Genesis 25:24-26: What’s in a name?

“24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.” NIV UK

My dad was a Sunday School Superintendent for a time. He was always good at communicating with children. On one occasion he gave an object lesson, using sweets for visual aids. One of the pieces of confectionary he used was a barley sugar stick. The point he made was that it was twisted, and there is nothing anyone can do to remove the twist. I believe he may well have drawn a link to Jacob. Certainly, Jacob was as bent as a barley sugar stick, and no-one could change this man, but God did.  The first of the twin boys to be born was ruddy and hairy, and he was named ‘’Esau.’’ In Hebrew this sounds like the word for ‘hairy.’ He was also named ‘’Edom’’, meaning ‘red.’ This was because of his ruddy complexion, and also because he later traded his birthright for a bowl of red stew (30). As Esau was born, his twin brother could be seen holding on to one of his heels, so he was given the name ‘’Jacob’’, which means ‘he grasps the heel.’ That is a figurative way of saying that he deceived people. As his story unfolds, we will see how twisted he was; how cunning and deceptive were his ways.

F.B. Meyer wrote a wonderful biography of Jacob, crammed with rich insights. The book shows clearly how God worked on his character to make him ‘a prince with God.’ Whereas he could not change himself, and others could not alter him, the Lord made the difference. It’s not difficult for us to identify with a scallywag like Jacob, and what an encouragement to see how God transformed him.

PRAYER: Lord God, I don’t like what I see in the mirror. I have so much changing still to do. But I do thank you for all the ways you are changing me, and I rejoice that you will finish what you have begun.