25:24 When the time came for Rebekah to give birth, 1 there were 2 twins in her womb. 25:25 The first came out reddish 3 all over, 4 like a hairy 5 garment, so they named him Esau. 6 25:26 When his brother came out with 7 his hand clutching Esau’s heel, they named him Jacob. 8 Isaac was sixty years old 9 when they were born.
25:30 So Esau said to Jacob, “Feed 10 me some of the red stuff – yes, this red stuff – because I’m starving!” (That is why he was also called 11 Edom.) 12
1 tn Heb “And her days were filled to give birth.”
2 tn Heb “look!” By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator invites the audience to view the scene as if they were actually present at the birth.
3 sn Reddish. The Hebrew word translated “reddish” is אַדְמוֹנִי (’admoni), which forms a wordplay on the Edomites, Esau’s descendants. The writer sees in Esau’s appearance at birth a sign of what was to come. After all, the reader has already been made aware of the “nations” that were being born.
4 tn Heb “all of him.”
5 sn Hairy. Here is another wordplay involving the descendants of Esau. The Hebrew word translated “hairy” is שֵׂעָר (se’ar); the Edomites will later live in Mount Seir, perhaps named for its wooded nature.
6 tn Heb “And they called his name Esau.” The name “Esau” (עֵשָׂו, ’esav) is not etymologically related to שֵׂעָר (se’ar), but it draws on some of the sounds.
7 tn The disjunctive clause describes an important circumstance accompanying the birth. Whereas Esau was passive at birth, Jacob was active.
sn The name Jacob is a play on the Hebrew word for “heel” (עָקֵב, ’aqev). The name (since it is a verb) probably means something like “may he protect,” that is, as a rearguard, dogging the heels. It did not have a negative connotation until Esau redefined it. This name was probably chosen because of the immediate association with the incident of grabbing the heel. After receiving such an oracle, the parents would have preserved in memory almost every detail of the unusual births.
9 tn Heb “the son of sixty years.”
10 tn The rare term לָעַט (la’at), translated “feed,” is used in later Hebrew for feeding animals (see Jastrow, 714). If this nuance was attached to the word in the biblical period, then it may depict Esau in a negative light, comparing him to a hungry animal. Famished Esau comes in from the hunt, only to enter the trap. He can only point at the red stew and ask Jacob to feed him.
11 tn The verb has no expressed subject and so is given a passive translation.
12 sn Esau’s descendants would eventually be called Edom. Edom was the place where they lived, so-named probably because of the reddish nature of the hills. The writer can use the word “red” to describe the stew that Esau gasped for to convey the nature of Esau and his descendants. They were a lusty, passionate, and profane people who lived for the moment. Again, the wordplay is meant to capture the “omen in the nomen.”