Saturday, August 29, 2009

Esau Marries Two Girls -- Genesis 26:34-35


And when Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.

Esau stayed single until he was forty years of age, the same age as his father Isaac. We can update our timeline as follows:

• 3311 Isaac, at age 40, marries Rebekah (Genesis 25:20)
• 3331 Isaac, at age 60, becomes father to Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:26)
• 3346 Abraham died at age 175 (Genesis 25:7,8)
• 3371 Esau marries Judith and Basemath (Genesis 26:34)
• 3394 The death of Ishmael (based on his birth in 3257 and Genesis 25:17)

Both Judith and Basemath were Hittites who descended from Heth, one of Noah’s great-grandsons. (Noah-Ham-Canaan-Heth). They lived among the Israelites. Abraham had purchased the family burial-plot from them. There is no direct reference as to their worship habits and whether or not they believed in, and served, God, as Abraham and his direct ancestors did, although most likely they did not.

This is the only place in scripture where the name Judith is used. Its root word in the Hebrew however is used one other time later in scripture with reference to the transliteration of “sanctuary”. As a name, it means “Jewess” or “praised”. Interestingly, she was neither. The name Basemath is translated as “spice”. She indeed did add spice to Isaac’s family but perhaps not the kind they had hoped for. The actual name is also given to one more person in scripture many, many years later.

Was Esau foolish in marrying Canaanites? The evidence indicates he was. For starters, they were not part of the blessing to Abraham. It also must have been heartbreaking to Isaac and Rebekah for Esau to marry without asking, as was typical, for his parents’ blessing. Isaac you will remember had a father who insisted that he marry among his own people.

Without going into a discussion here as to the pros and cons of marrying outside one’s faith, we will just note that Esau did just that. The phrase that is most troublesome, however, is the next one: “and they made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.” Do we know anything about the reason for that? Well, for starters, we know it was a significant misery that was evident to others or why else would the story go on for generations until it had been written down for us to read. The word used for ‘grief’ is also translated as ‘bitterness’. It is likely that the different customs, culture, and religions (worshipping different gods) of the two daughters-in-law were the source of the heartbreak both girls were to Isaac and Rebekah. Whatever it was, the problem was constantly on their mind. Family fellowship was indeed lacking once they joined, but admittedly that may have started with Esau’s earlier rebellion or at the time he made the decision not only to marry one Canaanite, but two. This was clear indication that he neither cared for the blessing, nor feared the curse of God in his life.

From personal experience, I assure you children sometimes rush into marriages that end up being hurtful to them and to their families. The problem is not always one’s faith. It may the degree of sincerity one may have in his/her faith and the amount of desire they have to put God first in their life. My friend William Troth has written about that very thing in his book, The Milk and Honey Man. He talks about Christians being saved but carnal vs. the Spiritual man or woman who has truly let God be on the throne of their lives. For the Christian parent, I would recommend four things if you are in this situation: First, ask God to show you what He wants to teach you, not your son or daughter, or their spouse, in this situation. Second, continue to pray both parties feel God’s presence in a clear and strong way so that His will is done. Third, support your son or daughter in his plans subject to them being moral and godly. Four, love him or her and their spouse no matter and unconditionally forever.

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