Verses 31–42

By degrees, it seems, the Edomites wormed out the Horites, obtained full possession of the country, and had a government of their own. 1. They were ruled by kings, who governed the whole country, and seem to have come to the throne by election, and not by lineal descent; so bishop Patrick observes. These kings reigned in Edom before there reigned any king over the children of Israel, that is, before Moses’s time, for he was king in Jeshurun, Deut. 33:5. God had lately promised Jacob that kings should come out of his loins (Gen. 35:11), yet Esau’s blood becomes royal long before any of Jacob’s did. Note, In external prosperity and honour, the children of the covenant are often cast behind, and those that are out of covenant get the start. The triumphing of the wicked may be quick, but it is short; soon ripe, and as soon rotten: but the products of the promise, though they are slow, are sure and lasting; at the end it shall speak, and not lie. We may suppose it was a great trial to the faith of God’s Israel to hear of the pomp and power of the kings of Edom, while they were bond-slaves in Egypt; but those that look for great things from God must be content to wait for them; God’s time is the best time. 2. They were afterwards governed by dukes, again here named, who, I suppose, ruled all at the same time in several places in the country. Either they set up this form of government in conformity to the Horites, who had used it (Gen. 36:29), or God’s providence reduced them to it, as some conjecture, to correct them for their unkindness to Israel, in refusing them a passage though their country, Num. 20:18. Note, When power is abused, it is just with God to weaken it, by turning it into divers channels. For the transgression of a land, many are the princes thereof. Sin brought Edom from kings to dukes, from crowns to coronets. We read of the dukes of Edom (Exod. 15:15), yet, long afterwards, of their kings again. 3. Mount Seir is called the land of their possession, Gen. 36:43. While the Israelites dwelt in the house of bondage, and their Canaan was only the land of promise, the Edomites dwelt in their own habitations, and Seir was in their possession. Note, The children of this world have their all in hand, and nothing in hope (Luke 16:25); while the children of God have their all in hope, and next to nothing in hand. But, all things considered, it is better to have Canaan in promise than mount Seir in possession.