Genesis 25:22
And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 25:22. The children struggled within her — In an unusual and painful manner; a presage of the enmity of these two sons and their posterities. If it be so, or since it is so, why am I thus? — That is, as some interpret it, “If I am with child, what is the reason of this unusual commotion I feel?” Or, as others explain her exclamation, “If I must suffer such uncommon pangs, why did I conceive?” Before, the want of children was her trouble; now, the struggle of her children is no less so. She went to inquire of the Lord — Probably she consulted Melchizedek, or some other holy person, who was favoured with divine revelations: or perhaps the expression only means that she addressed herself to God in prayer. The Word of God and prayer, by which we now inquire of him, give great relief to those that are, upon any account, perplexed. It is a mighty ease to spread our case before the Lord, and ask counsel at his mouth. Reader, let this be thy practice in all thy difficulties and perplexities.

25:19-26 Isaac seems not to have been much tried, but to have spent his days in quietness. Jacob and Esau were prayed for; their parents, after being long childless, obtained them by prayer. The fulfilment of God's promise is always sure, yet it is often slow. The faith of believers is tried, their patience exercised, and mercies long waited for are more welcome when they come. Isaac and Rebekah kept in view the promise of all nations being blessed in their posterity, therefore were not only desirous of children, but anxious concerning every thing which seemed to mark their future character. In all our doubts we should inquire of the Lord by prayer. In many of our conflicts with sin and temptation, we may adopt Rebekah's words, If it be so, why am I thus? If a child of God, why so careless or carnal? If not a child of God, why so afraid of, or so burdened with sin? - LIII. Birth of Esau and Jacob

20. פדן padān, Paddan, "plowed field;" related: "cut, plow."

25. עשׂי ‛êśâv, 'Esaw, "hairy, or made."

26. יעקב ya‛ăqôb, Ja'aqob, "he shall take the heel."

27. תם tām, "perfect, peaceful, plain." The epithet refers to disposition, and contrasts the comparatively civilized character of Jacob with the rude temper of Esau.

30. אדים 'ědôm, Edom, "red."

The ninth document here begins with the usual phrase, and continues to the end of the thirty-fifth chapter. It contains the history of the second of the three patriarchs, or rather, indeed, as the opening phrase intimates, of the generations of Isaac; that is, of his son Jacob. Isaac himself makes little figure in the sacred history. Born when his mother was ninety, and his father a hundred years of age, he is of a sedate, contemplative, and yielding disposition. Consenting to be laid on the altar as a sacrifice to God, he had the stamp of submission early and deeply impressed on his soul. His life corresponds with these antecedents. Hence, in the spiritual aspect of his character he was the man of patience, of acquiescence, of susceptibility, of obedience. His qualities were those of the son, as Abraham's were those of the father. He carried out, but did not initiate; he followed, but did not lead; he continued, but did not commence. Accordingly, the docile and patient side of the saintly character is now to be presented to our view.

Genesis 25:19-26

The birth of Esau and Jacob. "The son of forty years." Hence, we learn that Isaac was married the third year after his mother's death, when Abraham was in his hundred and fortieth year. "Bethuel the Aramaean." As Bethuel was a descendant of Arpakshad, not of Aram, he is here designated, not by his descent, but by his adopted country Aram. By descent he was a Kasdi or Kaldee. Sarah was barren for at least thirty years; Rebekah for nineteen years. This drew forth the prayer of Isaac in regard to his wife. The heir of promise was to be a child of prayer, and accordingly when the prayer ascended the fruit of the womb was given. Rebekah had unwonted sensations connected with her pregnancy. She said to herself, "If it be so," if I have conceived seed, "why am I thus," why this strange struggle within me? In the artlessness of her faith she goes to the Lord for an explanation. We are not informed in what way she consulted God, or how he replied. The expression, "she went to inquire of the Lord," implies that there was some place of worship and communion with God by prayer. We are not to suppose that she went to Abraham, or any other prophet, if such were then at hand, when we have no intimation of this in the text. Her communication with the Lord seems to have been direct. This passage conveys to us the intimation that there was now a fixed mode and perhaps place of inquiring at the Lord. The Lord answers the mother of the promised seed. Two children are in her womb, the parents of two nations, differing in their dispositions and destinies. The one is to be stronger than the other. The order of nature is to be reversed in them; for the older will serve the younger. Their struggles in the womb are a prelude to their future history.

21. Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife—Though tried in a similar way to his father, he did not follow the same crooked policy. Twenty years he continued unblessed with offspring, whose seed was to be "as the stars" [Ge 26:4]. But in answer to their mutual prayers (1Pe 3:7), Rebekah was divinely informed that she was to be the mother of twins, who should be the progenitors of two independent nations; that the descendants of the younger should be the more powerful and subdue those of the other (Ro 9:12; 2Ch 21:8). The children struggled, in a violent and extraordinary manner, which was likely to cause both pain and fear in her. The sense may be either,

1. If it be

thus with me, that there be two children contending and fighting within me, likely to destroy one the other, and both threatening my death, why did I desire and pray for this as a great mercy? Or, why is it thus with me? Why hath God dealt thus with me, to continue my life till it be a burden to me, and to give me conception which is so painful and hazardous? Or rather,

2. If God hath granted me my desire in the conception of a child, what means this disturbance and conflict within me, which threatens me with loss of the mercy before I enjoy it? For she seems not so much to murmur at it, as to wonder and to inquire about it, as it here follows.

She went to inquire of the Lord; either immediately, by ardent prayers to God that he would reveal his mind to her herein; or mediately, by her father Abraham, who lived fifteen years after this time, Genesis 25:7, or by some other godly patriarch yet surviving, by whom God used to manifest his will and counsels to others, when he thought fit.

And the children struggled together within her,.... When she was quick with child: this was some time before her delivery, and was not a common and ordinary motion felt by women in such circumstances, but an extraordinary one; the two children in her strove with each other, as if it was for mastery, or who should get out first before the proper time; which not only gave her great uneasiness of mind, but pain of body: this was an emblem of the future difference between those two children, Esau and Jacob, and of the contentions that would be between their respective offspring, and of the enmity and war between good and bad men in all ages, and of the conflict between flesh and spirit in all good men:

and she said, if it be so, why am I thus? that is, either if it be so with me as is not with others in the like condition; for, as Aben Ezra suggests, she had inquired of other women, whether it had ever been so with them, and they replied, no: then, says she, how comes it to pass that it should be different with me from others? or, if those children by struggling should kill one another, or be abortive and kill me, why should I have been so desirous of conception? or prayed for it, as Jarchi observes? or, if so it is, and this will be the case, "why am I thus" (c)? this unhappy woman, to be in such circumstances, to endure so much pain, and to no purpose? why have I conceived and carried my burden so long, and at last cannot be delivered, or bring forth a live child? all my prayers and pains have been in vain:

and she went to inquire of the Lord; to the school of Shem the great, say the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, and so Jarchi: the Arabic writers say (d), she inquired of Melchizedek; and, according to Aben Ezra, of some prophet, or of Abraham, who lived fifteen years after this event: and indeed, if she inquired of any particular person of note for religion, and as a prophet, there is none so likely as he, who was the friend of God, and had great intimacy with him, and to whom he revealed his secrets. But perhaps no more is meant by it, than that she went either to some proper and private place, and prayed unto the Lord that he would show her the reason of what had happened unto her; or to some public place of worship, and where prayer was wont to be made, and where she inquired by means of such as were engaged therein concerning this matter; see Psalm 73:17.

(c) "eur ego hoc?" Tigurine version, Montanus, Fagius. (d) Patricides, apud Hottinger, Smegma Oriental. p. 335. Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 15.

And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I {h} thus? And she went {i} to enquire of the LORD.

(h) That is, with child, seeing one shall destroy another.

(i) For that is the only refuge in all our miseries.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. struggled together] LXX ἐσκίρτων. Cf. Luke 1:41. The future hostility between Israel and Edom was thus prefigured before their birth. Rebekah, afraid of some betokening of evil, becomes fearful and despondent.

Aquila συνεθλάσθησαν, Symmachus διεπάλαιον.

wherefore do I live] R.V. marg. wherefore am I thus? So LXX ἵνα τί μοι τοῦτο, Lat. quid necesse fuit concipere?

to inquire of the Lord
] A technical phrase for seeking an answer from a Divine source. Cf. 1 Samuel 9:9; Amos 5:4-6. We may suppose that Rebekah sought an oracle from Jehovah at some sacred place at which a Divine revelation was granted, e.g. at Beer-sheba, Genesis 21:33, Genesis 26:25.

Verse 22. - And the children struggled together within her. The verb is expressive of a violent internal commotion, as if the unborn children had been dashing against one another in her womb. Cf. the story of Acrisius and Praetus, who quarreled before birth about their subsequent dominion (Apollod., II. 2. 1). Vide Rosenmüller, Scholia, in loco. And she said, If it be so, why am I thus? Literally, If so, why thus (am) I? Of obscure import, but probably meaning, "If so," i.e. flit is the case that I have conceived, "for what am I thus?" what is the reason of these unwonted sensations that accompany my pregnancy? Aben Ezra, Calvin, Lange, Murphy); rather than, "If such be the sufferings of pregnancy, why did I seek to conceive?" (Rashi, Rosenmüller), or, why have I conceived? (Vulgate, Onkelos, Bush, Ainsworth), or, why do I yet live? (Syriac, Keil, Kalisch, Delitzsch). And she went to inquire of the Lord. Not by Urim (Bohlen), since this method of inquiring at the Deity did not then exist (Numbers 27:21); but either through a prophet, - Shem (Luther), Melchisedeck (Jewish interpreters), Heber (Lyra); more likely Abraham (Grotius, Ainsworth, Wordsworth, Kalisch, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or Isaac, the prophet nearest her (Lange), - or through herself by prayer, as in Psalm 34:5 (Calvin, Rosenmüller, Lange, Murphy, Inglis). The language seems to imply that by this time there was a regularly-appointed place for the worship of God by prayer and sacrifice - Theodoret suggests the family altar; Delitzsch, Hagar's well. Genesis 25:22When Rebekah conceived, the children struggled together in her womb. In this she saw an evil omen, that the pregnancy so long desired and entreated of Jehovah would bring misfortune, and that the fruit of her womb might not after all secure the blessing of the divine promise; so that in intense excitement she cried out, "If it be so, wherefore am I?" i.e., why am I alive? cf. Genesis 27:46. But she sought counsel from God: she went to inquire of Jehovah. Where and how she looked for a divine revelation in the matter, is not recorded, and therefore cannot be determined with certainty. Some suppose that it was by prayer and sacrifice at a place dedicated to Jehovah. Others imagine that she applied to a prophet - to Abraham, Melchizedek, or Shem (Luther); a frequent custom in Israel afterwards (1 Samuel 9:9), but not probable in the patriarchal age. The divine answer, couched in the form of a prophetic oracle, assured her that she carried two nations in her womb, one stronger than the other; and that the greater (elder or first-born) should serve the less (younger). הפּרד ממּעיך: "proceeding from thy womb, are separated."
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