Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A child is born 6: Rebekah bears twins

“When Rebekah’s time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.”

Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac, grew up and married Rebekah, with whom he was very much in love. (You can read the story of their meeting in Genesis 24.) Like Sarah, she had trouble conceiving, but in her case it only took a prayer from Isaac for her to become pregnant. Miraculous conceptions after apparent infertility are common in the Bible – they are a sign that the child concerned will be in some way special or significant.
It sounds as if Rebekah soon begins to regret her pregnancy, though. She is expecting twins, one of only two sets whose births are recorded in the Bible (see Dec 13 for the other set). Her twins struggle in her womb “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” she asks desperately, but God tells her it is a sign that “two nations are in your womb”. They will continue to struggle with each other throughout their lives, and will bequeath a legacy of struggle to future generations.
The two boys, when they are born, are very different, one red and hairy, the other smooth. Their characters seem to be fixed at birth. Esau becomes a hunter, a “man of the field”, but Jacob prefers to stay at home, a “quiet man”. His quietness hides a cunning nature. He will turn out to be a trickster, quite prepared to cheat and manoeuvre to get one up on his older brother who, though he was born just a few moments before him, stood to inherit the honoured place as head of the tribe.

·         Do you have any experience of twins in your family (or, indeed are you a twin yourself?) What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of being a twin might be?

·         The Bible tells us that while Isaac loved Esau, Rebekah loved Jacob. What effect do you think this might have had on the family dynamics?

·         If you have siblings, what are the differences between you and them, or are you similar to each other in character? If you are an only child, what do you think you have gained and lost because of that?

·         Pray for families with twins, triplets or more, and for families where sibling rivalry makes life difficult.

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