Verses 1-8 (Genesis 36:1-8)

Observe here, 1. Concerning Esau himself, Gen. 36:1. He is called Edom (and again, Gen. 36:8), that name by which was perpetuated the remembrance of the foolish bargain he made, when he sold his birthright for that red, that red pottage. The very mention of that name is enough to intimate the reason why his family is turned off with such a short account. Note, If men do a wrong thing they must thank themselves, when it is, long afterwards, remembered against them to their reproach. 2. Concerning his wives, and the children they bore him in the land of Canaan. He had three wives, and, by them all, but five sons: many a one has more by one wife. God in his providence often disappoints those who take indirect courses to build up a family; yet here the promise prevailed, and Esau?s family was built up. 3. Concerning his removal to mount Seir, which was the country God had given him for a possession, when he reserved Canaan for the seed of Jacob. God owns it, long afterwards: I gave to Esau mount Seir (Deut. 2:5; Josh. 24:4), which was the reason why the Edomites must not be disturbed in their possession. Those that have not a right by promise, such as Jacob had, to Canaan, may have a very good title by providence to their estates, such as Esau had to mount Seir. Esau had begun to settle among his wives? relations, in Seir, before Jacob came from Padan-aram, Gen. 32:3. Isaac, it is likely, had sent him thither (as Abraham in his life-time had sent the sons of the concubines from Isaac his son into the east country, Gen. 26:6), that Jacob might have the clearer way made for him to the possession of the promised land. During the life of Isaac, however, Esau had probably still some effects remaining in Canaan; but, after his death, he wholly withdrew to mount Seir, took with him what came to his share of his father?s personal estate, and left Canaan to Jacob, not only because he had the promise of it, but because Esau perceived that if they should continue to thrive as they had begun there would not be room for both. Thus dwelt Esau in Mount Seir, Gen. 36:8. Note, Whatever opposition may be made, God?s word will be accomplished, and even those that have opposed it will see themselves, some time or other, under a necessity of yielding to it, and acquiescing in it. Esau had struggled for Canaan, but now he tamely retires to mount Seir; for God?s counsels shall certainly stand, concerning the times before appointed, and the bounds of our habitation.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary