And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his stead.
36:1-43 Esau and his descendants. - The registers in this chapter show the faithfulness of God to his promise to Abraham. Esau is here called Edom, that name which kept up the remembrance of his selling his birth-right for a mess of pottage. Esau continued the same profane despiser of heavenly things. In outward prosperity and honour, the children of the covenant are often behind, and those that are out of the covenant get the start. We may suppose it a 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. Mount Seir is called the land of their possession. Canaan was at this time only the land of promise. Seir was in the possession of the Edomites. 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 beyond compare better to have Canaan in promise, than mount Seir in possession.
The series of eight kings here enumerated are plainly elective, as not one succeeds his father. The king co-exists with the dukes, who are again enumerated at the close of the list, and are mentioned in the song of Moses Exodus 15:15
. These dukes are no doubt the electors of the common sovereign, who is designed to give unity and strength to the nation. It is natural to suppose that no sovereign was elected until after the death of Esau, and, therefore, if he lived as long as Jacob, after the children of Israel had been seventeen years in Egypt. As we calculate that they were two hundred and ten years in that country, and forty years afterward in the wilderness, this would allow two hundred and thirty-three (250-17) years for seven reigns, and a part of the eighth, during which Moses and his host marched along the borders of Edom. Allowing some interval before the first election, we have an average of thirty-three years for each reign. "Before a king reigned over the children of Israel." This simply means before there was a monarchy established in Israel. It does not imply that monarchy began in Israel immediately after these kings; as Lot's beholding the vale of Jordan to be well-watered before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Amorah, does not imply that the cities were destroyed immediately after Lot beheld this sight Genesis 13:10
Nor does it imply that monarchy in Israel had begun in the time of the writer; as Isaac's saying, "That my soul may bless thee before I die" Genesis 27:4 does not imply that he was dead at the time of his saying so. It merely implies that Israel was expected to have kings Genesis 35:11, as Isaac was expected to die. Of the several sovereigns here mentioned we have no other historical notice. "Beor" is also the name of Balaam's father Numbers 22:5. This indicates affinity of language between their respective tribes. The site of "Dinhabah," the capital of Bela, though the name is applied to many towns, has not been ascertained. "Bozrah" is el-Busaireh, about twenty-one miles nearly south of the Salt Sea. "The land of the Temanite" has its name from Teman, son of Eliphaz. His town was, according to Jerome, five miles from Petra. "Hadad" is a name of frequent recurrence among the Aramaeans. "Who smote Midian in the field of Moab." This records an event not otherwise known, and indicates external conquest on the part of the Idumaean state. "Avith" or Ajuth (1 Chronicles 1:46, probably a graphic error) is not otherwise known.
"Masrecah" is likewise unknown. "Rehoboth by the river." If the river be the Phrat (Onkelos), Rehoboth may be er-Rahabah, not far from the mouth of the Khabur. Otherwise it may be er-Ruhaibeh on a wady joining the Sihor or el-Arish Genesis 26:22, or the Robotha of Eusebius and Jerome, the site of which is not known. "Hadar" is probably a colloquial variation of Hadad Genesis 36:35 which is found in Chronicles. Pau or Pai is unknown. Matred is the father of his wife. Mezahab her mother's father. The death of all these sovereigns is recorded except the last, who is therefore, supposed to have been contemporary with Moses.
And Jobab died,.... According to Mr. Bedford, A. M. 2177:
and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his stead; or of the land of the south, as the Targum of Jonathan, of the southern part of the land of Idumea, as it was afterwards called; the metropolis of which was the city of Teman, after spoken of in Scripture, which had its name from Teman the son of Eliphaz; See Gill on Genesis 36:11. And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his stead.
(parallel, 1 Chronicles 1:38-42
). Descendants of Seir the Horite; - the inhabitants of the land, or pre-Edomitish population of the country. - "The Horite:" ὁ Τρωγλοδύτης, the dweller in caves, which abound in the mountains of Edom (vid., Rob. Pal. ii. p. 424). The Horites, who had previously been an independent people (Genesis 14:6
), were partly exterminated and partly subjugated by the descendants of Esau (Deuteronomy 2:12
, Deuteronomy 2:22
). Seven sons of Seir are given as tribe-princes of the Horites, who are afterwards mentioned as Alluphim (Genesis 36:29
, Genesis 36:30
), also their sons, as well as two daughters, Timna (Genesis 36:22
) and Aholibamah (Genesis 36:25
), who obtained notoriety from the face that two of the headquarters of Edomitish tribe-princes bore their names (Genesis 36:40
and Genesis 36:41
). Timna was probably the same as the concubine of Eliphaz (Genesis 36:12
); but Aholibamah was not the wife of Esau (cf. Genesis 36:2
). - There are a few instances in which the names in this list differ from those in the Chronicles. But they are differences which either consist of variation in form, or have arisen from mistakes in copying.
(Note: Knobel also undertakes to explain these names geographically, and to point them out in tribes and places of Arabia, assuming, quite arbitrarily and in opposition to the text, that the names refer to tribes, not to persons, although an incident is related of Zibeon's son, which proves at once that the list relates to persons and not to tribes; and expecting his readers to believe that not only are the descendants of these troglodytes, who were exterminated before the time of Moses, still to be found, but even their names may be traced in certain Bedouin tribes, though more than 3000 years have passed away! The utter groundlessness of such explanations, which rest upon nothing more than similarity of names, may be seen in the association of Shobal with Syria Sobal (Judith 3:1), the name used by the Crusaders for Arabia tertia, i.e., the southernmost district below the Dead Sea, which was conquered by them. For notwithstanding the resemblance of the name Shobal to Sobal, no one could seriously think of connecting Syria Sobal with the Horite prince Shobal, unless he was altogether ignorant of the apocryphal origin of the former name, which first of all arose from the Greek or Latin version of the Old Testament, and in fact from a misunderstanding of Psalm 60:2, where, instead צובה ארם, Aram Zobah, we find in the lxx Συριά Σοβάλ, and in the Vulg. Syria et Sobal.)
Of Anah, the son of Zibeon, it is related (Genesis 36:24), that as he fed the asses of his father in the desert, he "found היּמם" - not "he invented mules," as the Talmud, Luther, etc., render it, for mules are פּרדים, and מצא does not mean to invent; but he discovered aquae calidae (Vulg.), either the hot sulphur spring of Calirrhoe in the Wady Zerka Maein (vid., Genesis 10:19), or those in the Wady el Ahsa to the S.E. of the Dead Sea, or those in the Wady Hamad between Kerek and the Dead Sea.
(Note: It is possible that there may be something significant in the fact that it was "as he was feeding his father's asses," and that the asses may have contributed to the discovery; just as the whirlpool of Karlsbad is said to have been discovered through a hound of Charles IV, which pursued a stag into a hot spring, and attracted the huntsmen to the spot by its howling.)
31-39. kings of Edom—The royal power was not built on the ruins of the dukedoms, but existed at the same time.
Jobab the son of Zerah - Many have supposed that Jobab is the same as Job, so remarkable for his afflictions and patience; and that Eliphaz, mentioned Genesis 36:10
, etc., was the same who in the book of Job is called one of his friends: but there is no proper proof of this, and there are many reasons against it.