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Genesis 25:24-28

Context

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.

25:27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skilled 10  hunter, a man of the open fields, but Jacob was an even-tempered man, living in tents. 11  25:28 Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for fresh game, 12  but Rebekah loved 13  Jacob.

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 (sear); 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 (sear), 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.

8 tn Heb “And he called his name Jacob.” Some ancient witnesses read “they called his name Jacob” (see v. 25). In either case the subject is indefinite.

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 Heb “knowing.”

11 tn The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Jacob with Esau and draws attention to the striking contrasts. In contrast to Esau, a man of the field, Jacob was civilized, as the phrase “living in tents” signifies. Whereas Esau was a skillful hunter, Jacob was calm and even-tempered (תָּם, tam), which normally has the idea of “blameless.”

12 tn Heb “the taste of game was in his mouth.” The word for “game,” “venison” is here the same Hebrew word as “hunter” in the last verse. Here it is a metonymy, referring to that which the hunter kills.

13 tn The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Rebekah with Jacob and draws attention to the contrast. The verb here is a participle, drawing attention to Rebekah’s continuing, enduring love for her son.



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