Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Esau’s Reaction to Jacob’s Leaving -- Genesis 28:6-9

Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take to himself a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he charged him, saying, "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan," and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Paddan-aram. So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; and Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.

This morning as my son-in-law was leaving with our eight-year-old granddaughter to hit some golf balls, our six-year-old granddaughter made him promise to do something special with her next. Anyone who has had more than one child knows that siblings keep a close watch on how each other is treated by their parents, or grandparents for that matter. The well-known comedy team, the Smothers Brother had, as one of their favorite lines “see, I told you ‘mom always liked you best’”. One child often feels less preferred than the other. This was the case with Esau as he saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob further and then sent him away to get a wife from within his mother’s family.

It was not so much that Isaac had a preferred a wife for Jacob from Rebekah’s family as much as it was that he did not want Jacob to get a wife from “the daughters of Canaan.” Esau had especially noted the negativism with which Isaac referred to the idea of marrying from the daughters of Canaan – the very thing that Esau had done. We may not always agree with what our children do, especially in regard to whom they choose as mates, but we must be careful as to how we communicate that. At the very least, we must always leave the door open for communication, conciliation, and complete restoration into the family.

Esau also noted how Jacob had obeyed his parents and had gone to Paddan-aram to do what had been asked of him. Of course, Jacob’s reasons for doing so were different, but nevertheless Esau saw it as obedience. Disobedient or rebellious children have always had a disdain for their siblings that appear to be “little do-gooders” in the eyes of their parents.

Yet, seeing that the women of Canaan displeased his father, he goes out, this time to Ishmael’s family, and takes his daughter Mahalath as yet another wife. Ishmael you will remember was Abraham’s son through Hagar the handmaid and Isaac’s half-nephew for lack of a better word. Mahalath was the sister of Nebaioth. In Genesis 25:13 we learned that Nebaioth was Ishmael’s eldest son. It appears that Jacob now wanted to impress his father Isaac by marrying a non-Canaanite woman and this time only one.

But did he make bad things worse? First of all he now marries someone who is a descendent of a bondwoman whom God had already decided was not to inherit the promise He made to Abraham as Isaac and his family were. Esau, whether knowingly or not we cannot say with total certainly, now connects with a family that God has rejected. Was it possible that since he was the only son left at home, he would now try desperately to get on his father’s good side, perhaps hoping that Isaac would even change his mind about the blessing he had given Jacob and even make a new decision about any inheritance that would remain? By what he did, Esau attempted to please his parents for how he had behaved in the past. But he failed to repent concerning his intention to kill Jacob. [It remains to be seen later as to whether he pursued that line of action.]

Sometimes we come across individuals who try to right a wrong they had committed, but clearly their actions prove insufficient as their hearts continued to maintain the original attitude or malice towards those they had wronged and there is never a full repentance or apology for what they had done. One supposes though that in their own eyes, since they have made some effort to reconcile the situation, they are indeed better than they were. Somehow, I believe that this is not what God expects of us when we are in the wrong and have hurt others. In Esau’s case, we have no evidence that he repented, changed his thoughts about Jacob, or demonstrated a devout or humble spirit that truly may have pleased Isaac, or God.

Here’s a final comment on this section. Some parents have one or more children that just do not make the right major decisions in life, for any given number of reasons. I know how hard it can be for that parent to watch their son or daughter experience the consequences of such decisions. Yet, I can also share with you that the only two true actions of benefit to them that you can take are to pray for them and to listen when they want to talk. If for any reason, you have failed to develop a relationship with them where your opinions really matter, then drop all other efforts you may expend on them and work just on that. Remain available and always open to being their parent and allowing them to be your child. If you need a model to help you, consider your relationship with our Heavenly Father.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous23/9/09 20:37

    Rebekah's Story...what does one do when the one they want to murder escapes?...my first thought it's not bad enough what happened in this family, now the concept of murder is entering the scene. Someone in this family should "put the brakes on" in this whole chain of events as they see the progression of events as they spiral down to new intensities of the diabolical ...right here Jer. 17:9 springs to mind. Where did all of this start? Adam and Eve had no idea what they started. The moment Eve put her mouth around that piece of fruit and chomped into it...nothing was ever the same ever again...in "the first family" it wasn't very long before murder was an issue...fast forward through time right through to today...our airwaves and newspapers are filled with this stuff...one might start thinking..."don't get mad, get even"...to the point of murder... very chilling thoughts...in the not too far future as the Lord tarries...will we be seeing "murder" and "normal" used in the same sentence?