Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Born to Fight

21Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. 22The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.” 24When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. 25The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. 26Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. 28Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob. ~ Genesis 25:21-28

The thing I love about Genesis is, it's so damned true all the time. Some brilliant student of human nature wove all these stories together for us, and held them up to us as a mirror, and here we are.

I know this woman... this manipulator, as she will turn out to be. I know her insecurity, married to the unsure son whose own father held a knife to his throat. Notice how Isaac is almost a nonentity after the akedah? How he can't even get a wife for himself, but has to rely on Dad's hired man? Rebekah should have known what she was getting into, when her groom couldn't even bring himself to close the deal.

And I know her sense of outraged victimhood... in pregnancy, which she has longed for, and which now is a royal pain. And God names it... and speaks to her. How many biblical women have that privilege? Not a whole lot, but enough to let us know that it happens. "Two nations are at war in your womb, honey. Sorry, but that's how it is."

These boys come out battling... their birth is something worthy of a video game fight, or an action sequence from Xena Warrior Princess... the herculean struggle for primacy, and then the parents choosing sides.

What a student of human nature wrote this tale. S/he doesn't excuse behavior, but sure does explain it. S/he doesn't gloss over responsibility, but places it in its messy, human context. S/he shows us two boys, fighting their way out of the womb, one gripping the other's heel, and we know the rest of the story almost without reading it.


Songbird said...

You make me wish I were preaching on this one!

Jan said...

I love your perspective of the writer being such a keen observer of human nature. That is so true. I wish I could hear you preach.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Hello friend! Glad to see that you've been having such a good time while I've been away...

I've nominated you for an award on my blog. Check it out when you have the time.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Such an illuminating post. thank you.

Lauralew said...

Thanks for this. You hit the nail right on the head about human nature.