Esau’s Wife Brought Grief to His Parents (Genesis 26:35)

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Ah, in-laws. Who doesn’t love them?

Family dynamics can be tricky, but when you bright other people into your already-existing family, it can sometimes make a mess. Personalities clash, values may not align, and before you know it, Thanksgiving dinner becomes an exercise in biting your tongue.

Not everyone was as fortunate as Isaac, though, to find a wife. He didn’t even really have to look; his father’s servant struck out and found a jewel relatively quick.

His sons, on the other hand, were not so lucky.

Jacob eventually found Rachel (after working 14 years for the right to marry her), but Esau married a woman from the Hittites named Judith.

The Hittites should be a familiar name to most avid Bible readers. They’re mentioned over 50 times in the Bible, the most notable example being Uriah the Hittite, who was formerly married to Bathsheba. 

For centuries, the Hittites were considered a myth, until recent archaeological discoveries affirmed that, yes, such a nation did in fact exist. 

The biggest issue with Esau marrying one of them has to do with lineage. Abraham married his half sister, Isaac married his cousin, and Jacob and Esau were likewise expected to “keep it in the family.” In a way, Esau’s marriage to Judith shows his departure from God Himself.

According to Genesis 26:35, Esau’s marriage caused “grief” to Isaac and Rebekah. Scholars have argued for centuries as to exactly why that is the case, with some ancient rabbis claiming that Judith was an idolatrous pagan. Not exactly the type of person you want to be associated with children of Abraham.

This marriage would eventually create the Edomite people, who remained a thorn in Israel’s side all the way up to their destruction prophesied in the book of Obadiah.

Why did Esau marry Judith? Did he already view himself as “lost” since he gave up his birthright? Did he have idolatrous/pagan leanings? Was he just simply attracted to her like Samson was with his Philistine women?

We’ll likely never know, but what we do see is the pain that this marriage caused his parents. For all we know, Isaac and Rebekah had labored hard in teaching their children about God. Isaac was the promised child, after all; if anyone could set an example for his sons, it would be the literal son of Abraham.

My kids are nowhere near marrying age, but I can already sniff at how much this act would have hurt Isaac. As 3 John says about Gaius, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in Truth.”

That’s what I want more than anything for my children, as I’m sure everyone reading this wants for theirs.

No matter your situation — single, married, parent, grandparent, etc — we all have the primary responsibility to help shape Godly values in our children. When the time comes, we can only pray that they’ll make a choice that will be based with an aim to Heaven first. 

It’s never too late to be this kind of influence, either. No matter if your kids are grown and out of the house, we can still be a force for good. It may be tougher for them to pursue God with a spouse that doesn’t care for God, but not impossible. 

Truthfully, in that type of situation, they’ll need our help more than ever.