Monday, February 28, 2011

Genesis 36:31-43 The Rulers of Edom

"These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned:
     Bela son of Beor became king of Edom.  His city was named Dinhabah.
     When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah succeeded him as king.
     When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites succeeded him as king.
     When Husham died, Hadad son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, succeeded him as king.  His city was named Avith.
     When Hadad died, Samlah from Masrekah succeeded him as king.
     When Samlah died, Shaul from Rehoboth on the river succeeded him as king.
     When Shaul died, Baal-Hanan son of Achbor succeeded him as king.
     When Baal-Hanan son of Achbor died, Hadad succeeded him as king.  His city was named Pau, and his wife's name was Mehetabel daughter of Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab.

These were the chiefs descended from Esau, by name, according to their clans and regions:

     Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, Magdiel and Iram.  These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their  settlements in the land they occupied.  This was Esau the father of the Edomites."          (Genesis 36:31-43 NIV)


The first verse of this section is somewhat striking, for it tells us that these Edomite kings reigned before any Israelite king reigned. (v.31)  It is possible that at a time during the reigns of at least some of these kings, Israel was in bondage in Egypt.  It may have seemed that God had forgotten about them as they suffered under the Pharaoh.  Perhaps they even heard reports about the success of the Edomites from travelers and traders who came to Egypt.  They may have wondered if it was worth it to serve the God of Israel.

However, notice something else about this list of kings.  For all their success, all their cities and worldly accomplishments, they had one thing in common:  they all died.  Then what became of their reigns?  Although Israel had not yet even had one earthly king yet, they were being led by the One who had created the universe.  They did not have earthly riches, but He was working all things for His glory and for their eternal good, and for a reward far beyond that of gold, fame or cities.

  I like what Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary on this section of Scripture:  " In the midst of this genealogy of the Edomites here is inserted the genealogy of the Horites, those Canaanites, or Hittites (compare ch. 26:34), that were the natives of Mount Seir. Mention is made of them, ch. 14:6, and of their interest in Mount Seir, before the Edomites took possession of it, Deu. 2:12, 22. This comes in here, not only to give light to the story, but to be a standing reflection upon the Edomites for intermarrying with them, by which, it is probable, they learned their way, and corrupted themselves. Esau having sold his birthright, and lost his blessing, and entered into alliance with the Hittites, his posterity and the sons of Seir are here reckoned together. Note, Those that treacherously desert God’s church are justly numbered with those that were never in it; apostate Edomites stand on the same ground with accursed Horites....By degrees, it seems, the Edomites wormed out the Horites, obtained full possession of the country, and had a government of their own....God had lately promised Jacob that kings should come out of his loins (ch. 35:11), yet Esau’s blood becomes royal long before any of Jacob’s did. Note, In external prosperity and honour, the children of the covenant are often cast behind, and those that are out of covenant get the start. The triumphing of the wicked may be quick, but it is short; soon ripe, and as soon rotten: but the products of the promise, though they are slow, are sure and lasting; at the end it shall speak, and not lie. We may suppose it was a great trial to the faith of God’s Israel to hear of the pomp and power of the kings of Edom, while they were bond-slaves in Egypt; but those that look for great things from God must be content to wait for them; God’s time is the best time. 2. They were afterwards governed by dukes, again here named, who, I suppose, ruled all at the same time in several places in the country. Either they set up this form of government in conformity to the Horites, who had used it (v. 29), or God’s providence reduced them to it, as some conjecture, to correct them for their unkindness to Israel, in refusing them a passage though their country, Num. 20:18. Note, When power is abused, it is just with God to weaken it, by turning it into divers channels. For the transgression of a land, many are the princes thereof. Sin brought Edom from kings to dukes, from crowns to coronets. We read of the dukes of Edom (Ex. 15:15), yet, long afterwards, of their kings again. 3. Mount Seir is called the land of their possession, v. 43. While the Israelites dwelt in the house of bondage, and their Canaan was only the land of promise, the Edomites dwelt in their own habitations, and Seir was in their possession. Note, The children of this world have their all in hand, and nothing in hope (Lu. 16:25); while the children of God have their all in hope, and next to nothing in hand. But, all things considered, it is better to have Canaan in promise than mount Seir in possession."

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