This is the genealogy of Esau, the hairy red brother of Jacob. We are told he married Canaanite women even though earlier we had been told he had married one of Ishmael’s daughters. Regardless, Esau takes his wives and cattle children and leaves since the land won’t support both him and his brother. He goes to a place in Mount Sier and he becomes the father of the Edomites. There are a bunch of lineages given and then in verse 31 – we are given the reign of the kings of Edom and we are told that they reigned long before any of the children of Israel did. For the record, first came Bela, then came Jobab, then came Husham, then came Hadad, who smote Midian in the field of Moab don’t you know. Then came Samlah, then came Saul. Baalhana followed and was replaced by Hadar.
In other words:
Esau founds a kingdom.
The listing of the kings and specifically the random bit about the smoting of Midian in the field of Moab – clearly this was probably an oral history and the audience would have known the story of the smiting of Midian. (Genesis 36:31-39)
Other Favorite bit:
The aside in Genesis 36:24 where we are told that the children of Zibeon includes Anah, who was THAT Anah that found the mules in the wilderness as he fed the asses of Zibeon. Again, there is another story there we are supposed to be familiar with but aren’t told.
Most annoying bit:
It would have been nice to get those other stories that are alluded to because these genealogies are hard to follow and those personal touches make the individuals more real. Otherwise we don’t know if we should even try to pay attention to the names because most will never be heard from again in this story.
Even if you are something special now, you will probably be relegated to obscurity in the annals of history, so don’t take yourself too seriously. (Genesis 36:24 and 35)