Trivial No More

Genesis 36:9-19

9This is the account of the family line of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. 10These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath.

11The sons of Eliphaz: Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam and Kenaz. 12Esau’s son Eliphaz also had a concubine named Timna, who bore him Amalek. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Adah.

13The sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath.

14The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon, whom she bore to Esau: Jeush, Jalam and Korah.

15These were the chiefs among Esau’s descendants: The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: Chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16Korah,Gatam and Amalek. These were the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in Edom; they were grandsons of Adah.

17The sons of Esau’s son Reuel: Chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were the chiefs descended from Reuel in Edom; they were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath.

18The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: Chiefs Jeush, Jalam and Korah. These were the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah. 19These were the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these were their chiefs.

Biblical Names

Do you know why your parents gave you the name you have? Did you desire to have been named after great people? Anybody may change their name to their preferred one. Even so, giving names to children is parental privilege. And, many Christian parents choose biblical names for their children.

Well, that’s one motivation to be curious of the lists of names in the Bible. Unless you are interested in history, most probably, you’ve got no interest in reading the lists of names in the Bible. Yet, God added those lists of names to remind us that He cares for every creature, and He remembers our names.

It was recorded in Revelation 20:12-15, 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Check yourselves! Do you strongly believe such grand event to happen?

Anyone, great or simple may dismiss what has been recorded in the Scriptures but its reality won’t change. Genuine believers are so serious about the gift of eternal life while non-believers consider it trivial, why? It’s not reasons but God’s gift of faith enables us to believe Him, His word and promises.

It teaches us in Ephesians 2:1-5, 1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

All humans are dead spiritually but by faith in Christ, His Spirit lives in us and helps us accept and trust His word. Non-believers may consider the Bible as moral instruction but cannot accept as God’s words. We accept the Scripture as the word of God because Christ’s Spirit inspires us to accept and believe it.

Moreover, there are parts of the Bible that are seemingly trivial but with Christ’s help, we will find them very significant in our Christian lifestyle. So, what can we learn from the account of the descendants of Esau? Why did Moses include very little information about Esau as compared to the life of Jacob?

Although God’s love for Jacob was far greater than His care for Esau, the Israelites cannot deny the reality that they were related to Esau’s descendants. Actually, the Lord warned the Israelites about Esau’s descendants.

Moses recorded the Lord’s instruction in Deuteronomy 2:2-6, 2The Lord said to me, 3“You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. 4Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. 5Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. 6You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.’”

If God had no care about Esau’s descendants, He should have allowed the Israelites to conquer them and take over their land. Instead, God even instructed the Israelites not to enter the territory of the descendants of Esau. Such strict warning to the Israelites implies that the Lord had taken care of Esau after all.

Previously, Esau had been staying in Seir even before Jacob returned to Canaan. But after Jacob returned to Hebron where their parents Isaac and Rebekah lived and died, Esau decided to settle in Seir for good. (Seir was located southeast of Dead Sea and later named Edom, another name of Esau).

Here’s a short genealogy of Esau’s descendants, the Edomites.

1. Genealogy

9This is the account of the family line of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. 10These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath.

11The sons of Eliphaz: Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam and Kenaz. 12Esau’s son Eliphaz also had a concubine named Timna, who bore him Amalek. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Adah.

13The sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath.

14The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon, whom she bore to Esau: Jeush, Jalam and Korah.

The Bible mentions Esau’s three wives in two different chapters in Genesis (26 & 36), yet the names given to them are inconsistent. Genesis 26 recorded that Esau had taken Canaanite wives, Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite (Gen. 26:34). Later, Esau married again—Mahalath daughter of Ishmael in addition to his two wives (Gen. 28:9).

However, when the Bible details a brief genealogy of Esau’s descendants in Genesis 36, it presents other names for Esau’s wives – Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and Basemath daughter of Ishmael (Gen. 36:2-3).

Traditional commentators find various ways of reconciling this discrepancy. Interpreters see both accounts as the same women and for unknown reasons they are referred to by different names. Others explain that Esau took the wives mentioned in Genesis 36 in addition to those mentioned earlier so that his wives were 6 in total. Still others say that some women have died or changed names.

Genesis 26:34; 28:9       Genesis 36:2-3

  1. Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite
  2. Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite Oholibamah daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon the Hivite
  3. Mahalath daughter of Ishmael Basemath daughter of Ishmael

Whatever interpretation or explanation you accept, the inconsistency of the account of Esau’s wives was not very important. It’s trivial to the account of the genealogy of Esau’s descendants, that’s why it was not explained or mentioned.

Similarly, there are details in our life that we don’t want to tell others for various reasons like: it’s just trivial, not necessary to be told, no point, it creates animosity, it could be misinterpreted, or we just want to forget them, that’s all.

It was written in John 21:25, 25Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Things Jesus did not mentioned, are they less trivial than the explanation of inconsistency of the names of Esau’s wives? Have you asked: Did Jesus play musical instruments? What furniture did Jesus make? Did Jesus have a haircut? Did He wash dishes? Did Jesus ever swim when He can walk on the water? Did you wish to know the answers to such questions? For what purpose do you want to know? Would it help you grow in your faith?  Surely, Christ knows it’s trivial and not major factor to our faith even if we know all details of His life on earth.

The Lord knows what factors can help us grow in our faith. The inclusion of the seemingly inconsistency of Esau’s wives without literal explanation may even serve as testing instrument if we can accept that the Scripture has no errors.

It says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

All scriptures included in the Bible are God’s instruments to equip us for all good works He has prepared for us. God did not call us to be “Jack of All Trades” in the ministry. He only gives us ministry suitable for our spiritual gift. Why?

Each believer is part of the church—the body of Christ. Each part has a specific task so that each believer may participate. Know-it-all mindset has no place in the ministry. God has granted each believer different spiritual gift.

It serves the intellect and curiosity to know the reason why two different accounts of Esau’s wives were not consistent but God has decided not to reveal everything to have a space for us to practice our faith in Him and His words.

Interestingly, the legacy of Esau’s children and grandchildren was no trivial matter. They were not ordinary citizens. They were chiefs among their clans which may imply that they controlled the governance in Edom—formerly Seir.

2. Governance.

15These were the chiefs among Esau’s descendants: The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: Chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16Korah, Gatam and Amalek. These were the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in Edom; they were grandsons of Adah.

17The sons of Esau’s son Reuel: Chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah and Mizzah. These were the chiefs descended from Reuel in Edom; they were grandsons of Esau’s wife Basemath.

18The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: Chiefs Jeush, Jalam and Korah. These were the chiefs descended from Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah.19These were the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these were their chiefs.

When it mentioned that the sons and grandsons of Esau were the chiefs among his descendants, it suggests that Esau’s descendants have multiplied numerously in Seir, and the Edomite territory expanded. Esau was called Edom.

The term “chief” implies that they established governance among them. The sons with Esau’s wife Oholibamah were chiefs while his grandsons with his wives Adah and Basemath were chiefs. What does it teach us? Greatness comes in different generations or sons can be greater than fathers.

Eliphaz was the firstborn of Esau with Adah but Eliphaz did not become chief, and yet, his children (Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, Korah, Gatam and Amalek) became chiefs. Does the name Eliphaz ring a bell?

It says in Job 2:11, 11 Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite.

Is it possible that one of Job’s friends Eliphaz the Temanite came from the clan of Esau’s grandson Teman, the son of his firstborn son Eliphaz? Perhaps, Eliphaz was great person in the eyes of the Temanite clan so that they named after him Eliphaz, the Temanite friend of Job.

Reuel, Esau’s son with Basemath did not become chief but his sons became chiefs of their clan. Reuel was not just another trivial name. A priest of Midian named Reuel was the father-in-law of Moses. Moses wrote the book of Genesis, and Israelites may have asked him about Reuel.

If we read the genealogy of Esau’s descendants, we can find out that Esau’s descendants had organized themselves, and had governance far earlier than Jacob’s descendants. At that time, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.

God allowed the descendants of Jacob, the Israelites to suffer slavery in Egypt while the descendants of Esau have multiplied numerously and formed their own governance much way ahead of the Israelites. And yet, we can easily read the Bible that God loved Jacob and hated Esau.

One may ask, if God loved Jacob and hated Esau, why did He let Israel endured slavery while the descendants of Esau, the Edomites progressed greatly into a powerful nation? Do you view God’s love without suffering, and interpret suffering as no love of God? Actually, it’s the opposite reality.

It says in Hebrew 12:6-8, 6The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. 7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.

Discipline has been misunderstood as hate not love. Everyone makes mistakes and no need to be disciplined. Rigid discipline is not encouraged in many developed nations. Many parents would rather tolerate their children to do whatever they want to do than to discipline and accused of domestic violence.

It is a very important to pray for the government, for elected officials, legislators and government agencies. They also need wisdom from the Lord for them to perform their duties and responsibilities honorably.

It says in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, 1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

It pleases the Lord when we pray for our government. It pleases the Lord when we pray for our leaders. Pray that God would bless our leaders so that they would focus on doing what God has called them to do and not worry about their private lives. Regularly pray that God would raise next generation godly leaders in our church and in our nation.

As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of Christ’s death and resurrection. It says in 1 Corinthians 6:14, 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 

Christ’s resurrection reminds us of His coming again and He will resurrect us also. If you adhere to premillennialism doctrine, you will accept that that there are two resurrections: The first resurrection happens when Christ comes again to reign with resurrected believers for 1,000 years. It says in Revelation 20:6,

6Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

First resurrection may happen anytime soon. Believers who died will rise from the dead and meet Christ in the air while we who are still alive will be transformed to immortal body and joined them with Christ in the air.

Then, the 7 years of Great Tribulation happens after that we will reign with Christ here on earth for 1,000 years. After 1,000 years, comes the last hour of Armageddon and Satan will be released to deceive nations for the last time and then fight God’s angel. Of course, the end result is sure. Satan and his followers will be defeated and thrown into eternal punishment.

Then, the second resurrection happens on the Judgment Day. Believers who were converted during the Great Tribulation and during the millennium, they did not resurrect during the first resurrection, and they will stand before God’s Throne together with non-believers. Believers will enter heaven and nonbelievers will proceed to their final destination—eternal punishment.

That would be very terrible moment even for believers who were converted during the Great Tribulation and the 1,000 years. But for all believers who have placed their faith in Christ and resurrect during the first resurrection, we will have no worry of waiting for Judgment Day.

Make sure that you have believed in Christ now. Anytime soon, He will come. You surely don’t wish to be left behind and experience the Great Tribulation. You certainly want to reign with Christ for 1,000 years on earth.

So, make sure of that!

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