Last month, I wrote about the women of infertility in the Bible. As I was studying these women, other stories happened along the way that I couldn’t really fit into the series. So, I thought I would share them with you this month.
The first one I want to share you with is during the time of Rachel and Leah. Actually, it came before they were in the picture, but it was key in bringing Jacob to Laban’s house in the first place.
So, the basic childhood story is that Jacob and Esau were twins of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau came out first and Jacob came out holding Esau’s heel. Esau was a red, hairy hunter and Isaac’s favorite. Jacob was a quiet homebody and Rebekah’s favorite.
Esau made brash decisions. When he was coming in from a hunting trip one time, he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Not the most discerning man, to be sure. Later, Jacob steals Esau’s blessing by dressing up as Esau and tricking his blind father. When Esau finds out, he says that he’ll wait until Isaac dies, and then he’s going to kill his brother.
But something happens between these two events that show how Esau’s decisions affect Jacob’s life, as well as basically the rest of the story of the Patriarchs. In Genesis 26:34-35 it says:
When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
I laughed out loud when I read those two verses. The stereotype of not getting along with in-laws was even recorded in the very first book of the Bible! These women grieved Esau’s parents. But wait, there’s more.
So, right after this is when Jacob steals Esau’s blessing, and Esau vows to murder his brother. Rebekah finds out about this death threat and tells Jacob he has to flee to her brother’s house for safety. But Jacob can’t just disappear from the family. It would be noticeable to Isaac, even if he was blind. So, Rebekah tells Isaac in Genesis 27:46:
“I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”
Not worth living. Of course, she is referring to Esau’s wives. And in the next verse, Isaac calls Jacob and tells him to go to Laban’s house to find a wife. Isaac doesn’t disagree with Rebekah. He doesn’t want another Hittite woman in the family, after their experience with Esau’s two wives.
When Esau hears the reason that Jacob was sent away, in Genesis 28:8 it says that “Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Issac.” Only then he realizes? Wow. But he then chooses to make this better by marrying a daughter of Ishmael, Isaac’s half-brother. It doesn’t give any detail how this third wife was received, though. I hope it was better. When Jacob returns from his wife search/self-imposed exile, Esau has forgiven him and embraces him and his family. Maybe it was time, or maybe it was this third wife, who knows.
However, it was through these decisions that Jacob meets Rachel and Leah, and eventually, he goes on to have his twelve sons, who become the twelve tribes of Israel. It’s amazing and comforting that God’s will and plan work out the way it’s intended no matter how crazy or brash the decisions people make. It makes me excited to see where the many twists and turns, despite my own crazy decisions, will take me on this journey.