In Psalm 60, the Psalmist describes the totality of God’s victory over Israel’s foes, proclaiming “Moab is my wash basin; upon Edom I cast my sandal.” This is only one of more than 100 mentions of Edom in the Old Testament.
The Genesis 25:25 account of Esau, meaning ‘hairy’ in Hebrew, describes him as “red, all over, like an hairy garment.” He was the first born son of Isaac and Rebecca and twin brother of Jacob. Esau was given the name of Edom meaning red in Hebrew, after selling his birthright to his twin brother for a bowl of lentil pottage, thus fulfilling Genesis 25:23. Esau settled south of Judah in a land that became known as Edom.
Edom’s land would include Seir (Joshua 24:4), Bozrah (Isaiah 63:1), and Sela, modern day Petra (2 Kings 14:7) and his descendants would become known as the Edomites, who had kings long before Israel and who worshiped a variety of pagan gods adopted from the areas in which they settled.
In Numbers 20:14-21, we read that the Edomites denied the children of Israel permission to pass through their lands yet we also read in Deuteronomy 23:7 that God commanded the children of Israel to not despise or hate them because of their family connection.
The Bible records however that King Saul attacked the Edomites as did King David who made them servants. After the death of Solomon, the people of Edom rebelled and regained some freedoms. We hear of them again as being involved in the plunder of Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar took Judah into captivity (Psalm 137:7).
During the time of the New Testament, the Edomites became known by the Greek name Idumaens. King Herod was an Idumaean appointed King of Judah by the Roman Empire, who ruled during the time of the birth of Christ. Herold was responsible, according to Matthew 2:16-18, of ordering the death of all male children two years old and younger to destroy any threat to his claim to the throne.
Many biblical scholars have cast doubts that the Edomites, as shown in Genesis and Exodus, ever existed. The true Edomite kingdom, they proclaim, only came into being three or more centuries later after the death of King Solomon when the kingdom was divided and were only “read back” into the ancient stories.
And yet once again, those so-called scholars have been proved wrong. A team excavating in Israel’s Timna Valley, south of Judah found evidence of a “thriving and wealthy society” dating back to the 12th – 11th century before Christ, that the Bible tells us was the land of Edom.
Specimens found in copper production sites, led by Professor Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology and ancient Eastern Cultures and Professor Tom Levy of the University of California, San Diego, revealed the form of an extensive network of ancient copper-smelting facilities that date to the period “consistent” with the Edomite Kingdom.
“Consistent” with the biblical story, is a phrase that pops up a lot in the world of ancient archeologist who see Judaism and Christianity in the same light as other religions. You’d think the sheer number of findings in recent decades that fall in line with biblical history would soften the systemic scholarly skepticism toward the Bible. It should, but it hasn’t.
Research at the Timna Valley site showed a clear statistical fall in the amount of copper in the slag over time which indicated that this particular location had become streamlined for efficiency. This was attributed to one of the most famous Egyptian invasions into the Holy Land: the military campaign of Pharaoh Shosheng 1 (aka Shishak in the Bible), who sacked Jerusalem in the 10th century B.C. New research indicates that Egypt’s intervention in the land of Edom was not accompanied by destruction but actually triggered a “technological leap” that included more efficient copper production and trade.
Unlike other religions, historical detail is central, even crucial, to biblical faith. The Bible reports events that took place in actual human history, not in a mythical past or in another universe, but in the same settings as you, I, and everyone else who has ever lived, live. So we should never be surprised when evidence is found that verify His Word?
At the same time, we should be ready to communicate the connections between history and faith when appropriate and when asked. It’s a wonderful way to communicate to our skeptical friends, family members, and co-workers what we believe and why we believe it.
Source: The Biblical Edom Unearthed: Not a Myth, a Historical Reality by John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera, Breakpoint; Archaeologists Uncover Evidence of Biblical Truth, Franklin County VA Patriots.