I.

Birth

 

Genesis 25:20–26

The account of Jacob in the Bible begins by recording his birth and some events associated with his birth. His birth and the problems that occurred in his mother’s womb before his birth were most unusual. Jacob was born a twin, but he certainly was different than his twin brother Esau. His appearance was different, and he was just the opposite in personality. Also he was much different in spiritual perception, spiritual interests, spiritual influence, and soul destiny. Jacob, unlike his twin Esau, had the mark of God upon him from his birth, for he was in that special line through which Jesus Christ would come. Also his sons were the beginning of the twelve tribes of Israel. Though especially blessed by God in many areas, Jacob often did not live a life of honor that would have been fitting for one with such great blessings from God. Rather, his life often reflected the evil scheming and conniving of the world, and this fact is even reflected in his birth.

To study the birth of Jacob and the recorded events which accompanied it, we will consider the difficulties before the birth (vv. 21, 22), the declaration about the birth (v. 23), and the details of the birth (vv. 24–26).

A. THE DIFFICULTIES BEFORE THE BIRTH

Two very significant and troubling difficulties preceded the birth of Jacob and his twin brother Esau. Both difficulties involved the womb of their mother Rebekah. They concerned the barrenness of her womb and the battle in her womb.

1. The Barrenness in Rebekah’s Womb

"Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren" (v. 21). Jacob’s mother was deprived of children by barrenness for twenty years before Jacob was born (cp. v. 20 with v. 26). To examine this problem of Rebekah’s barrenness, we note the pain in the problem, the prayer about the problem, and the profit from the problem.

The pain in the problem. Isaac and Rebekah wanted children. This is a noble desire—abortion and day care centers and the feminist movement notwithstanding. Therefore, this barrenness was a very painful experience for both Isaac and Rebekah. We can see this pain clearly in the taunting of barrenness and the testing from barrenness.

First, the taunting of barrenness. Barrenness was in those days a great reproach upon a couple, especially upon the wife. This painful reproach is not appreciated in our day, of course; for to many folk in our day having children seems to be more of a burden than a blessing and more of a problem than a privilege. Abortion and the feminist movement certainly do not heap any reproach upon a childless woman. To the contrary, they discourage having children. But in the days of Isaac and Rebekah it was a very painful experience for a woman to be barren. Those who were barren were subject to the cruel taunts of people. Many folk felt that the barren woman was under the curse of God, that she had committed some great sin, and that barrenness was the punishment for her sin. A Jewish woman had an added pain in barrenness in the fact that it would shut her out from bearing the promised Messiah. Barrenness, therefore, was not a small problem. It was a big problem, and we can easily see why it prompted Isaac to pray.

Second, the testing from barrenness. Another painful experience from the barrenness was that it was a very rugged test for the faith of Isaac and Rebekah. God had promised Isaac that the promised seed (Christ the Messiah) would come through him (Genesis 21:12). But barrenness mocked the promise and hence faith in the promise. Furthermore, the barrenness mocked the faith-inspired noble conduct of Rebekah in becoming Isaac’s wife. She had stepped out in faith to leave the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia (Genesis 24:10) and come to Canaan to be Isaac’s wife. She had given up her own home and loved ones—which she never saw again—to be Isaac’s wife. But barrenness mocked her obedience to God’s call.

How often faith is tested by the failure of results. "Though the accomplishment of God’s promise is always sure, yet it is often slow, and seems to be crossed and contradicted by Providence" (Henry). Truth is often barren of converts much longer than error. Hence cults often thrive while Bible-believing churches stay small. Evangelism efforts which join hands with apostates and employ worldly means report thousands of results while those who proclaim the Gospel of Christ according to the Word of God often seem to have very few converts. Businesses that operate by crooked means have many sales while the honest business has few sales. Promotions are given to the dishonest and defiled while the godly remain in lowly positions. Ishmael, Isaac’s half-brother, had many children before Isaac had any children. The descendents of wicked Esau, the man of the world, had many kings before the descendents of Jacob, the man of God’s choice, had kings (Genesis 36:31). All of this really tests our faith. But faith needs to be tested to help it grow. Just as muscles need to be exercised by weight lifting and hard work to make them grow stronger, so faith must be tested by heavy trials to help it grow stronger.

Rebekah was not the only woman of note in the Scripture to experience this test of barrenness. Other famous women in the Bible also had the same experience. The mothers of Isaac, Joseph, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist were all tested by lengthy times of barrenness before these notable men of Israel were born to them. But better to wait a long time and have a special blessing than get it quick and not be anything special.

The prayer about the problem. "Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren" (v. 21). The barrenness of Rebekah drove Isaac to prayer. To learn some helpful lessons from this prayer, we will note the deportment of his prayer, the direction of his prayer, the dedication in his prayer, and the dividends of his prayer.

First, the deportment of his prayer. Isaac’s response to the problem of his wife’s barrenness was to pray. This was much better deportment under the stress of barrenness than that of his father Abraham. When Abraham was confronted with the barrenness of Sarah, his deportment was to have a child by an unholy relationship with Hagar. Abraham should have prayed instead, for prayer promotes good deportment. Prayer needs more prominence in our lives when trials and difficulties confront us; for too often when barrenness or some other difficulty is our experience in our life, we resort to unholy schemes, such as a Hagar method, when we ought to get on our knees and pray instead. In many churches today, promotion has replaced a lot of earnest praying. The old-timers used to pray earnestly, but churches in our time engage in worldly promotional schemes instead. This helps to explain the great increase of carnality in our churches. If we want better churches, we need to emphasize prayer more, not promotion.

Second, the direction of his prayer. "And Isaac intreated the Lord" (v. 21). Isaac prayed to Jehovah-God. Praying to God is the direction all our prayers should go. Since "children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalm 127:3), it only makes sense to seek God if we want children. How seldom do men seek the Lord in time of need, however. In seems we are prone to tell everybody about our trouble and needs except God. But "in the midst of perplexity it is not wise or well to be too much occupied in telling others of our troubles. Our wisdom and comfort will be found in telling the Lord himself" (Thomas).

Third, the dedication in his prayer. Isaac was very dedicated in his praying about Rebekah’s barrenness. This is seen in both the time he prayed about the problem and in the term used to describe his praying about the problem.

The time which Isaac prayed before Rebekah’s barrenness ended was many years. She was married to Isaac when he was forty (v. 20), and Jacob and Esau were not born until Isaac was sixty (v. 26). Thus Rebekah was barren for some nineteen years before she became pregnant with Jacob and Esau. Isaac, of course, did not pray all nineteen years; but he had to pray many of those years—enough years to require great dedication.

The dedication of our praying will often be seen in how long we continue to pray about some need or problem. Scripture says, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1). But most of us have fainting spells long before we have prayed at length about anything. We give up quickly and quit praying about our needs and problems. This shows poor dedication in praying. However, if you want good results in prayer, you must be dedicated in praying. You may have to pray many years before God answers your request.

The term which Scripture uses to describe Isaac’s prayer is "intreated" (v. 21). "The word ["intreated"] here used for prayer is by many thought to mean frequent and repeated prayer" (F. C. Cook). In the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew lexicon, we are told that the meaning of "intreat" involves "slaughter for sacrifice" which suggests that Isaac offered sacrifices when he was praying. The word comes from a root involving burning incense (Wilson, Strong). Burning incense is sometimes associated with prayers in the Bible in that the smoke of the burning incense represents our prayers ascending to heaven. Also the burning aspect reflects passion in our prayers. So the term used here to describe Isaac’s prayer indicates that this was no casual praying by Isaac. It reflected dedication in his praying, a dedication we all need when praying.

Fourth, the dividends of his prayer. "The Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived" (v. 21). It pays to pray. The dividends of prayer are very great. Dedicated prayer does indeed change things. Isaac’s praying resulted in the ending of Rebekah’s barrenness. And note that she became pregnant with two, not just one. This reflects how God blesses abundantly. How often God does "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). The dividends of prayer are such that it ought to encourage us to pray a lot more than we do. Yet, we seem to prefer spending our time doing many other things instead which do not produce dividends of great value.

The profit from the problem. The trial of barrenness of the womb was not a trial barren of worth. It was a profitable trial. It was profitable in that it taught some valuable lessons. We note three of those lessons here. They concern the praying of man, the power of God, and the prizing of blessing.

First, the praying of man. Rebekah’s barrenness drove Isaac to prayer as we have just seen. Sometimes God has to bring hardship into our life to get us to pray. Scripture exhorts us to pray. But when we do not pray, God often works through trials in our life to get us to pray. Prosperity does not produce great prayers like problems do. Prosperity too often diminishes our praying, but problems often increase our praying. If your problems drive you to prayer, they will prove to be a bigger blessing than a burden. Problems can be a help to every facet of our spiritual life. Earlier we noted that this barrenness provided opportunity for the faith of Isaac and Rebekah to be strengthened. Here we note that Rebekah’s barrenness also provided opportunity for Isaac’s prayer life to be strengthened.

Second, the power of God. This barrenness provided an opportunity for God to display His glorious power. God’s power is best displayed against a background of man’s weakness and inability. In this particular case, God again showed (as He showed in the birth of Isaac) that the coming of Christ into the world (through the line of Jacob as it was through Isaac) was not a result of natural means but of supernatural means. It was not a result of man’s ability but of God’s power. The coming of Christ by the power of God is inseparably related to our salvation. It is all of God’s power and grace, not of man’s works. So in this barrenness of Rebekah, because it was associated with the coming of Christ, we have another illustration in Scripture which instructs us regarding the fact that salvation is not of man but of God. "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).

Third, the prizing of blessing. The long wait for a child would help Isaac and Rebekah value the blessing of a child more. God does not want us to treat our blessings lightly. He wants us to value them highly. That explains why many blessings are not given to us for some length of time. They are not given to us until we have demonstrated that we value the blessing properly. You do not give a small child a hundred-dollar bill; for he does not know its value and would, therefore, not take proper care of it—the small child may, in fact, ruin it by chewing it up. Before you give a child a hundred-dollar bill, you wait until the child is old enough to know something about the value of the hundred-dollar bill. So it is with God’s blessing—and we can be glad. If God gave us some blessings before we valued them properly, we would lose them much to our regret and sorrow later on. Therefore, any trial which helps us to better value our blessings is a trial which has profited us greatly.

2. The Battle in Rebekah’s Womb

Though the barrenness problem ended with the pregnancy of Rebekah, another problem arose which also was related to the birth of Jacob. This problem was big disturbance—a battle—in Rebekah’s womb. "The children struggled together within her" (v. 22). To examine the battle which occurred in the womb of Rebekah, we note the particulars of the battle, the portrayals in the battle, the perplexity about the battle, and the praying about the battle.

The particulars of the battle. The words "struggled together" in verse 22 come from one Hebrew word which according to Thomas Whitelaw in The Pulpit Commentary "is expressive of a violent internal commotion, as if the unborn children had been dashing against one another in her womb.’’ Wilson defines the word as "to break; to oppress; to dash one another’’; and Brown says, "The children crushed (thrust, struck) one another within her." Some Bible scholars and some Bible translations use the word "jostled" rather than "struggled," but "jostled" would hardly cause Rebekah to be upset enough to urgently seek God about what was going on in her womb and what it all meant. This was no small disturbance in Rebekah’s womb. There was a serious battle going on in the womb. Evil does not wait around to fight the cause of Christ (represented by Jacob) but commences fighting quickly. Would that we would fight evil as promptly.

The portrayals in the battle. This struggle between Jacob and Esau in the womb portrays many struggles in our world. It portrays the struggle that went on between Jacob and Esau in their lives which has also occurred between their descendents down through the millenniums—a struggle which is still causing many battles in the Middle East today. It portrays the struggle between the serpent and the seed of the woman. It portrays the opposition the devil puts up against God’s people and work. It portrays the conflict between the two natures in the believers. It portrays the great struggle between good and evil, between God and Satan—a struggle that is behind all the wars and crime and bloody violence in our world. There is a constant battle between sin and righteousness. And this conflict is portrayed in the disturbance that occurred in Rebekah’s womb.

The perplexity about the battle. "If it be so, why am I thus?" (v. 22). Rebekah experienced what many of God’s people often experience, namely, perplexity about the troubles that enter one’s life. Rebekah did not understand why the disturbance was occurring in her womb. In her case she experienced the puzzle of a blessing seemingly being a curse instead. Much prayer had gone up to God to end her barrenness, and God had wonderfully answered the prayers about her barrenness and blessed her with conception. But great problems now accompanied the blessing and this perplexes.

Not infrequently God’s blessings are accompanied with great problems. Though this perplexes us, God has good reasons for this, of course. We note two significant reasons from Scripture why problems accompany our blessings. These problems are to inhibit our pride and increase our blessing.

First, inhibit pride. "Great mercies are often accompanied by great discomforts to prevent gracious souls from resting in the gifts and neglecting the Giver" (Whitelaw). The Apostle Paul addressed this problem when writing to the Corinthians. He had been given great blessings of Divine revelation (2 Corinthians 12:1–6), but then added, "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure" (2 Corinthians 12:7). We have a tendency to become proud when God blesses us. Problems do much to curb pride.

Second, increase blessing. As we will note more about later from Scripture, the problem of the disturbance in Rebekah’s womb led to her being given a Divine prophecy about Jacob and Esau (v. 23). Anytime we are illuminated by the Word of God, we have been given a great blessing. This illumination blessing given to Rebekah illustrates how our troubles in time of blessing are the means to more blessing. Let this truth encourage you if your blessings are accompanied with perplexity problems.

The praying about the battle. "She said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord" (v. 22). Rebekah had a good example in her husband Isaac about what to do in time of trouble. Isaac had taken the problem of barrenness to the Lord, and now Rebekah takes her troubles of the battle in her womb to God. Rebekah’s praying is instructive. We note this fact in the promptness of her prayer, the person for her prayer, and the product of her prayer.

First, the promptness of her prayer. Our text indicates that when the children struggled within her, she promptly went to the Lord in prayer. She was not slow to pray as so many folk are. Delay would have prolonged her distress and her perplexity. As the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" says, "O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer." The longer we delay praying, the longer we will be troubled.

Second, the person for her prayer. As it was with Isaac, so it was with Rebekah, she went to Jehovah in prayer. She did not go to some heathen idol. She went to the One Who had ended her barrenness. She went to the right person in prayer. God is the best help in time of trouble. It is not necessarily wrong to also seek help from other legitimate sources, but neglecting the source of greatest help is great folly.

Third, the product of her prayer. "And the Lord said unto her" (v. 23). In our next main point in this study, we will deal at length with what God said to Rebekah. Here we simply note the fact of God responding to Rebekah’s prayer by illuminating her regarding her problem. In this we learn the valuable lesson that prayer enlightens the one who prays. Much spiritual ignorance is a result of prayerlessness, not a result of a lack of the education. Some bemoan the fact that they were not able to attend a Christian college and so excuse their spiritual ignorance on that fact. However, the excuse is a faulty one; for the man who truly prays will be the man who will be invested by God with much spiritual knowledge. We do not negate attending a Christian college but do encourage young people to attend a good Christian college. However, what we want to emphasize here is that prayerlessness can promote ignorance in spiritual matters regardless of how much college you have had, and that faithful praying can result in much spiritual knowledge regardless of how little formal training you have had. You do not need to sit in the dark all your life when you can pray. Many perplexities in life will be solved through godly supplication of the Almighty.

B. THE DECLARATION ABOUT THE BIRTH

Rebekah’s prayer was wonderfully answered. The answer was a prophetic declaration concerning the birth of Jacob and Esau and the future of their lives after their birth. To examine this declaration which was especially blessed for Jacob, we will look at the encouragement in the declaration, the enlightenment in the declaration, and the evading of the declaration.

1. The Encouragement in the Declaration

"And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels" (v. 23). Three encouragements are in this first part of the declaration from God about the situation in Rebekah’s womb. They are the notice of the birth, the number in the birth, and the nations in the birth. These encouragements remind us of one of the great blessings of prayer—prayer brings encouragements. Prayerlessness, however, fosters discouragement.

The notice of the birth. This declaration said Rebekah would give birth from this pregnancy. That would be a great encouragement to Rebekah. The disturbances in the womb would cause much concern about whether or not she would give birth successfully. Any woman who has ever experienced a pregnancy understands this concern which is great. However, Rebekah’s fears about her pregnancy not going on to maturity or fears about her own physical well-being were laid to rest by God’s encouraging declaration that she would give birth successfully.

The number in the birth. The declaration informed Rebekah that she would have twins. This would also bring encouragement, for an abundance of children were desired in those days. The Psalmist says, "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" (Psalm 127:4,5). Abortionists, governments of our day, planned-parenthood, and other institutions and organizations and movements of like mind have yet to learn about this truth. Producing children should be done responsibly, of course; but the typical attitude of our day about children does not correspond to that of Scripture.

The nations in the birth. God’s declaration said the two born to Rebekah would become two nations.-This also would encourage much, for it said Rebekah not only would give birth, but the two born to her would also live to reproduce. Rebekah would have grandchildren, for there could be no nation from her offspring unless her offspring lived to reproduce. Parents are especially anxious about the life of their child. To know that the child will live to reproduce will bring rejoicing to any parent.

2. The Enlightenment in the Declaration

The prophetic declaration given to Rebekah by God gave some enlightening details about the two boys born to Rebekah. They concern their separation, their strength, and their status.

Their separation. "Two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels" (v. 23). This separation speaks of the hostility that will prevail between the boys and their descendents. While the word "separated" appears to refer primarily to the action of birth, it refers more to the boys’ hostile relationship with each other rather than to the boys being separated from the womb. Keil translates it, "proceeding from the womb, are separated." Whitelaw says that the separation refers to the fact that "they shall be divided from and against each other." The phrase "two manner of people" suggests that fact even if "separation" did not. The history of the boys and their descendents verifies the hostility. That hostility is still going on today.

Their strength. "One people shall be stronger than the other people" (v. 23). The descendents of Jacob and Esau were not equal in political strength. The domination of the nation of Israel (Jacob’s descendents) over the Edomites (Esau’s descendents) was especially evident in David’s time (2 Samuel 8:14) and was also evident in the time of King Uzziah (Amaziah) as recorded in 2 Chronicles 25:11,12. The ultimate fulfillment of this prediction will occur when Jesus Christ comes to be Israel’s King and rules from Jerusalem during the Millennium.

Their status. "The elder shall serve the younger" (v. 23). This prediction meant that the usual status among men would not be followed in this case. Normally, the superior honor went to the firstborn. But not here. As we will learn in future studies, Jacob, who was born after Esau, was the one given the birthright honor which had as its chief honor the honor of being in the line of Jesus Christ. This reversal of order in status reminds us that God does not always honor in the way man does. When David was anointed king by Samuel, this fact was especially emphasized. God told Samuel, "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). We need to evaluate as God evaluates and honor what God honors. But to do this, we will have to forsake the world’s way of evaluating and honoring.

3. The Evading of the Declaration

This declaration said plainly that Jacob was to have the favored position in the family. He was to be given the birthright. Yet, many years later when Isaac wanted to make the formal bestowal of the patriarchal birthright blessing upon one of the boys, he ignored the decree of God about Jacob’s position and tried to clandestinely give Esau the chief blessing. This evasive action regarding the declaration of God about Jacob being given the chief blessing caused great trouble in that home as we will see in a future study. Anytime we ignore God’s decrees, we will cause much trouble. Isaac knew who the birthright blessing belonged to and later said so (Genesis 27:33). So in his attempt to give the birthright blessing to Esau, Isaac was simply being rebellious to the declaration of God about who was to be the honored one of the two boys.

C. THE DETAILS OF THE BIRTH

The birth of Jacob and Esau would be a great event in the household of Isaac and Rebekah especially after they had waited twenty years for children. When the time came for the delivery, there would be much activity in the household among the servants and any others involved and assisting in the delivery. But the birth of these twins was much more significant in regards to the history of the world and God’s work than anyone involved with the delivery could possible have realized that day. To examine our text (vv. 24–26) about this delivery, we will look at three details of it. They concern the affirmation of the prophecy, the assignment of the names, and the age of the Father.

1. The Affirmation of the Prophecy

"When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb" (v. 24). God had promised; now God begins to fulfill His promise. When Rebekah experienced the great disturbance in her womb during her pregnancy, God had informed her that she would give birth. And God kept His promise. God also promised some other things related to the two babes in her womb, and the fulfillment of the promise of their birth was an affirmation that these other promises would also be fulfilled. Rebekah learned that God keeps His promises. God is still keeping His promises. His promises of blessing and also of judgment will be fulfilled. What God says will occur! Those who persist in despising God’s Word and mocking its reliability and credibility will learn the hard way how wrong they were.

2. The Assignment of the Names

The names assigned to the two boys which Rebekah delivered had to do with some abnormal features regarding their birth. As such, the names of Esau and Jacob did not have high and holy meaning. Isaac and Rebekah were not very good at naming their children. As we will see in the meaning of the names, they were not noble names. No wonder God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. It would be good if God changed a lot of names that are given to children today. One wonders why some parents put a lifelong curse and heavy burden upon their children by giving them paltry names. When you give your children something they must carry with them their entire life, make it noble, honorable, meaningful, and pleasant.

The name Esau. "And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau" (v. 25). The abnormal features in Esau’s birth had to do with his appearance. Our text informs us that his appearance at birth was abnormal in two ways—in his color and in his covering.

First, his color. Esau was exceptionally red at birth. Our text can be understood to mean that his skin was red or that the redness was in the covering of hair (a reddish-brown hair like our red heads today). Later in Esau’s life, he was given the name Edom (Genesis 25:30), which means red. The name was given to him because of his desire for the pottage Jacob had made. The pottage was red and Esau called it red. So the color red is especially associated with Esau. Esau’s descendants became known as Edomites. This name, like Esau, does not represent noble things but simply a color.

Second, his covering. Unlike most babies who are born with little hair except maybe on their head (and even then not many babies have much hair on their head at birth), Esau was covered with hair. So Isaac and Rebekah named him Esau. The name means "hairy." Esau’s unusual appearances at birth says Jacob and Esau were not identical twins physically (this fact will also be seen in Genesis 27). Later Scripture reveals repeatedly that they were not identical in character and personality either. As we noted in the introduction of this chapter, though Jacob and Esau were twins, there was little about them that was the same.

The name Jacob. "After that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob" (v. 26). The abnormal features regarding Jacob’s birth had to do with the hold of his hand and the haste of his delivery.

First, the hold of his hand. When Jacob was born, one of his little hands had a grip on one of Esau’s heels. This action began in the womb shortly before birth. "He took his brother by the heel in the womb" (Hosea 12:3). This meant that after the water sacs broke in the womb prior to birth, one of Jacob’s hands began to grip one of Esau’s heals. This gripping of the heel was prophetic of Jacob’s life. It also resulted in him being named Jacob. The name Jacob means "heal-gripper." The picture is that of one grabbing the heel of another to trip him up. The word supplanter describes the action. And the word "supplanted" is what Esau used of Jacob when Esau missed out on the blessing from Isaac. Esau in his strong and emotional complaint and mourning over being shut out of the blessing said to Isaac his father, "Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me" (Genesis 27:36). The supplanting character is what characterized Jacob’s conduct all too much of the time. It did much to defile his character.

Second, the haste of his delivery. The second abnormal thing about Jacob’s birth is that he was born immediately after Esau. Skeptics of the Bible claim his birth could not have been that close to Esau’s birth. Many claim that an hour or so was the usual time between the delivery of twins. But twins can be born closely together, too. Our daughter, as an example, gave birth to twins just eight minutes apart. Some will argue, of course, that today’s medical advances are what account for delivery changes today. But God is just as able to bring about speedy deliveries as medical people are today! The speed of Jacob’s birth was necessary so folk could witness with their own eyes what had occurred in the womb (Jacob gripping Esau’s heel) which was also predictive of Jacob’s life. All of this demonstrates how God controls events to proclaim the truths He wants proclaimed.

Jacob’s speedy birth means Rebekah doubtless went through a traumatic ordeal in giving birth to her twins. Pain at birth is bad enough with normal birth, but she gave birth to two babies at practically the same time. These were the only children Rebekah had. One can readily understand if the rugged ordeal of giving birth to twins so close together resulted in her not wanting anymore children.

3. The Age of the Father

"And Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them" (v. 26). The notations about the delivery of Jacob and Esau closes with a statement telling us how old Isaac, the father of Jacob and Esau, was when the boys were born. This statement is another of those important linking statements in Scripture which, though they look incidental, are very significant in that they are important connectors of Biblical history. These connectors help to establish the validity and fidelity of the Scripture. In the early books of the Bible, these notations of the ages of the patriarchs provide important connecting links to the early history of men. It is not so important to know dates and ages of later times (although some are given in Scripture and are very helpful), but the early records giving these facts help to substantiate Biblical history. They argue against such people as evolutionists who want to hide their unbelief under the cloud of "millions" and "billions" of years.