Genesis 36: 31-43: The ultimate statistic.

“31 These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned:32 Bela son of Beor became king of Edom. His city was named Dinhabah.33 When Bela died, Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah succeeded him as king.34 When Jobab died, Husham from the land of the Temanites succeeded him as king.35 When Husham died, Hadad son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, succeeded him as king. His city was named Avith.36 When Hadad died, Samlah from Masrekah succeeded him as king.37 When Samlah died, Shaul from Rehoboth on the river succeeded him as king.38 When Shaul died, Baal-Hanan son of Akbor succeeded him as king. 39 When Baal-Hanan son of Akbor died, Hadad  succeeded him as king. His city was named Pau, and his wife’s name was Mehetabel daughter of Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab. 40 These were the chiefs descended from Esau, by name, according to their clans and regions: Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel and Iram. These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their settlements in the land they occupied. This is the family line of Esau, the father of the Edomites.” NIV


‘Death lays its icy hand on kings;

Sceptre and crown must tumble down,

And in the dust be equal made

With the poor crooked scythe and spade.’

Someone said that death is the ultimate statistic – one out of one dies! I heard a preacher say that God remembers we are dust, but we don’t always remember. At any moment He can say, ‘’Return to dust, O sons of men’’ (Psalm 90:3). But when we feel fit and strong and healthy we are prone to forget this.

There is a sobering thought repeated throughout the passage concerning the rulers of Edom: it is that when one king dies, another succeeds him. Again and again we read that someone who is in authority is replaced by another. All leaders are eventually replaced.

But this doesn’t apply only to leaders. Sooner or later, we will all die. Someone else will live in the house we regarded as ours; someone else will use (or waste!) the money we so carefully gathered; someone else will do the work we did. We don’t need to be morbid, but it is foolish to not live with a sobering sense of our own mortality. We are only ready to live when we are ready to die.

Just one other thought about this chapter before we move on, and it comes from Warren Wiersbe: ‘Esau’s family tree is much more imposing than Jacob’s, but this is the last we hear of it. Despite their failures, the sons of Israel are the chosen instruments to accomplish God’s will on earth.’ ‘With the Word’, p.40.