Genesis 25:30; Genesis 36:1,8,19; Genesis 36:8; 2 Chronicles 25:11; Numbers 21:4; Ezekiel 35:5; 1 Kings 11:14; 2 Chronicles 25:10-11; Psalm 137:7; Daniel 11:41; Isaiah 11:13-14; Obadiah 18-19; Isaiah 63:1; Obadiah 10; Isaiah 34:5-6; Ezekiel 35:15; Ezekiel 36:5; Mark 3:8  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Name given to Esau because he craved the red pottage of Jacob, Edom signifying red (Gen. 25:3030And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. (Genesis 25:30); Gen. 36:1,8,191Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. (Genesis 36:1)
8Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom. (Genesis 36:8)
19These are the sons of Esau, who is Edom, and these are their dukes. (Genesis 36:19)
); but the name is more usually given to his tribe and the territory they possessed. This extended from the land of Moab, southward to the Gulf of Akaba, in length about 100 miles, from about 29° 30' to 31° N, and about 35° 30' E. It is a remarkably mountainous district with lofty peaks and deep glens, but also with very productive plains. It had been called mount Seir (Gen. 36:88Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom. (Genesis 36:8)). Some of the rocks were so precipitous that Amaziah killed 10,000 of the children of Seir (Edomites) by casting them down from the rocks, whereby they were dashed to pieces (2 Chron. 25:1111And Amaziah strengthened himself, and led forth his people, and went to the valley of salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand. (2 Chronicles 25:11)). Bozrah and Sela, or Selah, were its chief cities.
When Israel was approaching the land of Palestine, Moses appealed to Edom to let them pass through their country, but they refused. The Israelites therefore returned south by way of the Red Sea (Gulf of Akaba) in order to compass the land of Edom, and then kept to the east of Edom until they reached the land of Moab (Num. 21:44And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. (Numbers 21:4)).
Many prophecies speak of its punishment. When the king of the north in a future day invades Palestine and overthrows countries as far as Egypt, “Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon” will escape, being reserved to be subdued by Israel (Dan. 11:4141He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. (Daniel 11:41); Isa. 11:13-1413The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. 14But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them. (Isaiah 11:13‑14); Obad. 18-1918And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it. 19And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. (Obadiah 18‑19)). It is from “Edom” that the Lord Jesus is represented as coming “with dyed garments” because of His having executed judgments (Isa. 63:11Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. (Isaiah 63:1)). Its destruction will be complete (Obad. 1010For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. (Obadiah 10)).
During the captivity the Edomites extended their dominion in the West and possessed Hebron; and some 300 years B.C. the Nabatheans took Petra (which is supposed to be the same as Sela), and established themselves in the district. They settled down and engaged in commerce, and formed the kingdom called by Roman writers Arabia Petraea. Under the Maccabees the Edomites in the west were conquered, and Hebron was recovered. After possession by the Romans, under the withering influence of Mahometan rule the district came to ruin.