Cultures > Edom

Edom

Background

Edom, or the "red" people were a Semitic tribe that inhabited the region a little east of Egypt and south of the Kingdom of Judah. The civilization is frequently mentioned in the Bible and may also have its origins in the Shasu and Shutu nomadic raiders that were mentioned by the Egyptians.

The earliest archaeological excavations suggest around 900 BCE the area was being used for copper mining as camps have been discovered. With the prosperity of the copper mines this attracted more people and the settlements grew in size between 800 BCE and 600 BCE. The earliest Egyptian letter from a border fortress at Wadi Tumilat during the rule of Merneptah reports the "shasy-tribes of Edom" that had been encroaching on the desert oasis spots that the Egyptians controlled.

Assyrian Empire

Edom was mentioned in several Assyrian written records usually as Udumi or Udumu and three of its kings are well known. The first was named Ḳaus-malaka who was a contemporary of Tiglath-Pileser III. The next king was Malik-rammu who ruled at the time of Sennacherib and following him was Kaus-gabris who ruled at the same time as Esarhaddon.

It is around this time that the final references to Edom as an independent civilization arise. Around 667 BCE the civilization collapses as a state based on Assyrian inscriptions and it is not known why. Many rush to the Bible for these answers such as the Book of Obadiah but the truth may be a little more complicated.

The Egyptians recorded their territory as bordering Edom but following the conquest and siege of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonians lead by Nebuchadnezzar II they were forced to migrate and relocate to the Hebron region, also known to the Greeks and Romans as Idumaea or Idumea. The Edomites are believed to be the related to the Nabataeans according to Strabo. He suggests the Edomites were the result of a blending of Nabataean culture and Judaean culture.

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Secondary Sources