Did Moses Write Genesis 36:31?
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
How could Moses have written Genesis 36:31 (“Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel,” emp. added)? Doesn’t this wording concerning Israel’s distant, future monarchy prove (as skeptics allege) that Moses did not pen the book of Genesis?
There are two logical reasons why Moses could mention the future Israelite kingship. First, Moses knew about the express promises that God had made to Abraham and Jacob concerning the future kings of Israel. On one occasion, God informed Abraham and Sarah that many kings would be among their posterity. He promised Abraham that Sarah would become “a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her” (Genesis 17:16, emp. added). Years later (and just one chapter before the verse in question), when God appeared to Jacob at Bethel and changed his name to Israel, He said: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body” (Genesis 35:11, emp. added).
A second reason Moses had knowledge of the Israelite kingship before it was known experientially is simply because Moses was inspired (John 5:46; Mark 12:26; cf. Exodus 20:1; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). For someone to say that the author of Genesis could not have been Moses, because the author spoke generally of Israelite kings prior to their existence, totally ignores the fact that Moses received special revelation from Heaven. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in Deuteronomy 17:14-15. Here Moses prophetically stated:
When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, “I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,” you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother (emp. added).
Under normal circumstances, such foreknowledge would be impossible. One must keep in mind, however, that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26)—and God was with Moses (cf. Exodus 3:12; 6:2; 25:22).