Genesis 36

Genesis 36 is one of those chapters that makes you wonder why it made it into the Bible.  It contains the geneology of Esau, the eldest son of Jacob who made two foolish decisions exchanging his birthright and blessing for short term gratification.  There are a bunch of names which mean nothing to us and about whom we can learn very little. They lived and died almost 4,000 years ago, linked together with the common thread of being Esau’s descendants. It’s like reading a telephone book in a foreign language.  But God put it in the Bible for a reason.

Another mistake Esau made was the selection of his wives, in direct violation of what his parents told him to do.  But that is past history and we learn the outcome of all that in this chapter.  He had loads of kids and descendents.  We also learn “Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together….Esau settled in the hill country of Seir”.

Even though he messed up, God made a promise to give him his own identity, nation, and family history (17:5-7). God is a faithful God that can be trusted to keep His promises.  However we learn a principle here which is that a beautiful and successful family by the world’s standards does not equal a family blessed by God.  Esau took his wives from the Canaanites, even though marriage to the Canaanites was strictly forbidden.  A man’s choice in marriage showcases his values and is almost always one of the key determining factors in the outcome of his own life.  In my case, I married far up from my place and it has bode well for me.

There is no indication that Esau raised his family to know the Lord. In this chapter, there are 81 names listed, yet only two names hint at a belief in the true God: “Reuel” (36:4,10), Esau’s son by Basemath, means “friend of God”; “Jeush” (36:5, 14), Oholibamah’s son, means “the Lord helps.” Esau, the grandson of the godly Abraham, the favorite son of peaceful Isaac, was a successful man whose sons and grandsons after him were successful men, by worldly standards. But they all failed at what matters most because they left God out of their lives.  He had every opportunity to be one of God’s favorite sons but made poor choices and missed the outcome that was his for the taking!

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