Sunday, September 18, 2016

Part III: Edomites: Traditional Enemies of Israel South of Dead Sea on Mt. Seir

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                    

One of the other Semitic enemies of Israel and living in today's Jordan were the Edomites, hunters living on Mt. Seir in the SE part of Canaan.  Their land was easily fortified being mountainous and their land was fertile.  They were located South of the Dead Sea.  One border was on the Red Sea at Elath and the other border was Ezion Geber, an ancient port at the head of the Gulf of Akaba from which King Solomon's ships sailed to Ophir.  After the Edomites had taken this port, it was recovered by Jehoshaphat, King of Judah (875-854 BCE)  whose fleet was wrecked as it sailed to Ophir.  Uzziah/Azariah, King of Judah (780-740 BCE)  moved the port to a new site at Elath, though it still was used.

"Edom (/ˈdəm/ [1] or /ˈ.dʌm/;[2] Hebrew,דוֹםאֱ Modern EdomTiberian ʼĔḏôm; , lit.: "red"; AssyrianUdumiSyriac: ܐܕܘܡ) is the name of a country and a people located initially in Transjordan, between Ammon to the north, the Dead Sea and the Arabah to the west, and the Arabian desert to the south and east.

Esau and Jacob, twins of Isaac and Rebekah.
Isaac was 60 years old when they were born.  His father, Abraham,
almost sacrificed Isaac on Mt. Moriah, but was saved by Divine Intervention.  
They were not descendants of Lot like the Ammonites and Moabites were, but were descendants of Esau, a twin son of Isaac, brother of Jacob.  Esau was born first, and lost his 1st son standing in the family over a bowl of stew that meant more to him than his position in the family.  As it turns out, it was his twin brother, Jacob, who tricked him into giving up this status in order to get it for himself.  Both boys made poor choices as time tells.  Being Abraham, father of Isaac,  lived around 1948 BCE of the 2nd millennium BCE, this was about 4,000 years ago. We are told in Deuteronomy that we are not to marry any Ammonite or Moabite.

 We are also told not to reject  an Edomite, because he is the brother of the Israelites.
The Edomites lived by hunting.  They in turn had taken over land previously lived in by the Horites, who had originated South of the Caucasian mountains, who invaded Syria and Canaan in the 17th Century BCE. The Horites had lived near Mt. Seir in Abraham's time but their territory was conquered by the Edomites as told in Gen. 14:6; 36: 20-30;  and in Deut. 2:12, 22.   Egyptian documents  from the 16th century called Canaan "Haru." Before that it was called "Rutenu."  Some scholars believe that the Horites were pushed back by the Amorites and Canaanites to the Mt. Seir region where they were later driven out by the Edomites.  Edomites lived much like our native Americans did, being organized along tribal lines headed by a chieftain who was called an Allooph.  Later they consolidated into a monarchy.
These Edomites, being Israel's enemy, had fought against Israel's first king Saul of the 11th century BCE of the tribe of Benjamin, and were defeated finally by King David (1010-970 BCE)  who partly annexed their land.  The Edomites regained their independence during the reign of King Jehoram of Judah (851-844), but wars between the 2 states were many.
II Chronicles 28:16, 17 said that "At that time King Ahaz sent to the kings of Assyria to come to his aid.  furthermore, the Edomites came and struck Judah and captured captives." Ahaz, king of Judah (735-720 BCE) , had led Judah to disgrce and betrayed G-d.  
During the 8th century  CE, the Edomites became vassals of Assyria.  It had been the Assyrians who had also attacked Israel in 722 and 721 BCE.  When the Israelite's Temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in 597 BCE and again in 586 BCE, the Edomites also plundered it and looted along with the Babylonians.  "Edomites first established a biblical kingdom ("Edom") in the southern area of modern Jordan.   Edomites later migrated into southern parts of the Kingdom of Judah ("Idumea", or modern southern Israel/Negev) when Judah was first weakened, then destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC.
 Then the Edomites were driven out of Seir by the Nabateans, who were people of Arab extraction who occupied Edom in the 6th Century BCE and established their capital at Petra (Rekem).   Nabateans were typical nomads and soon learned to develop agriculture under almost desert conditions by an elaborate system of water conservation.   So they occupied Southern Judah during or after the period of the Exile.
b: 164 BCE-d: 104 BCE
John Hyrcanus conquered the Edomites.  He was the son and successor of Simon the Hasmonean and ruled from 135 to 104 BCE.  The Hasmoneans were a priestly family (Cohens carrying J1 haplogroup DNA) and dynasty found by Mattathias of Modiin.  In turn, Mattathias's ancestor was Hashmon, and Hashmon could have received his name as a place-name found in Joshua 15: 27.  In this case, the Hasmoneans were from Aaron, brother of Moses.   John  was the governor of Gezer, (a town in Canaan which held a Jewish population of late 1st Temple and 2nd Temple times) during his father's lifetime, but after the murder of his father and 2 brother by his brother in law, Ptolemy, escaped to Jerusalem, where he seized power before Ptolemy could get control.  Eventually John was made a high priest but by his  poor decisions, the Hasmonean state of Judah became a tributary to Syria.   It was after all this that John overran the territory of the Edomites, who by this time were also called the Idumeans, (Edomites now living in Southern Judah) and forced them to embrace Judaism.                                                       

King Herod of Judah  (73 -4 BCE) was one of the Edomite descendants.  He was the son of Antipater the Idumean by his Nabatean wife, Cypros.  Antipater ruled Judea from 63 to 43 BCE.  Antipater was a ruler who assisted the Romans and had joined Julius Caesar in war.  He had recruited Jewish and Nabatean troops for his army.  It was Caesar who had made Antipater the financial administrator of Judea in 47 BCE.  No wonder Herod was easily put into power.   I'm amazed by how easily these enemies married into the Israelite households.
In 70 CE,  Titus, a Roman General, had taken siege of Jerusalem for 5 months and then destroyed the city of peace and its Temple, and the Edomites of Idumea marched into Jerusalem to reinforce the extreme elements and killed all they suspected of peace tendencies.  After this, they were no longer mentioned in Jewish history.  The name of the Edomites or Idumeans turned out to be used as a synonym for an oppressive government, especially for Rome.  During the Middle Ages, it was used to describe to Christian Europe-being they were oppressors of the Jewish people who had been refugees there.
 Rome built the Arch of Titus in Rome, which was erected by their Senate in honor of Vespasian and Titus who had arrived in Rome marching the Jews taken captive as slaves and all the goods stolen out of the Temple.  The present Arch was built during the reign of Domitian (81-96 CE).

Resource:  The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Tanach, The Stone Edition

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