Monday, January 10, 2011

Feeling Sorry

I feel sorry for Esau.  He's a moron, no doubt about it, but the poor guy just can't seem to catch a break.  Now I don't have much sympathy for Esau selling his own birthright for a bowl of stew. That's just foolish, but if he would have returned from hunting five minutes earlier he wouldn't have lost his blessing.  And then in chapter 28 he learns that his father doesn't approve of Canaanite women.  This is a problem because Esau is already married to two of them.  He learns this because Isaac sends Esau's brother, Jacob, away to find a non-Canaanite wife.  Esau then marries a third wife, the daughter of his uncle (and yes, that would make her his first cousin.  His dad married his first cousin.  His brother was told to go marry his first cousin.  His grandfather married his half sister.  Things have changed in a few millennia).  Here's the thing.  Why didn't Isaac make it a point to tell Esau that before he married his wives?  I understand that cultural norms change over time, but apparently bad parenting is timeless.

Following the theme of feeling sorry...I feel sorry for Leah.  Her story just makes me sick.  She's taken advantage of by her father, who unlawfully gives her away as a bride.  As a side note, I was always told growing up that Leah was ugly.  If you read closely, the Bible never says that.  All it says is that she had delicate eyes.  I'd have to go to the Hebrew to double check this, but at least in English, delicate and ugly are two very different things.  The point of this part of the story isn't that Jacob doesn't love her because she's ugly.  Jacob doesn't love her because he's in love with her sister.  That's it.  Jacob isn't the shallow loser here.  He's as much of a victim as Leah is.  Laban is the bad guy in this story, Leah the powerless woman.

What really breaks my heart, however, is how desperately she wants Jacob to love her.  Did they get married for reasons we would value?  Certainly not, but she seems to care for him never-the-less.  With each child she bears (all sons up to this point in the story) she hopes that Jacob will finally value her.  He never does, and by the time she has her last son she names him Judah ( which means something like "Praise God").  At first glance it looks like she is thanking God, but flip the coin and we find something else.  She's giving up on her marriage.  "I might as well turn to God since my husband will never notice me," is what she seems to be saying.  Leah's story is a sad, sad story, and it's all because of a greedy father.  Once again, bad parenting is timeless.

Stopping point: Genesis 29

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