Critics of the Old Testament will often point to the ‘genocide’ (as they see it) that God apparently condones. Chapter 36 of Genesis serves as a reminder that God’s blessings come, not from embracing and intermarrying with the world and its systems, but by remaining separate from them! Unlike his brother Jacob, Esau didn’t see the need to remain ‘set-apart’, he didn’t see the danger – at least at first! He happily takes two Canaanite wives (which were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebecca – Gen 26:35), and a third wife, the daughter of Ishmael.
But chapter 36 focuses on Esau’s children, and the families he (and his sons) had married in to.
The inhabitants of Mt Seir (aka Edom) were not your average neighbours! They were the descendants of the Nephilim that we read about in Genesis 6:
“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown”. (Gen 6:1-4).
What the critics (and sadly many Christians) simply don’t get is that there was a genetic problem with the potential to wipe out humanity, and at the very least, stop the Seed of the Woman from being born (that, of course, was Satan’s real intention in all of this!). This is the reason our God, who is a God of Love, sent the flood; and this is the reason Israel destroyed these giant tribes in Canaan, and after what must have been a brief honeymoon period, Esau set about destroying the very people he had unwittingly married into, by now, surely beginning to realise the danger they posed!
Deuteronomy chapter 2 states: “The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims. The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them”. (Deut 2:10-12).
Genesis chapter 36 is not just a list of names we have trouble pronouncing, it is a reminder of the covenant God has made with mankind, to send a Saviour to deliver us from this present darkness!
Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.