Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Genesis 25:19-26 Twins, Nations, Conflict!

Abraham's son Isaac or rather, Isaac's sons, are the subject of the next section.  Now that the other sons of Abraham have been accounted for, the story turns to Isaac, the heir of the covenant.  Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel and sister of Laban. (v. 20)  His wife Rebekah, like his mother Sarah, was barren.  Isaac prayed for his wife, and the Lord answered his prayer:  Rebekah became pregnant. (v.21)

That all sounds so simple, doesn't it?  However, as we investigate further, we see that it took 20 years (!) for God to answer that prayer.  Isaac is 60 years old when his twin sons are born. (Genesis 25:26)  The text does not make a big deal about this fact, but I think it is interesting.  Just because God doesn't answer a prayer right away doesn't mean He won't ever answer it.  Perhaps, as in this case, it is just a matter of His timing that delays the answer.

Rebekah was surprised to notice that "The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, 'Why is this happening to me?'  So she went to inquire of the Lord." (Genesis 25:22 NIV)  It seems to me that a certain amount of 'jostling' is to be expected when one is pregnant, and, even though Rebekah is a first-time mother, it must have been quite a lot of jostling for her to have to inquire of the Lord about it.  In those days they did not have the technology we have now; there were no ultrasound pictures of the baby.  She probably did not realize that she was having twins until God told her about it:

"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger."
Genesis 25:23 NIV 

Already, before the babies are even born, we know that there will be some type of struggle between the two brothers.  We also know that two nations will come from the two boys.  In a strange reversal, the older one will serve the younger.  Twins, nations, conflict!  Rebekah's head must have been spinning from all this news.

Sure enough, "When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.  The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.  After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob.  Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them."  (Genesis 25:24-26 NIV)

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