This week’s verse has been pretty straightforward on the face of things, but it’s made me think. After Rachel’s post last week on Rebekah’s pregnancy after 20 years of infertility, we were all feeling pretty sympathetic towards her. She was doubly blessed with twins, and received the following word from God in Genesis 25:23:
“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.”
Then, in verse 28, we find this, our key verse for this week: Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Favouritism? Or predestination?
Well, quite simply, yes, it was favouritism. Rebekah favoured Jacob, the younger twin. This may have been because of the word she received from God. She knew that, in the end, Jacob would rule over Esau.
But it could also have been because of a much simpler reason. Jacob preferred to stay at home with Rebekah, while Esau was a hunter. Esau was Isaac’s favourite, because Isaac liked the wild game Esau brought home. Surely, it’s natural that Rebekah should feel closer to the son who was at home with her more?
Again, I feel quite sympathetic for Rebekah. Her sons, who she has waited for for such a long time, will be divided. Before she has even given birth, she knows that there will not be family unity.
I have two sons, and one thing I was completely unprepared for was how delightful it is to see them love each other. My eldest really cares for his younger brother, while my youngest looks up to his brother with absolute devotion. They are quite different in personality, yet adore one another.
Rebekah didn’t get to experience that. She knew her sons would become a source of conflict. The first born son is very important within Jewish culture, and so perhaps she sympathised more with the younger son, who got less of the attention? For it was only a matter of minutes between their birth order.
How do we avoid favouritism?
I am sure that all of us would want to avoid favouritism. But our children have different personalities and we may well find one child easier than another. We may have seasons – in fact, I’m sure we will have seasons – when one child seems to be particularly difficult.
In terms of my own experience, I can’t really think of a time when my parents seemed to favourite one child over the other, or to treat us unequally. My sister and I are quite different in terms of interests and personality, but I think we’ve both felt equally supported.
My husband’s parents really go out of their way to treat each child fairly. They have three children, and what they do for one child, they do for them all. This is true of time, gifts and attention – and all their children were very aware of it and very grateful for it.
Personally, I think it’s important to be mindful of it. At the moment, my eldest sometimes feels that the younger child gets more of my attention – my children are 2 and 5, and the eldest is at school while the younger one has 2 days at home with me each week. So I try to make sure I do some things especially with the 5 year old at the weekend – and he gets to stay up a bit later with us once the youngest has gone to bed. At other times, particularly in school holidays, it’s felt like the youngest has spent time tagging along to events that are mostly suitable for older children. So we’ve had to do some things specifically for him. I do think it’s about finding the balance and shifting accordingly.
What are the consequences?
Without Rebekah’s interference, I’m fairly sure that the next few events of Genesis wouldn’t have happened. Jacob steals Esau’s birthright and blessing, with Rebekah’s support and help. We’ll be looking at this next week in our Mummy Meditations community.
His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” Genesis 27:13
We’ll be looking at the whole of Genesis 27, so be prepared for a great discussion.