A Tale of Two Brothers
Commentary for July 1, 2006 — The End of the Story
Isaac loved Rebecca and they married when Isaac was 40 years old (Genesis 24:67, 25:21). Isaac’s father Abraham had received a great blessing involving his descendants, a blessing which later expanded to include the whole world. That blessing was given directly from YHWH to Abraham (Genesis chapter 15). Isaac in turn received that blessing through Abraham.
Although Isaac loved Rebecca, she was unable to conceive children for almost 20 years of their marriage. Isaac prayed to God for his wife to be blessed with a child and she did conceive when Isaac was age 60 through a miracle from God (Genesis chapter 25). The children struggled within the womb and Rebecca was worried:
“And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord. And the Lord said unto her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.’”The result of the conception was that a set of twins was born. Today we would likely classify them as fraternal twins, which means there were two eggs each separately inseminated. Of course, in ancient times those distinctions were not made, insofar as the text indicates. The two brothers were very different in appearance. In fact Esau was remarkably different from most people:
• Genesis 25:22–23
“And the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.”Esau had red hair — like fur — all over his body, while the other twin came out struggling with Esau (who was the de facto firstborn), just as they had struggled in the womb before birth. This second son who was not hairy was named Jacob, which both means “heel-holder” and supplanter. Nonetheless they were twins.
• Genesis 25:24–25
It is interesting the text points out that “Isaac loved Esau … but Rebecca loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:28). This partiality of the parents would not be mentioned unless it was significant to the narrative. It is unfortunate, but such things often happen in life between parents and children. To what extent this increased or contributed to their animosity toward each other (“mother liked you best” or “father liked you better”) cannot be known, but it is clear that Rebecca conspired against Esau in favor of Jacob (Genesis 25:5–17).
You can read the remainder of the full story from Genesis chapter 25 through chapter 36. Continually in the background of the narrative is the tension and struggle between the two brothers. Jacob was a scoundrel who cheated Esau to give up his birthright for a trifle, and then deceived an unwitting Isaac to bless himself [Jacob] instead of his brother. The usual practice of blessing firstborn who was rightly Esau.
That story continues in history and even into prophetic events future to us when the tension and conflict between the descendants of the “two nations … and two manner of people” originating from the twins Esau and Jacob comes to a climax at the end of the age just before Christ’s Second coming. This is the subject of this month’s “Newsletter for July 2006,” and particularly with Dr. Martin’s article (accessed through the Newsletter): “The Most Significant Gentile Nation in the Bible.”
The two peoples have similarities of appearance (as Dr. Martin points out, Esau’s descendants were not “hairy” like their progenitor), although both are intermarried with other peoples, and they have several traits of character and manner in common. The end-time relationship between the two brother peoples is both an inspiration of fulfilled prophecy, and a tragedy for prophetic events in the future. As the apostle Paul notes prophetically (Romans 9:10–14) the tale of the two brothers is an example of God’s provision through history. Dr. Martin’s article shows you the end of the story, and the relationship of Israel with “The Most Significant Gentile Nation in the Bible.”
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