This chapter apparently reflects what was known about Esau and his descendants at the time the Genesis account came to be in its final written form. The account includes material from before the time the Israelites were settled in the land of Canaan and had kings as their rulers.
Esau was called Edom, meaning “red,” because of his having sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for “red” lentil stew. (36:1) This happened when Esau returned hungry and exausted from hunting and saw Jacob boiling the stew that he keenly desired to satisfy his hunger. (25:29, 30) In his Antiquities (II, ii, 1), Josephus wrote that Jacob exploited his brother’s hunger and forced him to give up his right as firstborn for the stew, doing so “under oaths.”
After he was forty years old, Esau took two wives from among the Canaanites — Adah (Ada [LXX]; Adasa [Josephus]) the daughter of Elon (Ailon [LXX]) and Oholibamah (Elibema or Olibema [LXX]; Alibame [Josephus]) the daughter of Anah (Ana [LXX]), the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite. The extant Hebrew text could be understood to mean that Oholibamah was the granddaughter of Zibeon. The Septuagint reading identifies Anah (Ana) as the son of Sebegon (Zibeon) the Heuite (Hivite), making it unnecessary to conclude that “daughter of Zibeon” means the “granddaughter of Zibeon.” When Esau recognized that his two Canaanite wives were a source of trouble to his parents (26:34, 35; 28:8), he married Basemath (Basemmath [LXX]; Basamathe [Josephus]), his uncle Ishmael’s daughter and the brother of Ishmael’s firsborn son Nebaioth. (25:13; 36:2, 3, 14; see the Notes section.)
By Adah, Esau had a son named Eliphaz (Eliphas [LXX]; Aliphazes [Josephus]), and his wife Basemath (Basemmath [LXX]; Basamathe [Josephus]) bore Reuel (Ragouel [LXX]; Raouelos [Josephus]). Oholibamah (Elibema or Olibema [LXX]; Alibame [Josephus]) had three sons — Jeush (Ieous [LXX]; Iaous [Josephus]), Jalam (Ieglom [LXX]; Iolamos [Josephus]), and Korah (Kore [LXX]; Koreos [Josephus]). All these sons by Esau’s three wives were born in the land of Canaan. (36:4, 5, 14)
Before Jacob’s return from Paddan-aram (upper Mesopotamia), Esau had established himself in Seir but seems to have continued to pasture his flocks and herds in the land of Canaan. He decided to make a permanent move to Seir after it became evident that his flocks and herds were too numerous to share the same region with Jacob’s large flocks and herds. (32:4, 7; 33:14; 36:6-8)
The offspring of Esau that made their home in Seir were Eliphaz (Eliphas [LXX]; Aliphazes [Josephus]) by his wife Adah (Ada [LXX]; Adasa [Josephus]) and Reuel (Ragouel [LXX]; Raouelos [Josephus]) by his wife Basemath (Basemmath [LXX]; Basamathe [Josephus]). His son Eliphaz (Eliphas [LXX]; Aliphazes [Josephus]) became father to Teman (Thaiman [LXX]; Themanos [Josephus]), Omar (Omeros [Josephus]), Zepho (Sophar [LXX]; Sophous [Josephus]), Gatan (Gothom [LXX]; Iothamos [Josephus]), and Kenaz (Kenez [LXX]; Kanazas [Josephus]). By his concubine Timna (Thamna [LXX]; Thamnaes [Josephus]), Eliphaz (Eliphas [LXX]; Aliphazes [Josephus]) had one son — Amalek (Amelkos [Josephus]). Reuel had four sons — Nahath (Nachoth [LXX]), Zerah (Zare [LXX]), Shammah (Some [LXX]), and Mizzah (Moze [LXX]). Esau’s wife Oholibamah (Elibema or Olibema [LXX]; Alibame [Josephus]) gave birth to three sons — Jeush (Ieous [LXX]; Iaous [Josephus]), Jalam (Ieglom [LXX]; Iolamos [Josephus]), and Korah (Kore [LXX]; Koreos [Josephus]). (36:9-14)
In verses 15 through 19, the previously mentioned sons of Esau’s firstborn son Eliphaz and of Esau’s son Reuel are identified as chieftains or heads of tribes. The offspring of Esau’s wife Oholibamah (Jeush, Jalam, and Korah) are also thus identified. Although there is no mention of Korah as a son of Eliphaz in verse 11, the name is found in verse 16 among the chieftains descended from Esau through Eliphaz. The Septuagint also includes the name Korah (Kore [LXX]) in verse 16, as do Targum Neofiti, Targum Onkelos, and Targum Jonathan. An exception is the Samaritan Pentateuch, which omits the name Korah. There is agreement, however, in listing Korah (verse 14) as a son of Oholibamah.
According to verses 12 and 22 of Deutoronomy chapter 2, the descendants of Esau dispossessed the Horites from Seir. Therefore, the inclusion of Horites in a listing of the descendants of Esau suggests that they initially intermarried and formed alliances with them. The sons of Seir the Horite (Chorrite [LXX]) were Lotan, Shobal (Sobal [LXX]), Zibeon (Sebegon [LXX]), Anah (Ana [LXX]), Dishon (Deson [LXX], Ezer (Asar [LXX]), and Dishan (Rison [LXX]). Lotan’s sons were Hori (Chorri [LXX]) and Hemam (Haiman [LXX]; Homam [1 Chronicles 1:39]), and his sister’s name was Timna (Thamna [LXX]). Shobal’s sons were Alvan (Golon but Golam in 1 Chronicles 1:40 [LXX]; Alian [1 Chronicles 1:40]), Manahath (Manachath [LXX]), Ebal (Gaibel [LXX]), Shepho (Soph but Sob in 1 Chronicles 1:40 [LXX]; Shephi [1 Chronicles 1:40]), and Onam. Zibeon’s sons were Aiah (Aie but Aia in 1 Chronicles 1:40 [LXX]) and Anah (Onan or Onas but Ana in 1 Chroinciles 1:40 [LXX]). The noteworthy incident in the life of Anah (Onan or Onas [LXX]) was the discovery he made while pasturing the donkeys of his father Zibeon. Anah (Ana [LXX]), the fourth-listed son of Seir the Horite, had a son named Dishon (Deson [LXX]) and a daughter named Oholibamah (Olibema [LXX]). Dishon’s sons were Hemdan (Hamada but Hemeron in 1 Chronicles 1:41 [LXX]; Hamran [1 Chronicles 1:41]), Eshban (Asban but Eseban in 1 Chronicles 1:41 [LXX]), Ithran (Iethran [LXX]), and Cheran (Charran [LXX]). The sons of Ezer the son of Seir the Horite were Bilhan (Balaan [LXX]), Zaavan (Zoukam [LXX]), and Akan (Oukan [LXX]; Jaakan [1 Chronicles 1:42]). Dishan, another son of Seir the Horite, had two sons — Uz (Os [LXX]) and Aran (Aram but Arran in 1 Chronicles 1:42 [LXX]). The sons of Seir the Horite (Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan) appear to have been chieftains over their respective tribes. (36:20-30; see the Notes section.)
The Israelites did not have monarchs until centuries after the members of Jacob’s household became a nation during their residence in Egypt and subsequent to their return to and conquest of the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. Descendants of Esau, however, had numerous kings before then — Bela (Bala [LXX]), Jobab (Iobab [LXX]), Husham (Hasom [LXX]), Hadad, Samlah (Samala [LXX]), Shaul (Saoul [LXX]), Baal-hanan (Balaennon [LXX]), Hadar (Hadad [LXX]). Reference to their rule from a number of different cities (Dinhabah [Dennaba (LXX)], Avith (Geththaim [LXX]), Pau (Phogor [LXX])) and their coming from a number of cities or places (Bozrah [Bosorra (LXX)], the land of the Temanites [Thaimanites (LXX)], Masrekah [Masekka (LXX)], Rehoboth [Rooboth] (LXX]-on-the-river) appears to indicate that there was no royal line of descent and that the extent of the domain over which the kings ruled may have varied. Hadar (Hadad [LXX]) is the only king whose wife is mentioned by name (Mehetabel daughter of Matred daughter of Mezahab [Metebeel daughter of Matraith son of Maizoob (LXX)]). The sole noteworthy event mentioned as having taken place during the rule of the Edomite kings was the victory of Hadad over the “Midianites in the land of Moab.” (36:31-39)
The listing of names concludes with chieftains “according to their families and their dwelling places” or locations — Timna (Thamna [LXX]), Alvah (Gola [LXX]), Jetheth (Iether [LXX]), Oholibamah (Olibemas or Elibemas [LXX]), Elah (Elas [LXX]), Pinon (Phinon [LXX]), Kenan (Kenez [LXX]), Teman (Thaiman [LXX]), Mibzar (Mazar [LXX]), Magiel (Megediel [LXX]), Iram (Zaphoim or Zaphoin [LXX]). Tribes descended from these chieftains came to be known by their respective names. (36:40-43)
In Genesis 26:34, Oholibamah seems to be called “Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite (Ioudin the daughter of Beer the Chettite [LXX]). It does seem unusual, however, that Oholibamah’s father was Anah, whereas Judith is identified as the daughter of Beeri.
Basemath (verse 3) appears also to have been known as Mahalath (Maeleth [LXX]). (28:9)
In verse 21, the Hebrew text contains the name Dishan, but the Septuagint says Rison. This difference can to be attributed to the very similar appearance of the Hebrew letters daleth (D) and resh (R). In 1 Chronicles 1:38, the Septuagint spelling of the name is Daison.
The Septuagint rendering of 1 Chronicles 1:39 makes no mention of Lotan’s sister. It lists four sons for Lotan (Chorri, Haiman, Ailath, and Namna).
In the listing of Horites, Anah is mentioned as discovering hot springs while pasturing the donkeys of his father Zibeon. (36:24) In verse 2, Zibeon is identified as a Hivite. One way to reconcile this is to consider Horite (“cave dweller”) to describe him as a cave dweller who lived in Seir. This, however, is problematic, for all the other men mentioned in the context are identified as “sons of Seir the Horite.”
In the Septuagint, the second-listed son of Zibeon (Sebegon [LXX]) in verse 24 is Onan (also Onas), not Ana (as it is in verses 2 and 14).
There is no mention about Anah’s discovery in 1 Chronicles chapter 1. Regarding Anah the son of Seir, the text of 1 Chronicles 1:41 is apparently incomplete, for it reads, “Sons of Anah: Dishan” (“Sons of Ana: Daison”). In Genesis 36:25, the children of Anah are identified as the son Dishon and the daughter Oholibamah.
For Ezer (Asar [LXX]), the Septuagint in verse 27 lists an additional son (Ioykam). In 1 Chronicles 1:42, the Septuagint lists only three sons for him, but the spelling for Asar is Osar. The listed three sons are Balaan, Zoukan, and Iokan. In Genesis chapter 36, the names were spelled Zoukam and Oukan.
According to the Septuagint rendering of verse 39, Matred was a son, not a daughter (as in the extant Hebrew text).