The birth of Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:19-25:28)

“These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son.  Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean.  Isaac prayed to Yahweh for his wife, because she was barren.  Yahweh granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived.  The children struggled together within her.   She said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’  So she went to inquire of Yahweh.  And Yahweh said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you, shall be divided. The one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.’”  

Isaac, son of Abraham, was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel. Bethuel lived in Haran, but in the priestly late tradition it is called Paddan-aram.  Rebekah, who was barren, prayed to Yahweh.  She then conceived twins who struggled in the womb.  She wanted to die, but Yahweh told her that two nations and two peoples  were to come from her womb.  One would be stronger and the elder would serve the younger.  Once again there is a prophesy while the children are still in the womb.

“When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.  The first came out red, all over his body like a hairy mantle.  So they named him  Esau.  Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel.  So he was named Jacob.  Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.”

The birth of the twins took place when Isaac was 60 years old after 20 years of marriage.  The first to come out of the womb was red with a hairy covering named Esau.  The second child, Jacob, came out of the womb grasping the heel of Esau.  

“When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents.  Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game.  But Rebekah loved Jacob.”

As the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, whom Isaac loved, while Jacob was quiet and loved by his mother Rebekah.  This shows the two rival ways of life, the hunter and the shepherd/farmer.  Once again, there will be a contrast in life styles and preferences.

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