A Daily Genesis

Genesis 25:23b-26b

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 25:23b . . One people shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.[/B]

Esau will come out first; hence, chronologically, he's the eldest son. However, the right of primogeniture was taken from him and given to Jacob. That was God's sovereign prerogative as the paterfamilias of Yhvh's people. Later on down the line, Jacob will exercise the same prerogative by taking the right of primogeniture from Manasseh and giving it to Ephraim.

So then, biblically, the firstborn son's birthright isn't inalienable; but rather quite transferable to a younger sibling; e.g. Rueben and Joseph. (1Chrn 5:1)

"Rebecca's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-- in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls --she was told: "The older will serve the younger." (Rom 9:7-12)

There was certainly nothing in Jacob's infant character that earned him the firstborn position, and it was just as assuredly not his eventual craftiness that got it for him either. It was simply Divine prerogative. In some things, God is sovereign and there is not one single thing h.sapiens can do about it.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 25:24 . .When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.[/B]

Multiple births in human beings arise either from the simultaneous impregnation of more than one ovum or from the impregnation of a single ovum that divides into two or more parts, each of which develops into a distinct embryo. Plural offspring developing from a single egg are known as "identical"-- they are always of the same gender, resemble one another very closely, and have similar fingerprints and blood types.

Offspring produced from separate ova are "fraternal"-- not necessarily of the same gender; they have the usual family resemblance of brothers and sisters.

Precisely of which type Jacob and Esau were, is difficult to tell. However, they are definitely not identical; either in physical appearance nor in personality, nor in speech.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 25:25a . .The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over;[/B]

The word for "red" is [I]'admoniy[/I] (ad-mo-nee') which can refer to either red hair or to a reddish, rosy complexion. In Esau's case, it's difficult to know for certain which applied. That he was a hairy kid right from birth is uncontested. However, to avoid the association with red hair; some feel that the conjunction "and" should be inserted just after the comma, so that the verse would read: The first one emerged red, and hairy all over like a mantle.

Jacob looked like most babies do at birth: a little cherub; bald and smooth skinned.

Esau, in contrast, was not only hairy, but because of his fur, he was rough to the touch; sort of like a woolen G.I. blanket. Esau wasn't your typical cuddly little tykester. When Rebecca held him, it wasn't like holding a little boy, it was more like holding a grizzly bear cub, so to speak. Maybe that was a contributing factor in Rebecca's favoritism of Jacob? How many mothers can really warm up to a baby who looks like he'll morph into a werewolf any second?

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 25:25b . . they named him Esau.[/B]

The Hebrew word for Esau is from [I]'Esav[/I] (ay-sawv'); the meaning of which isn't known for certain. Some say it means rough-- like rough to the touch. Others think it might mean to cover, or envelop like a blanket --a distinct possibility given Esau's appearance as one covered with hair all over his body. (maybe even on his little tush too.)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 25:26a . .Then his brother emerged, holding on to the heel of Esau;[/B]

Sibling rivalry between the two baby brothers was very intense. Jacob undoubtedly held on to Esau's heel to slow him down so he wouldn't get too far ahead-- and also an aggressive attempt to stop him from going first even though Esau was legitimately first in line to be born.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 25:26b . . so they named him Jacob.[/B]

The Hebrew word for Jacob is from [I]Ya' aqob [/I](yah-ak-obe') which means: heel-catcher.

Esau defined a heel-catcher like this:

"Esau said: Was he, then, named Jacob that he might supplant me these two times? First he took away my birthright and now he has taken away my blessing!" (Gen 27:36)

Supplanters take things by coup, usurping, artifice and/or treachery. Right from the womb, Jacob desired supremacy over his brother Esau and struggled to get out ahead of him. How male infants can be so competitive at such an early age is a total mystery; but not impossible. Boys are competitive by nature, and don't like to come in second place; especially against a brother. For some strange reason, it is much easier for a boy to suffer defeat by a non-kin male opponent than by his own sibling.

Jacob is one very tricky Dicky who knows how to trip people up, and how to keep them from getting ahead, and how to cleverly separate them from what is rightfully theirs.

That boy was born way too soon. He should have been on Wall Street; manipulating stocks, marketing derivatives, and raiding corporations. Jacob isn't usually portrayed in Scripture as a man of muscle and brute strength, but as a man of cunning and determination, a man who gets what he wants by patience, stealth, intelligence, and/or trickery rather than by brute force. Maybe he should have been a corporate lawyer?

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