Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Esau’s Three Wives - Genesis 36:1-3

Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan:
Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and
Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; also
Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth.

Here the Bible makes this portion of the family tree very clear for us. Esau is also known as Edom. The word is translated “red”. He was called that in Genesis 25:30 when he was famished and asked his brother Jacob for some ‘red’ pottage.

As can be seen from the rest of the text, his Edomites multiply through his three wives from various backgrounds. The first was a daughter of a Hittite. We first heard of the Hittites, when Ephron the Hittite agreed to sell Abraham a burial place for his wife Sarah in Genesis 23.

Esau’s second wife was a Hivite. We first hear of the Hivites in Genesis 10 where the generations of Noah are recorded. There in verse 17 we learn that the Hivites were descendants of Ham, Noah’s second son.

Esau’s third wife was none other than Ishmael’s daughter. In the King James Version her name is given as Bashemath. Ishmael you will remember was his grandfather Abraham’s eldest son, borne to him by Sarah’s handmaiden, Hagar. Muslims today believe that Ishmael is indeed the child of promise and it was Ishmael that was going to be sacrificed by Abraham, not Isaac, according to them. Needless to say, Islamic traditions see Ishmael as the father of Arab people. His descendants in this branch of Abraham’s family tree are today’s Muslims.

With this background, we can follow the generations that came after Esau, as we will see in verses that follow.

What’s your family tree look like? Have your relatives been part of a major world movement, perhaps one you haven’t identified yet? It is worth taking a look at our history. The development of Abraham’s family tree went on to create a major split that has lasted for centuries, more notably since the end of the 19th century, between Jews and Arabs. That conflict today monopolizes much of the world political scene. It certainly is central to how Christians view the second coming of Christ. Many believe that all the political talk by all the parties involved means nothing and the only thing that matters in this issue is what God has planned and will carry out in His own time. Those of us that follow the situation in the Middle East would do well to follow it with eyes wide open, looking through the third lens of scripture, especially as outlined in Ezekiel 38 and 39.

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