Friday, February 21, 2020

Two Named Esau

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

This kinship diagram shows that there are two named Esau in Genesis. Esau the Elder was a contemporary of Seir the Horite (Gen. 36). As with most high-ranking Hebrew rulers, Esau had two wives. Sorting out their names is a challenge since Genesis 36:1-5 gives the impression that there was only one Esau and that he had four wives. Knowledge of the two-wife marriage pattern of the early Hebrew helps to sort out the confusion.

Esau the Elder married Adah, a daughter of Elon the Hittite. Esau the Younger married Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah, a female chief of the clan of Seir. One of the rulers named Esau married Judith, a daughter of Berri or Beerah (Gen. 26:34).

Both Esau the Elder and Esau the Younger are related to the Horite Hebrew of Edom. The "sons of Esau" who dwell in Seir are designated as kinsmen to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 2:4. The Greeks called Edom Idumea which means "land of red people". Esau is described as hairy and red. The Horite Hebrew of Edom were known to have a reddish skin tone. King David also was described as reddish, owing to his Edomite blood. 

David's father Jesse had a son named Jerimoth. Jerimoth married an Edomite princess named Mahalath (2 Chron. 11:18). Mahalath is the name of a wife of one of the rulers named Esau. The repetition of male and female names reflects the practice of endogamy among the Hebrew, a ruler-priest caste of great antiquity.

Naming practices of the early Hebrew

We often find two Horite Hebrew persons with the same name in the Bible. There are two early Hebrew rulers named Enoch, two named Lamech, two named Nahor, two named Esau, two named Joktan, and two named Korah. When we find two with the same name separated by a generation, we have evidence of the cousin bride's naming prerogative by which the second wife of the ruler named her first born son after her father.

The pattern is shown in this diagram. Lamech the Elder is shown with his two wives at the top. His daughter Naamah married her cousin Methuselah and named their first-born son Lamech after her father.

The cousin bride's naming prerogative was already a custom in the time of Lamech (Gen. 4). Naamah's first-born son Lamech was named after his maternal grandfather in whose territory he would one day serve as a high-ranking official.

Familiarity with the cousin bride's naming prerogative enables us to recover the names of some chiefs who have been given symbolic names, that is, names that are etiological etymologies. For example, Leah's first-born son was called Reuben. One theory says that his name derives from raa beonyi, meaning "Yahweh has seen my misery." A second explanation relates the name to Leah's hope of winning Jacob's love by bringing forth a son. In this case, the name derives from yeehabani, meaning "he will love me." It is more likely that Reuben is ra'a ben, meaning "behold, a son."

However, Jacob's first-born son by Leah is named Reu. That name appears in the Hebrew king lists of Genesis 11. Reu is the son of Peleg, the son of Eber. Reuben's first-born son is called Hanock which is a variant spelling of the name Enoch (Gen. 4:17; Gen. 5:18) and Anak.

Esau's name is explained as referring to the color red: Edom (Gen. 36:2). This could as easily be translated "ruddy", an adjective applied to King David who had Edomite blood through Tamar. The same source relates the name to an abundance of hair: “The first to be born was red, altogether like a hair cloak; so they named him Esau.” (Gen. 25:25)

What is the origin of the name Esau and what connection does it have to the central message of the Bible? Cheyne associates the name with "Usu" of Tyre. (Stade's "Zeitschrift," 17.189) Hiram, the king of Tyre, was allied by kinship to David. Hiram has the ancient Egyptian root HR which mean most high one. It is the same root that appears in the name Hur, Moses’ brother-in-law. Hur’s grandson was one of the builders of the Tabernacle. I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur as the "father" of Bethlehem, a Horite Hebrew settlement. In other words, the Hiram of Tyre and David of Bethlehem had common Horite Hebrew ancestors. The Genesis king lists and Ezekiel 28:11-19 indicate that the Hebrew lineage can be traced back to Eden.

The Horite Hebrew believed in God Father and God Son. They believed that the Son of God would be born of their ruler-priest bloodlines and that He would reveal himself to his people. This was fulfilled when Jesus, the Son of God, visited Tyre (Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7: 24).

David had Edomite blood through Tamar and was descended from the most ancient priestly line through Oholibamah and the Horite Hebrew chief Zibeon. This is why II Samuel 8:18 speaks of David's sons as being priests. They were of the priestly line from which Jesus came. So, we find a parallel between Oholibamah and the Virgin Mary. Oholibamah means the High Tent/elevated Tabernacle. She is an ancestor of Messiah through David, and her mother's name is Anah. Likewise, the Virgin Mary's womb became the tabernacle of the Christ our God, and her mother’s name was Ana.

Related reading: Cousin BridesHorite and Sethite MoundsHebrew Names and TitlesThe Substance of Abraham's FaithSeats of WisdomChiefs of Edom; The Pattern of Two Wives

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