And I hated Esau
Or, "rejected" him, as the Targum; did not love him as Jacob: this was a negative, not positive hatred; it is true of him, personally considered; not only by taking away the birthright and blessing from him, which he despised; but by denying him his special grace, leaving him in his sins, and to his lusts, so that he became a profane person; shared not in the grace of God here, and had no part in the eternal inheritance with the saints in light; and likewise it is true of his posterity, as the following instances show: and laid his mountains and his heritage waste;
which, according to Grotius, was done by Nebuchadnezzar, five years after the captivity of the Jews, in fulfilment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, ( Jeremiah 49:7-22 ) but this was done by the Nabatheans F14: Mount Seir was the famous mountain that Esau dwelt in, ( Genesis 36:8 ) there might be more in his country; or this might have many tops, and therefore called "mountains"; and to this account of the waste and desolate state of this country agrees what is at present related of it, by a late traveller F15 in those parts:
``if (says he) we leave Palestine and Egypt behind us, and pursue our physical observations into the land of Edom, we shall be presented with a variety of prospects, quite different from those we have lately met with in the land of Canaan, or in the field of Zoan; for we cannot here be entertained with pastures clothed with flocks, or with valleys standing thick with corn, or with brooks of water, or fountains, or depths that spring out of valleys and hills, ( Deuteronomy 8:7 ) here is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or pomegranates, ( Numbers 20:5 ) but the whole is an "evil place", a lonesome desolate wilderness; no otherwise diversified than by plains covered with sand, and by mountains made up of naked rocks and precipices, ( Malachi 1:3 ) neither is this country ever (unless sometimes at the equinoxes) refreshed with rain; but the few hardy vegetables it produces are stunted by a perpetual drought; and the nourishment which the dews contribute to them in the night, is sufficiently impaired by the powerful heat of the sun in the day:''Though this country seems to have been originally more fruitful, and better cultivated, as may be concluded from ( Genesis 27:39 ) ( Numbers 20:17 ) but is become so through the judgments of God upon it: for the dragons of the wilderness;
so called to distinguish them from sea dragons, or the dragon fish; such as whales and crocodiles, which are sometimes expressed by the same word here used, ( Genesis 1:21 ) ( Ezekiel 29:3 ) and these land dragons are no other than serpents of an enormous size. In the Indies they used to be distinguished into three sorts; such as were found in the mountains; such as were bred in caves, or in the flat country; and such as were found in fens and marshes. The first is the largest of all, and are covered with scales as resplendent as polished gold; these have a kind of beard hanging from their lower jaw; their eyebrows large, and very exactly arched; their aspect the most frightful that can be imagined; and their cry loud and shrill; their crest of a bright yellow; and a protuberance on their heads of the colour of a burning coal. Those of the flat country differ from the former in nothing but having their scales of a silver colour, and in their frequenting rivers, to which the former never come. Those that live in marshes and fens are of a dark colour, approaching to a black, move slowly, have no crest, or any rising on their heads F16; these creatures commonly inhabit desert places. So Diodorus Siculus F17, speaking of Ethiopia, says, it is reported that various kinds of serpents, and of an incredible size, are seen near the desert, had in places inhabited by wild beasts; and Aelianus F18 describes the dragon as dwelling in woods, and living on poisonous herbs; and preferring a desolate place to cities, and the habitations of men; and when in Scripture it is predicted of countries and cities that they shall become desolate, it is usually observed, that they shall be the dwelling places of dragons, as in ( Isaiah 13:22 ) ( 34:13 ) ( Jeremiah 10:22 ) ( 49:33 ) ( 51:37 ) so here it is foretold that it should be the case of Edom, as it has been, and still continues to be, as appears from the above traveller F19; who, passing through some part of this country, says of it,
``vipers, especially in the wilderness of Sin, which might be very properly called "the inheritance of dragons", were very dangerous and troublesome; not only our camels, but the Arabs who attended them, running every moment the risk of being bitten;''so that, according to the prediction, it is now a place for such creatures. A learned Jew F20 is of opinion, that not serpents, but jackals, are here meant, which are a sort of wild howling beasts, that live abroad in desolate places; (See Gill on Micah 1:8) but whether they be the one, or the other, it makes for the same purpose, to denote what a desert place Edom would become; since it should be inhabited by such creatures to dwell in, which denotes the utter desolation made. So the Targum renders it, "into the wasteness of the desert"; or into a waste desert, where none but such sort of animals inhabit. The Septuagint and Syriac versions render it, "into the houses", or "cottages, of the desert": and now, though this was the case of Judea, that it was left desolate, yet it was but for a while; at the end of seventy years the Jews returned to their own land, and dwelt in it; but so did not the Edomites, as appears by the following words; which shows the regard God had to the posterity of Jacob, and not to the posterity of Esau.
F14 See Prideanx's Connexion, par. 2. B. 3. p. 199.
F15 Dr. Shaw's Travels, p. 438. Ed. 2.
F16 Harris's Voyages and Travels, vol. 1. p. 474.
F17 Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 169.
F18 De Animal. l. 6. c. 63.
F19 Dr. Shaw Travels, p. 448. Ed. 2.
F20 Tanchum apud Pocock in loc.