What does Genesis 36:39 mean?
ESV: Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his place, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.
NIV: When Baal-Hanan son of Akbor died, Hadad succeeded him as king. His city was named Pau, and his wife's name was Mehetabel daughter of Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab.
NASB: Then Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar became king in his place; and the name of his city was Pau; and his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.
CSB: When Baal-hanan son of Achbor died, Hadar reigned in his place. His city was Pau, and his wife's name was Mehetabel daughter of Matred daughter of Me-zahab.
NLT: When Baal-hanan son of Acbor died, Hadad became king in his place and ruled from the city of Pau. His wife was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred and granddaughter of Me-zahab.
KJV: And Baalhanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his stead: and the name of his city was Pau; and his wife's name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab.
NKJV: And when Baal-Hanan the son of Achbor died, Hadar reigned in his place; and the name of his city was Pau. His wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab.
Verse Commentary:
In this part of Genesis (Genesis 36:31), kings of Edom (Genesis 36:1) are listed, from a time before Israel (Genesis 35:10) had their first king. Following the death of Baal-hanah (Genesis 36:38), the final king in this list took the throne of Edom, ruling from the city of Pau, also spelled as "Pai" (1 Chronicles 1:50).

King Hadar was married to Mehetabel, whose name means "favored of God." She was the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mazahab. It's unknown precisely why this detail is included. It is noteworthy that the prior king's name is an explicit reference to Baal, the false god of the Canaanites, while this king's wife bears a name more aligned with belief in the God of Israel.
Verse Context:
Genesis 36:31–43 lists eight kings of Edom, the nation which descended from Esau (Genesis 36:1), all apparently ruling from a different city. This passage pointedly notes that Edom's kings all reigned before Israel had kings of her own. While Edom is conquering Seir (Genesis 36:9), Israel must endure centuries of slavery (Exodus 12:40). This was followed by a long period under a series of "judges" (Judges 21:25) before their first appointed king (1 Samuel 8:4–5). Finally, in this section, the clan leaders are listed, each likely representing a specific region in the land of Edom.
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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