Genesis 35:29 – And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
By the beginning of Genesis 36, a number of people’s stories have been wrapped up. Rebekah and Isaac have died. Their son Jacob, who was the son of the promise, has returned home with his 12 sons and without the wife he loved, Rachel. All that remains is to conclude the account of Isaac’s other son, Esau, and his descendants. This need is met by Genesis 36, which concludes the account of Isaac’s sons so that the covenant promises can be further explored in the next generation of men, the 12 sons of Israel.
There we discover that both Israel and Esau had been greatly blessed by God. The brothers were both so affluent that the land could no longer accommodate both of them, which forced them to separate so that they could both continue to prosper. Their separation is friendly and beneficial to them both and told in a fashion similar to the occasion when Abraham and his nephew Lot settled on different land for similar reasons in Genesis 13.
Thus far in Genesis, a family history has been traced for 2000 years. We have learned a lot about the believing side and, in Genesis 36, there is a report of the unbelieving side of the family.
In the genealogy of Esau, there is a careful attempt by Moses to honor his family line and show that, though he was not the son of the promise, he had been blessed by God, even though it seems unlikely that he is a believer. Throughout the genealogy of Esau, we are repeatedly told he was the father of the Edomites, a nation that warred against Israel throughout history, just as the boys had wrestled in their mother’s womb. One side of the family was blessed and a blessing to others, the other side of the family was cursed and a cursing to others
With the conclusion of Genesis 36, Moses has now provided a complete, though selective, account of the lives of Isaac and his sons Esau and Jacob/Israel. Moses is then prepared to focus on the 12 sons of Jacob, as they are the line of covenant promise, and does so by paying particular attention to his second to youngest son, Joseph. In this way, the remainder of Genesis is, in effect, still focused on Jacob through the life of his son Joseph, who take center stage for the rest of Genesis.
What has God’s dealings with Jacob revealed to us about His faithfulness to his promises and His people? How has God likewise been faithful to you?