||Chief Dishon, Chief Etzer, Chief Dishan. These are tribes of the Horites according to their chiefs in the land of Seir.
Aluf Dishon aluf Etser aluf Dishan eleh alufey haChori le'alufeyhem be'erets Se'ir.
||These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Israelites.
Ve'eleh hamelachim asher malchu be'erets Edom lifney meloch-melech livney Yisra'el.
||Bela son of Beor became king of Edom, and the name of his capital was Dinhava.
Vayimloch be'Edom Bela ben-Be'or veshem iro Dinhavah.
||Bela died, and he was succeeded as king by Yovav son of Zerach from Botzrah.
Vayamot Bala vayimloch tachtav Yovav ben-Zerach mi-Batsrah.
See note on Genesis 36:40.
|before any king...|
Simply, this means that these kings reigned long before there was a king in Israel. Many commentaries, however, state that the first king of Israel alluded to in this verse is Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 33:5; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Ralbag). We do, however, find that there were Edomite kings contemporary to Moses (Numbers 20:14). Therefore, it must be said that Moses was not considered a king until the concept of a king was given to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 17:15). It also appears that the chiefs (alufim) ruled over Edom right after the Exodus (cf. Exodus 15:15), but the kings may have reigned concurrently (see Mekhilta on Exodus 15:14; but see Ramban on Genesis 36:40). Of course, if the alufim are seen as tribes (see Genesis 36:40), this does not present any problem.
There is a tradition that the Edomite kings began to reign 550 years before the first Israelite king (Rabenu Chananel, quoted in Bachya on Genesis 32:16). Since Saul, the first king of Israel, took his throne in 2882 (879 b.c.e.), this would mean that Edom's kingdom began 550 years earlier in 2332 (1429 b.c.e.). This was the year that Levi died, and it is well established that Levi was the last of Jacob's sons to die. Thus, there may have been a tradition that Esau's kingdom did not begin during the lifetime of any of Jacob's sons.
There is, however, a conflicting tradition that the reign of Bela (Genesis 36:32) began in 2258, twenty years after Jacob came to Egypt (see note on Genesis 36:32).
|Bela son of Beor|
According to one tradition (see note on Genesis 36:31), his reign began in 2258, twenty years after Jacob came to Egypt (Sefer HaYashar, p. 167). He reigned for 30 years, until 2288 (ibid.). Other sources, however, identify Bela with Balaam son of Beor (Numbers 22:5; Targum on 1 Chronicles 1:43; but see Ibn Ezra here). This would be very difficult to reconcile with a chronology that places all these kings before Moses' death, since Balaam was not killed until the 40th year after the Exodus (Numbers 31:8).
(Targum Yonathan). Others state that this is the city of his birth (Shemoth Rabbah 37); Rashi; cf. Ramban). According to the second opinion, the cities mentioned in this section are not in Edom.
According to the first opinion in the previous note, this is an unidentified city in Edom. According to the second opinion, it is a city in Africa (Sefer HaYashar p. 169). Some sources identify it with Carthage or a nearby city (Yossipun 2). Around this time, Carthage (still known as Cambe) was ruled by colonists from Sidon (see The Torah Anthology, Volume 3, p. 666, note 68). It was invaded by the Phoenicians in 814 b.c.e. when its name was changed to Carthage.
He reigned for 10 years, from 2288 to 2298 (Sefer HaYashar, p. 168). See Genesis 10:29, Joshua 11:4.
See Genesis 36:13.
Some say that this was a city in Edom (Ramban); cf. Isaiah 34:6, 63:1. This can be identified as Buseirah, 20 miles south of the Dead Sea in Seir (cf. BaMidbar Rabbah 14:10; Ptolemy, Geography 5:17). Others say that it is the city in Moab mentioned in Jeremiah 48:24 (Rashi; cf. Bereshith Rabbah 83). This is a city in Gilead some 50 miles east of the Kinneret Sea, later known as Bostra or Busra-Eski Sham (cf. 1 Maccabees 5:26). Also see Jeremiah 49:13, 49:22, Amos 1:12, Micah 2:12. The Targum (on 1 Chronicles 1:44) renders it Bevatra. The dispute as to whether it was in Edom or Moab would follow the question as to whether the cities mentioned here are Edomite capitals, or the birthplaces of the Edomite kings.