Monozygotic or Dyzogotic?
Uploaded: Monday, December 15, 2008
By: Rav Warren Kaye
Monozygotic or dyzogotic twins always attract attention and research. This is no different concerning the few instances that occur in Tanach. Our parsha sees them reunite after many years of bitter separation and then they go there separate ways. Much ink has been spilt examining the relationship between Esau and Jacob yet the Torah interprets the story itself.
* Esau and Jacob were not the only twins mentioned in the Tanach. In Breishit Ch. 38 we learn of Yehuda’s relationship with his daughter in law, Tamar. This relationship results in the birth of twins – Zerach and Peretz. These two narratives have much in common.
* Both instances of birth are preceded by a period of longing for motherhood that has not yet been fulfilled: in Rivka's case because of her barrenness, and in Tamar's case because of the death of her two husbands and Yehuda's consequent mistreatment of her.
* The birth of twins expresses a bursting forth of fertility that comes to compensate for the lack of children until that time – and in both instances also for the fact that no further children will be born.
* Rivka and Tamar are the only women in Tanach who cover their faces.
* The struggle between the twin brothers begins in the womb. Jacob is grabbing Esau’s heel as Esau is born. Hoshea 12:4 states “In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and by his strength he strove with a godlike being”. In our story, the battle began and was miraculously decided while the twins are still in the womb, with the child claiming to be the firstborn, Peretz, bursting first from his mother's womb, thereby acquiring the natural firstborn rights and Zerach who had pushed out his hand first was born second.
* The phrase åäðä úàåîéí ááèðä appears solely in these stories.
The narratives are clearly connected but what is the Torah teaching us from this comparison? Tamar’s firstborn should have been Zerach but Peretz burst out of the womb first and claimed the firstborn rights. Similarly Esau was the firstborn of Rivka and Jacob claimed the firstborn rights. It seems that Jacob is to Esau what Peretz is to Zerach. It is fascinating to note that Jacob goes on to be the third of the forefathers and Peretz is the ancestor of King David. Esau is the wayward son who is expelled and Zerach is an ancestor of Achan who caused much trouble in Joshua Ch. 7. Furthermore, Esau is described as being ruddy and Zerach has a crimson ribbon tied to his arm. The Torah places Zerach and Esau together in Devarim 33:2 “The Lord came from Sinai, and rose from Seir unto them; - åæøç îùòéø ìîå – both of them were offered the Torah but rejected it. The Torah interprets itself.
|Additional articles from this category can be found in:||Parshat Shavua (Vayishlach)|