Dictionary of Bible Names

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Edom (Edomites, Seir, Idumea)
Bible Meaning: Red
Strong's Concordance #H123

Edom is another name for Esau, the red-skinned and hairy twin brother of Jacob. Additionally, Edom represents the name of the region settled by his descendants. This area is also called Seir (Genesis 14:6, 32:3, 33:14, 36:8, etc.), which means "hairy, shaggy, rough" (Strong's #H8165). Mount Seir is located within this territory. Yet another Biblical reference to the area controlled by Esau's descendants is Idumea (Isaiah 34:5 - 6, Ezekiel 35:15, 36:5), which is spelled Idumaea in the KJV version of Mark 3:8.

Edom is generally located southeast, south and southwest of the Dead Sea. The capital of the nation was Bozrah, one of several cities along the King's Highway that ran from Damascus to the Gulf of Aqaba.

Troubled History

During much of their history, the descendants of Esau and Jacob (Israel) had a troubled relationship. For example, Moses asked Esau's descendants for permission to use the King's Highway for Israel's journey to Canaan. Not only was His request refused, he was threatened with war if the people attempted to traverse their land (Numbers 20:14 - 21).

Map of Ancient Canaan
Location of Edom South of Dead Sea

Both Kings Saul and David waged wars against these people (1Samuel 14, 2Samuel 8). Years later, after Israel split into two nations, Judah's King Amaziah killed 10,000 Edomites and allowed another 10,000 to die by being pushed off a cliff (2Chronicles 25)!

When the Kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians, many of those fleeing Jerusalem were caught by the Edomites and turned over to the enemy. They rejoiced in witnessing Judah's downfall and aided in the plunder of Jerusalem (Psalm 137:7, Obadiah 1:8 - 14). God promised and carried out a severe punishment on the nation for its nasty treatment (Malachi 1:2 - 4).

Important Verses

Genesis 25:29 - 30
And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage: for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

Exodus 15:15
Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed: the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them: all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.

Numbers 24:18
And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies: and Israel shall do valiantly.

1Samuel 14:47
So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.

2Kings 14:7
He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.

Psalm 137:1, 5 - 7
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion . . .

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.

Obadiah 1:1, 8
The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God . . .

Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?

Mark 3:7 - 8
But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea (Edom), and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

Additional Studies

Dictionary of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
References are based on the
King James Bible translation (KJV).