26 34When Esau was forty years old, he took to wife Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a bitter provocation to Isaac and Rebekah.
Isaac was also forty when he took Rebekah as wife. Esau the Hunter took an initiative that Isaac did not or could not. He did not wait for his father to arrange matters for him.
Chapter 26 has been a flashback to an earlier time in the life of Isaac and Rebekah. In its last two verses, we are returned to the story of Esau and Jacob, with a reminder of where the story was left hanging—Esau spurning his birthright. At the same time, these verses anticipate a later rift between Esau and his parents.
As with where the narrative left off, Esau’s marriages with the indigenous Hittites is evidence of his nonchalance regarding his Abrahamic heritage. Esau now has a leg up on a division between nations told at the birth of the twins.
Isaac and Abimelech have their continued differences in the context of a pact of no harm to the other. We will find their provocations and resolution paralleled with Esau and Jacob.
As an aside, we are always in medias res, in the middle of a story. What currently holds as irreconcilable differences may yet find a time of reconciliation or accommodation. Likewise, what currently appears to be resolved can be undone in a next moment or later change in context.
Readers are not being asked to judge which character is right or wrong. The task at hand is to periodically return from suspended disbelief and take another look at the Reader’s currently perceived reality and better engage it.
Without Esau, there is no story of Jacob. Without the unknowns of motionless, timeless dark, there is no creation story beginning with a breach of Light.