Read thru Old Testament – January 15, 2017

January 15


Genesis 36-37


Genesis 25-39        The father of the nation of Israel (Jacob), cont’d.

Genesis 35-50        The suffering and the glory…Joseph, cont’d.


Genesis 36:1-“Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).” This entire chapter identifies the descendants of Esau.  Because his family and Jacob’s family had both grown large, Esau decided to move to another location.  He went to the “hill country of Seir”.




The history of Esau and his family…

Edom (Idumaea) is a country located in a rocky range of mountains to the east of the Arabah…(the valley…100 miles long and 20 miles wide…that extends from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the Dead Sea in the south…through which the Jordan River flows) and to the south of the Dead Sea.  The mountain range is called Mount Seir.  Sela (Petra-which means “rock”) was its capital…and boasted over 1,000 temples to its gods.  They were magnificent structures cut out of the pink rock on the side of the mountains.

Sela was located deep in the heart of the mountains…an almost impregnable stronghold…overlooking a beautiful valley.  It was built high up on a perpendicular cliff like an eagle’s nest (v. 4)…the only approach to the city being through a mile-long, deep gorge that had 700 foot cliffs on both sides.

The Edomites were the descendants of Esau….and the bitter enemy of Israel (vv. 10-14; cf. Psalms 137:7-9).  Edom means “red” and was the nickname given to Jacob’s brother Esau because he sold his birthright for red stew (Genesis 16:1).  It was on Mount Sier (Sier means “rugged, hairy”, like Esau was hairy—Genesis 27:11) that Esau and his tribe had settled after selling his birthright to his brother Jacob.  The antagonism that typified the relationship between Jacob and Esau…continued to escalate over the centuries between their descendants (Genesis 27)…the Edomites constantly sending out raiding parties to attack Israel…then retreat back into the safety of the rocky gorges.

When Moses led the people out of Egypt the Edomites refused passage through the mountains (Numbers 20:14-21).  This only reinforced the enmity between them (Genesis 25:23; 27:41).

Obadiah predicted that the Edomites would be “cut off forever,” “become as is they had never existed,” and “there will be no survivor of the house of Esau” (vv. 10,16,18).

However, he also predicted that a remnant of Judah would survive (vv. 17,19,21).

Within 5 years of the destruction of Jerusalem…Edom was attacked and completely destroyed (582 B.C.) by the same Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar) they had joined in attacking Jerusalem.  The Nabathaeans (from southern Jordan, Canaan, and northern Arabia) then took over the land area of Edom.  The few remaining Edomites continued to live in southern Judea for about 400 years.  They were conquered in 126 B.C. by the Jewish military hero, John Hyrcanus (one of the Jewish Maccabean rulers, 134-104 B.C.)…and were absorbed into the Jewish nation.  When the Jews were conquered by Rome (63 B.C.), an Edomite family by the name of Herod was placed in control of Judah.  This was the last of the Edomites.  When Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the emperor of Rome, Titus, the Edomites disappeared from history, forever.

(source not given)


Genesis 37:1-2-Israel (Jacob) and his family are now living in the land of Canaan. When Joseph was 17-years-old, he was with his brothers taking care of the flocks.  He made a trip home and gave his father, Israel, a bad report about his brothers.  This did not go over well with the brothers.

Genesis 37:3-4-Israel loved Joseph, Rachael’s youngest son, more than his other sons.  He was the spoiled child. For instance, Israel gave him a multi-colored coat…but not the others.  This made his brothers seethe with envy.

Genesis 37:5-8-Joseph had a dream in which he saw grain that had been harvested and bundled into “sheaves”. One sheave represented him.  All of the other sheaves (which represented the brothers) bowed down to his sheave.  When he told his brothers the dream it angered them because it suggested that they would serve him.

Genesis 37:9-11-Joseph had another dream. In this dream the sun (Israel), the moon (Rebekah), and the stars (his brothers) all bowed down to him.  He told his father and brothers.  Israel chastised him…but thought that it might actually mean something.  His brothers just hated him all the more.

Genesis 37:12-17-Israel’s sons are pasturing the flocks at Shechem. He sends Joseph to check on them.  When he arrives he finds that they have moved to Dothan (about 20 miles to the north)…so he goes there.

Genesis 37:18-35-The brothers see Joseph coming and decide to kill him. Reuben hears their plans and urges them to temporarily throw Joseph into a pit until they decide what to do with him.  Reuben had sinned by sleeping with Israel's concubine...but here, he tries to do the right thing…intending to later rescue him.  While Reuben was not present, a caravan of Ishmaelites on its way to Egypt came by.  This gave Judah an idea.  They would sell Joseph to some of these slave traders.  In that way, they had gotten rid of him and yet, were not guilty of murder.  Later, another caravan came by…this time they were Midianites (the Ishmaelites and the Midianites were descendants of Abraham, cf. 16:15; 25:2).  They pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him.  They then took him to Egypt.  When Reuben returned he was upset with what they had done…but instead of telling his father the truth, he became part of the cover-up.  They took Joseph’s multi-colored coat and tore it up, pouring blood on it.  Then, when they returned home they showed it to their father and told him that a wild animal must have killed Joseph.  Israel was heart broken and mourned for a long time.  He refused to be comforted.

Genesis 37:36-When the Midianites arrived in Egypt, they sold Joseph to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard.


Prayer: Lord, I already know what happens to Joseph…and that it ends well. But at the time, he didn’t.  And yet, over and over again, even when he was mistreated and people lied about him…he remained true and faithful to You.  Please help me to trust You even when I am mistreated and when life is not fair.  Help me to have the faith of Joseph.


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