Who were the Edomite’s mentioned in the Bible? Why is it important enough for us to know about them?
The Origins of the Edomite’s
The Edomite’s lived in the land of Edom and were largely regarded by the prophets as vehement foes of the nation of Israel. They hated and were always opposed to anything that Israel did. The Edomite’s were typical of the corrupt, hate-ridden world that prevailed in much of the civilized world at that time (Isaiah 34). Obadiah wrote that God would punish this nation and wipe them from off of the face of the earth (Obadiah 1:1-9). Why? It was “Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob” (Obadiah 1:10). Jacob’s name was later changed to Israel so when the Bible speaks about Jacob it is really speaking about Israel. The name Edom may have come from Esau because of the color of his skin (Gen 25:25) while other scholars believe it may have been derived from the red sandstone cliffs characteristic of the country. Esau is associated with Edom from Genesis 36:1 which says “These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom” where “Esau settled in the hill country of Seir” (Esau is Edom.) (Gen 36:8).
Antagonists of Israel
Edom had become an enemy of Israel from the very beginning when they would not permit Israel to pass through the land (Num 20:14-21; 21:4) even though Israel had promised to leave the land untouched. The Edomite’s continued to be a thorn in the side of Israel for many generations and even during Solomon’s reign were a source of trouble to Israel (1 Kings 11:14, 25). It is believed by some that the Edomite’s even helped Nebuchadnezzar in the destruction of Israel and rejoiced in the capture of Jerusalem which served to stir the bitterest indignation in the hearts of every Jew (Lam 4:21; Ezek 25:12; 35:3). After this, Nebuchadnezzar allowed the Edomite’s to take and occupy much of southern Judah.
The Judgment of the Edomite’s
The Bible says in many places that pride comes, then the fall and the Edomite’s were no exception. The oracle against Edom was written down by Obadiah “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground” (Obadiah 1:3)? Edom had thought of itself as invincible but God was going to humble them as Obadiah writes “Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord” (Obadiah 1:4) and “Esau has been pillaged, his treasures sought out” (Obadiah 1:6). God was angered because when Israel fell, Edom exalted in their destruction. God had previously warned them through the prophet “On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress. Do not enter the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; do not gloat over his disaster in the day of his calamity” (Obadiah 1:11-13a) yet that is exactly what they did. They gloated over Israel’s fall…they rejoiced over their destruction, they boasted in their being taken into captivity but later, Edom itself would face a similar fate. At one time the Edomite’s had owned the land where the King’s Highway passed through and depended upon the caravan routes for their prosperity so when they no longer controlled these routes, their civilization declined into near non-existence.
There are principles for the Christian to learn from the Edomite’s experiences. We should never rejoice over someone else’s tragedies. Proverbs 24:17-18 says “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him” yet that is what Edom did. God declared to Edom and to us that “whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished” (Prov 17:5). Edom should have understood that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18) and “When pride comes, then comes disgrace” (Prov 11:2) so the believer should never gloat over the disaster of another, even of those who are unbelievers. The Edomite’s learned a hard lesson but let Christians beware too that when pride comes, a fall is to follow and that God will resist the proud but He will only give His grace to those who are of a humble nature (James 4:6). Jesus declared “those who exalt themselves will be humbled” (Matt 23:12). These are important lessons that we can learn from the Edomite’s and try to not follow the same destructive mistakes that they made.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon