Editor’s Note While the Jewish Encyclopedia confirms that Esau was incorporated into Jewry, there are scholars who claim his descendants also migrated into other nations, primarily Turkey and from there into the Khazarian nation, which later converted to Judaism. Nevertheless, we must remember that a characteristic of Esau was that he was “cunning”. So, considering that Jacob used trickery by pretending to be Esau to gain God’s blessing through the blessing by Isaac, it is very likely that Esau can be found throughout Christianity and Islam as well. After all, if Jacob could pretend to be Esau, then Esau can pretend to be Jacob? Interestingly, considering the clarification by the Jewish Encyclopedia that Esau was absorbed into Judaism, are they not pretending to be the “people of the book”?
The struggle between Esau and Jacob began in the womb. Genesis 25: 22 – 23, “And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are within thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” Esau was born like a red hairy garment; the name Esau means “red”. Then Jacob was born and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel. It is obvious that these two were not identical twins, (they certainly did not behave like identical twins!) but two ova were fertilized at conception.
Esau displeased his parents in two ways. First, at age 40, he married two Canaanite women. Genesis 26: 34 & 35, “And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite; which were a grief of mind to Isaac and to Rebekah.” To find the other cause for concern, we consult the book of Jasher which adds detail to the Bible story. Isaac sent Jacob to live with Noah and Shem (he stayed 32 years) to learn the ways of the Lord. Esau refused to go, being a hunter and leading the rough life. Esau married another Canaanite woman,, Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite. This resulted in all of Esau’s progeny being of mixed blood which was contrary to the law of the Lord.
After the sale of the birthright and the stolen blessing, a distraught Esau decided to kill Jacob when Isaac was dead and buried. But Rebekah intervened, sending Jacob to her relative Laban. Esau countered by sending his son Eliphaz to kill Jacob on the road. Jacob bought off Eliphaz with the money he had been given for the trip. When he returned to his own country with his twin wives Leah and Rachel, he met and gave presents to Esau, who had with him 400 men. Because their flocks were too great to share the available pasture, Esau moved on to Mount Seir. Genesis 36: 8 makes a very important statement, “Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir; ESAU IS EDOM. Now the Lord’s prophets had a lot to say about Edom (which also means “red’); therefore, it is important to recognize that Edom is Esau.
When the children of Israel were travelling through the desert, they were attacked by Amelek, the son of Eliphaz, the grandson of Esau. Amelek was defeated at that time; you will recall that Joshua led the forces of Israel and they prevailed against the Amalekites so long as Moses’ arms were lifted up by Aaron and Hur. Exodus 17: 14, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua; for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” So, the Lord is taking a very strong position against Edom (Amalek) to utterly destroy him and any remembrance of him. So throughout the Bible story, we have Esau/Edom living in mount Seir, to be heard from later on in the story of Israel.
Now, a lot of history occurs. The judges of Israel are followed by the kings. The nation, under Rehoboam, is split into two nations, Israel and Judah, and because of idolatry, both nations are carried into captivity in Assyria, leaving only the city of Jerusalem to be taken by Nebuchadnezzar and carried into Babylon. Under Cyrus’ decree, 42,360 returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah and Ezra. Ezra 9: 1 & 2 records a very unfortunate occurrence, the sort of thing that caused the exile in the first place. “Now when these things were done, the princes came to me saying, The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons; so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands; yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” So, these people called Jews, were not exclusively of the holy seed. Some were of the holy seed, and they later accepted Christ because, “His sheep knew His voice.”
Edom ceased to be a nation in 126 B.C. when John Hyrcanus of Judah finished his conquest of Edom and forcibly converted the remaining Edomites to Judaism. Never again was there a nation called Edom or Idumea (the Greek equivalent). This story was related by Josephus, the historian, in great detail. Consider the following; “Hyrcanus subdued all the Idumeans and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would be circumcised, and make use of the laws of the Jews, and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision and the rest of the Jews’ way of living, at which time therefore, this befell them, THAT THEY WERE HEREAFTER NO OTHER THAN JEWS.
So, Esau/Edom is contained in modern Jewry. Do the prophecies concerning Esau and Edom still apply? They certainly do! The whole book of Obadiah deals with prophecies concerning Edom, and being two pages long deserves a read and study. A good part of the condemnation of Edom concerns their behaviour at the time of the deportations, because they assisted the invaders and rejoiced to see the land vacated because they had their own wish to occupy the land.
So, our question was, “Where is Esau?” He is in Palestine to-day and a recent article in our magazine offered insight, “Esau, time is running out.”