Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram. Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had. (Genesis 28:6-9)
As impetuous as he was, Esau did recognize that his father did not care for the women of the land he had married. He may even have determined that his marriages were the reason he had been denied the blessing of his father. The Bible doesn’t make clear whether or not Esau loved his father, but it is crystal clear that he did not seek to please him. As a matter of fact, instead of putting those wives away and correcting the situation, he traveled to Arabia and took yet another unsuitable wife in addition to the first two. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that by taking a wife from among Ishmael’s daughters, he effectively formed an alliance with Ishmael — an act that would affect Jacob’s descendants for centuries. Years later the Psalmist wrote:
“For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant – the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites.” (Psalm 83:5-6)
We know from the Scripture that Esau was a selfish person, always looking to satisfy his desires regardless of the cost. But we also see that he was belligerent in his opposition to do what was right in his father’s eyes and, by extension, in the eyes of God. While he was certainly the selfish person before losing the blessing, might it be that seeing Jacob obtain the blessing in his stead provoked him to this belligerence? Furthermore, it might also be that his hatred for Jacob and his desire to kill him drove him into his uncle Ishmael’s tents. In the end, Esau embraced a woman (Mahalath) whose name means “sickness” and is related to a word that means “curse.”
Selfishness is never a good trait to give into for it works against the idea that, as God’s people, we are to be servants. I would argue that the one who indulges his selfishness too long might become so enamored with himself that he defies anything that challenges him to change. In other words, like Esau, when confronted with the fact that they are wrong, the self indulgent person might double down and take their selfishness to the next level. The problem is that defiance against what is right will only lead to sickness, curses and ultimate destruction.
As followers of the Messiah we are to follow His example of selflessness and consideration of our fellow man. We are to willingly sacrifice on behalf of others in service to the Almighty because the call to holiness is a call to deny our self and follow Him.
Blessings and Shalom,