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Verses 19-24

THE TOLEDOTH OF ISAAC

"These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac: and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian to be his wife. And Isaac entreated Jehovah for his wife, because she was barren: and Jehovah was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, wherefore do I live? And she went to inquire of Jehovah. And Jehovah said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, And two nations shall be separated from thy bowels; And the one people shall be stronger than the other people: And the elder shall serve the younger. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb."

"Because she was barren ..." This is one of a number of interesting parallels between the lives of Isaac and Abraham. Things never run smoothly for God's elect. There will always be problems and trials that discover and test faith in the Lord. We may readily believe that both Isaac and Rebekah sought the prayers and counsel of the mighty Abraham who lived for another sixteen years after Rebekah's conceiving twins.

"And the children struggled within her ..." The concern and distress which were felt by Rebekah must indeed have been a sore trial, so great indeed that she questioned whether or not she desired to live. It must be remembered in this that Rebekah is a type of God's church in the world, and her severe trial in containing within her womb at the same time an Esau and a Jacob are a beautiful prophecy indeed of a Judas within the Twelve, and the great Apostasy itself in the womb of the historical church.

"And she went to inquire of Jehovah ..." Speiser's affirmation that she did so at "an oracle"[14] is preposterous. "To speak of her as resorting to `an oracle' imports heathen notions into the Hebrew text."[15] "Nothing is more natural than that the Hebrew author intended to intimate that Rebekah inquired of God through Abraham the prophet, her father-in-law, who still survived."[16] If the latter opinion by such scholars as Dummelow and Kalish should be allowed, then his prophecy in Genesis 25:23 should also be allowed as the final recorded words of Abraham.

The function of Abraham as a prophet was evident in his promise that God would send his angel to guide the servant in finding Rebekah, and here again, in the comprehensive prophecies involving for thousands of years to come the history of mighty nations upon the earth. The prophecy included this:

  1. There were to be twins.

  2. They were to be sons.

  3. Each son would produce a nation.

  4. The nation from the younger son (Israel) would be the stronger.

  5. The nation from the older son would be in subjection to that of the younger. Who but Jehovah could have given such a prophecy? And who is more likely than the prophet Abraham as the one through whom God gave it? And whom would Rebekah have been any more likely to consult than Abraham?

It is most obvious that the prophecy here pertains more to the peoples who would descend from Jacob and Esau than to the brothers themselves. Concerning the great N.T. doctrines of Election, Predestination, Foreknowledge, Foreordination, etc., reference is here made to the ninth chapter of Romans in my commentary on Romans, Romans 9:10-15, where a full discussion of these questions may be found. Long, long afterward, in Malachi, it was recorded that God said, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated," but that has no reference whatever to them prior to their birth, but resulted from what the descending nations from the two brothers did. God's indicating his choice between them at this point in time (to Rebekah) was due to His foreknowledge of all that would ensue. There was nothing capricious, haphazard, partial, or unfair about this.

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