When was this written: "And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel." (Genesis 36:31)?

Are there any traditional commentators that say that this verse was written once a king reigned in Israel (hundreds of years after Moshe died)? I know the Ibn Ezra mentions numerous verses that were later additions, but is this one of them?

  • Another simple reading -- "before any king ruled in Israel." I.e. at the time of writing, there were zero.
    – Shalom
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


Although the idea that verses were added to the Sefer Torah that we have is often attributed to the Ibn Ezra, his comments on this verse would seem to indicate he doesn't hold of the idea. He quotes someone ("Yitzchaki" - it is a matter of speculation of who that could refer to, although we know from other references it was someone from Spain) who says that these verses (the whole list of kings, presumably) were written in the times of Yehoshafat and says that his book should be burned for the suggestion.

The Ibn Ezra himself acknowledges the opinion that this verse was written prophetically, but prefers the explanation that it refers to rulers before Moshe - who was himself described as a king. Note the Rashbam explains the verse this way as well.


While "traditional commentators" may need a bit of a definition, I don't believe any of them do. Some do not comment on this, and those who do say emphatically that it was either referring to a very early period (i.e. before Moshe), and/or that it was written "Bederech Nevuah". See here for all the Mefarshim I have looked through.

The only exception to this might be the statement of RDZ Hoffman, who seems to perhaps imply that Ibn Ezra would support later authorship of this section (despite Ibn Ezra's attacks on Yitzchaki for suggesting such a thing). Judge for yourself:

כבר הראב״ע בפירושו לתחילת ספר דברים רומז לקושי שטמון בפסוק זה — כיצד אפשר לדבר על המלוכה בישראל מאות שנים לפני משיחתו של מלך ישראל הראשון.

R Hoffman goes on to dismantle potential biblical criticism that relates to this section. (As does Shadal, as well as other Mefarshim, see the link above.)

If it was indeed his intention to imply this about Ibn Ezra, it is simply wrong, as Ibn Ezra does not mention this section in Devarim, in addition to the fact that almost all of the reasons/interpretations for/of the "Sod Hashenim Asar" would not apply to this section due to a suggestion of very late authorship, the large number of verses, and his own arguing against this very point.

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