More Conflict With Esau and His Wives
When Esau was forty years old, he married two Hittites, Judith the daughter of Beeri, and Basemath the daughter of Elon. They made life miserable for Isaac and Rebecca.
Genesis 26:34-35 (GNT)
Isaac was at peace with his neighbors, but he had war at home. Esau was foolish in marrying two wives together, and still more in marrying Canaanites, strangers to the blessing of Abraham, and subject to the curse of Noah.
It grieved his parents that he married without their advice and consent. It grieved them that he married among those who had no religion. Children have little reason to expect God’s blessing that do that which is a grief of mind to good parents.
It is very likely that the wives taken by Esau were daughters of chiefs among the Hittites, and by this union he sought to increase and strengthen his secular power and influence.
It was not the marriage, though that was improper, but the persons; they, by their perverse and evil ways, brought bitterness into the hearts of Isaac and Rebekah. The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel, and that of Jerusalem, say they were addicted to idol worship, and rebelled against and would not listen to the instructions either of Isaac or Rebekah.
From Canaanites a different conduct could not be reasonably expected. Esau was far from being spiritual, and his wives were wholly carnal.
The same reflections which were suggested by Abraham’s conduct in denying his wife in Egypt and Gerar, will apply to that of Isaac; but the case of Isaac was much less excusable than that of Abraham. The latter told no falseness; he only through fear suppressed a part of the truth.
- A good man has a right to expect God’s blessing on his honest industry. Isaac sowed, and received a hundred-fold, and he had possession of flocks, etc., for the Lord blessed him. Worldly men, if they pray at all, ask for temporal things:
“What shall we eat? What shall we drink? And how shall we be clothed?”
Most of the truly religious people go into another extreme; they forget the body, and ask only for the soul! And yet there are “things required and necessary as well for the body as the soul,” and things, which are only at God’s disposal.
The body lives for the soul’s sake; its life and comfort are in many respects essentially necessary to the salvation of the soul; and therefore the things necessary for its support should be earnestly asked from the God of all grace, the Father of bounty and wisdom.
You have not because you ask not, may be said to many poor, afflicted religious people; and they are afraid to ask in case it should appear motivated only by money, or that they sought their portion in this life.
They should be better taught. Surely to none of these will God give a stone if they ask for bread: he who is so liberal of his heavenly blessings will not withhold earthly ones, which are of infinitely less consequence.
Reader, expect God’s blessing on your honest industry; pray for it, and believe that God does not love you less, who have taken refuge in the same hope, than he loved Isaac. Plead not only his promises, but plead on the examples he has set before you.
“Lord, you did so and so to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to others who trusted in You; bless my field, bless my flocks, prosper my labor, that I may be able to provide things honest in the sight of all men, and have something to dispense to those who are in want.”
And will not God hear such prayers?
Yes, and answer them too, for he does not willingly afflict the children of men. And we may rest assured that there is more affliction and poverty in the world than either the justice or providence of God requires.
There are, however, many who owe their poverty to their want of persistence and frugality; they sink down into laziness, and forget that word, Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; nor do they consider that by idleness a man is clothed with rags. Be diligent in business and fervent in spirit, and God will withhold from you no manner of thing that is good.
- From many examples we find that the wealth of the primitive inhabitants of the world did not consist in gold, silver, or precious stones, but principally in flocks of useful cattle, and the produce of the field.
With precious metals and precious stones they were not ignorant, and the former were sometimes used in purchases, as we have already seen in the case of Abraham buying a field from the children of Heth.
But the blessings, which God promises, are such as spring from the soil. Isaac sowed in the land, and had possessions of flocks and herds, and great store of servants, Genesis 26:12-14.
Commerce, by which nations and individuals so suddenly rise and as suddenly fall, had not been then invented; every man was obliged to acquire property by honest and persevering labor, or be destitute.
Lucky hits, fortunate speculations, and adventurous risks, could then have no place; the field must be tilled, the herds watched and fed, and the proper seasons for ploughing, sowing, reaping, and laying up, be carefully regarded and improved. No man, therefore, could grow rich by accident.
Isaac waxed great and went forward, and grew until he became very great, Genesis 26:13. Speculation was of no use, for it could have no object; and consequently many actions of provoking unlawful behavior to a dishonest or unscrupulous man and to idleness, that misery of the physical and moral health of the body and soul of man, could not show themselves.
Happy times! When every man wrought with his hands, and God particularly blessed his honest industry. As he had no luxuries, he had no unnatural and factitious wants, few diseases, and a long life.
But has not what is termed commerce produced the reverse of all this?
A few are risk-takers, and the many are comparatively slaves; and slaves, not to enrich themselves, (this is impossible), but to enrich the risk-takers and entrepreneurs by whom they are employed.
Even the farmers become, at least partially, commercial men; and the soil, the fruitful parent of natural wealth, is comparatively disregarded: the consequence is, that the misery of the many, and the luxury of the few, increase; and from both these spring, on the one hand, pride, disrespect, contempt of the poor, contempt of GOD’S holy word and commandments, with the long catalogue of crimes which proceed from pampered appetites and un-subdued passions: and on the other, murmuring, feeling dissatisfied and complaining, discontent, and often disobedience and rebellion, the most fell and most destructive of all the evils that can degrade and curse civil society.
Therefore wars, fighting, revolutions of states, and public disasters of all kinds. Bad as the world and the times are, men have made them much worse by their unnatural methods of providing for the support of life.
When shall men learn that even this is but a minor pursuit; and that the cultivator of the soul in the knowledge, love, and obedience of God, is essentially necessary, not only to future glory, but to present happiness?