Despite the intensity of the passion of *Isaac and Rebekah’s wedding night*, Rebekah didn’t conceive a child as a result. Over the next few years Isaac and Rebekah continued to try to conceive a child but couldn’t quite.
“You just aren’t man enough”, Rebekah would say to Isaac, “I’ll bet if your half-brother Ishmael had lain with me I would have conceived many sons by now. I mean, look at all the sons he already has – Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, and goodness knows who else. It’s obvious that when God told your father, Abraham, that he would have descendants as *countless as the dust on the earth*, he meant this would be through Ishmael, not you. Let’s face it, Isaac, you’re just a mama’s boy.”
“The fault is not mine, Rebekah, but yours” said Isaac, “You forget that God told my father, Abraham, that he would have *descendants through me, Isaac*. If you can’t conceive by me, then you aren’t the woman I should have taken to wife. *Eliezer, when he identified you* as the woman whom God wished me to take to wife, may have mis-identified you and so have made a ghastly mistake. To think that I have wasted all these years trying to make you bear a son when I could have been doing this with a woman more suitable. It makes my blood boil. I’m going to have to ask God what to do.”
“You do that, mama’s boy” said Rebekah.
Isaac, accordingly, knelt down and entreated God that Rebekah conceive a child. God did as entreated. Soon Rebekah was feeling a presence in her womb. It felt, though, that there was more than one presence In There. Rebekah asked God what He thought.
God said to her, “Two nations in your womb, two peoples going their own ways from birth. One shall be stronger than the other. The older shall be servant to the younger.”
When the birth came there were indeed twins. The first to emerge was rather odd-looking, for he was coloured red and was hairy all over like a hair-cloak. The second twin, who looked somewhat normal, came out momentarily afterwards, his hand grasping the heel of his brother. The first boy was called Esau, the second, Jacob.
In character the boys were as different as they looked. The red and hirsute Esau was outdoorsy and rugged, liking nothing better than to hunt animals. Jacob, on the other hand, was indoorsy and domesticated, liking nothing better than to cook. Isaac preferred Esau to Jacob because Esau supplied him with meat from the animals he hunted. Rebekah, not as partial to meat as was Isaac, preferred Jacob.
One evening Jacob was preparing a big pot of broth. As he worked away he sang to himself:
Who cares for fish,
Game or any other dish?
Who would not give all else
For two shekels-worth only
Of Beautiful Broth?
Shekels-worth only of Beautiful Broth,
Broth of the evening, Beautiful Broth
Beautiful, Beautiful Broth
Then Esau stumbled in, exhausted from a strenuous day in the great outdoors. When he smelled the broth and saw it was red, the same colour as himself, his mouth watered.
“Could I have some of that red broth?” said Esau, “I’m dropping from exhaustion. That broth would give me new life.”
“You may have some,” said Jacob, “but only if you sell me your rights as the first-born.”
“I’m almost dead. What use is my birthright to me? Give me some broth now”.
“Swear to give me your birthright first.”
“Although I feel almost dead, I’m still strong enough to give you a whupping, mama’s boy. After I’ve whupped you we can talk about birthrights. Put ’em up. Put ’em up.”
“I’m not a fighter. Swear an oath now, then you’ll get some broth.”
“All right, all right, I swear to give you my birthright. Now, how about that broth.”
“Here it is, delicious lentil broth, and some bread too.”
Esau set upon the broth, slurping loudly.
“Do you have to make that disgusting noise?”
Source: Genesis 25.