by Tony Nester

This content is part of a series.

Jacob and Esau (1 of 5)
How God Changed “Jacob” into “Israel”
Tony Nester
Genesis 25:19-34

We're spending the summer with stories from the Book
of Genesis. We've explored stories about Noah,
Abraham and Sarah, and the birth of Isaac.

Today we begin a series of stories that come out of
the life of Isaac's son, Jacob. Jacob's name will
eventually be changed to Israel and thus become the
namesake for the Israelites of the Bible as well as
the state of Israel we know today.

We're in Genesis 25:19-34. The story begins with the
ancestry of Jacob and his fraternal twin brother,

(Genesis 25:19-34 NRSV) These are the descendants of
Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham was the father of Isaac,
{20} and Isaac was forty years old when he married
Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-
aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. {21} Isaac prayed
to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and
the LORD granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah

Like Abraham his father, Isaac was married to a wife
with whom he was childless. Not knowing what we know
today about reproduction, childlessness was always
blamed on the woman. Rebekah's barrenness was not
only a sorrow for her and Isaac to bear, it was also a
source of shame. Barrenness was viewed as a personal
defect and a sign of God's displeasure.

Isaac turns to God and prayer and finally, after a
long season of disappointment, Rebekah conceives.

But Rebekah's pregnancy soon turns difficult.

{22} The 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.

The phrase here "to inquire of the LORD" refers to
going to a priest and asking him for a message from
God. The priest gave Rebekah this message:

{23} ..."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 sha ...

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