The Wives of Esau

26: 34-35

DIG: Esau was not to marry a Canaanite woman. What did this show about his attitude toward his parents? About his attitude toward God? What was the fruit of it?

REFLECT: Why should it matter to the LORD whom we marry? What are the consequences of obedience or disobedience in this area of our lives?

When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite. This was thesame age that Isaac was when he married, but Esav takes two Hittite wives. Although they are Hittites, they have Semitic names, which means they have been in the Promised Land a very long time. By virtue of this they were given non-Hittite names. Nonetheless they were a bitterness of spirit and a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah because these marriages showed Esau’s continuing unfaithfulness (26:34-35). And just as when he sold his birthright, which showed that he despised it, by marrying Hittites, he continued to show how unfit he was for God’s blessing.

Believers and unbelievers live in two opposing worlds. Therefore, Rabbi Sha’ul wrote: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers (Second Corinthians 6:14a). It would be like putting a donkey and an ox behind the plow together. They do not have the same nature, gait or strength. It would be impossible for a mismatched pair to plow effectively together (Deuteronomy 22:10). Likewise, Rabbi is saying that believers and unbelievers are two different breeds and cannot work together in the spiritual realm. For what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? It makes no sense at all because faith has nothing in common with unbelief. Therefore, Rabbi Sha’ul sums up his argument by saying: come out from them and be separate (Second Corinthians 6:14b-18).428

I am quite sure that, as good and caring parents, Isaac and Rebekah gave both of their sons ample warning about marrying unbelieving Canaanite women. Abraham was quite adamant about this with Isaac (24:3), and I am sure Isaac was just as adamant with his two sons. Abraham had married within his own family and so did Jacob (29:15-30). Now this may be a surprise to you, but sometimes children don’t do what their parents want them to do. And as children of God, sometimes we don’t do what our heavenly Father wants us to do! Jacob was righteous, but Esau was rebellious. And when we rebel against our heavenly Father we cause Him much grief. When Esav rebelled against ADONAI and his parents, they were grieved. Later the LORD would include a commandment about this topic in the Torah (see my commentary on Exodus Do – Honor Your Father and Your Mother). Sometimes, as parents, you can be a good example, say all the right things and do all the right things, but your child grows up and rebels. At that point, all you can do is pray for them and turn them over to God. Humanly, no one quite understands the pain of this, unless you have had a rebel child.

The Word of God says that children are to obey their parents as reflecting their obedience to ADONAI. It is the right thing to do. Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth (Ephesians 6:1-3). But just as obedient children bring happiness and tranquility to a family, disobedient and rebellious children are a source of grief to their parents. This was the case with Esau. The next time we see him in Chapters 32 and 33, he will be very powerful and as far as material possessions go, he will have done very well for himself. But spiritually, he would still be in rebellion against the LORD.


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