Esau’s Descendants, Genesis 36

Oholibamah. Try saying that 10 times fast! Who was Oholibamah? She was one of two Hittite women that Esau—Jacob’s twin brother—married according to Genesis 36.

Even though intermarriage with the Canaanites was strictly forbidden by his family, Esau defies his parents’ religious principles when he marries two idolatrous Hittites. Isaac and Rebekah are miserable with this arrangement (26:35). So Esau decides to add a third wife. But this time he’d marry Basemath, an Ishmael descendant (28:9).

You may read the list of Esau’s descendants here: Bible Gateway.


The Edomites’ territory featured both desolate desert and rugged mountains. Major roads allowed travelers access to the rich natural resources in this area. The city later called Petra—an ancient world marvel—was believed to be carved into Edom’s rock walls

Although the theme of infertility plagued Abraham’s line, it doesn’t seem an issue in Esau’s line. Esau’s descendants, however, would eventually vanish at God’s hand due to their hostile treatment toward their brothers, Israel, Jacob’s descendants.

Due to insufficient pasture and water for both brother’s herds, Esau moves his family south and east of the Dead Sea. This division of territory between Esau and Jacob sounds a lot like Abraham and Lot’s episode (13:1-13). However, Esau may have also moved with the acceptance that Canaan (the promised land) is to be passed on to Jacob.

The name Esau means “red.” Esau becomes known as Edom from his foolish decision to trade his birthright and father’s blessing for some red stew. So, the Edomites are his descendants.

Interesting Edomite Tidbits

  • Esau’s sons—who walk away from God—appear wise in worldly ways and reign as kings in Edom before any king reigns in Israel. And while Esau’s descendants become rulers, Jacob’s sons remain lowly shepherds for generations (47:3).
  • As Esau and Jacob grew up fighting, both of their descendants followed suit. Israel, (Jacob’s descendants), looked down on the Edomites because of their intermarriage with the Canaanites. God, however, commanded the Israelites during the exodus to give their “brothers,” special treatment despite the Edomites defiance and hostility (Deuteronomy 2:4-5).
  • Like their father, the Edomites were fierce and rugged. As warriors who prided themselves in their self-sufficiency, they mistakenly thought their rock cliffs were impregnable.
  • Edom—Israel’s neighbors and relatives—constantly harassed the Jews. They later looted Jerusalem and rejoiced at the misfortunes of Israel and Judah. God spoke strong words of judgment against them through the Old Testament prophet Obadiah in a dirge of doom format. You may read it here: Obadiah. (It’s only one chapter and the shortest book in the Old Testament!)
  • When Obadiah prophesied, Judah may have seemed less likely to survive than Edom. But—exactly as God foretold—the Edomite nation vanished. They were routed by Judas Maccabeus in 164 B.C. and were completely nonexistent by the first century A.D.


Edom sets an example to allb69c87973c980aef46976f7f37e1e5f1  people and nations who live in hostility to God. Just as God will judge Edom for her evil actions toward His people, He will also destroy proud and wicked people.

As I wrap this up, a hail storm accompanied with loud thunder and lightning sweeps over our house. Thankfully I’m inside, safe from the hurling chunks of ice. What a great visual reminder of God’s protection for His children!

One day, God will judge and punish all who harm His people. I can’t think of a more terrifying scenario than being caught out in the storm of God’s wrath.

Those who rebel against God and take advantage of others’ misfortunes will someday answer to God.

Those who have trusted Christ for forgiveness and are faithful to Him, however, have hope for the future. Let’s be mindful of those around us and be willing to help in their time of need.

Enjoy your weekend!

2 thoughts on “Esau’s Descendants, Genesis 36

  1. Pingback: Esau’s Descendants, Genesis 36 – Truth in Palmyra

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