At the time of the Exodus they churlishly refused permission to the Israelites to pass through their land (Numbers 20:14-21), and ever afterwards maintained an attitude of hostility toward them. They were conquered by David (2 Samuel 8:14; comp. 1 Kings 9:26), and afterwards by Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:11,12). But they regained again their independence, and in later years, during the decline of the Jewish kingdom (2 Kings 16:6; R.V. marg., "Edomites"), made war against Israel. They took part with the Chaldeans when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, and afterwards they invaded and held possession of the south of Palestine as far as Hebron. At length, however, Edom fell under the growing Chaldean power (Jeremiah 27:3,6).
There are many prophecies concerning Edom (Isaiah 34:5,6; Jeremiah 49:7-18; Ezekiel 25:13; 35:1-15; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11; Obad.; Malachi 1:3,4) which have been remarkably fulfilled. The present desolate condition of that land is a standing testimony to the inspiration of these prophecies. After an existence as a people for above seventeen hundred years, they have utterly disappeared, and their language even is forgotten for ever. In Petra, "where kings kept their court, and where nobles assembled, there no man dwells; it is given by lot to birds, and beasts, and reptiles."
The Edomites were Semites, closely related in blood and in language to the Israelites. They dispossessed the Horites of Mount Seir; though it is clear, from Genesis 36, that they afterwards intermarried with the conquered population. Edomite tribes settled also in the south of Judah, like the Kenizzites (Genesis 36:11), to whom Caleb and Othniel belonged (Joshua 15:17). The southern part of Edom was known as Teman.