Genesis 28:6–9:

6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had. NIV, ©2011

Why did Esau only realize how much it bothered his parents then? They had evidently been quite angry about it for awhile, especially his mother.

Also, why the additional marriage? Why would that help, given that he was presumably still married to his Canaanite wives at that point?


I think that this is supposed to be an illustration of his character. He respects his parents only in a shallow way. Another such case is when Esau plans on killing Jacob as soon as his father dies (Genesis 27:41). He respects his father enough not to kill Jacob in his lifetime, but seemingly doesn't care that killing Jacob as soon as Isaac dies would also be against his wishes.

In the same way, Esau probably should have known that his parents didn't want him to marry a Canaanite wife. Apart from the fact that they told Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman, Abraham had also made sure that Isaac wouldn't marry a Canaanite woman (Genesis 24:3). When he finds out for certain that his parents don't want him to marry a Canaanite woman, he marries an additional wife instead of divorcing the wife his parents disapprove of, which is also a way to comply in a way with his parents' preference but without requiring him to restrain his own.

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