What does Genesis 36:1 mean?
ESV: These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).
NIV: This is the account of the family line of Esau (that is, Edom).
NASB: Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).
CSB: These are the family records of Esau (that is, Edom).
NLT: This is the account of the descendants of Esau (also known as Edom).
KJV: Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.
Verse Commentary:
Genesis is divided into sections, using the Hebrew word tōledot', literally meaning "records of the generations." Each section focuses on the main descendants of a certain Old Testament figure. Earlier sections discussed the heirs of Adam (Genesis 5:1), Noah (Genesis 6:9), Shem (Genesis 11:10), Terah, the father of Abraham (Genesis 11:27), and Ishmael (Genesis 25:12). The portion immediately before this gave the history of Isaac, Esau's father, and mostly focused on Esau's twin brother, Jacob (Genesis 25:19).

This chapter describes the generations of Esau, also identified as Edom. Edom is the name given to the nation which controlled Seir, the region Esau and his descendants occupied. They become known as the Edomites (Numbers 20:14–21; 1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Kings 8:20; Obadiah 1:8–11).

The next chapter will begin the "generations of Jacob," focusing mostly on his son Joseph.
Verse Context:
Genesis 36:1–8 gives a summary of what happened to Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. Esau is called Edom, literally meaning "red." This connection comes from his birth (Genesis 25:25) and an incident with his brother (Genesis 25:30). The land where he settles is also named for Esau's appearance; "Seir" literally means "shaggy." The nation of Edom grows after Esau moves away from Jacob's rapidly growing family. Jacob was given the name "Israel" by God. Over time, the "brother" nations of Israelites and Edomites will become bitter enemies. The short prophetic book of Obadiah predicts harsh judgment on Edom for their treatment of Israel (Obadiah 1:1–2).
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 36 describes the generations of Esau, mostly focusing on the genealogy and rulers of the land of Edom. Repeatedly, the chapter emphasizes that Esau is Edom, repeating an association made earlier in Genesis (Genesis 25:25, 30). The Edomite people are his descendants. The regions in the land of Edom are named for his offspring. The chapter diverts briefly to give the genealogy of the Horite people (Genesis 14:6) who occupied the land before it was conquered (Deuteronomy 2:12). Finally, the chapter lists eight kings of Edom, along with the chiefs whose names became associated with the regions their clans occupied.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 35 concludes with the death of Isaac. It marks the end of the story arc which focused on him (Genesis 25:19). Genesis 36 briefly describes the generations of Esau, Jacob's twin brother, listing his sons, grandsons, and the kings of Edom, the nation that came from Esau. This is parallel to how Genesis 25:12–18 relayed the fate of Ishamel, another son who did not carry the line of promise. Genesis 37 begins the generations of Jacob, focusing mostly on the story of Joseph.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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