Chapter 12 – Judith and Bashemath
Remember Esau, Jacob’s twin? He was the older brother who sold his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage. Foolish, foolish man. He didn’t marry well either; he waited until he was forty and then took two wives.
Genesis 26: 34 says “When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.” But the next verse is a shocker: “and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.”Why were his parents upset?
Here’s what I think. They wanted grandchildren, but children of Hittite women (Canaanites) would not be under the blessings of Abraham. They would be under the curse of Noah. Remember what grandpa Abraham had said to his servant when he sent him to find wives for his sons:
“And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell.”
I wonder if Esau didn't hear his mother Rebekah say (Gen. 27:46) 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."
Pretty strong words. Jacob didn't displease his mom by marrying a Hittite, but Esau did.
Judith and Bashemath must have had a rocky time of it, married to a fool. They changed their names. Judith means “praised” or “celebrated”, but in later verses we find her called Aholibamah (or Oholibamah) which means “my tabernacle is exalted”. Bashemath’s name means “sweet-smelling” or “fragrant”. She later is referred to as Adah which means “beautiful” and “ornament”.
Some scholars think that Judith may have been barren. However, Esau’s sons and grandsons are recorded through both Bashemath’s and Judith’s other names. I can't imagine the hard lives these women must have had - foolish husband (and he took at least one more wife, too), in-laws that hate you, and living in a new country with different customs.
Next Saturday – Leah