The Wet Backside

Genesis 28:8–9 “Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and took…the daughter of Ishmael…to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.”

Observation: This odd passage about Esau is tucked into the midst of a passage in which Isaac, Esau’s father, is instructing Jacob, who is Esau’s brother, in the matter of finding a wife. Isaac blessed Jacob, and then warned him not to take a wife from among the daughters of Canaan. Instead, Jacob was told to go back to the land of his mother Rachel and to find a wife there among the daughters of Rachel’s brother Laban. Esau watched all this. He saw that Jacob “had obeyed his father and his mother” (v. 7); and he “saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father” (v. 8); so he “went to Ishmael” (v. 9) and took one of Ishmael’s daughters as his wife.

Application: If ever there was a case of obeying the letter of the law while purposefully violating its intent, surely this would qualify. We already know from Genesis 26:34 that Esau had two other pagan wives…Hittite women…who “…were a grief to Isaac and Rebekah.” In the next chapter Esau had the temerity to seek blessing from his father, which Isaac declined to give (Gen. 27:36-38). So now, as Jacob prepares to find a wife within the permissible will of his father, Esau, angry and rejected, chooses a path he knows full well will be hurtful to his father. Ishmael may indeed be Abraham’s son, but his daughter can no more be a fount of righteousness and blessing than the Hittite women she would join in Esau’s harem.

What could Esau have been thinking? To violate so basic a tenant as this, set forth by Isaac, yet to then take offense when Isaac’s blessing was applied to another’s head…surely Isaac’s laying of hands upon Jacob and his warmly spoken words of blessing over Jacob must have stung deeply. Indeed, Esau “lifted up his voice and wept.” (Gen. 27:38).

I must ask myself: when have I been as Esau was? When have I knowingly violated God’s instruction, His clearly expressed principles, yet wailed in rejection when things didn’t work out as I might have hoped? Was it in skirting His principles of righteousness in business, only to mourn when things didn’t go well? Was it in some violation of a trusted relationship to nurse my wounds, only to find myself bereft of the relationship some time later? Sometimes the consequences of such a rebellious heart are painful indeed. I still remember the hot Kansas afternoon some sixty years ago when an elderly aunt made it very clear as she trimmed the hedge that I’d better not spray her with the hose I was wielding. So instead, I aimed it into the Kansas wind, knowing full well that the wind…not I…would be responsible for wetting her backside. Her resulting punishment was not exacted against the wind!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for those times when I have consciously participated with the enemy’s schemes simply to have my own way. Nursing wounds, whether real or imagined, I have acted or spoken in rebellion. I ask that You would cover those situations with Your shed blood, dear Lord, and draw me constantly into the active pursuit of Your favor and blessing. In Your name…Amen.

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