And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom,
&c.] This country was sometimes governed by kings, and sometimes by "dukes", see ( Genesis 36:14-43 ) . At the time of the passage of the Israelites through the Red sea, we read of the dukes of Edom, ( Exodus 15:15 ) , and here, thirty nine years after, of a king of Edom, but who he was is not certain. Bishop Usher takes him to be the same with Hadar, the last of the race of kings mentioned in ( Genesis 36:39 ) , to him Moses sent messengers with a request, which follows after a preamble to it; who were the messengers is not said; the place from whence they were sent is Kadesh, a city on the borders of the land of Edom; but not Kadeshbarnea, Aben Ezra says, though some are of opinion it is the same, see ( Numbers 20:1 ) :
thus saith thy brother Israel;
the Israelites and Edomites springing from two men, Jacob and Esau, who were twin brothers, and is observed to ingratiate themselves to the Edomites, and gain their request, pleading relation to them:
thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us;
what an uncomfortable condition they had been in for many years, which was well known to Edom, a neighbouring country, as is reasonable to suppose; since the fame of the children of Israel coming out of Egypt, passing through the Red sea, and being so long in the wilderness, was spread everywhere; this was said to move their pity.