in all eleven, verses 40-43), that intervened between Esau and Moses disappears if the kings and dukes existed contemporaneously, of which Exodus 15:15, as compared with Numbers 20:14, affords probable evidence.

3. As to the character of the Edomitish kings, it is apparent that it was not a hereditary monarchy, since in no case does the son succeed the father, but an elective sovereignty, the kings being chosen by the dukes, alluphim, or phylarchs (Keil, Hengstenberg, Kalisch, Gerlach), though the idea of successive usurpations (Lange) is not without a measure of probability.

After verse 31, the remainder of the section tells us about individual rulers. Again from The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 36:32

And Bela the son of Beor (cf. Genesis 14:2, where Bela is the name for Zoar; and Numbers 22:5, where Balaam’s father is called Beer, whence the LXX. has here Βαλὸκ) reigned in Edom (as the first sore-reign): and the name of his city was Dinha-bah—”Concealment,” or “Little Place” (Furst); a place of plunder (Gesenius), the situation of which has not been identified.

The note above makes a reference to Genesis 142:

these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary makes a note of a king mentioned in verse 33:

(33) Jobab.—The LXX. identify him with Job, but on no probable grounds.

The LXX is the Septuagint – which was written by Second Temple period Jews a couple hundred years before the time of Jesus. Though the commentary dismisses the connection to Job, we can wonder if more probably grounds existed at the time. It’s important to remember that records and libraries present at the time no longer exist today.

Continuing on with The Pulpit Commentaries again:

Genesis 36:34

And Jobab died, and HushamHushai; “Haste” (Gesenius)—of the land of Temani (a province in Northern Idumea, with a city Teman which has not yet been discovered) reigned in his stead.

Genesis 36:35

And Husham died, and Hadad—”Shouting,” e.g. for joy (Gesenius); whence “Conqueror” (Furst)—the son of Bedad,—”Separation” (Gesenius)—who smote Midian (vide Genesis 25:2) in the field of Moab (vide Genesis 19:37), reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Avith—“Ruins” (Gesenius), “Twisting” (Murphy), “Hut-Village” (Furst). An attempt has been made (Bohlen) to identify this monarch with the Edomite of the same name who rose against Solomon (1 Kings 11:14); but

(1) this Hadad was not of royal blood, while Solomon’s contemporary was;

(2) this Hadad was a king, while Solomon’s adversary was only a pretender;

(3) this Hadad was a conqueror of the Midianites, while in Solomon’s time the Midianites had vanished from history; and

(4) this Hadad lived and reigned before Israel had any kings (vide Hengstenberg, ‘On the Genuineness of the Pentateuch,’ vol. 2. dissert. 6; and cf. Havernick’s ‘Introd.,’ § 20, and Keil in loco).

Genesis 36:36

And Hadad died, and Samlah—”Covering,” “Garment,” (Gesenius, Furst, Murphy)—of Masrekah—”Vineyard” (Gesenius)—reigned in his stead.

Ellicott provides the following note for verse 37:

(37) Rehoboth by the river.—Heb., Rehoboth hannahar, Rehoboth-of-the-river, so called, perhaps, to distinguish it from Rehoboth-ir (Genesis 10:11). If the river is the Euphrates, this city was not on Edomite ground, and Saul probably reigned in Idumea by right of conquest.

The Pulpit Commentaries contains a brief but interesting note on verse 38:

Genesis 36:38

And Saul died, and Baal-hanan—”Lord of Benignity” (Gesenius)—the son of Achbor—”Mouse” (Gesenius)—reigned in his stead.

The son of “Mouse.”

עַכְבּוֹר ʻAkbôwr, ak-bore’; probably for H5909; Akbor, the name of an Idumaean and of two Israelites:—Achbor.; עַכְבָּר ʻakbâr, ak-bawr’; probably from the same as H5908 in the secondary sense of attacking; a mouse (as nibbling):—mouse.

One wonders how he got that name.

Ellicott gives us a note for verse 39:

(39) Hadar.—He is more correctly called Hadad in the Samaritan text here, and in the Hebrew also in 1 Chronicles 1:50. The two letters r and are in Hebrew so much alike, that they are repeatedly confused with one another. As we have already observed (see Note on Genesis 36:1) he was probably alive when this catalogue of kings was drawn up.

Finally, The Pulpit Commentaries provides a note to cover the remaining verses:

Genesis 36:40-43

And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families, after their places, by their names. It is now generally agreed that this and the ensuing verses contain not a second list of dukes who rose to power on the overthrow of the preceding monarchical institutions (Bertheau, Ainsworth, Patrick), or a continuation of the preceding list of dukes, which had simply been interrupted by a parenthesis about the kings (Bush); but either an enumeration of the hereditary phylarchs who were contemporaneous with Hadar, and in all probability formed, his council (Murphy), or a territorial catalogue of the districts in which the original alluphim who sprang from Esau (Genesis 36:15-19) exercised their sovereignty (Keil, Kalisch, Lange, ‘Speaker’s Commentary’). Duke Timnah,—according to the explanation just given this should perhaps be read duke of Timnah = Amalek, whose mother was Timna (Lange), but this is conjectural—duke Alvah,—or of Alvah, or Allah, closely allied to Alvan (Genesis 36:23)—duke (of) Jetheth,—”Nail” (Gesenius), “Subjugation” (Furst)—duke (of) Aholiba-mah,—vide Genesis 36:2; perhaps Esau’s wife as well as Eliphaz’s concubine gave her name to the district over which her son ruled—duke Elah,—”Strength” (Furst), “Tere-binth” (Murphy)—duke Pinon,—probably equal to Pimon, dark (Gesenius)—duke Kenaz (vide Genesis 36:11), duke Teman (Genesis 36:15), duke Mibzar,—”Fortress,” “Strong City” (Gesenius)—duke Magdiel,—”Prince of God” (Gesenius)—duke Iram:“Citizen” (Gesenius)—these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations (i.e. their capitals, or districts) in the land of their possessions. The word seems to indicate an independent sovereignty within their respective provinces or principalities. He is Esau the father of the Edomites. The clause is equivalent to saying, This Esau (already referred to) was the ancestor of these Edomites.

The note above connects Duke Timnahh to Amalek.

From The Encyclopedia of the Bible:


AMALEK ăm’ ə lĕk, AMALEKITES ăm’ əl’ ĕk īts (עֲמָלֵ֑ק, עֲמָלֵקִ֗י; Gr ̓Αμαλήκ, ̓Αμαληκίτης). An ancient marauding people in the S of Canaan and the Negeb who were fierce enemies of Israel particularly in the earlier part of her history.

1. Early history. Amalek was one of the sons of Eliphaz and a grandson of Esau (Gen 36:15161 Chron 1:36). He was born to Eliphaz by his concubine Timna (Gen 36:12) was one of the tribal chiefs (אַלּוּפ֮, H477) of Edom (Gen 36:1617). There is an earlier reference to the word Amalek in Genesis 14:7 where Chedorlaomer (c. 1900 b.c.) and his associate kings subdued among others, “all the country of the Amalekites,” which reference need not be taken as an anachronism, but is to be understood as possibly a different Amalek, or better, that the term is used to identify the land which later became the home of the Amalekite descendants of Esau. In Numbers 24:20 Balaam prophesied, “Amalek was the first of the nations, but in the end he shall come to destruction.” This reference does not suggest that the early Genesis 14:7 reference to Amalek is in conflict with the Genesis 36:16 statement regarding Amalek, the grandson of Esau. Rather in Numbers 24:20 Amalek as first is to be understood as its being the first among the nations to attack Israel in her Exodus experiences (cf. Exod 17:8Num 14:45).

2. Territory. The Amalekites as a nomadic desert tribe moved in the area from the Sinaitic region and the steppe land of the Negeb in S Canaan, S of Beersheba, over E to include the Arabah region N of Elath and Ezion-geber and possibly the more interior Arabia. See 1 Samuel 15:7 where Saul is said to have “defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt.” This seems to have been the same general area inhabited by the Ishmaelites about whom it is stated: “They dwelt from Havilah to Shur, which is opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria” (Gen 25:18). 1 Samuel 30:12 points to the Amalekite heavy raiding activity in the area of the Negeb, and Judges 6:333 in speaking of the Amalekite association with the kings of the E in their raiding parties suggests that they may have lived sometime together in the Arabian territory toward the E.

The Amalekites also extended their influence farther N into the Philistine country and the region of Ephraim. This is borne out by Judges 12:15 where the area of Ephraim around the town Pirathon (not far from present-day Nablus) is called “the hill country of the Amalekites.” See 1 Samuel 27:5-7 and 30:1 for the fact that Amalek raided Philistine towns like Ziklag (a few m. N of Beersheba) which Achish, king of Gath, had given to David.

3. Amalek and Israel.

a. In the wilderness wanderings. Exodus 17 describes Israel’s first encounter with the wandering Amalekites at Rephidim, a place between the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai (Exod 17:119:2), at which the Israelites camped in their Exodus journey from Egypt. At this place, following the Amalekite attack, Israel defeated her enemy (Exod 17:8-16). Concerning further harassment Moses recounts how, in Israel’s journey from Egypt, Amalek, with no fear of God, attacked their rear guard and cut off those who became physically weak (Deut 25:1718). Moses goes on to command that for this wicked treatment of an oppressed people, Israel later, when in the land of Canaan, was to exterminate the Amalekites (Deut 25:19). That Amalek’s unrelenting and destructive spirit and action against God and the cause of His people Israel was heinous to the Lord is seen later in the reminder to Saul concerning these wilderness incidents and in God’s command that the king is to destroy these God-defying Amalekites (1 Sam 15:23; cf. also Judg 10:12). Thus, the continuing oppressive spirit of this pagan nomadic tribe required a different treatment by the Lord from that which was to be normally carried out; namely, that terms of peace be first offered to a potential enemy (Deut 20:10-12).

After Rephidim, the next major encounter with Amalek came following the report of the spies to Israel that the enemy to the N of Kadesh-barnea in the wilderness of Paran in S Canaan, including the Amalekite forces which dwelt “in the land of the Negeb,” were too strong to conquer, despite the pleadings of Caleb and Joshua to the contrary (Num 13:25-3314:38). Israel rebelled. When God in judgment withdrew His hand of blessing and ordered them to go back S into the wilderness (14:1-25), the people again disobeyed God, and with their own feeble effort attacked the Amalekites. They were completely defeated and chased as far as Hormah (near Arad and Ziklag) (Num 14:39-45Josh 12:1415:30). The reason for the Lord’s concern about disobedient Israel’s encountering Amalek and other enemies without His special power was that the Amalekites who dwelt in both the hill country and in the valleys of S Canaan and the Negeb, were effective fighters in both areas (Num 14:254445).

b. In the period of the Judges. Later in the time of the Judges the Amalekites showed continued harassing activity against Israel. When some men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who exercised some control over the Negeb and the area of Hebron, presumably they also came in contact with the Amalekites who roamed the same general area. This is seen by observing the Kenites who lived with the Amalekites at the city of Amalek (1 Sam 15:56) and that they earlier had taken up this residence with the people in the region of the Negeb near Arad (Judg 1:16), which was only about twenty m. S of Hebron. Observing this connection, there is no need, as some have attempted, to emend the text of Judges 1:16 from “the people” (Heb. הָעָֽם; LXX ὁ λαός) to Amalekite (עֲמָלֵקִ֗י), to try to make agreement with 1 Samuel 15:6, since the connection of the Kenites in these two passages is clear and evidence for changing the text is lacking.

Within this period of the Judges the Amalekites were associated with the Moabites, Ammonites, and Midianites in their marauding activities. This is seen in Judges 3:12-14 in the account of how Eglon, the king of Moab, collected the forces of the Amalekites and the Ammonites and defeated Israel and took the city of palms (evidently Jericho, cf. Deut 34:3). Further, in their song (Judg 5:14) Deborah (who was from Ephraim, 4:5) and Barak speak of how Ephraim had shown strength in rooting out those of the Amalekites who were in its midst (cf. Judg 12:15 and remarks earlier). The RSV in Judges 5:14 wrongly changes the words “in Amalek” to “into the valley,” although that v. indicates in a footnote that the Heb. and Gr. read “in Amalek.” Judges 6:3337:12 depict the Amalekites joining forces with the Midianites (who seem to have wandered in the area of Sinai [Exod 4:19] and wilderness E of Paran [1 Kings 11:18]; and also in the territory E of Gilead [Judg 8:4-12]), and making camel raids against the agriculture communities of Israel as far S as Gaza (6:34). When these peoples came with considerable forces and camped in the Valley of Jezreel (6:33), Gideon and his 300 men, under the direction of the Lord, routed and killed many of them (7:19-23).

c. In the time of Saul1 Samuel 14 and 15 present Saul’s encounter with the Amalekites. According to 1 Samuel 14:4748 the king had fought against this enemy. However, in 1 Samuel 15:2 this people were still flourishing. In the light of Amalek’s past harassment of Israel the Lord commanded Saul to exterminate this enemy (1 Sam 15:1-3). The king attacked and conquered this foe with their city called Amalek (1 Sam 15:4-7) the exact location of which is not known. Evidently the Amalekites had some cities, as this one, in which they sometimes settled, and possibly fulfilled religious obligations as has been shown was the case of nomadic tribes in the Trans-Jordan in connection with a 15th cent. b.c. temple (E. F. Campbell and G. E. Wright, “Tribal League Shrines in Amman and Shechem,” BA, XXXII, No. 4 [Dec., 1969], 104-111). Contrary to God’s command, Saul kept alive the Amalekite king and the best of their livestock (vv. 89). For Saul’s failure to fulfill completely the divine command, Samuel announced to the monarch the Lord’s rejection of him as king (1 Sam 15:10-23). Saul then made a statement of repentance and obtained some public reconciliation with the prophet Samuel, following which the prophet then killed Agag, the Amalekite king (15:24-33).

d. In the time of David. David’s initial encounter with the Amalekites, in the OT record, took place during the time of his association with Achish, king of Gath, when the young Israelite made raids in the S against the Amalekites and others (1 Sam 27:8). Later Amalek raided the Negeb and, in David’s absence, completely conquered Ziklag, taking captive the inhabitants including David’s two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail (1 Sam 30:1-6). Then the future king, through the help of an abandoned Egyp. servant of an Amalekite (30:11-15), found the Amalekite camp, defeated the enemy, and recovered his wives and possessions (30:16-20).

Next, the Amalekite who claimed he had finished killing Saul (cf. 1 Sam 31:3-52 Sam 1:4-10) was killed by David because he had slain “the Lord’s anointed” king (1:14-16), and also had confessed he was an Amalekite (1:813). This demonstrates again Israel’s strong antipathy to Amalek. The psalmist (Ps 83:7) lists Amalek with the avowed enemies of Israel. A summary of David’s conquests of Amalek is given in 2 Samuel 8:12 and 1 Chronicles 18:11.

4. Amalek in later history. The Amalekites seem to have been fairly well controlled under the monarchy, for the OT does not mention them again until the time of Hezekiah (c. 700 b.c.) and only as a remnant whom some of the Simeonites defeated at Mount Seir (i.e., Edom; Gen 32:31 Chron 4:41-43). There is no further Biblical reference.

The Amalekites are famous antagonists of the Israelites throughout the Old Testament as you can read above.

That brings us to the end of Chapter 36. Esau has a significant legacy in history.