JACOB

During a troubled pregnancy Rebekah sought guidance from the Lord. The answer was enigmatic and years would pass before she fully understood:

Two nations are in thy womb, ...and the elder shall serve the
younger. (Genesis 25:23)

Twin boys were born to Isaac and Rebekah. The firstborn was unusually hairy, so they named him Esau, "Hair." The second baby was holding to his brother's heel, and they called him Jacob, which means "heel" and also "supplanter." This was the lad who was destined to become one of the great patriarchs of Judaism.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob travel together through ancient history as the founders of western culture. With their parents, Jacob and his twin brother followed their flocks through the deserts of the Negeb. For months at a time they pitched their goat hair tents farther north, near the caravan crossroads and flowing wells of Beersheba, trading with other nomads, planting and harvesting food for themselves and their animals. When rain was scarce, pasture was sought toward the fertile Mediterranean coast, in or near what we now call the Gaza Strip. All this land, the boys were taught, would someday belong to their family, for God had appeared to their father Isaac as he had to Abraham, promising homeland and multitudes of offspring which would be a blessing to all nations. Rebekah, watching the boys grow up, began to sense the meaning of that strange prenatal message.