Sunday, December 19, 2010

Genesis 28:6-9 Esau's Attempt to Please Isaac

Esau, meanwhile, was observing how Isaac had blessed Jacob, and that his father had commanded Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman.  He also noticed that Jacob had obediently gone to Paddan Aram to seek a wife. (v.6-7)

"Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac, so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had." (Genesis 28:8-9 NIV)  This passage would almost be humorous except for the fact that Esau probably was seriously trying to win some favor from his father Isaac.  Remember, Esau had been his father's favorite, but lately, Jacob seems to be getting a lot of Isaac's attention.  Jacob had already deceived Isaac into giving him the blessing, and now Esau notices that Isaac is making an effort to be sure that Jacob does not marry a Canaanite woman.  Meanwhile, Esau is standing there, conscious of the fact that he himself has two Canaanite wives, at least.

 If Esau is just realizing now that these Canaanite women were not the ideal wives for the followers of the God of Abraham, he is either a very slow learner or Isaac did not do a great job of teaching his sons about the importance of choosing a God-fearing woman as a wife.  In all fairness, I do not believe there was a specific law from God at that time about not marrying unbelievers, but it does not seem like it would take much effort to discern that perhaps it would not be a good idea to marry someone who worships other gods.

However, Esau doesn't seem to be very spiritually-minded.  He had already sold his birthright (with all of the inherent spiritual blessings) to Jacob for a meal when he was hungry.  In fact, even now, as he seeks to marry a daughter of his father's half-brother, he may be thinking that Isaac was concerned with keeping his sons' marriages within the extended family.  He probably did not have a clue about Isaac's concern for the promises which had been given to Abraham and which were to be passed down to his descendants.  Why not, I wonder?  I can't imagine that Isaac would have failed to tell him about this.  Did Esau just have such a lack of interest in spiritual matters?  I suspect that the latter may be true.

Let me just put the latest genealogy information in visual form.  Sometimes it gets confusing when all these names are thrown about in a section of Scripture:

 Ishmael (from Hagar) & Isaac (from Sarah)
      |                                    |
 Mahalath, Nebaioth         Jacob & Esau

We are not told of Isaac's reaction to this development, or whether Esau's new wife was acceptable to Isaac.  I do not think Isaac had any grudge against Ishmael or his descendants, but, considering how his father Abraham had sent Ishmael away with Hagar, I doubt that Isaac would choose a wife for either of his sons from there.

No comments:

Post a Comment