On September 11, 2001, America, the sleeping giant, was awakened to address her terrorist adversaries. The resulting war on terrorism is but the latest bout in a controversy dating back to the time of the biblical patriarchs.
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Today, much of the conflict centered in the Middle East relates directly to an ancient family feud: The ongoing bitterness between the descendants of Esau (allied with the descendants of Ishmael) and the descendants of his brother Israel (the Jewish state of Israel allied with the Western Anglo-Saxon nations). These Western nations are the recipients of the birthright of Israel—the United States and United Kingdom, along with her commonwealth countries.
We will examine the identity of the modern descendants of Esau and their relation to Israel. We will then review historical and scriptural accounts of that ancient controversy through the centuries, and what prophecy reveals will be the final outcome.
Ancient history converges upon the region of Mesopotamia, known as the cradle of civilization. It was here that the ancient tower of Babel was said to have been located. This was the land of the famous Sumerian culture, which has been extensively studied by archaeologists. The book of Genesis reveals that the patriarch Abraham was born in this region, in the city of “Ur of the Chaldees” on the Euphrates River. Of course, the Assyrian Empire at the headwaters of the Tigris came to envelop this region. The Babylonian Empire was ruled from the famous city of Babylon, on the Euphrates. Mesopotamia, with its major rivers—Tigris and Euphrates—and its rich, easily irrigated valleys, became an ideal location for major city-states to flourish over the centuries. The very term Mesopotamia means “the land between the rivers.”
Archaeologist James Mellaart, in Civilizations of the Near East (1965), made some interesting observations pertaining to the earliest migrations from the mountains and hill country to the north. After the Great Flood, the surviving family was reluctant to explore the plain country. (See Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus, bk. I, ch. IV, sec.1.) Their reluctance was not based on fear. Rather, it was due to the fact that the lowland regions were still flooded. After a flood so vast as to cover the entire earth, it would have taken decades for the area to dry to the point that it could be farmed.
Various archaeological reports, including Mellaart’s work, place the first human settlement in the hill country. From there, the population eventually spread through the Mesopotamian and Syrian plain, and later to southern Iraq. These studies into the repopulation process covered the period from the Flood until the building of the city of Nineveh.
Genesis 11 records the building and destruction of the tower of Babel. Genesis 10 lists other cities besides Babel that were built by Nimrod. Some of the cities were built as joint projects between Nimrod and Asshur. After Babel, the chief city was Erech (archaeologists prefer Ureck). “An interesting side-light is that the modern country of Iraq takes its name from Erech. Few people are aware that this ancient city built by Nimrod has given its name to the entire country” (Schulz, Ancient History—The First 2500 Years).
The British defined the territory in 1921, naming it “Iraq” (which means “land of the sun”), derived from the ancient name Ureck.
Now let’s look at the peoples who make up the majority of Iraq’s population.
The descendants of Ishmael and Esau—the modern Arabs—share a common ancestor: The biblical patriarch Abraham.
Abraham had two sons: Isaac (by his wife, Sarah) and Ishmael (by Hagar, her handmaid). Though Abraham passed the birthright to Isaac, Ishmael was also blessed, becoming the progenitor of the Arabs. Twelve princes, sons of Ishmael (Gen. 25:16), went on to form major Arab nations—not the insignificant nomadic tribes some believe. These peoples intermarried primarily with the Egyptians and were located south of Canaan, in the region of Arabia.
Genesis 16:12 records Ishmael’s nature: “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” True to this scripture, Ishmael’s descendants have traditionally been at odds with outside nations, and even at odds with each other!
The sparse populations already in Arabia before Ishmael’s time were descendants of Joktan, the son of Eber. They established colonies along trade routes across Arabia.
The name “Arabia” was given to the vast arid desert land due to its relative direction to the west and south of the people who first observed it upon spreading through Mesopotamia after the Flood. The Hebrew root word arab means “evening or dusk.” As the people spread to Arabia, they called the land to the south Yemen, meaning “right and south.” Since these ancient people based their directions from the east (the rising of the sun), this put Yemen, literally, on their right and to the south. The modern country of Yemen lies near the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Arabian tribes from the southern areas of the peninsula are still called Yaman to this day.
Isaac had two sons: Jacob and Esau. Isaac’s God-given birthright was passed on to Jacob. However, Esau, like his uncle Ishmael, was also blessed with wealth and offspring. He moved away from Canaan to a region called Mount Seir, just south of Moab (southeast of the Dead Sea). Esau married Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael (Gen. 28:9). He also had a number of wives from various other nations. Many rulers, nobles and kings came from Esau (Gen. 36). His offspring continued to marry into the families of Ishmael, as well as other peoples.
Ishmael and his descendants settled primarily in the southern portions of the Arabian Peninsula. Notice that Ishmael was “to dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen. 16:12). True to this description, his descendants have always tended to associate in their original territory. On the other hand, some of the leading tribes of Esau tended to intersperse with other people and expand their sphere of control. Since they were close blood relatives, Ishmael was receptive to Esau. Both felt they had been denied the birthright, which reinforced their resentment toward Israel. Ishmael’s wild nature and Esau’s violent ambitions have been passed on to their descendants.
Meanwhile, Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel) had twelve sons—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulon, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin—the twelve tribes of Israel. While in Egypt for nearly two and a half centuries, the tribes of Israel grew vast in number. The birthright was passed from Jacob (or Israel) to Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Great Britain, along with her former commonwealth countries, make up the modern descendants of Ephraim. The United States of America constitutes the modern descendants of Manasseh. (Many more facts about their identity and the birthright appear in our free book AMERICA and BRITAIN in bible prophecy.) After King Solomon’s death, the kingdom of Israel split into two nations: Judah in the south, and Israel to the north.
The northern kingdom (Israel) was taken captive by the Assyrians, about 721 B.C., never to return to its homeland. The vast majority of Jews remained dispersed among other nations after their Babylonian captivity (about 525 B.C.). The Jews who returned to their homeland were accosted by hostile enemies, such as the Samaritans. To a lesser extent, they were also opposed by the peoples of Ammon and Moab. The Ammonites and Moabites—sons of Lot, Abraham’s nephew—were distant relatives of the Jews. The Jews’ most bitter rivals, both before and after the Babylonian captivity, were the Edomites—sons of Esau.
The original homeland of the tribe of Esau was in the Mount Seir region, southeast of the Dead Sea. The term Mount Seir was used to describe Esau’s descendants who lived there. The term Edom is also used to describe the descendants of Esau in any geographical location. Edom, meaning “red,” is interchangeable with Esau or any of the House of Esau. Another term to describe Esau or Edom is Idumea. Sometimes the name of the leading tribe of Esau, “Teman,” is used to address all of Esau, just as Ephraim is sometimes used in prophecy to describe the House of Israel.
The following verses tell of Esau’s migration from Canaan: “And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob. For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle. Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom” (Gen. 36:6-8).
Esau took three wives: “Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; and Bashemath [the same person as Mahalath of Gen. 28:9] Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth. And Adah bare to Esau Eliphaz; and Bashemath bare Reuel; And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these are the sons of Esau, which were born unto him in the land of Canaan” (Gen. 36:1-5).
Esau had five sons. Eliphaz, the firstborn, also had five sons, each constituting a major tribe of the House of Esau. By his concubine, Eliphaz had another son, named Amalek. Together with the sons of Esau’s other sons, there were 14 dukes or sovereign princes. Each of these became tribes that grew into nations—some of which mixed with other peoples, others remaining as cohesive nations. The most notable of the lineages was the Esau-Eliphaz-Teman line, from which sprang the Ottoman Turks.
Some Bible students assume that these tribes somehow remained in Mount Seir for over two millennia, until they migrated north to conquer Asia Minor—known today as Turkey. But elements of these tribes had already migrated hundreds of miles to the east by the time Israel came out of Egypt. Some of Teman’s descendants were royalty in Persia by that time. Elements of Teman and other tribes had already established themselves in strategic locations (such as southern Mesopotamia). Although some remained in their original homeland, the majority eventually dispersed.
Even before Israel went into Egypt, we find evidence that the House of Esau dispersed to other lands. The biblical account of Job records an interesting side note of history. One of Job’s friends is mentioned in Job 2:1—Eliphaz the Temanite, the father of the Temanites and the son of Esau. Eliphaz was a leading figure among Esau’s descendants (Ancient History—The First 2500 Years). These family lines had become closely associated with various kingly lines and leaders of their day. Notice that Eliphaz was a close friend to Job, who was a prominent noble and leader in Egypt.
While Israel was still in Egypt, the line of Esau became prominent among the ruling class of Persia. The Edomite ruler who refused to allow Israel to pass through his land (at the end of Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness) was named Husham (Gen. 36:31, 34), a Temanite king of the line of Esau.
Detailed historical sources, such as Early Kings of Persia by Shea and Universal History, Volume V, indicate a common dynasty ruling Persia and Edom. Husham’s native land was Persia. This shows how early some of Esau’s descendants had left Mount Seir and expanded east to Persia and Turkestan. Husham was king of the tribes of Edom, which were scattered far and wide. The history of western Turkestan is closely connected to that of ancient Persia.
All the regions between Mount Seir and Persia were controlled by Husham and his successors. This included southern Mesopotamia. Husham’s grandfather Zerah (Gen. 36:33) was from a city named Bozrah, a capital of Edom (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 4, p. 356). The significance of this location will be addressed later.
A later Edomite king prominent in Persian history was Hadar (Gen. 36:39). He reigned just before the time of King Saul of Israel. Much of Persia’s chronology harmonizes with the biblical chronology of Esau. The list of the rulers of Edom (Gen. 36) is the same line as the early rulers of Persia. This occurred through intermarriage of these ancient ruling dynasties. Many of the Persian ruling elite throughout the centuries have been blood relatives of the House of Esau. Even the closest advisor to King Ahasuerus, Haman the Agagite, was of Amalekite lineage of the House of Esau (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 9, p. 796). How could a non-Persian attain such a position? The answer is that not only was the tribe of Teman well-established in the Persian nobility, but others of the House of Esau as well.
The name Turk is derived from Turkestan, where the Turks had settled. Many Caucasian Osmanli Turks of modern Turkey had settled in western Turkestan before the eleventh century. The ruling family of the Osmanli Turks was the Ottomans, a leading tribe descended from Teman (Gen. 36:11, 15).
No known bloodline exists between the Mongoloid Turks of Turkestan and the descendants of Esau who intermixed with the Oriental lineages of Japheth. However, there is a definite tie between the Osmanli Turks and Esau. A connection to the Esau bloodline with the warlike Tartars probably existed in some major branches or tribes, but to a lesser extent with the Mongols. In the Middle Ages, while the Ottoman Turks threatened European civilization in the West, the Tartars and related tribes were an ongoing threat to the civilizations bordering the steppes of Central Asia.
The Seljuk Turks had conquered most of Asia Minor by about 1070 A.D. The Caucasian Osmanli Turks gained control of the Turkish movement in the 1200s, actually gaining control of the Holy Land from that time until they surrendered it to the British in 1917—about 700 years! Before the Ottomans gained control, the Seljuk Turk advance had been in progress for nearly three centuries. After conquering Asia Minor, the Ottomans moved into southeastern Europe, and, by the early 1400s, conquered a number of countries in that region. Their relentless drive continued for centuries, only to be stopped by Charles V, who was backed by the united factions of Germans at Vienna (Austria), about 1532.
Even though the descendants of Esau were denied the birthright from Isaac, they always maintained a great desire to control the Holy Land—and much more! They continued to vie for control of all Europe until their failed attempt to take Vienna in 1683. After the 1700s, their struggles in Europe were defensive, as the Europeans gradually reclaimed much of their land.
Due to the standards required of today’s civilized nations, modern Turks have appeared to modify their animosity against the Jews and modern Israel. But the true feelings of Turkey were reflected in the parliamentary decisions not to cooperate with the coalition forces in the recent war against Iraq. The record of history still stands as testimony to the warring expansionism of the House of Esau.
One of the most notorious examples of the characteristics of the House of Esau was embodied in the war-like tendencies of the Amalekites (Gen. 36:12). They attacked the tribes of Israel near Sinai shortly after Israel’s exodus from Egypt.
God’s anger against these merciless people was so great that Moses recorded this emphatic prophecy: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven…For he said, Because the Lord has sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex. 17:14-16).
God saw that this action was carried out, as I Samuel 15:2-3 records: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not…” Verse 8 reveals that (with the exception of the Amalekite king) Israel “utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.”
Although the bulk of the Amalekites were destroyed, there were remnants dispersed among other nations and peoples who continued to vex Israel. The most notorious was Haman the Agagite, in the book of Esther (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 9, p. 796). In the fourth century B.C., Haman plotted to have all the Jews killed, by manipulating the Persian king to do his will. But Queen Esther and her relative Mordecai foiled his plans.
In Moses’ time, shortly after the Exodus, Balaam spoke of Amalek, as Israel was preparing to enter Canaan: “…Amalek was the first of nations: but his latter end shall be that he perish forever” (Num. 24:20). “The first of nations” does not refer to time, but position and rank. As a nation, the Amalekites were late to arrive, having stemmed from Esau. But they suddenly rocketed to greatness by seizing the Nile Delta shortly after the Exodus. Egyptian poetry reflects their suffering under Amalekite rule (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Pritchard, pp. 441-444).
God intervened on Israel’s behalf when the Amalekites attacked them in the Sinai Peninsula. These attackers were not roving bands of nomads, but segments of a larger group mobilized to reap the spoils of Egypt in its defeated state. Only God’s intervention gave Joshua and his untrained militia the power to defeat and repel them.
Historians labeled Egypt’s new conquerors as “Shepherd Kings.” These Amalekites, together with their kindred peoples, gradually conquered Egypt, dominating them for centuries after the Exodus. The first and most infamous of these Shepherd Kings was Salitis. In Against Apion, Josephus quotes the Egyptian historian Manetho in describing Egypt’s subdued state under these ruthless Amalekites (Bk. I, ch. 14, parts 73-92).
Herod the Great’s father, Antipater, was appointed procurator of Judea, Samaria and Galilee by Julius Caesar (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 14, p. 290). In the tradition of the House of Esau, Antipater undermined the Jews and their allies at every opportunity. This Herod family ruling in the Holy Land during the time of Christ was of Idumean (Edom or Edomite) descent (Ibid.). Mentioned often in the New Testament, they maintained control for the better part of the first century A.D.
The actions of Herod the Great were indeed merciless. He murdered 45 members of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and even his own sons (Ibid., vol. 13, p. 380). He did not hesitate to order the deaths of all infants in Judea in order to kill Christ—as an infant (Matt. 2:12-18). Herod almost succeeded in fulfilling Satan’s agenda: “…and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” (Rev. 12:4).
The next Herod, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, ordered John the Baptist to be beheaded, at the behest of his mistress (Matt. 14:1-12). Next in this family line was Herod Agrippa I, king of Judea. Through intrigue, he attained the same position held by his grandfather (Herod the Great). Herod Agrippa killed the apostle James and imprisoned Peter, intending to kill him as well. After exalting himself as a god, he was eaten by worms (Acts 12:20-23). Finally, Herod Agrippa II was the one to whom Paul appealed to see Caesar when this Herod had visited Festus, Roman governor of Judea (World Book Encyclopedia, vol. 9, p. 199).
As you can see, the Herod line were neither friends of the Jews nor servants of God. Murder was so natural to these descendants of Esau that, in many cases, as with Herod Agrippa I, they eagerly carried out executions.
Much of Esau’s expansion coincided with the expansion of Islam. The most vigorous Islamic missionaries to spread their religion through violence were those of the lineage of Esau—chief of whom were the Turks. They appeared to possess an inherent desire to conquer and expand their sphere of control. Prior to Islam, no other force united the many Arab factions. Certain smaller kingdoms had existed within Arabia, but with minimal impact on the region. (The origin, growth and impact of Islam are covered in detail in “Modern Iraq: A House Divided,” in this issue.)
Not until the rise of Islam did the Turks begin expanding through conquest of any and all nations in their path. Previously, the thirst for expansion by these tribes—the majority of Esau—was mainly in Turkestan. That vast area, between the Caspian Sea and the borders of China, is now occupied by a number of nations, including much of Iran and Afghanistan. Yet a few of the tribes of Esau remained in northern Arabia.
At the height of Turkish control, the Ottoman Empire extended from Baghdad in the east to Morocco in the west, and from the Russian steppes in the north to the Persian Gulf in the South. They later acquired Spain, thus controlling the Gibraltar Strait. Islam spread well beyond these boundaries.
Even in the Holy Land, Islam’s incremental spread was accompanied by population shifts: “The spread of Islam introduced a very considerable Neo-Arabian infusion. Those from southern Arabia were known as the Yaman tribe, those from northern Arabia, the Kais (Qais). These two divisions absorbed the previous peasant population, and still nominally exist [as of 1910]; down to the middle of the 19th century they were a fruitful source of quarrels and of bloodshed” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 20, p. 604).
As in other regions, the infusion of Arabs in the Holy Land coincided with the expansion of Islam. Their presence in the Holy Land began about the seventh century A.D. These waves of migration followed in the wake of Turkish expansion.
Arabic infusion into neighboring countries became extensive. Arabs constitute a significant portion of the population of Jordan (ancient Ammon and Moab—the sons of Lot), Syria and Lebanon. Concerning Egypt, the original Egyptians were prophesied to become the basest among people (Ezek. 29:15). They became dispersed, mostly outside their original country. Those who came to settle in Egypt have been the Arabs—descendants of both Ishmael and Esau.
Remember, twelve major tribes came from Ishmael, settling mostly in the southern Arabian Peninsula and closely neighboring regions. Some of the tribes that emerged from Esau interspersed with other peoples, while other tribes were more cohesive. A latent tendency common to most tribes was to expand in territory and power—only needing a catalyst such as Islam to spring into action.
The descendants of Esau were traditionally motivated by their perpetual jealousy and contempt of the Jews and anything pertaining to Israel, as if each generation bore the same resentment as did their patriarch. The Bible documents that these bitter enemies of Israel never passed over a chance to join ranks when Israel was being attacked by formidable opposition. They rarely failed to seize any opportunity to loot, kill and destroy when Israel was weakened or in dire straits for any reason. Therefore, God made some strong prophetic statements about these people.
Most of the Arab populations of the modern nation of Israel (erroneously called Palestinians) are of the bloodline of Esau to a significant degree. This applies to the Arabian population of Iraq, as well as Syria. Even the Persian population of Iran has some of Esau’s bloodline among the descendants of their ancient royalty. Of the fourteen tribes of Esau, some have divergent traits, while there exist certain common traits—mostly a hatred of the Jews and Israel.
The following scripture addresses this hatred and shows that God condemned Esau’s actions: “Thus says the Lord; For three transgressions of Edom [Esau], and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother [Jacob or Israel] with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever” (Amos 1:11-12). Then we read in verse 12, “But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.” The Encyclopedia Britannica informs us that this Bozrah was once an ancient capital of Edom (11th ed., vol. 4, p. 356), as Scripture implies.
Knowing the precise location of ancient Bozrah is not as crucial as understanding the meaning and context of Amos 1:11. By reading the material covered so far, we should be able to identify modern Edom and Esau as not only the Turkish people, but many of the Arabs of central and northern Arabia and surrounding areas also. This would include the vast majority of Iraq, Syria and those in Israel. It also includes a smaller percentage of those living in Jordan, Iran, Egypt and other neighboring countries. There are most likely many who live in the region of Afghanistan, Pakistan and countries to their east. The countries of Ishmael in the southern part of Arabia, such as Saudi Arabia, are also drifting more toward opposition to Israel.
The ancient animosity, stemming from the loss of the birthright, has been passed from generation to generation, and further fuels their hatred of the Jews and Anglo-Saxons.
Ezekiel 25:12-14 states, “Thus says the Lord God; Because that Edom has dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; Therefore thus says the Lord God; I will also stretch out Mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. And I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of My people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to Mine anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance, says the Lord God.”
God will use the modern descendants of Israel to exact His vengeance upon Edom. The recent military defeat of Iraq is a partial fulfillment of this prophecy. But this conflict is not the final chapter. Much is yet to occur, and there is much more that prophecy reveals.
The following scripture explains God’s anger with the descendants of Esau. Carefully note this pivotal scripture: “Shall I not in that day, says the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? And your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
“For your violence against your brother Jacob shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. In the day that you stood on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even you were as one of them. But you should not have looked on the day of your brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress. You should not have entered into the gate of My people in the day of their calamity; yes, you should not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; neither should you have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither should you have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress. For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as you have done, it shall be done unto you: your reward shall return upon your own head” (Obad. 8-15).
The descendants of Esau have typically attacked Israel or Judah after powerful enemies, such as the Babylonian Empire, defeated or greatly weakened them. Rather than take pity upon his brothers and blood relatives, Esau sought every opportunity to capture and kill those trying to escape, and to destroy and ransack their property. This has always been Esau’s attitude toward Israel. In the future, when modern Israel is taken into captivity, Esau will be at the forefront of the pillaging and killing of those left behind.
The Palestinians, also descendants of Esau, certainly demonstrate such bitterness when given the opportunity. Their constant attacks against Israeli civilians are evidence of this resentment. Most of the world feels that their outrageous slaughter of innocent civilians is justified in light of what they term “Israeli oppression.”
The September 11th attacks brought home to America the threatening reality of Islamic terrorism. This growing anti-West “gospel” is perpetuated by Islamic clerics in all Arabic countries. Most of the terrorists involved in these attacks were youthful Saudi Arabians. Saudi Arabia has traditionally been considered an ally of the West, yet Islamic clerics have fanned the flames of hatred and reawakened the long-standing animosity of Ishmael and Esau against Israel.
But notice what is prophesied to happen to Edom: “The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea. Behold, He shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread His wings over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs” (Jer. 49:21-22).
The term “at that day” refers to the Day of the Lord, when God will pay vengeance to those who refuse to submit to Him. The recent military action in Iraq is only a type of what is to come. The earth was moved at the continual bombing, including the 2,000-pound “bunker busters” that rumbled through the land like a constant thunder. The “eagles” did fly over Bozrah (Basra), reigning terror on the enemy forces. The ancient mounds near Basra are attributed, from the best evidence, to be the ancient city of Bozrah, the capital of ancient Edom. Apparently, God counts this as a continuation of the same ancient site, because Bozrah is yet to be destroyed in the coming Day of the Lord.
Notice verse 13: “For I have sworn by Myself, says the Lord, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.”
Modern Basra is relatively close to the Persian (Iranian) border. The Persian population there is second largest, after the Shiite Moslems. Both of these population groups are descended from the House of Esau. The kings from the tribe of Teman who jointly ruled over Persia, Edom and the Edomites of western Turkestan, reigned in ancient Bozrah. As a point of interest, the Turkomans of Iraq are also of Edom, while the Assyrian population is of the same stock as the modern Germans. The Kurds to the north are Caucasian, somewhat related to the Armenians, who descended from Aram, the son of Shem.
Notice again the pivotal scripture of Amos 1:11-12: “Thus says the Lord; For three transgressions of Edom [Esau], and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother [Jacob or Israel] with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever: But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.” The palaces of Bozrah, as well as those of Baghdad, were “devoured” by precision bombs and firepower!
As a result of the perpetual hatred of Edom, God continues, “And say unto it, Thus says the Lord God; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against you, and I will stretch out Mine hand against you, and I will make you most desolate. I will lay your cities waste, and you shall be desolate, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Because you have had a perpetual hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end” (Ezek. 35:3-5).
Verses 13-15 show that the consequences will extend beyond this present age: “Thus with your mouth you have boasted against Me, and have multiplied your words against Me: I have heard them. Thus says the Lord God; When the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate. As you did rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto you: you shall be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the Lord.”
When the survivors of this world live on into the glorious time of Jesus Christ’s millennial rule, the descendants of Esau will not be there. Yet they will have their opportunity for salvation at a later time. God does not hold trivial grudges. His anger is entirely justified.
However, God has not dismissed them completely. He looks forward to redeeming and teaching those of Edom as much as any other family line. Notice the following scriptures: “[God] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4). “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9).
God will welcome, encourage and console the descendants of Esau, along with everyone else, at the appropriate time in His plan of salvation. Meanwhile, this current age precedes a great tumult, which the people of the earth must experience as this present era of warfare and suffering ends. Soon, the whole world will embrace a time of world peace and brotherhood, as the kingdom of God is established on the earth and rules all nations!