What does Genesis 25:23 mean?
ESV: And the Lord said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger."
NIV: The Lord said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
NASB: And the Lord said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people will be stronger than the other; And the older will serve the younger.'
CSB: And the Lord said to her: Two nations are in your womb; two peoples will come from you and be separated. One people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.
NLT: And the Lord told her, 'The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.'
KJV: And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
NKJV: And the Lord said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”
Verse Commentary:
Rebekah, overwhelmed by the difficulty of her pregnancy, decides to approach the Lord to find out what is going on. The children inside of her are "struggling" so much that she's become concerned (Genesis 25:22). Modern readers should remember that Isaac and Rebekah didn't have the same kind of medical tools available to us today; more than likely, she has no idea that there are actually two children in her womb. All she knows is that the turbulence she feels is not right; this is not a normal part of pregnancy.

In seeking God's answer, Rebekah may have consulted a prophet of some sort. We don't know. She does, however, receive a very specific prophesy given in the form of a poem.

The prophecy may have seemed vague and unhelpful at this specific point in Rebekah's life, but it describes what is to come very clearly. Rebekah's two sons, Jacob and Esau, would indeed become two peoples or nations. Their relationship would be marked from the beginning by conflict and division. One would be stronger, but the older one would become a slave or servant to the younger one.

The Lord's answer to Rebekah's prayer began to be fulfilled very soon, as the following verses reveal.
Verse Context:
Genesis 25:19–28 describes the birth of Isaac and Rebekah's twin boys. After marrying when Isaac is 40, Rebekah does not become pregnant for 20 years, and only in response to Isaac's prayer to the Lord. Her pregnancy is so difficult that she approaches the Lord to ask why. His response is a prophecy about the divided nations that will come from her. That makes more sense when two children are born, one red and hairy, the other grabbing his brother's heel. The first is named Esau, who becomes a hunter loved by his father. The second is Jacob, a quiet, stay-at-home man favored by his mother.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 25 is packed with information. Abraham marries another wife, most likely before Sarah died, and has six sons with her. Abraham dies at the age of 175 and is buried by both Isaac and Ishmael at the family-owned cave where Sarah was buried. Ishmael's 12 sons are listed, along with the region their tribes settled in, to the east of what would later become Israel. And, finally, God grants Isaac's prayer for Rebekah to become pregnant by giving the couple twins: the feuding Jacob and Esau.
Chapter Context:
The previous chapter tells the story of how Abraham's servant found a wife for Isaac from among Abraham's people. This chapter rushes to fill in the details of the end of Abraham's life before beginning the story of Isaac's years as patriarch. Abraham marries another woman and has six sons with her, eventually sending them all away from Isaac. Abraham dies and is buried with Sarah. Ishmael's 12 sons are listed, and then his death is recorded, as well. Finally, Isaac's twin boys are born in response to his prayer to the Lord.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
Accessed 6/14/2024 10:03:19 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com