“Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “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.”
– Genesis 27:46 (New International Version)
I chose this translation because of the way it highlighted the situation Rebekah found herself, after the brouhaha that left Esau robbed of his father’s blessings, and gifted same to Jacob in controversial circumstances. It isn’t stated whether the heat Rebekah was getting from Esau’s Hittite wives was a direct result of the blessing imbroglio, or because of Rebekah’s (as well as Isaac’s) refusal to accept the wives of Esau because he hadn’t married according to their wishes, or it was just their nature to be disrespectful to their mother-in-law or just about anybody for that matter, that must have informed the disappointment they both felt towards Esau when he took for himself, wives of the children of the Hittites, amongst whom they dwelt at the time. Isaac who was then blind, may not have felt the direct impact of the activities of these women, hence the need for Rebekah to inform him of happenings he couldn’t have been privy to by sight. She therefore had genuine fears, like every mother would when she finds her relationship with her daughter in-law thawed, that should the same repeat itself with Jacob, her life “… will not be worth living”.
Recall, that I had earlier mentioned, that amongst the reasons why Esau lost the blessings meant for him by his father, was his marrying of Hittite women, at a time YAHWEH had plans to raise a generation of people that will be true to him, and in those early days, as is the case many times today, where the choice of whom to marry mattered so much, and I gave a few examples, including Solomon who was led astray by his wives in the end. I understand that today, there are other considerations that are deemed more important than those that guided choices, as with Abraham, Isaac and now with Esau’s that went South, which includes compatibility amongst the couples regardless of where they hail from, others being particular about not allowing the mixing of ethnicities, races (of which I’m aware some sects detest and preach against), from abstracts like love, to the mundane like money and the capacity to manage a family, sex and the ability of the man to satisfy the woman sexually, with the ability of both to be “fertile” enough to conceive and carry pregnancies to term, then physical appearance and the likes. I must confess that I did not, in making my choice for marriage, consider those things chiefly, that made Abraham the right candidate for YAHWEH’s plan, though my attention was brought to it certainly and I kept it to heart, and considered that if I were Esau I could still raise children with Hittite women who would still be as much children of the promise, as the children of Jacob. “For who knows what is good for a man in his life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 6:12) is where I find consolation.
In the case of the lineage of Abraham, and the bearers of the promise, only one thing sufficed, as I’d mentioned in earlier installments, and that is, the reason why Abraham was chosen in the first place, and I’ll simply reproduce that here. In Genesis 18:19, listen to what YAHWEH says of Abraham, “For I have known him (as THE ONE who knows everyone’s end from their beginnings), to the end that he may command his children and his household after him…”; did you see that? He chose Abraham because he knows he’d “command his children, and household after him” (my late father was just that), no other condition, but then what was he to command them to do? ➡ “…that they may keep the way of YAHWEH, to do righteousness and justice…”, that may be difficult if such a person were not of the same belief or faith, as the one holding the promise. I have also heard believers use the refrain, “Be not equally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity” (2 Corinthians 6:14), and based on that many potential relationships were never explored, but Abraham, Isaac and then an intending Jacob, whose parents Isaac and Rebekah forbade from following the footsteps of Esau, weren’t or didn’t get so called “believers” for wives, rather women who were reasonable and possibly malleable, as well as amenable to accepting new ways, which overtly exposed Hittite women were not at the time.
It was pertinent at the time that these men married women who can learn these ways, and help the men teach same to their children, which was how Ishmael, the son of Hagar by Abraham, as well as other sons of Abraham from Keturah, and Esau were caught off of that blessing reserved for THE ONE of each generation at that time, till that “… end that YAHWEH may bring upon Abraham that which he had spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19), upon his children who will be “… as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore…” (Genesis 22:17). As proof that YAHWEH was right in selecting Abraham, Isaac and now Jacob to fulfill his objectives, over the Abraham, Ishmael, to Esau line (for instance, in the absence of a worthy Ishmael heir), by the time the children of Jacob (Israel) were in the wilderness, on their way to Canaan (a land flowing with milk and honey) after liberation from Egypt (land of bondage), many years later, fathers were teaching their children “The Shema” ➡ “Hear, O Israel: YAHWEH is our Elohim, YAHWEH is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4) which Jewish families say during prayers in the mornings and evenings, to this day, and by extension, “… and you shall love YAHWEH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I (Moses) command you this day, shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children (the reason YAHWEH chose the Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob connection initially, and would add Judah much later), and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down (imagine that as bedtime stories to your children), and when you rise up…” (v.5-7).
But this might not have been possible had Rebekah not done the needful by appealing to Isaac to prevail upon Jacob, not to follow in his brother Esau’s footsteps. In Genesis 28 verse 1, it is recorded that “… Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him (either because he’d gotten over the disappointment of not passing the much sought after blessing to his favoured son, Esau or he’d discovered his folly of attempting to go against YAHWEH’s will by blessing Esau, but failed), and charged him, and said unto him, ‘You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. ² Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take you a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother” (in keeping with Abraham’s directive to his servant back when Isaac was old enough to marry). To show that the blessing had connections with the marriage choice, Isaac continued by saying, “AND (the connection between the command ⬆and the blessing ➡) El Shaddai (ALMIGHTY) bless you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, that you may be a company of peoples; ⁴and give you the blessing of Abraham (see? The blessing of Abraham, consequent on certain demands on Jacob, one of which was marital, amongst others), to you, and to your seed with you; that you may inherit the land of your sojournings, which YAHWEH gave unto Abraham”. Need I say more?
– Genesis Chapter 27 Verse 46 & Genesis 28 verses 1 – 4, THE SACRED SCRIPTURES (Bethel Edition), An Assemblies of Yahweh ®, Publication, © 1981 (Fourth Printing, 1993).