Esau reflects the prosperous man of the world. He's a man of the land--a man of his appetities.
Esau takes wives for himself from among the Canaanites and builds a prosperous nation, the Edomites. His prosperity demands separation from Jacob, "For their possession were too great for them to dwell together, and the land where they were strangers could not support them because of their livestock. So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir" (Gen. 36:7-8).
Esau's genealogy reads similarly to that of Cain in Genesis 4.
Polygamy (fleshly appetites) characterizes Esau and his descendants. Esau chose this path to spite his parents: "Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there . . . Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had" (28:6,8-9).
God's name and calling out to God are noticeably absent in Esau's genealogy.
Esau's descendants produce great men, one of which is Chief Amalek, whose descendants will appear again later in the story.
In fact, Esau's descendants produce kings before Israel produces kings, "Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel" (Gen. 36:31).
The insertion of Esau's genealogy into the story reveals a number of truths about God and people:
What causes the separation of Esau and Jacob as distinct people groups?
How does God use Esau's wealth to ensure Jacob's inheritance of Canaan?
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The 365 Daily Devotion, written by Iva May, is a brief devotion drawn from the day’s reading of the One Year® Chronological Bible delivered to your email. Each daily devotion concludes with several questions that strengthen reading engagement.