Sons of Esau (verses 1-14)
The first verse uses the common introductory formula for genealogies in Genesis: “…the records of the generations of Esau.” Rather than separation and consecration from the surrounding peoples, Esau intermarried wives from the region. However, Esau’s family still experienced copious amounts of wealth. If the non-elect experienced promised blessing, then Israel should be especially encouraged that in time, all of God’s promises for them would certainly be fulfilled.
Esau (or Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir, marking a permanent separation from the promised land—just as he settled in his rejection of God, forsaking eternal blessings for the momentary satisfaction of “that red stuff.” His attitude affected not only himself but all the inhabitants of the land as well in the succeeding generations.
Chiefs of Edom (verses 15-30)
The political history of Esau in this section shows that his line was fast to form and develop as a nation. It’s a reminder that often, secular greatness grows far more rapidly than spiritual greatness. The promise of God to Jacob was eventually evidenced, but only later. However, the effect of Jacob’s success remained much longer, not only in physical Israel but especially in its complete accomplishment in true, spiritual Israel—the church.
Kings from Esau (verses 31-43)
The kings from the line of Esau seem to suggest that Edom was immediately more successful than Israel. The kingdoms of this world seem to advance and flourish, a lot of times at the expense of God’s people and His kingdom (c.f. Psalm 73). But we must remember the truth of Revelation 11:15, that “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” It may be true that Esau and the Edomites possessed the land in which they dwelled, but Jacob possessed God. While Esau for a time seemed to prosper more than Jacob, Jacob inherited the eternal, transcendent, and incomparable One.
- This chapter reminds us of the choices of Esau and their long-lasting consequences. It remains a strong warning to those who turn away after experiencing New Covenant blessings (c.f. Hebrews 6:4-6). We must not despise the blessings of Christian influences in our lives (family, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc.). How do you treat the kindness of God in your life? Do you despise His kindness by turning away from it to pursue the sinful pursuits of the flesh, or do you gratefully serve and worship Him for His mercy?
- This chapter also reminds us to love and pray for our enemies (c.f. Matthew 5:44-45). Though Esau was outside of God’s initial promise, salvation is still promised to a remnant of His line (Amos 9:11-12; Mark 3:7-8; Acts 15:15-18). The grace of God in Christ is extended to the Gentiles, including the Edomites. Being outside of the initial promise does not mean that someone is outside of God’s mercy. We should hope in the sufficiency of the gospel and long to see the magnitude of God’s mercy extended to those who are far off. Who are you praying for? In what ways are you praying for God’s mercy to be extended to those who are currently outside of the promise?