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Genesis 32 - 36

JACOB IN CANAAN     Genesis 32-36

    32:2     THIS  IS  GODíS  HOST

It was appropriate, and a testimony of Godís loving grace, that just at this time Jacob once agin saw some of the angels of God, as he had in his dream at Bethel many years before (Genesis 28:12). Humanly speaking, Jacob was almost helpless, with only a small band of servants to fight for him and his family if opposition were encountered. Labanís band could easily have destroyed them, apart from God; and he had every reason to think that Esau likewise would have, by this time, a much larger body of fighting men than he did. Consequently, Jacob had to depend solely on the Lord. "This is Godís army!" The word Mahanaim means "Two Hosts." His small host and Godís bigger one.

    32:4 I     HAVE  SOJOURNED

Rashi takes these words to mean: ĎI have not become a prince but an only a "sojourner"; therefore thou hast no cause to hate me because of my fatherís blessing, in which I was promised to be made greater than thou. It has not been fulfilled. Jacob had learned that Esau lived in the region south of the Dead Sea, in the "land of Seir," so named after a Horite chieftain who had apparently formerly inhabited the area (Genesis 36:20). It had also come to be known as the "field of Edom," after Esauís own nickname (Genesis 25:30).

    32:4     MY  LORD  ESAU

Jacob instructed his servants precisely how to address Esau, acknowledging Esau as Jacobís "lord," in whose sight he desired to find favor. He wished to indicate further that he had no desire to claim any of Esauís possessions, since he had acquired ample goods for himself through his sojourn with their Uncle Laban.


Esau, on his part, had apparently heard that Jacob was migrating back to Canaan. Though his anger against Jacob had long since cooled, he himself did not know what Jacobís intentions might be. He was able to commandeer a force of no less than four hundred men, probably men whom he had used in conquering the region of Seir where he now lived.

THE PRAYER   Genesis  32:9-12 

9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which sadist unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
12 And thou sadist, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

These verses record Jacobís prayer under what he had full reason to believe were desperate and, humanly speaking, almost hopeless circumstances. In many respects, it is a fine pattern of prayer for believers under similar circumstances, when, after doing all they know how to do, and trying as well as they know how to follow the Lordís guidance, they are still confronted with what seem to be insurmountable problems. Jacob:

1. "reminded" God of His promises. (You have to know what His promises are first)
2. Thanked Him for His previous blessings and leading. (Praise Him first before your request)
3. Acknowledged his own unworthiness. (We come through Jesusí blood not our good deeds)
4. Thrust himself on God for deliverance. (The battle and victory is His not our own)
5. God is "Elohim" (the God of power who had so marvelously blessed and protected) and "Jehovah" (the Lord who is faithful in His covenant promise, the merciful, redeeming One).

    32:13-20     THE GIFT

The gift which he sent was very large, amounting to a total of 580 animals, a fact which in itself is a striking commentary on the degree to which God had blessed Jacob in material possessions. His animals included goats and sheep, cattle, camels, and asses, and he designated some of each for Esau. He had little time to assemble them; so he took merely of "that which came to his hand," dividing them apparently into five separate droves; (Five Denotes Divine grace. It is God adding His gifts and blessing to the works of His hands. The Greek for Grace, is also a multiple of five. It is the leading factor in the Tabernacle measurements.) First the goats, then the sheep, then the camels, then the cattle, then the asses. He told his servants to keep a good distance between the respective droves, so that in effect Esau would receive five separate gifts at different times.

    32:18     IT  IS  A  PRESENT

He instructed the servants in command of each drove to tell Esau that the animals were a gift from Jacob, who was following along behind them.. Each shepherd was to follow his herd, rather than lead it, in order to impress Esau first of all with the herd, then the message that the herd was a gift for him.


These gifts should not be regarded as a bribe on Jacobís part, but rather as an expression of good will and conciliation. Regardless of Esauís intentions, Jacob had good reason to believe God would protect him, as He had promised. God had turned Laban back, and He could do the same with Esau; furthermore, the angels at Mahanaim had given Jacob further assurance.

Notice the three methods Jacob uses:

1. First defense was Prayer to God for His protection (vv. 10-13).
2. Second defense was turn Esauís hate into goodwill by Gifts (vv. 14-22).
3. Third defense was stand his ground and fight (Gen. 33:1-3).

The Midrash states that ĎEven greater anguish possessed him at the thought that he might be compelled to slay. (32:7)


After dispatching the droves, Jacob remained behind with his family and the rest of his company to spend the night in the encampment by the river Jabbok, a stream which flows west into the Jordan, entering it about halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The river was fordable at that point, and Jacob wished to have the somewhat troublesome business of herding all the animals across the stream completed before Esau reached him. By this action, he obviously indicated that it fordable at that point, and Jacob wished to have the somewhat troublesome business of herding all the animals across the stream completed before Esau reached him. By this action, he obviously indicated that it was certainly not his intention to retreat before a possible attack by Esau. Esau was approaching from the south.

Having done everything he could, Jacob then decided to spend the rest of the night in prayer. Though the test does not say so specifically, the implication is that Jacob returned to the northern bank of the Jabbok in order to be completely alone. He knew Esau would not arrive until the next morning, at least; so his family would be safe for the night with the other servants.


    32:24     WRESTLED  A  MAN

It is significant that the name Jabbok means "Wrestler," a name evidently given to it later in commemoration of Jacobís amazing experience that night. As far as the mysterious wrestler is concerned, he was in the form of a man, but angels often assumed such forms in those days. That this was, indeed, an angel is indicated in a commentary by Hosea on this passage, "[Jacob] took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication to him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial" (Hosea 12:3-5).

    32:26     LET  ME  GO

As the day began to break, Jacob was still holding on, refusing to let go until God would give him full and final assurance of permanent blessing. According to Hoseaís commentary, this "wrestling" on Jacobís part involved weeping and supplication, as well as physical tenacity. Hosea compared Jacobís holding to the Angel with his tenacity in holding onto his brotherís heel as he was born, both testifying of his great desire to be the recipient of Godís greatest blessings and responsibilities.

When the angel saw that He could not prevail against Jacob, He finally gave him the blessing he sought. This, of course, does not suggest that the angel was weaker than Jacob, but does show that God desires men to persist in prayer and that He delights to yield to such prayers. "Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?" (Luke 18:7). "Men ought always to pray and not to faint" (Luke 18:1). There indeed is such a thing as prevailing prayer, when the request conforms to the will and the word of God; and Jacobís experience symbolizes all such prayers.

    32:27     WHAT  IS  THY NAME

A rhetorical question, not seeking information. As explained on Gen. 17:5, a name in Scripture is more than a label; it possesses significance.

    32:28     NO  MORE  JACOB,  BUT  ISRAEL

No longer Jacob Ďthe Supplanter,í prevailing over opponents by deceit. But Israel which is clearly a title of Victory; probably Ďa champion of Godí. The children of the Patriarch are Israel-ites, Champion of God, Contenders for the Divine, conquering by strength from above. The word Israel can be rendered either as ĎOne Who Fights Victoriously with God.í Or ĎA Prince with God,í since it is derived from the two words Sarah-El with the word sarah meaning "fight, or rule, as a prince."

    32:30     GOD  FACE  TO FACE

I have seen God face to face. The Targum translates this as ĎI have seen the angel of God face to faceí. I believe that this being was an angel of God and not a theophany (the Word).

    32:30     PENIEL

The name of the place, as given by Jacob, was "Peniel," meaning "The Face of God." It was later changed to Penuel, it continued to be known by that name until at least the days of the divided kingdom (I Kings 12:25).

ENCOUNTER  WITH  ESAU  AFTER  20  YEARS    Genesis 33:1-15 

    33:1     BEHOLD,  ESAU  CAME

No sooner had Jacob returned to his family after his night of prayer than he saw Esau and his army approaching in the distance. As one final precaution, Jacob arranged his wives and children in appropriate order, the two handmaids and their children first, then Leah and her children then Rachel and Joseph. Presumably the purpose was to give the maximum, possible protection to those he loved the most, but at least a secondary purpose was to have them meet Esau in climactic order. Jacob then proceeded ahead of them all to meet his brother.


As was customary in those days (the Tell el Amarna tablets record that one approaching a king always bowed seven times in so doing), Jacob bowed low before Esau seven times as he came near him. This was not intended as an acknowledgment of servility on Jacobís part, but as a token of respect and recognition of Esau as ruler of the region.

    33:4     KISSED  HIM

Esau proved both good-natured and forgiving. He fell on Jacobís neck, kissed Jacob, and they wept with the strong emotion of Orientals. Esau had long since realized that Jacob had properly been entitled to the birthright and blessing, and that God had chosen Jacob to be the inheritor of the promises, and he was reconciled to this fact.

    33:11     HE  URGED  HIM,  AND  HE  TOOK  IT

Jacob, however, insisted. In accordance with oriental customs, which have continued to be practiced for thousands of years, the most certain way for one who desires reconciliation to be assured of it is to have his proffered gift accepted by the one whose favor he seeks.

    33:9,11     I  HAVE  ENOUGHÖI  HAVE  ENOUGH.

In the King James Version, both Esau and Jacob are reported as saying, "I have enough." However, the Hebrew words are different. Actually, Esau said, " I have much [rab]," whereas Jacob said, " I have everything [kol]." Esau may quite likely have had more actual possessions than Jacob by this time, though Jacob had also been greatly blessed materially; but Jacob knew that, in the Lord, he had an inexhaustible resource. God had blessed him beyond measure, most of all now in this joyful meeting with his long-estranged twin brother.


No doubt, the two brothers then spent some considerable time in telling each other all that had happened since they had separated so long ago. Esau also had a large family and great possessions (Genesis 35:1-8). I am sure that Jacob was anxious to hear also about his mother and father, no doubt, and probably Esau told him about them, but for some reason no further mention is made in Genesis concerning either Rebekah or Isaac except in connection with their deaths and burials (Genesis 35:27-29; 49:31). Quite probably, Rebekah had died by this time and Isaac was not only blind but completely incapacitated with age. Isaac died at the age of 180, and was probably about 153 when Jacob returned to Canaan.

Esau therefore agreed to Jacobís request, and headed on back to Seir. Jacob also planned to continue south, but went much more slowly, actually stopping for considerable intervals at both Succoth and Shechem. Succoth (meaning "booths") is probably the same place mentioned later in the time of Joshua (Joshua 13:27) and Gideon (Judges 8:5-16). It was still east of the Jordan and probably north of the Jabbok, in a plain where there was pasture for the flocks and where they could rest awhile to regain their strength.

    33:18     JACOB  CAME  TO  SHALEM

This was not very far from Succoth, but it was definitely in the land of Canaan and, actually, it was the place where God had first appeared to Abram as he entered the land (Genesis 12:6,7). Most translators believe that Shalem (meaning "peace") should not be considered a proper name here. That is, the verse may mean that "Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem." If so, the verse may be regarded as a fulfillment of Godís promise in Genesis 28:15 and 31:3. This interpretation is strengthened by the formal nature of the verse, mentioning Jacobís coming back into Canaan from Padan-aram.

JACOB BUYS A FIELD IN SHECHEM    Genesis 33:16-20 

This was the first spot in Canaan proper where Jacob set up an encampment. Expecting that some day in the future his seed would inherit the whole land, he desired to purchase a portion right here, which would serve as a token of his confidence in Godís future fulfillment of the complete promise. He would make this his first "capital." He would also dig a well here, in order to have an independent water supply. The well is not mentioned in Genesis but is referred to in the New Testament (John 4:6).

Jacob arrived peacefully at Shechem, and the Shechemites apparently welcomed him, thinking that the addition of such a prosperous man to their own community would add to their own prosperity. He soon arranged to purchase from Hamor and his sons a substantial tract of property for a goodly price, a hundred pieces of silver. Much later, Jacobís favorite son, Joseph, would be buried on this same spot (Joshua 24:32).

    33:20     EL-E-LOHE-ISí  RA-EL

Jacob was saying in effect that his God was the true and mighty God. "God was the God of Israel." It is significant that, in naming the altar, he used (for the first time, as far as the record indicates) his new name "Israel." There, in the center of an idolatrous land, he had established a new center of worship of the true God.


Jacob and his family must actually have spent several years living in either Succoth or Shechem or both. The events described in chapter 34 presuppose that Leahís youngest child, Dinah (Genesis 30:21), must have been at least in her teens, which means that her older brothers, especially Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, must have been in their twenties. When they first moved to Succoth, Reuben was probably about twelve years old, so that the family must have lived at least ten years in Succoth and Shechem, mainly the latter. Though the text does not mention it, it seems likely that Jacob must have visited Isaac and Esau on various occasions during this period. Since Jacob at this time was the key personage involved in Godís plans, rather than either Isaac or Esau, evidently the writer felt it was unnecessary to include purely personal; matters of this sort.

    34:2     SAW  HER,  HE  TOOK  HER,  AND  LAY  WITH  HER

Dinah soon came to be desired by young Shechem, the son of Hamor, the cityís chieftain. Unattached young women were considered fair game in cities of the time, in which promiscuity was not only common but, in fact, a part of the very religious system itself. With Shechem, however, it was not merely a case of a routine conquest, as no doubt often was true in such a place, for he really had fallen in love with Dinah and wanted her to become his wife.

    34:7     IN  ISRAEL

Since the word means Ďthe people of Israelí, it is strictly an anachronism because the nation was not yet in existence. The later part of this sentence must therefore be regarded not as spoken by Jacobís sons, but as the reflection of Scripture on the incident.

    34:8     I  PRAY  YOU  GIVE  HER  HIM  TO  WIFE

It is an interesting commentary on the Shechemites culture to note that Hamor apparently though nothing about the moral implications of what his son had done. He neither rebuked Shechem nor apologized in any way to Jacob or Dinahís brothers. For a young man to lie with a young woman, even by force, was apparently such a common thing in Canaanite towns that no one gave it a second thought.


Dinah had been the only and beloved sister in a large family of boys, and they had all been taught the sacredness of the marriage relation. Even though they had been raised in a polygamous household, at least Jacob had not sought women other than his wives, and his wives had been faithful to him. They all knew of Godís purpose to raise up a holy nation through their family, and that the maintenance of national integrity and purity was essential to assure Godís continued blessing on them.

From this point on, the sons of Jacob did all the talking with Hamor. Jacob was apparently so distressed that he left the room altogether, or at least was unable to discuss the subject further. Whether these "sons of Jacob" were only Simeon and Levi, or whether Reuben and Judah (and perhaps others) were also involved, is not stated. Later it was Simeon and Levi who took revenge on the Shechemites, but there is a possibility that some of the others participated in the plot which here began to develop.

    34:23     BE  OURS?

Although Hamor didnít say so openly to Israel, he was thinking that, since his own people were far more numerous than those of Israel, this would be a fine way of quickly assimilating them and taking over their possessions.


While Hamor and Shechem were talking, the "sons of Jacob" devised a plan of vengeance which involved both blasphemy and murder, as well as deception and cruelty. Such a shocking plan was justified in their own minds because of what they considered to be intolerable sin against their sister and against their name.

Not content to take vengeance against Shechem only, they felt (and no doubt correctly) that in a sense the whole city was guilty and deserved judgment, just as God had judged Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of their great-grandfather. No one in the city had protested Shechemís behavior toward their sister; no one had tried to protect her and, in fact, they had seemed rather pleased with Shechemís conquest of the beautiful young foreign girl. They would have done the same if they had been able, but Shechem, as their prince, had first priority and they derived vicarious pleasure from his sexual exploits.

The unsuspecting Shechemites readily agreed to this proposition, beginning first of all with Shechem himself, who had no hesitation in sumitting himself to the surgical rite, out of love for Dinah. There were certain other nations, besides the Israelites, who practiced circumcision in early times, so that the term of the agreement did not sound too strange or offensive to the men of Shechem.

In any case, Simeon and Levi took the lead. Though they were right and, to some extent, spiritually motivated in their zeal for the good name of their sister and their family, and in their rejection of the proposal that the Israelites allow their distinctiveness to be corrupted by unions with the wicked and idolatrous people of Shechem, they were utterly wrong in taking the law into their own hands in such a cruel way. God would one day have to judge these Canaanites for just such sins, "the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full," (Genesis 15:16) and they should have been willing to leave the matter to their fatherís disposition of it. He in turn then should have relied on God for proper wisdom in dealing with it. But Jacob, in his grief, had turned away from facing the problem, and Simeon and Levi felt they could not leave the crime unpunished.

The two brothers decided that nothing but the death of all the men of the city would atone for such a crime, but the two of them (even if aided by such servants as they might be able to command) would of course be no match for the much larger number of Shechemites. They probably realized, too, that they would not merely slay Shechem himself, as his fellow townsmen would immediately come after them and probably kill all the Israelites. They could see no solution but to get the entire city to be incapacitated, by having them all submit to circumcision, that way they would be unable to defend themselves. Even though this involved a blasphemous corruption of the holy meaning of circumcision, they proceeded with this ruse, only too successfully.

    34:30     YE  HAVE  TROUBLED  ME

Jacob had been criticized for merely rebuking his sons because their action might case him personal danger. For more information on this subject see Genesis 49:5.

RETURN TO BETHEL    Genesis 35:1-5 

Jacob had been too long at Shechem. God had not really intended that he stay there, but it had been a convenient place to settle. Furthermore, Jacob knew that there were remnants of Labanís idolatry among his family, as well as certain infiltrating influences of the Shechemites, and he had failed to deal decisively with these corrupting tendencies in his own household. He was in critical need of a fresh revelation of God and His holy purposes.

    35:4     RINGS

In their ears. They were more than ornaments they were also amulets and charms according to the Targum Jonathan "And they delivered into Jakobís hand all the idols of the people which were in their hands which they had taken from the temple [or, "the house of idols"] of Shekem, and the jewels that had been in the ears of the inhabitants of the city of Shekem, in which was portrayed the likeness of their images; and Jakob hid them under the terebinth that was near to the city of Shekem" 
(The Targums

For some strange reason, though Bethel must have held uniquely powerful memories for Jacob (it was there God had first spoken to him, from the top of the heavenly ladder, when he fled from Esau, as recorded in Genesis 28:12-15), and though he had lived so close to it for about ten years, he had evidently never returned to see it again. This is all the more strange in view of the fact that Bethel is located almost directly between Shechem and Hebron, and Jacob certainly must have journeyed to Hebron on one or more occasions during this period to see his father Isaac. It almost seems that he had deliberately avoided Bethel. If this is so, it is probably because he knew he had not completely followed Godís will, nor had he fully kept the promise he had made to the Lord at Bethel. God had surely fulfilled His promises in bringing Jacob safely back to his fatherís house and in supplying all his needs:


Jacob had never built "Godís house" on the pillar he had erected at Bethel (Jacob had even named the place "The House of God").

2. Nor had he fully made the Lord God of his own entire household. There was still some use of idols among his servants and evidently even among his own family (Genesis 35:2-4).

All of this would have to be put away now, and a fresh start made, if God was going to bless them again.

All these remnants of their "old life" were buried under the "oak" at Shechem, quite possibly the same terebinth tree that had been noted by Abram (Genesis 12:6) as he entered Canaan.


As Jacob had surmised (34:30), the cities around them would be seeking vengeance on them for their slaughter of the Shechemites, and would be almost certain to pursue them as they were apparently trying to escape. In some way, however, God prevented this. The surrounding Canaanite tribes were far superior to them numerically, but nevertheless became so fearful of them that they refrained from attacking them. The testimony of the Israelites had induced fear of Jehovah, rather than love of Jehovah, in their hearts.

35:7     EL-BETH-EL

Jacob had named the place Bethel, and now he named the altar El-Bethel ("The Strong God of the House of God").


    35:8     ALí LON-BACHí UTH

At this point, the writer notes that it was at this time and place that Deborah, Rebekahís nurse, died. She was very old by now, and the experiences of the recent days proved too much for her.

She was well loved and revered by the family, and there was sincere grief at her departing, as indicated by their naming the place of her burial "The Oak of Weeping"

    35:11     I AM  GOD  ALMIGHTY

It was here at Bethel, however, the God once again appeared to Jacob, renewing the promises made thirty years before at the same spot. God identified Himself as "God Almighty" (Hebrew El Shaddai). God had revealed Himself by this name to Abram (Genesis 17:1) and to Isaac (Genesis 28:3), and now to Jacob. The name is related to the Hebrew word for "breast" (shad), and conveys the idea of God as the One who nourishes and provides, who is strong enough to meet every need.

    35:14     A DRINK OFFERING

As he had done on the earlier occasion, he anointed the stone with oil, symbolic of consecration. This act is here called, for the first time in Scripture, a "drink-offering." Later, such drink-offerings, though not a primary part of the Levitical sacrificial offerings, were offered frequently as auxiliary gifts of devotion and consecration, and it was no doubt with such a motive that Jacob so acted here.

RACHEL  DIES    Genesis 35:16-20 

When they had almost reached Ephrath, the region around Bethlehem, another notable event, both joyful and tragic, occurred. Previous to this pilgrimage, after years of barrenness, Jacobís beloved wife Rachel had finally borne a son, before they left Laban and the region of Haran (Genesis 30:22-25). She had named him Joseph and had, at the time, expressed faith that God would give her still another son. That, however, had been nearly fifteen years before, and her faith had not yet been rewarded. No doubt she had continued to pray about it, and God finally answered. Rachel must have been well along in years by now, as Jacob was certainly 105 years old or more by this time. Finally, however, she became pregnant again. Jacobís other wives had long since ceased bearing children, so Rachel gave birth to Jacobís twelfth and last son.

It cost Rachel her life, however. Before she died, in grief she named the child Benoni, meaning "Son of Sorrow." Her husband, Jacob, though no doubt also experiencing real anguish of soul as he saw Rachel leaving him, realized that it would be an unhealthy burden for his son to carry such a name through life; so he renamed him Benjamin after Rachelís death and burial. The name Benjamin means "Son of the Right Hand. (Note Exodus 28:17; Revelation 4:3, how John looking back at the cross reverses the order of stones [Behold a Son] - [The Son of the Right Hand]. ) Rachel was buried nearby, on the way to Bethlehem, in the Ephrath area. Possibly a type of the birth of the promised Seed (Mica 5:2).

REUBENíS  SIN    Genesis 35:21-26 

    35:22     REUBEN

It was the practice among Eastern heirs-apparent to take possession; See Lev. 18:8; Gen. 49:4.

Even though Jacob having learned of it, as he was sure to do, he no doubt put a stop to it; but at the time he apparently took no punitive action against either party. In time, however, it cost Reuben his birthright (Genesis 49:3,4), as Jacob never forgot it. No matter what the temptations and mitigating circumstances may have been, such an act as this could not be excused.

THE  DEATH  OF  ISAAC    Genesis 35:27-27 

    35:29     ISAAC  GAVE  UP  THE  GHOST

At the age of 180, Isaac died. This must actually have been about 25 years after Jacob came back from Padan-aram, since Isaac had probably been about 135 years old or so when Jacob left home. Actually, Isaac must have still been living at the time Joseph was sold into Egypt, but the writer found it appropriate to mention his death at this point. Mention of the fact that he "was gathered unto his people" is evidence that although nothing much is said about it in this part of the Bible, the patriarchs did believe in life after death. Isaacís spirit, no doubt, was transported to Sheol, where the spirits of Abraham, Shem, Noah and others who had died in faith were resting and awaiting the coming redemption and resurrection. (I Samuel 28:13-16; Matthew 27:52,53).

    35:29     ESAU  AND  JACOB  BURIED  HIM

Isaac was buried in the same sepulcher with Rebekah, and with Abraham and Sarah, in the cave in the field which Abraham had purchased in Mamre (Genesis 49:29-31).

THE GENERATIONS OF ESAU (Edom)    Genesis 36:1-43  (Edom)    Genesis 36:1-43 

Chapter 36 of Genesis closes that long section of the book which seems originally to have been written by Jacob. As you can seed the statement "These are the generations ofÖ.." closes the divisions of Genesis. There is good reason to think that this statement in each case marks the signature of the man who first wrote the material preceding the statement, beginning with the first verse following the previous reference to the "generations" (Hebrew toledoth, meaning "historical records"). If this assumption is correct, the portion of Genesis from 25:19b through 37:2a was written by Jacob, with later editorial insertions by Moses, who brought all the patriarchal records together in the present Book of Genesis.

However, to complete his own record, Jacob seems to have obtained from Esau the records of Esauís family and then incorporated them into his own records before finally attaching his (Jacobís) signature to the completed work.

It is also probable that Moses later augmented these original records with additional data that had come into his possession. By Mosesí time, the descendants of Esau (by then known as the Edomites) were a nation of considerable concern to the Israelites.

    36:2     TOOK  HIS  WIVES

A difficulty occurs right at the beginning of these lists, because of the apparent contradiction between the names of Esauís wives as given here (36:2) and as given in Genesis 26:34 and 28:9. The names as they are given are outlined below.

Genesis 26:34 Judith, daughter of Beeri
Bashemath, daughter of Elon
Genesis 28:9 Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael
Genesis 36:2 Aholibamah, daughter of Anah
Adah, daughter of Elon
Genesis 36:3 Bashemath, daughter of Ishmael

Comparison of the names above indicates that, probably, Judith is the same as Aholibamah; Bashemath, daughter of Elon, is the same as Adah; and Bashemath, daughter of Ishmael, is the same as Mahalath. That it was not uncommon for one person to have two names is well known. The women were probably known by the first set of names early in their lives (when Jacob had known them, as recorded in his "generations"), and by the second set of names later, at the time Esau wrote them down in his "generations." It is possible that the women were given new names at the time of marriage, and the first set of names corresponded to their unmarried, given, names. Similarly, Beeri must have been the same man as Anah.

The region into which Esau (also known as Edom) migrated had previously been settled by the descendants of Seir, and the central range of mountains had come to be known as Mount Seir. To some extent the children of Esau had subjugated the Horites (equivalent to Horims, or Hurrians) by force (Deuteronomy 2:12,22), but perhaps to an even greater extent had essentially assimilated them through intermarriage, so that the people eventually known as Edomites were a mixture of Semitic (through Isaac and Esau) and Canaanitic (through Seir) inheritance.

Thus, the further development of Esauís house was entirely different from the path of suffering the comprises the history of Yaakovís (Jacobís) house: while Yaakovís descendants languished under the slavery of Mizraim (Egypt) and did not yet enjoy the guidance of their first leader, Moshe (Moses), Esau established his state with his sword, complete with princes and kings. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

    36:10     ELIPHAZ

In Rabbinic legend he is the worthiest of Esauís descendants; he was trained to pious living under the eyes of Isaac; the Lord had even endowed him with the spirit of prophecy, for he was none other than Eliphaz the friend of Job. (Job. 4:1).


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