If It Is So, Why Them Am I This Way?” (Genesis 25:22)

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Is it just me, or do there always seem to be more questions than answers in this world?

We wonder about the world around us. We wonder at the behavior of friends and family members. We wonder how it can be 25 degrees in Texas at 7AM, then nearing 80 by the afternoon.

Like I said, there are mysteries all around us.

When Rebekah was finally able to conceive, the twins inside of her (Jacob and Esau) were “struggling within her.” 

In response, she asks the question, “If it is so, why then am I this way?”

I’ve read eight different people on this verse to figure out what she meant, and as a result, have come away with nine different interpretations. No one seems to be sure about what she’s referencing here.

The consensus seems to be that Rebekah is expressing frustration at the fact that, after a period of infertility, the gift that God has given her is now causing her even more stress. 

(Contrary to some, I don’t think she’s saying that she regrets being pregnant. That seems to be too harsh given the context.)

In some ways, her long-awaited pregnancy is a double-edged sword. Yes, she finally gets to be a mother, but she’s also confronted with the reality that there will always be tension in her family. Every mother wants her children to get along, but before they’re even born, God tells Rebekah that won’t be the case.

It’s a frustrating reality that all to many people experience every day. We have an idealized version of what our family should be like — peaceful, friendly, cooperative, etc — and yet it’s not that way. And for those parents who have to watch the division, the pain can be almost unbearable.

It brings to mind what God told Eve in the Garden: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth” (Genesis 3:16). While I think God is talking about the physical pain, there’s no denying that there will also be emotional pain now that sin has entered the world.

If there’s one solace in Rebekah (and us), it’s that the twins weren’t at each others’ throats forever. The nations that came from them — Israel and Edom — would always be enemies, but Jacob and Esau have an amazing reunion in Genesis 33. It’s exactly what any parent would hope for their children that are estranged.

Was Rebekah around to see it? The Bible is unusually quiet about her death, and people have speculated that she died sometime before Genesis 33.

But the twins’ reunion gives all of us hope, that no matter how deep the rivalry may be between family members — and in some cases, those scars can run deep — there’s always a chance for a reunion. As long as both parties are willing to put the past behind them and learn from it.