Certain Christian circles insist that modern day Jews are literal Edomites — the living descendants of Esau — Jacob/Israel’s older twin brother. And many of those who hold this view generally agree that Edomites became synonymous with modern day Jews around 150 BC when John Hyrcanus — the Hasmonean high priest leader of Judea — offered them citizenship on condition that they submit to circumcision and practice Hebrewism — the dominant religion in Judea at that time.
We will give a brief summary of the history surrounding this view, scrutinize the evidence, and then elaborate on it.
HISTORY OF EDOM IN JUDEA
During the second temple period, around 168 BC, Israel came under the power of the Seleucid Empire — ruled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes — and underwent a period of great trouble. As a result of that trouble, Israel resisted and began what is known as the Maccabean revolts. Simultaneously — in the success of the revolts — this began the Hasmonean dynasty, which was a series of high priestly rulers.
These events can be seen in the Scriptures in Daniel 2, 8, 9, 10 and 11 — along with the apocryphal books of the Maccabees.
During that time, after casting off their Seleucid rulers in Jerusalem, Israel — under the Hasmonean dynasty — began to steadily retake the lands around them. In 150 BC, the high priest ruler John Hyrcanus, conquered the land of Edom — known by its Greek name “Idumea” — during that time, and decreed to the Edomites that if they wanted to remain in their land, they were to be circumcised and convert to the Israelite religion and culture. Flavius Josephus wrote,
Hyrcanus took also Dora, and Marissa, cities of Idumea; and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews. And they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living. At which time therefore this befel them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.Antiquities of the Jews, book 13, chapter 9, section 1
Around 69 BC, there was civil conflict over Hasmonean rulership between the Hasmonean brothers, Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus II. The Romans under Pompey the Great intervened and took Jerusalem, henceforth causing Judea to be a Roman state. Judea was then reinstated to Hyrcanus II. That same Hyrcanus had an adviser by the name of Antipater, who was an Idumean — an Edomite — by birth.
Around 47 BC, when Julius Caesar defeated Pompey the Great, he instated Antipater — who was in his good graces — as governor of Judea. Antipater instated his own son — later know as “Herod the Great” — as governor of Galilee. Then in 40 BC the Parthians invaded Judea and briefly reinstated the Hasmonean dynasty under Antigonus, son of Aristobulus II.
Herod then promised to reconquer Judea under the authority of the Romans, who agreed and made him king of the area. When Herod marched on Jerusalem and camped outside of it, Josephus records the following exchange,
And as soon as he [Herod] had pitched his camp on the west side of the city, the soldiers that were set to guard that part shot their arrows, and threw their darts at him. And when some sallied out in a crowd, and came to fight hand to hand with the first ranks of Herod’s army, he gave orders, that they should in the first place make proclamation about the wall; that “He came for the good of the people; and for the preservation of the city; and not to bear any old grudge at even his most open enemies: but ready to forget the offences which his greatest adversaries had done him.” But Antigonus, by way of reply to what Herod had caused to be proclaimed, and this before the Romans, and before Silo also, said, that “They would not do justly if they gave the Kingdom to Herod; who was no more than a private man, and an Idumean, i. e. an half Jew: whereas they ought to bestow it on one of the royal family: as their custom was.Antiquities of the Jews, book 14, chapter 15, section 2
In the end Herod succeeded in his military conquest, and thus began the Herodian dynasty — which was a series of Rome-sanctioned positions of rulership over the Israelites in varying capacities under the Herodian family, who were Edomites by patrilineal descent.
Therefore, Herod the Great who massacred the children around Bethlehem, Herod Antipas who had John the Baptist murdered and Herod Agrippa to whom Paul spoke in the book of Acts were all related Edomite men.
Many Christians insist that those Edomites conquered by John Hyrcanus — as well as those of the Herodian dynasty — were not pure, Adamic people — but rather they were allegedly racial “bastards” per Deuteronomy 23:2 — meaning mamzers or mixed bloods. And because of that, they were forbidden from entering Israelite congregations or marriages.
They contend that despite the clear Scriptural prohibition against allowing “bastards” into Israelite congregations, John Hyrcanus — the Hasmonean-Israelite high priest of Judea — allowed these alleged mixed-blood Edomites to convert anyway in violation of Deuteronomy 23:2 — and thus became “Jews” as we know them today.
As Christians, we would do well to follow Paul’s sage advice in 1 Thessalonians 5:21,
Prove all things; hold fast all that which is good.
In this light, we will endeavor to investigate what the Scripture actually says — and doesn’t say — about the Edomite people — and so we will start at the very beginning.
ESAU’S WIVES – THE CANAANITES
Those adhering to this view of the Edomites as racially impure will readily acknowledge that their patriarch — Esau — was a pure Adamic man — as they cannot do otherwise, given that he has the same father and mother of Jacob himself. And so their contention that the Edomites — Esau’s descendants — were not racially pure naturally begins with Genesis 26:34-35:
34 When Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite; 35 and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
Their assertion that Edomites could not be a pure Adamic is based on their presumption that the Hittite people with whom Esau inter-married were not pure Adamic. And naturally, if the Hittite women whom Esau took as wives were not Adamic, then their children would not be Adamic either.
Their contention that the Hittites are not racially pure is that they are descendants of Canaan (Genesis 10:15) — and they also allege that all the Canaanites are not a pure Adamic people — despite the fact that Canaan’s descendants are listed in Scripture as legitimate members of the Genesis 10 nations.
The Scriptural “proof” they will offer that the Canaanites cannot be a pure Adamic people is that God commanded Israel to destroy the Canaanites — and commanded Israel not to intermarry with them.
They use passages like Exodus 33:23-24,31-33 in support of this view,
23 For My angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them. 24 You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their memorial stones in pieces… 31 I will set your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River; for I will hand over the inhabitants of the land to you, and you will drive them out from you. 32 You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They shall not live in your land, otherwise they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it is certain to be a snare to you.”
Note that God here explains the exact reasons why he commanded Israel to destroy the Canaanites — and none of those reasons include the charge that the Canaanites were mamzers — or racially impure.
However, those who insist the Canaanites are not pure completely ignore these explicit qualifying statements by God, while drawing our attention to a reason which God does not give — that Canaanites are not pure. In other words, we are told to ignore what Scripture clearly states and instead to focus on what it does not state.
Deuteronomy 7:1-5 is also often given in support of this view,
1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to take possession of it, and He drives away many nations from before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord your God turns them over to you and you defeat them, you shall utterly destroy them. You shall not make a covenant with them nor be gracious to them. 3 Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them: you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me, and they will serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. 5 But this is what you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, smash their memorial stones, cut their Asherim to pieces, and burn their carved images in the fire.
In this example — once again — the qualifying reason for the conflict is explicitly given — but ignored again because it’s not racial. Again, we are expected to ignore what is stated but focus on what is not stated.
We should point out that those who insist that the Canaanites were not a pure Adamic people also say that Israelites being turned away from God is the natural result of being with non-white Canaanites.
However, this circular logic demonstrates that they have merely begged the question.
They have insisted that Canaanites are non-white because they would turn Israel from serving God. And then they insist that Canaanites would turn Israel from serving God because they are non-white. The premise and the conclusion in this argument are one and the same — a textbook example of a logical fallacy.
There is nothing in the Scripture stating categorically that all the Canaanites were mamzers or racially impure; however, there were a few Canaanites around the city of Hebron known as the “Sons of Anak” (Numbers 13:22, Deuteronomy 2:11), who had mixed with the Rephaim (giants). By virtue of their size — being mixed with giants — the Scriptures always record these physical features when meeting these giant-Adamite hybrid mongrels.
However, no such physical evidence of hybridization is given with the children of Heth — the Hittites.
Further, there is also Deuteronomy 20:16-18:
16 Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave anything that breathes alive. 17 Instead, you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, 18 so that they will not teach you to do all the same detestable practices of theirs which they have done for their gods, by which you would sin against the Lord your God.
For a third time — a third witness — when God commands Israel to destroy the Canaanites, He also gives the reason — the qualifying statement which is consistent with the rest of the qualifying statements in the context of destroying the Canaanites. We should conclude by now that this has to do with the evil which the Canaanites practiced and has nothing to do with them being racially mixed or impure.
THE KENITE/CANAANITE CONNECTION – OR LACK THEREOF?
To further prove that the Canaanites were not a pure, Adamic people, they will often claim that they mixed with Cain — one of the sons of Eve — who dwelt in the land of Canaan — and that Cain is the physical son not of Adam but of Satan, who — they claim — is the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
However, from the very start this theory about Cain is on very shaky ground — as Genesis 7:19 says of the destructive Flood,
And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.
If all of the mountains under heaven — which is to say all of them on the planet, as the whole planet is under the heavens — then how is it that Cain’s descendants — who were not on the Ark — could have survived?
Let us for a moment hypothetically concede that Cain could have somehow survived the Flood — even though no such reason is offered in Scripture. How then could Cain be the physical son of the serpent when Genesis 4:1 clearly states,
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
Of course those who insist that Cain is the literal son of the serpent have no choice but to claim that Genesis 4:1 is a corrupted verse — and is basically unintelligible in the “original” Hebrew. They merely presume that the uncorrupted original would have supported their theory that Cain is the natural born son of the serpent — with no proof that it would have. One could just as easily conjecture that the uncorrupted verse would have affirmed that Cain was Adam’s natural born son.
However, there is a very simple way to resolve this — we can look for another witness in sources such as the Septuagint, which is the Greek rendering of the Old Testament.
The beauty of having the Septuagint is that where the Masoretic Hebrew text and the Septuagint are close, they can be compared to get the most accurate translation possible. We could also look at the more recent Dead Sea Scrolls, but unfortunately they have not found a scroll which corresponds to Genesis 4:1. So we are left to compare the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Septuagint.
In the original Septuagint Greek, Genesis 4:1 stands as follows,
Αδάμ δε (And Adam) έγνω (knew) Εύαν (Eve) την γυναίκα αυτού (his wife) και (and) συλλαβούσα (conceiving) Έτεκε (she bore) τον Καϊν (Cain) και (and) είπεν (said) Εκτησάμην (I acquired) άνθρωπον (a man) διά (through) του θεού (God)
As is evident, this is how the vast majority of translations render this passage — because most translations do, in fact, use the Masoretic text, the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls combined as far as possible. To go directly to the Masoretic text and use it to critique modern translations doesn’t do justice to the modern translation process of the Old Testament.
It should be clear then that Cain was indeed the son of Adam and Eve — not of Eve and the serpent. However, let us again hypothetically concede — contrary to evidence — that Cain was the son of the serpent and somehow survived the flood. In the next piece of the argument, those who hold the view that Cain is the son of the serpent will cite Genesis 15:18-20,
18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 the land of the Kenite, the Kenizzite, the Kadmonite, 20 the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.”
They contend that the Kenites are physical descendants of Cain merely on the grounds that the word for “Kenite” comes from the word “Cain”— in the same way that the word “Hittite” comes from the word “Heth”. Thus, when the Kenites mixed in with the Canaanites, the Canaanites allegedly became racially mixed.
However, we can easily demonstrate that the Kenites here in Genesis 15 are not physical descendants of Cain — despite the origin of the word “Kenite”. The first reference we have of the Kenites — other than Genesis 15 — is when Balaam is prophesying about the peoples in the region — and says of the Kenites in Numbers 24:21-22,
21 And he looked at the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said, “Your dwelling place is enduring, And your nest is set in the cliff. 22 Nevertheless Kain will suffer devastation; How long will Asshur keep you captive?”
This passage clearly states that the Kenites dwell in cliffs — and that they will be captive under Asshur — son of Shem (Genesis 10:22) — which is the Scriptural reference to Assyria. Let’s keep note of that for now.
The next reference we have of the Kenites is in Judges 1:16:
Now the descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up from the city of palms with the sons of Judah, to the wilderness of Judah which is in the south of Arad; and they went and lived with the people.
Here we can see that traveling along with Israel was a group of Kenites who were also descendants of Moses’ father-in-law. These Kenites were with Israel even after they had begun their conquest of the land of Canaan. Scripture tells the story of when these Kenites joined Israel in Numbers 10:29-32:
29 Then Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out to the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will do you good, for the Lord has promised good concerning Israel.” 30 But he said to him, “I will not come, but rather will go to my own land and relatives.” 31 Then he said, “Please do not leave us, since you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will be as eyes for us. 32 So it will be, if you go with us, that whatever good the Lord does for us, we will do for you.” 33 So they moved on from the mountain of the Lord three days’ journey, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord going on in front of them for the three days, to seek out a resting place for them.
The first striking fact we can see is that here Moses’ father-in-law is referred to as a Midianite — while in Judges 1:16 he is referred to as a Kenite. Midian was the son of Abraham and Keturah, which seems to be a genetic designation in the case of Moses’ father-in-law. But how could Moses father-in-law be a Kenite and a Midianite simultaneously?
The only reasonable explanation is that one designation is genetic and the other refers to something else. We have no genealogical origin of the Kenites in this context, but we do have genealogical origin of the Midianites. It seems more likely that Moses’ father-in-law is a physical descendant of Midian, son of Abraham.
Why is he also called a Kenite then? There are some theories, but ultimately the Scripture never explicitly tells us. It may have referred to some profession — a way of living — or the geographical location itself.
Speaking of geographical locations, the Kenites do seem to be fixed to one area originally, despite some of them moving around with Israel. After convincing the Kenites to join them, Numbers 10:33 states, “So they moved on from the mountain of the Lord.” It makes sense that Moses would speak with the Kenites there because that is where they lived. Exodus 18:5 says,
Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was camped, at the mountain of God.
Here again — at the mountain of God — Moses is meeting with his father-in-law, the Kenite. Even earlier than that, when Moses was living a pastoral life with his father-in-law and family, Exodus 3:1 says,
Now Moses was pasturing the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
It seems very clear by this point that the Kenites live very close to Horeb, which is a mountain. Now we should recall that Numbers 24:21 says of the Kenites,
And your nest is set in the cliff
Again, this makes sense because they live next to a mountain — Horeb — which must necessarily be located on what is now called the Sinai Peninsula — given that Israel camped there in Exodus 17 soon after crossing the Red Sea in Exodus 14. Then Numbers 24:22 says,
Nevertheless Kain will suffer devastation; How long will Asshur keep you captive
In the Assyrian conquests, they moved all the way through the Sinai Peninsula and into Egypt, which is fulfillment of this prophecy — and is another corroboration of the fact that the home of the Kenites is in the Sinai Peninsula. Why is all of this important? Remember how Genesis 15:18-19 says,
18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 the land of the Kenite, the Kenizzite, the Kadmonite…
Genesis 15 tells us that the Kenites dwell somewhere between the river of Egypt — which is presumably the Nile — and the Euphrates — an area that easily includes the Sinai Peninsula, the home of the Kenites. Therefore, the Kenites of Genesis 15 and the Kenites who are Moses’ father-in-law’s people are one and the same people. If Moses’ father-in-law was a Kenite, then the Kenites cannot be a non-white people — and least of all, the physical descendants of Cain.
Incredibly, we are asked to ignore the fact that Cain is actually Adam’s son, and that the Flood wiped out his descendants — and that the Kenites are part of Moses’ own family — in order to believe that Cain or the Canaanites could be a non-Adamic people.
Given all this evidence, there is no reason to believe that the daughters of Heth — whom Esau took as wives — were racially impure as a result of their lineage as Canaanites, as many contend.
Those who still insist that the Canaanites were not a pure Adamic people offer as additional evidence that Rebekah — Esau and Jacob’s mother — was distraught over the wives whom Esau took. Genesis 27:46 says,
And Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth like these from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
Conversely, Isaac commanded Jacob not to take wives from the Canaanites, as Genesis 28:1-2 tells us,
1 So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and commanded him, saying to him, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.
They claim that Rebekah’s distress over Esau’s Canaanite wives — and Isaac’s command for Jacob to go to Rebekah’s family to find a wife — must have been because Canaanites — unlike Rebekah’s family — were racially impure. They also claim that this could not have been for religious or spiritual reasons because Rebekah’s family members were pagan.
After taking wives — Leah and Rachel — from his uncle Laban’s daughters, through a series of events Jacob perceives that he no longer has favor with Laban. Jacob tries to leave secretly, but Laban pursues him and catches up with him, laying the following accusation in Genesis 31:30,
Now you have indeed gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house; but why did you steal my gods?
Because Laban had pagan idols in his house, some have categorically claimed that the family must have been pagans. Therefore, in their view, Rebekah’s desire for Jacob to find a wife among them could not have been a religious or spiritual consideration — but this is a great oversimplification of the matter.
In the time of Abraham and afterward, monotheism was actually somewhat rare — seen only in a few instances in the Scripture before the law of Moses was given to Israel. In fact, it was the law of Moses which institutionalized monotheism amongst the Israelites themselves, given that they seemed to have been mired in pagan ways even in Egypt. Leviticus 18:3-5 says,
3 You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. 4 You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God. 5 So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, which, if a person follows them, then he will live by them; I am the Lord.
Even though Israelites were pagan in Egypt, they still served the true God of Israel as well. The point is that serving God and being pagan was not necessarily mutually exclusive in those times, even though it should have been exclusive, as we well know. The law of Moses — as Leviticus 18 would make clear to them — was about to make their religious life very exclusive and monotheistic.
Despite their pagan idols, there are tell-tale signs that Rebekah’s family still knew the God of Israel — and they were better mannered than the pagan people of Canaan. Following the story of Laban looking for his idols in Genesis 31, verses 34-35 relate,
34 Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddlebag, and she sat on them. So Laban searched through all the tent, but did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, “May my lord not be angry that I cannot stand in your presence, because the way of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household idols.
As we can see, Rachel excuses herself for not standing in the presence of her father — a practice commanded in Leviticus 19:32,
You shall stand up in the presence of the grayheaded and honor elders, and you shall fear your God; I am the Lord.
While pursuing Jacob, Laban had a dream in Genesis 31:24:
However, God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.”
In spite of his anger, Laban concedes to this dream in Genesis 31:29:
It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.’
Laban well knew the God of Jacob’s father even when Abraham’s servant had come to find a wife for Isaac. Genesis 24:31 says,
And he [Laban] said, “Come in, blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside, since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?”
Where the passage says “Lord,” the Hebrew says “Yahweh,” which is a specific identifier for the God of Israel. Although the name of “Yahweh” was only revealed at the burning bush hundreds of years later in Exodus 3:15, evidence in Genesis clearly demonstrates that Laban knew the true God.
Laban and his family repeatedly show good will and hospitality to those around them — as Rebekah gave Abraham’s servant and his camels water when he came to look for a wife for Isaac in Genesis 24:18. She then invites Abraham’s servant to stay with them in Genesis 24:25, and Laban helped with the reception in Genesis 24:32. Laban shows Jacob the same welcome in Genesis 29:13. This is also a statue which Israel received later in Leviticus 19:34,
The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.
It seems that this family also guarded the virginity of their women, as it says of Rebekah in Genesis 24:16,
The young woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had had relations with her.
Laban’s daughters — Leah and Rachel — were also virgins when they were each married to Jacob. Jacob had to work seven years for each of them — a tall price to pay for a wife if her virginity was not something to be guarded. It also speaks to the fact that they held the sanctity of marriage in high regard.
That Laban deceived Jacob into sleeping with Leah first implicitly reveals to us that Laban believed that the act of sex itself was tantamount to marriage itself. On the other hand, compare Laban’s behavior with how the Hivites — who also were Canaanites — treated the daughter of Jacob in Genesis 34:1-2:
1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. 2 When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her and raped her.
This stands in quite a contrast to the social norm presented to us in Laban’s family. We can see in the examples of Scripture that Laban and his family were indeed more conservative in their values — and more “spiritual” than the people of Canaan.
Now recall Deuteronomy 7:3-4 which we quoted earlier:
3 Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them [Canaanites]: you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me, and they will serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.
The people of Israel are given an explicit command not to marry the Canaanite peoples — specifically because they would turn the Israelites away from following the true God of Israel. Consider a similar command which Abraham gives to his servant when told to look for a wife for Isaac in Genesis 24:3-4:
3 and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live; 4 but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.
Jacob receives the same command in Genesis 28:1-2:
1 So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and commanded him, saying to him, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.
The commands quoted in Genesis 24 and Genesis 28 are awfully close to the one given in Deuteronomy 7:3. Although Genesis 24 and 25 don’t have any qualifiers provided along with them, given what we have already presented here — and their closeness to Deuteronomy 7:3 which is given qualifiers — it would seem reasonable to conclude that the qualifiers are indeed the same.
The Lord says of Abraham in Genesis 18:19,
For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.
One of the purposes of Abraham’s family was to be a righteous and just people — and in order to maintain that righteousness, his descendants would need to make a concerted effort to choose appropriate wives — and not just in a racial sense. To expect Isaac or Jacob to have righteous families by default — simply by taking pure white, Adamic wives — goes against many examples in Scripture where pure white, Adamic people sin without any help from non-whites.
Given that Abraham instructed his family in ways of righteousness, it makes sense that Esau would look to Abraham’s family as it says in Genesis 28:8-9,
8 So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; 9 and Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.
We presume that Rebekah would know the spiritual destiny of her family in light of Genesis 18:19 — and that this destiny seemed to be failing if her son, Esau, had taken wives from unrighteous people — and that her grandchildren would follow in the same steps. In light of this, we wouldn’t blame her for saying, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth like these from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
WAS ESAU SEXUALLY IMMORAL?
Another passage oft-quoted by those who believe that Esau took non-white wives is Hebrews 12:14-17:
14 Pursue peace with all people, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that there be no sexually immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
They claim that Hebrews here is asserting that Esau was a profane person and sexually immoral — and that the sexual immorality that he was engaging in was sleeping with women who were racially impure. If indeed they weren’t white, we would agree that this would be sexual immorality.
In the saying, “that there be no sexually immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal” (Hebrews 12:16), we must acknowledge the inherent ambiguity of this statement — even in the original Greek. We freely admit that grammatically, there are two possible interpretations to the statement:
- We must not be sexually immoral or godless, like Esau was sexually immoral and godless
- We must not be sexually immoral, and we must also not be godless like Esau was godless
Make no mistake, either are possible, but only one can be true. For the first option to be true, we must make an assumption — Esau was sexually immoral. For the second option to be true, we do not need to make any extra assumptions, because we do not need to prove Esau was sexually immoral. The writer also contextualizes the meaning of being “godless” by saying that Esau “sold his own birthright”. Given that there are two viable options — the second of which can be true on its own, we must then prove the assumption that Esau was sexually immoral in order for the first option to be true — or even a contender.
As we have already shown, Esau did not commit any sexual immorality — and the account in Genesis does not reveal any sexual immorality either. There’s nothing in the entire Scripture stating that Esau was sexually immoral, unless one merely assumed Esau was sexually immoral. Therefore, their contention that Esau was sexually immoral is an example of having again begged the question.
The logic of their position is reduced to, “Esau was sexually immoral because Canaanites were not white. Canaanites were not white because Esau was sexually immoral.” Even this ignores the fact that — as we have shown — there is nothing in the passage in Hebrews which necessarily states that Esau was sexually immoral — at least not without evidence that he was sexually immoral.
Given that nothing in the Scripture states that Esau was sexually immoral, Hebrews 12:16 is actually not ambiguous at all. The writer of Hebrews appears to use Esau as an example of what would happen to someone in whom the root of bitterness springs up. Earlier Hebrews 12:1 says,
Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us
When speaking of the root of bitterness, Hebrews is actually quoting Deuteronomy 29:16-18:
16 (for you know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we passed through the midst of the nations through which you passed; 17 moreover, you have seen their abominations and their idols made of wood and stone, silver and gold, which they had with them); 18 so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.
Both Hebrews 12:1 and Deuteronomy 29:16-18 are exhortations to remove all unrighteousness from our lives — of which sexual immorality seems to be one thing with which the Hebrews were struggling. They are again exhorted not to be sexually immoral in Hebrews 13:4:
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.
The Hebrews writer himself never mentions “race-mixing” throughout the work — and we can see that he contextualizes sexual immorality as specific to marriage — at least in the scope of this epistle. Furthermore, it’s probably a stretch to assume the Greek word “pornos” (G4205) — “that there be no sexually immoral [G4205]” — could ever refer to “race-mixing.” Suffice to say, one would need to prove it very specifically within the context of the use of the word.
In this way, Esau stands as prophetic precedent for what would happen to those in whom the root of bitterness would spring up — and in whom unrighteousness is found. When Esau realized his fault, he sought his own birthright, but at that point it was too late. In this way, he has fulfilled what the writer of Hebrews says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.”
Just as Deuteronomy 29:20 tells what will happen to the one in whom the root of bitterness is found,
The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and His wrath will burn against that person, and every curse that is written in this book will lie upon him, and the Lord will wipe out his name from under heaven.
Hebrews concludes similarly in 12:28-29,
28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let’s show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
With this in mind, we would argue then that a far better interpretation of Hebrews 12:16 is not simply to reduce it to something which is not explicit in the Scripture — and which is not even necessarily true from a grammatical standpoint. Rather Hebrews here is highlighting sexual immorality as particularly bad among all the exhortations given in Hebrews 13:1-5 — and if they continue, they will find themselves in a similar position to Esau who regretted his actions but found no recourse to undo them.
Just as it says of those same people in Matthew 13:42,
and they [the lawless] will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth
They will weep and gnash their teeth because — like Esau — understanding their fate, there will be nothing left to be done — despite wishing that there were something which could be done. Their past actions which led them to the situation they find themselves in will seem wasteful and senseless.
EDOM IN THE LAW
Next, we would like to address a topic which seems to be ignored by some unspoken agreement within certain Christian circles — and that is Deuteronomy 23:7-8:
7 You shall not loathe an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not loathe an Egyptian, because you were a stranger in his land. 8 The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.
This single passage stands out as a powerful exoneration to the genetic purity of the Edomite people. It states emphatically that the Edomites in the third generation may enter the assembly of the Lord. And it is inconceivable that the high priest John Hyrcanus was not aware of this verse when he offered the Edomites Judean citizenship and conversion to the religion of the Hebrews.
Why would Edomites be allowed into the assembly of the Lord if they were not pure and unmixed, Adamic people? After all, they would have been excluded by Deuteronomy 23:2, which states that mixed breeds may not enter the assembly of the Lord. The simplest answer is that the Edomites were not mixed breeds.
This prima facie Scriptural proof that Edomites were indeed a pure Adamic people forces those who believe otherwise to dismiss Deuteronomy 23:7 outright — by hypothesizing that it was actually some kind of “scribal error” — and that the scribe meant to write the Hebrew word for “Asshur,” or Assyria, instead of similar word for Edomite.
The Septuagint confirms, however, that Deuteronomy 23:7 is indeed referring to the Edomites. And the Dead Sea Scrolls — both scrolls 4Q36 and 4Q45 — confirm that it is referring to Edomites. The Septuagint, the Masoretic text and the Dead Sea Scrolls all seem to agree that the verse is referring to Edomites — not Assyrians. That’s three witnesses against the “scribal” error hypothesis.
In case that weren’t convincing enough, consider that Esau was Jacob’s literal brother — and so it would make sense to give this designation to the Edomites. The father of the Edomites — and the father of the Israelites — were twin brothers from the same mother and the same father. Deuteronomy 2:4 says,
…are going to pass through the territory of your brothers the sons of Esau, who live in Seir…
Deuteronomy 2:8 says,
So we passed beyond our brothers the sons of Esau…
Numbers 20:14 says,
From Kadesh Moses then sent messengers to the king of Edom to say, “This is what your brother Israel has said…”
The book of Obadiah, which concerns the Edomites, says in verse 10,
Because of violence to your brother Jacob
Verse 12 says,
Do not gloat over your brother’s day
The Edomites are the only people in the entirety of the Scripture who are referred to as Israel’s brother — so to claim that Deuteronomy 23:7 is referring to a people who are not Edom seems to be quite a stretch, to say the least.
It is worth noting that Mark 3:8 casually mentions people from Idumea — the Edomites — coming to see the Lord, and yet Mark never makes any special note of it. We are not saying that the Lord paid special attention to them, as His mission at that time was only for the Israelites.
But we do have precedent for non-Israelites coming to see Him with the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30) and the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10). Note how in Luke 7:3-4 the Judean elders had to urge the Lord to speak to the Centurion — given that he was not an Israelite.
Then there are the Greeks who come to the Lord in John 12:20-24 — where He states that His death will produce “much fruit,” as it will bring about His glory to the Genesis 10 nations.
One would think that with all of these non-Israelite Adamic people — including the Idumeans — coming to see the Lord, somewhere it would have been mentioned that they were racial mongrels — or that they were physical children of Satan — who should be spurned.
Instead, these events are only ever related in a positive light, including Mark 3:8.
EDOM IN PROPHECY
Those who maintain that the Edomites are modern day Jews often turn to prophecy to justify this view. We will not be covering all the prophecies concerning Edom, but will settle for covering one of their go-to “favorites” for now — Obadiah 1:15-18:
15 “For the day of the Lord is near for all the nations. Just as you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head. 16 For just as you drank on My holy mountain, All the nations will drink continually. They will drink to the last drop, And become as if they had never existed. 17 But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, And it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their property. 18 Then the house of Jacob will be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau will be like stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, So that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,” For the Lord has spoken.
They interpret this passage as referring to the evils which the Jews have done to the true Israel of Scripture. They will say that it was Jews who drank on the holy mountain — and that it is Jews who will become as if they had never existed. They also contend that it is Israel who will destroy the Jews — and be a fire towards them.
We would certainly agree that the Jews will be destroyed by the coming of the Lord, but when we allow prophecy interpret prophecy, we will see that Obadiah is not referring to the destruction of modern Jewry specifically.
And so, we will do a short study on Obadiah’s prophecy, and hopefully reveal a more comprehensive and less reductive interpretation. As usual, the Edom-Jewry proponents completely ignore the prophecy’s explicit qualifying statements in Obadiah 1:10-12:
10 “Because of violence to your brother Jacob, Shame will cover you, And you will be eliminated forever. 11 On the day that you stood aloof, On the day that strangers carried off his wealth, And foreigners entered his gate And cast lots for Jerusalem — You too were as one of them. 12 Do not gloat over your brother’s day, The day of his misfortune. And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah On the day of their destruction; Yes, do not boast On the day of their distress.
This passage has stated that there is a specific reason why this prophecy has been made. As is often the case with punishments against the nations, it is because of some evil act which the Edomites had committed. Obadiah mentions nothing about Edom’s genetic make-up here as a contributing factor — or justification — for the punishment — nor is it mentioned anywhere else in the Scripture as we have already demonstrated.
Psalm 137:7 states the same thing of Edom,
Remember, Lord, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Those who said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare To its foundation!”
Ezekiel 25:12 refers to this qualifier as well,
The Lord God says this: “Because Edom has acted against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has incurred great guilt, and avenged themselves upon them”
Note that in Ezekiel 25 four nations — Ammon, Moab, Edom and the Philistines — are condemned for the same reason given in Obadiah — their treatment of Israel — which sets the precedent that even in the context of Obadiah, the pronouncement against Edom is not unique to them.
Amos 1:11 also stands as witness,
This is what the Lord says: “For three offenses of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, Because he pursued his brother with the sword And stifled his compassion; His anger also tore continually, And he maintained his fury forever.”
Ezekiel 36:5 confirms it,
therefore the Lord God says this: “Certainly in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, who appropriated My land for themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy and with contempt of soul, in order to make its pastureland plunder.”
Obadiah tells us explicitly why he prophesied against Edom — and why Edom’s destruction is justified — during the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions, Edom took part in the destruction of Israel. When Israel was vulnerable, Edom took advantage of them — took vengeance on them and plundered them.
Yet don’t these prophecies stand in stark contrast to the words of Deuteronomy 2:4-5?
4 and command the people, saying, “You are going to pass through the territory of your brothers the sons of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful; 5 do not provoke them, for I will not give you any of their land, not even as much as a footprint, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.
There was a point in time when Edom was even protected by the Lord — where He warned the Israelites not to make trouble with them. The qualifying statement is given — “because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.” Why would the Lord give Satan’s supposed physical children or mamzers a valuable possession — and why would the Lord care for them — even to the exclusion of Israel occupying that land?
The reason, of course, is rather simple — which agrees with the Scripture — the Edomites were a pure, Adamic people.
Why then would the Lord’s anger turn toward Edom when at one point He had even protected them? The answer is rather obvious in the qualifying statements we highlighted in Obadiah and elsewhere. The Lord’s hatred toward Edom — which wasn’t always there — was retributive justice toward them for their wrongs against Israel.
However, the Lord’s justice toward all the nations is retributive, and His justice is restorative only toward Israel — between Himself and Israel. After all, Genesis 27:29 must be fulfilled,
May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you.
Justice toward the nations never cares for the continuation of those nations but seeks only to bring them into proper subjection to the nation of Israel. Justice toward Israel always seeks to bring Israel — with Israel’s continuance as a nation a given — in line with the ways of God. Deuteronomy 10:5 says,
Yet the Lord set His affection on your fathers, to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, you over all the other peoples, as it is this day.
Paul confirms the continuity of the promises when he says in Romans 11:29,
for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Therefore every nation must be brought into subjection to Israel. This is even confirmed in Obadiah, as the prophecy against Edom is extended to all the nations in verses 15-16,
15 “For the day of the Lord is near for all the nations. Just as you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head. 16 For just as you drank on My holy mountain, All the nations will drink continually. They will drink to the last drop, And become as if they had never existed.
Here the prophecy mentions this in the context of “the day of the Lord” — that all the nations will drink and become as if they had never existed, not just Edom. The “day of the Lord” is a prophetic reference to the return of the Lord Jesus, as it says in Joel 3:14-15,
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon have become dark, And the stars have lost their brightness.
This heavenly sign of the sun, moon and stars also connects us with the Lord’s second coming, as He says in Matthew 24:29-30,
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
Yet Joel 2:31 speaks of a similar — but separate event:
The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
This one seems to be the same — except the moon is like blood instead of being darkened. It is referred to in Revelation 6:12,
And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;
This allows us to compare the passages between Joel 2:31 and Joel 3:15 with the passages between Revelation 6:12 and when the Lord returns in the Revelation.
Joel 2:31 begins the time of the Lord’s wrath against the nations — whereas Joel 3:15 is the conclusion of His wrath and the return of the Lord. Reading Joel 2:31 to Joel 3:15, the Lord is about to execute judgement on the nations based on a controversy between Israel and all nations — not just Edom.
Directly after Joel 2:31, it says in Joel 2:32,
And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Will be saved; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, Just as the Lord has said, Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
This shows that during the time of destruction against the nations, there is a promise of escape for those nations. Yet, going back to Obadiah — after the promise to the nations that they will “become as if they had never existed,” verse 17 offers a qualifier,
But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, And it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their property.
Incidentally, Paul quotes Joel 2:32 — which is so linked to Obadiah 1:17 — in his discourse regarding the nations in relation to Israel in Romans 10:13.
So even though all the nations are promised destruction, there will be those who escape that destruction — providing they are in submission to Israel through the Lord Jesus. Isaiah 14:1-2 speaks of that possession mentioned in Obadiah 1:17,
1 When the Lord has compassion on Jacob and again chooses Israel, and settles them on their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. 2 The peoples will take them along and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will make them their own possession in the land of the Lord as male and female servants; and they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors.
Those from the nations who escape will be brought in line to their proper place in relation to Israel. It is stated quite explicitly in Amos 9:12, especially in relation to Edom,
“So that they [Israel] may possess the remnant of Edom And all the nations who are called by My name,” Declares the Lord who does this.
It is repeated in Zephaniah 2:9, even in relation to other nations,
Therefore, as I live,” declares the Lord of armies, The God of Israel, “Moab will assuredly be like Sodom, And the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah — Ground overgrown with weeds and full of salt mines, And a permanent desolation. The remnant of My people will plunder them, And the remainder of My nation will inherit them.”
Once again Isaiah 11:14 says of Edom and others,
They will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west; Together they will plunder the people of the east; They will possess Edom and Moab, And the sons of Ammon will be subject to them.
This is also seen in Revelation 21:24-27, when it describes the holy city which descends from heaven:
24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, And the nations will be utterly ruined.
Isaiah 60:4 — which is between Isaiah 60:3 and Isaiah 60:5 mentioned above — says,
Raise your eyes all around and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried on the hip.
The nations which attach themselves to Israel are referred to as Israel’s children — because Israel was bereaved in its time of punishment, as it says in Isaiah 49:20-21,
20 The children you lost will yet say in your ears, ‘The place is too cramped for me; Make room for me that I may live here.’ 21 Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has fathered these for me, Since I have been bereaved of my children And cannot conceive, and I am an exile, and a wanderer? And who has raised these? Behold, I was left alone; Where are these from?’”
The whole of Isaiah 49 encompasses God’s plan for Israel and the nations, so a full reading is encouraged.
Note also how Revelation 7:16-17 is quoting Isaiah 49:10. Revelation 7 is also a chapter which shows a multitude from the nations — Israel’s “spiritual children” — of whom Israel has taken possession — whose nations themselves are destroyed.
This reveals how the nations are a “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all the tribes, peoples, and languages” (Revelation 7:9), in relation to the final remnant of Israel — a mere 144,000. Isaiah 49:20-21 says,
20 The children you lost will yet say in your ears, ‘The place is too cramped for me; Make room for me that I may live here.’ 21 Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has fathered these for me, Since I have been bereaved of my children And cannot conceive, and I am an exile, and a wanderer? And who has raised these? Behold, I was left alone; Where are these from?’”
Isaiah 54:1-3 confirms,
1 “Shout for joy, infertile one, you who have not given birth to any child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not spare them; Lengthen your ropes And strengthen your pegs. 3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations And will resettle the desolate cities.
Who are these peoples from the nations — and why do they deserve a place under Israel?
Revelation 7:13-14 describes them,
13 Then one of the elders responded, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Revelation 6:9,11 says,
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained… 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told that they were to rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers and sisters who were to be killed even as they had been, was completed also.
These men and women from the nations have escaped to Israel because they have died for the testimony of our Lord Jesus. If they have displayed such great faith to our Lord, then we should welcome them and love them — because they have loved our Lord in Spirit and in truth.
Paul calls this “the fullness of the nations” in that same discourse on Israel and the nations in Romans 11:25. Luke refers to it similarly in Luke 21:24. John alludes to it as well in John 10:16. The Revelation also alludes to the entire controversy — almost quoting Luke 21:24 (but it is unity in the Spirit) — in Revelation 11:2.
Hopefully we have revealed at least in part that Obadiah is referring to a great, end time fulfillment, which makes reducing it to a superficial interpretation of modern Jewry look rather insignificant in comparison. The entirety of prophecy is a systemic web which all points to the same thing — the restoration of Israel and the nations subjection to it.
Obadiah is no exception, being just one strand in the web.
Like with all prophecy — with few exceptions — Obadiah also represents a more immediate and already concluded fulfillment of events. Edom was indeed conquered by Israel twice since Obadiah was written — first by Judas Maccabeus, and second by John Hyrcanus. Edom as a nation never recovered from that second conquering by Hyrcanus — and so the prophecy in some way was fulfilled around 150 BC.
Although prophecies which have immediate fulfillments usually have yet greater fulfillments later as well, as we have covered in the case of Obadiah. In the context of that greater fulfillment — and the bigger picture of prophecy — to reduce Obadiah to simply the future destruction of Edom does not do it justice.
It is crucial as with all aspects of Scriptural study to have a view of the bigger picture of the prophets before coming to conclusions over specific prophecies. When sifting through the prophets, looking for prophecies over matters which suit our interests, we can tend to get lost in the woods, so to speak.
We need to understand Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:20-21,
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture becomes a matter of someone’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Prophecy is not something to be used to support personal interpretations of the Scripture. We cannot find a prophecy which in isolation seems to agree with our view in a superficial interpretation.
There are a good deal of prophecies concerning Edom — many of which are cited by those who claim that Edomites are the modern Jews of today. However, we would propose that these prophecies are not particularly special or unique as they relate to Edom in the greater scope of prophecy — as we have shown with Obadiah. The prophecies concerning Edom fit a pattern which can be applied to many other prophecies concerning other nations.
If the pattern of prophecy concerning Edom can be applied to all the nations, then how could we possibly apply prophecy concerning all nations to an isolated case like Jews? We honestly cannot — and so it doesn’t make sense to do so.
We are are not suggesting, however, that the modern-day Jews are not in prophecy, but simply that prophecy concerning Edom doesn’t necessarily apply to them. We will leave the topic of modern-day Jews in prophecy for another day.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HIGH PRIESTS DURING THE LORD’S TIME ON EARTH
Returning to the time of the Lord Jesus’ time on earth, there are those who claim that even the high priests and the Pharisees at that time were mostly Edomite racial mongrels. We will show how this cannot be true.
While the Lord was growing up, some political changes had taken place in the region. With Herod the Great’s death, Herod Archelaus — his son — had taken over reign in Judea as ethnarch — as is recorded in Matthew 3:19-22:
19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, 20 “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” 21 So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee…
Archelaus’ reign lasted only 10 years, as related by Josephus,
But in the tenth year of Archelaus’s government, both his brethren, and the principal men of Judea and Samaria; not being able to bear his barbarous and tyrannical usage of them; accused him before Cesar…Antiquities of the Jews, book 17, chapter 13, section 2
The deposition of Archelaus was successful — all of his wealth was confiscated, and he was banished from Judea. With that, the more direct Roman governance of the province of Judea began with a Roman by the name of Coponius (Antiquites 18, 1, 1).
Coponius would appoint high priests as proxy rulers as it suited him — and the title shifted a few times during his governance. As will become evident, there were more than a few men in Judea who were of high priestly descent to choose from. In this way the Romans seemed to appease the Judeans who chose it to be this way — however a single individual was allowed to reign as high priest only so long as he was able to maintain the peace.
Some years later, Coponius was replaced by Marcus Ambivius, who appointed Annias Rufus as high priest. Some years later Annias was deprived of the high priesthood — and in quick succession the following three high priests were also deposed. The high priest appointed after that was none other than Caiaphas (Antiquities 18, 2, 2). This is important because these two are none other than the same Annas and Caiaphas who are referred to in John 18:13,
and brought Him to Annas first; for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.
Luke slightly disagrees with Josephus, as he says in Luke 3:2,
in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.
Suffice to say that even though Josephus states that Caiaphas was officially the high priest, there must have been some dynamic in which the office was shared. It is probable then that even though Annas was deposed officially, he must have still retained some authority with the ruling priests of the time. Luke attests to this — and again attests to the high priestly office these men held in Acts 4:6,
and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent.
The above verse is really very critical to our understanding here. According to Luke, these men were of legitimate high priestly descent — as a high priest needed to be a descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses (Exodus 29:9,44, Numbers 18:7).
Luke was very close to Paul — who himself was very close to these men, being a Pharisee himself (Philippians 3:5) who learned at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) — the very same Gamaliel who was “a Pharisee… a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council” through whom the Lord saved Peter and John’s lives from being executed by the Council in Acts 5:34.
Paul was even present among them when Stephen was executed (Acts 7:58) and approved with them of Stephen’s execution (Acts 8:1). Paul knew these men very well — and claimed perfect righteousness in accordance with the Law (Philippians 3:6).
If both Luke and Paul approved that these men were of legitimate high priestly descent, why would anyone seriously contend with them unless they stood in the way of a personal agenda? Does anyone seriously think that they know better than Paul in this matter? Keep in mind that Paul never once criticized or questioned the “race” of the men who held the high priestly office according to Deuteronomy 23:2.
This is even confirmed by John who attests that the very same Caiaphas prophesied purely by virtue of being in the office of high priest in John 11:51,
Now he [Caiaphas] did not say this on his own, but as he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation.
DID CHRIST THINK THE HIGH PRIESTS WERE EDOMITES?
In Matthew 21:33-36, Mark 12:1-12 and Luke 20:9-19, The Lord tells the parable of the vine-growers — in which a certain landowner set up a productive piece of land, where Matthew 21:33 quotes Isaiah 5:2,
He dug it all around, cleared it of stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it, And also carved out a wine vat in it; Then He expected it to produce good grapes, But it produced only worthless ones.
The landowner rents out the land to tenants, and he repeatedly sends servants to collect a portion of their labor. However, the tenants only abuse and shamefully treat the servants. Then the landowner sends his own son, thinking they would not abuse him. To the contrary, the tenants abuse the son all the more, killing him. The Lord concludes the parable — laying the accusation before the chief priests and Pharisees — by quoting Psalm 118:22-23,
22 A stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This came about from the Lord; It is marvelous in our eyes.
When these words were written, King David was relating his own experience in his ascent to rulership over Israel. The current ruler — Saul — and his followers were rejecting David from being king — in spite of the facts that David had already been anointed as king by Samuel (1 Samuel 16:13) and Samuel had already told Saul that his kingship was being taken away (1 Samuel 15:28).
In the end, David was the one who united Israel and defeated its enemies by the will and help of the Lord. Saul in his capacity at that time as current ruler resisted the one who was destined to do these things. Saul and his followers rejected the chief cornerstone, which was David. This is one of many ways in which David is a type or shadow of the Lord Jesus.
Notice then, how David has referred to Saul and his followers as “builders.” They are the ones who ought to have been building Israel up, but instead — as 1 Samuel 15 shows — Saul was more committed to his own interests than the Lord’s interests.
In the context of the first temple, the “builder” of the temple was Solomon, an Israelite and king of all Israel at that time.
What David did not realize when he wrote Psalm 118, was that he was referring to the spiritual temple which was to be built, as it states in 1 Peter 2:5,
you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
This spiritual building is also attested to in the second temple era prophets, like Zechariah 4:6,9,
6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of armies… 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of armies has sent me to you.”
Zerubabbel was the ruler at the time, and in that capacity it was his role to build the temple. The command was given to all the rulers — governor and high priest — where they are rebuked for not building the temple in Haggai 1:1-2,
In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “This is what the Lord of armies says: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.”
Here again, these second temple era rulers are “builders” — but more importantly, they are Israelites. In the context of himself when David wrote Psalm 118, and in the context of the first temple, and in the context of the building of the second temple — all shadows or types for the spiritual temple — the builders were Israelites.
In the Lord’s accusation towards the chief priests and Pharisees, He is referring to them as the “builders” — and the Lord makes this more sure when He says in Matthew 21:43,
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit.
In this context, consider how Isaiah 5:3-4 elaborates on Isaiah 5:1-2 which the Lord already quoted,
3 “And now, you inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?
There are three aspects to this parable which make it sure that the people whom the Lord is accusing are Israelites.
Firstly, they are the “builders” who are always Israelites. They are the ones who did build — or who ought to have been building. If those accused were Edomites — or physical descendants of Satan — they would not be “builders.”
Secondly, Isaiah 5 — which is the context of this parable — is an accusation against the people of Israel, the “inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah.”
Thirdly, the parable itself accuses the current rulers of the people as being responsible for the death of all the rest of the prophets. In other words, those servants who were sent to the vineyard are the prophets who came before the Lord Jesus. This is confirmed by the Lord’s words in Matthew 23:29-36,
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You snakes, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?
34 “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 so that upon you will fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
We know as a matter of fact that it was Israelites — not Edomites — who murdered the prophets of old — at least during the times of the Israelites. As an example, the Lord gives an example of Zechariah son of Berechiah — and we will give an example of Zechariah son of Jehoiada — a different Zechariah, which is told in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22,
20 Then the Spirit of God covered Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the priest like clothing; and he stood above the people and said to them, “This is what God has said, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have abandoned the Lord, He has also abandoned you.’” 21 So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the house of the Lord. 22 So Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him, but he murdered his son. And as Zechariah died he said, “May the Lord see and avenge!”
Again, these were all Israelite men who murdered Zechariah. It is made even more sure when Zechariah says, “[the Lord] has also abandoned you.” If these were Edomites — or physical children of Satan — then how was the Lord ever with them in the first place that He would have abandoned them?
Furthermore, Nehemiah explicitly puts the murder of prophets at the feet of Israelites when he says, “And [the Israelites] killed Your prophets who had admonished them” (Nehemiah 9:26). Therefore, when speaking to the chief priests and Pharisees, the Lord is confirming that they are indeed Israelites, because it is their fathers — also Israelites — who murdered the prophets.
Some would like us to believe that when the Lord says, “you snakes, you offspring of vipers,” He is actually accusing them of being literal snakes — descendants of the literal serpent who allegedly had sexual intercourse with Eve. They will insist on this interpretation seemingly oblivious to the fact that being called a “snake” is understood even today as being an accusation of danger and deviousness. Luke 13:31-32 says,
31 At that very time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away and leave this place, because Herod wants to kill You.” 32 And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox…”
Herod was a literal Edomite, and yet the Lord has called him a fox. Does that mean that Herod is literally a fox, or the son of a fox? Obviously not — the Lord is calling him a devious person, which is exactly the same thing as calling someone a snake.
The Lord confirms again in Matthew 23:37-39 that it is Israelites — not Edomites — who are at fault,
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
He says that He was willing to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks — a metaphor showing love, affection, and a genuine care for the well-being of the people. However, Jerusalem was “unwilling” to be gathered. This “gathering” is the sending of the prophets whom the Israelites murdered. Likewise, they were about to murder the Son of God — and demonstrated their unwavering unwillingness.
To those same people, He speaks of the desolation they were going to face, as He says in Luke 21:20,22,
20 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near… 22 because these are days of punishment, so that all things which have been written will be fulfilled.
Yet He also gives the promise of His return when Israel finally turns to Him in repentance when He says, “you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
When in Acts 4 Peter and John have an audience with the high priests — who are attested as being of actual high priestly descent in Acts 4:6 — they quote Psalm 118:22 — which the Lord quoted — again. They are leveling the same accusation which the Lord gave to the same people — Israel. Acts 4:10-11 says,
10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone.
Paul lays the same accusation at the feet of Israel when he says in Romans 9:31-33,
31 however, Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though they could by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And the one who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”
Paul here is quoting Isaiah 8:14-15 which says,
14 Then He will become a sanctuary; But to both houses of Israel, He will be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will be snared and caught.
The Lord confirms He is also referring to this verse in the parable of the vine-growers when He quotes Isaiah 8:15 in Matthew 21:44:
And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and on whomever it falls, it will crush him.
When Paul speaks in Romans 9, he says, “Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.” Paul is referring directly to Israel — not Edomites or supposed physical descendants of Satan. Likewise, Isaiah 8:14 literally says, “But to both houses of Israel, He will be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence”.
By everything we have quoted above, the Lord is laying the accusation directly at Israel as well — who were the chief priests and Pharisees at the time. This again confirms that the chief priests and Pharisees were Israelites.
Peter ties this all up very nicely when he says in 1 Peter 2:6-8,
6 For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone, And the one who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” 7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for unbelievers, “A stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this they were also appointed.
Peter clearly states that they rejected the chief cornerstone because they were unbelievers — not because they are “mamzers” or racially impure. He states that they stumble because they were disobedient to the word of God! They did not stumble because they were Edomites — or because they were physical descendants of Satan. This is made all the more clear by John, firstly in 1 John 3:4,8,10,
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness… 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil… 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother and sister.
If one is lawless and practices sin in disobedience to the word of God and unbelief, they are spiritual children of the devil. Hebrews 3:17-19 even connects unbelief with sin and disobedience, just as Peter did,
17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.
And so, the Lord says in John 8:44,
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father…
He is literally laying the exact same accusation to the exact same people, who are Israelites. He is saying that they are children of the devil because they are unbelievers, disobedient, lawless and sinners!
However, those who believe that the priests whom the Lord accused were Edomites and the physical children of Satan, which is why — they claim — the Lord called them such in John 8:44. But doesn’t that interpretation of John 8:44 now seem incredibly banal?
In the end, our interpretation bears no shame under the historical reality of the genetically Edomite reign of the Herodian dynasty — as well as the Idumean/Edomite people who became subject to Israelite custom in order to be able to stay in their territory.
The Edomites weren’t involved in the controversy between the Lord Jesus and the ruling priestcraft because Jerusalem and Judea were under the rulership of Rome and the chief priests who were Israelites. Even so, the Edomites weren’t racial mamzers anyway — as the actions of the high priest John Hyrcanus toward them attest to.
However, we are supposed to believe that when John the Baptist reprimanded Herod Antipas — tetrarch of Galilee — a separate province to Judea — in Luke 3:19, that John didn’t know Antipas was a physical child of Satan, or that John didn’t really mean what he said.
We know by Romans 5:20 and Galatians 3:19 that by knowledge of the law, sin is accounted to a man who hears it. Antipas knew very well the law of Moses — and John the Baptist counted that sin against him — reprimanding him for it. The fact that he wasn’t an Israelite was irrelevant because he knew the law.
We are also supposed to believe that when Paul wished for Herod Agrippa to become a Christian in Acts 26:29, that Paul didn’t realize that Agrippa was a physical child of Satan — or that Paul really didn’t mean what he said.
Agrippa was a white man — and Paul, being a messenger of the gospel to the nations, simply wanted him to become a Christian as well.
SO ISRAEL KILLED CHRIST — “WHAT ARE WE TO DO?”
One of the tragic consequences of believing that Jews are literal Edomites who can be blamed for all evil in the world is that the true Israelites of today don’t think that Israelites are evil enough to be responsible for the murder of the Lord Jesus. In fact, the true Israel of today’s time seems to think it is not capable of much wrongdoing at all — and has followed the example of the Jews by portraying themselves only as victims of the actions of others.
When they are shown their wrongdoing, they react with derision, imagining themselves to have somehow been personally wronged. They react with cries that they have been condemned — or that those who seek to help them are actually being cruel and merciless towards them — or slander them as “Jews.”
In truth, how indeed could someone who rejects his own people’s culpability in the death of their Lord see any wrong within themselves? They can’t — and they do not. When they deride and accuse those who want to help them, it only serves to hurt themselves.
With this in mind, consider Acts 2:22-23, where Peter is addressing the Israelites in Jerusalem,
22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a Man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Peter has literally accused Israel of the death of Christ. He did not lay it at the feet of Edomites, or the physical seed of Satan, but Israelites. This is completely in line with everything which has been explained so far because it was Israelites who killed Christ. The Israelites respond in verse 37,
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what are we to do?”
They have tacitly admitted to being responsible for the Lord’s death. This is crucial — as repentance is not possible unless one acknowledges one’s own guilt and one’s own sin. After this, what did those who heard Peter do? It says in Acts 2:42,
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
In light of this knowledge — to the true white, Adamic Israel of these latter days — let us continually devote ourselves to the apostle’s teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Edom most certainly has become a byword for enemies of Israel, which is not entirely inaccurate — as Edom was literally an enemy of Israel. However, Edom doesn’t even exist as a recognizable national entity or people anymore. If we were to apply this term as the prophets describe Edom, it is no more than a figure of speech toward the true Israel’s white, Adamic enemies of the Genesis 10 nations.
Make no mistake, Israel has such enemies to this day — and the Jews are certainly among those. But if today’s Jews have any Edomite ancestry, it is mixed in with many other ethnicities — such as the Khazars — that they have acquired over the millennia as itinerants. Some of the descendants of the Israelite Judeans may very well have become race mixed after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.
As we have shown, the Herodians in Judea established their Edomite identity by patrilineal descent — while today’s Jews, by their own admission, became a matrilineal racial group sometime around 200 AD — clear evidence of race mixing in that period of their history.
With a true knowledge of the Scripture, we can understand what our place is toward them — and that when the Lord returns, He will make all things right — not any sooner.
Wouldn’t reducing this lesson’s greater fulfillment to a literal corrupted bloodline surely act as a stumbling block — and cause us to lose out on what the Scripture is trying to tell us?
By not seeing Edom for what it is, has Israel not shifted the blame for the death of their Lord Jesus the Christ — contrary to Peter’s address of the Israelites in Acts 2?
Therefore, let us rightly handle the word of truth — having no need to be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15). Let us serve with a “pure heart” and “good conscience” towards the Scripture — and with a “sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5) allowing it to speak to us, rather than trying to force it to bend to our own agendas.