Why did God tell Rebekah that she had two nations in her womb? Rebekah was pregnant with twin boys, who would later become Jacob and Esau. The Bible tells us that the boys “struggled together”, which basically means they were wrestling around with each other in Rebekah’s womb. But what about the two nations? Who are they and what does God tell us about them?
Genesis 25: 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. 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. 23 And the Lord said to her
“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 shall serve the younger.”
We saw in our previous blog that Jacob tricked his father Isaac so that his father would Bless him instead of his slightly older twin brother Esau. Although this may sound terrible, it was actually the Will of God for Jacob to receive the Blessing instead of Esau because God FOREKNEW that Esau would be rebellious and would go the way of the idolatrous, pagan nations. However, God’s Will for Jacob to have the Blessing did not stop Esau from hating his brother and desiring to kill him. Esau had also long forgotten his previous flippant behavior towards this same birthright blessing as he had literally sold it to Jacob for a bowl of soup.
In order to escape Esau’s wrath and murderous plot, Jacob traveled north to the land of his uncle Laban (his mother’s brother). During Jacob’s northern sojourn, he married 4 women and fathered 12 sons and 1 daughter. Later, Jacob would return to the land of his childhood. During Jacob’s return journey, where he would again see Esau, Jacob “wrestled with God” and God renamed Jacob “Israel.” Jacob’s 12 sons became known as “the 12 Tribes of Israel”. Jacob = Israel, and was one of the two nations in Rebekah’s womb. But who was the other nation, the “Esau nation” that was struggling (fighting) against Israel?
Genesis 36:8 reveals to us the “Esau nation”.
Gen. 36:8: So Esau lived in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom.
The “Esau nation” is Edom, or the Edomites. Edom and Israel are the two ancient nations who struggled together in Rebekah’s womb. Of course, Rebekah didn’t literally have two nations in her womb, but the two boys were representative of an ancient feud, even an ancient hatred between brother nations that would continue…forever.
We have some understanding of who Israel is, especially since the nation-state of Israel still exists, and the Jewish people, against all odds, have never stopped being the Jewish people. But what about the Edomites? What happened to them, what does God say about them and who are they? Are they still in existence today?
The Bible devotes many verses to Edom and the Edomites, and their ancient hatred of Israel.
Deuteronomy 23: 7-8: “You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. “The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD
Ezekiel 25: 12-14: ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Because Edom has acted against the house of Judah (Israel) by taking vengeance, and has incurred grievous guilt, and avenged themselves upon them,” therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom and cut off man and beast from it And I will lay it waste; from Teman even to Dedan they will fall by the sword. “I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel Therefore, they will act in Edom according to My anger and according to My wrath; thus they will know My vengeance,” declares the Lord GOD.
Joel 3:19: Egypt will become a waste, And Edom will become a desolate wilderness, Because of the violence done to the sons of Judah (Israel), In whose land they have shed innocent blood.
Israel (aka Jacob, the man and the nation) received the Birthright Blessing instead of Esau. This began the ancient hatred of the Edomites towards the Israelites. The Birthright Blessing included the following…
- The land of Israel.
- Any nation or people who blessed the nation holding the birthright blessing would be blessed and any nation or people who cursed the nation holding the Birthright blessing would be cursed (Gen. 12:3),
- through the nation holding the birthright blessing, would come the Promised Seed, the One through whom ALL the nations of the world would be blessed.
This birthright blessing still applies today. Those who Bless Israel are Blessed, and those who curse Israel are cursed. Just look at America. America has blessed Israel, and has become the world’s most prosperous and strong nation. However, those blessings can be reversed should America curse Israel. The Edomites cursed Israel, therefore God pronounced judgement on them.
In the Bible, “Seir” (Joshua 24:4), “Bozrah” (Isaiah 63:1) and “Sela” (2 Kings 14:7) are references to Edom’s land and capital. Sela is better known today as Petra (Jordan). The name “Edom” comes from a Semitic word meaning “red,” and the land south of the Dead Sea was given that name because of the red sandstone so prominent in the topography. Esau, because of the soup for which he traded his birthright, became known as Edom, and later moved his family into the hill country of the same name. The religion of the Edomites was similar to that of other pagan societies who worshiped fertility gods.
Because they were close relatives, the Israelites were forbidden to hate the Edomites (Deuteronomy 23:7). However, the Edomites regularly attacked Israel, and many wars were fought as a result.
When Greek became the common language, the Edomites were called Idumaeans. With the rise of the Roman Empire, an Idumaean whose father had converted to Judaism was named king of Judea (Israel). That Idumaean is known in history as King Herod the Great, the tyrant who ordered a massacre in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the Christ child (Jesus).
In the book of Obadiah (Bible), Edom is mentioned twice by name (1:1, 8). Yet the focus of the entire book is on Edom’s destruction as God meted out His judgment on a historically rebellious people.
Obadiah prophesied that Edom would be “small among the nations . . . utterly despised” (Obadiah 1:2); that Edom’s best-laid plans would come to naught (verse 8); and that Edom would be completely destroyed:
“‘The house of Esau will be stubble, and [the house of Jacob] will set it on fire and consume it. There will be no survivors from the house of Esau.’ The LORD has spoken” (Obadiah 1: 18).
Some Bible scholars believe that Obadiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in the fifth century B.C. when Edom was removed from Petra (Jordan). However, the book of Daniel and Psalm 83 both prophesy that at the time of the end, Edom is still in existence, and that their ancient hatred of Israel continues….
Daniel 11: 40 “At the end time the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he will enter countries, overflow them and pass through. 41 He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall; but these will be rescued out of his hand: Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon. 42 Then he will stretch out his hand against other countries, and the land of Egypt will not escape.
Psalm 83: O God, do not remain quiet;
Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.
2 For behold, Your enemies make an uproar,
And those who hate You have exalted themselves.
3 They make shrewd plans against Your people,
And conspire together against Your treasured ones.
4 They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation,
That the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
5 For they have conspired together with one mind;
Against You they make a covenant:
6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites;
7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Assyria also has joined with them;
They have become a help to the children of Lot
- In Daniel 11, the “he” that will enter the beautiful land, the same “he” that will collide with the “king of the south” and the “king of the north” is the “man of sin/son of perdition” from the New Testament (book of Thessalonians). This man is commonly known by the name “antichrist” because he is against the Most High God and His Son Jesus Christ. We will talk more about him in later posts.
- The “beautiful land” is Israel.
- Historically, the “King of the north” in the Bible refers to Syria, and the “King of the South” refers to Egypt.
Who and where are the Edomites today? Do they still exist? Because the Edomites are named as being in existence at the time of the end (Daniel 11/Psalm 83), it is highly probable that they are on the earth today. What will happen to them? As we saw in the above prophetic verses, the Edomites have an EVERLASTING HATRED of Israel, and they will reap what they have sown, meaning they will be judged by God EXACTLY as He has prophesied in His Word (Bible). Like many other ancient people groups, the Edomites have migrated all over the world and have not retained their “identity” (however, God knows who they are). We can only know them by their fruits (actions/words). Whenever a nation or a people has an overwhelming and illogical hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, we have to ask the question, could this person be an Edomite? Is there a people group, a nation, or even a religion today, that hates Israel, that doesn’t think that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, that often threatens to drive Israel into the sea so that the name of Israel be remembered no more?
We are in the time of the End. We will discuss more about Bible Prophecy in later posts, but it’s important to first understand the truth about the past because God has declared the end….from the Beginning.