Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Genesis 38:27-30 Breakout

"When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.  As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, 'This one came out first.'  But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, 'So this is how you have broken out!'  And he was named Perez.  Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out and he was given the name Zerah." (Genesis 38:27-30 NIV)


Twins seem to run in Jacob's family.  He himself was a twin.  Now his son Judah has fathered twin boys as well.  Having had several children of my own, I winced at the apparent gymnastics going on during the birth of Perez ('breaking out') and Zerah ('scarlet/brightness').  However, both boys were born safely.

Although Zerah was the first to put his hand out into the world, Perez was the first to emerge entirely from the womb.  Hence his name.  I guess that Perez would be considered the firstborn, but it sure looks like another instance in which the second-born son usurps the firstborn.  Perez will go on to become prominent in the clan of Judah; he is the ancestor of King David, and of Messiah Jesus.

This switching of prominence between a firstborn and a later son is an ongoing theme in Jacob's family line.

We have already been introduced to one of Jacob's favorite sons, Joseph.  About ten chapters ahead in the book of Genesis from now, when Jacob blesses Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob prophetically declares that Ephraim will be greater than Manasseh, even though Manasseh is the firstborn.

What's going on here?  One thing is clear.  In God's way of doing things, He calls the shots.  His will is done despite whether one is a firstborn, or a fourth son like Judah.  There are no obstacles (whether they are physical, cultural, or spiritual) which can stand in the way of the things which He has planned. 

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