Homilies on Genesis and Exodus

By Origen; Ronald E. Heine | Go to book overview

HOMILY XII
On Rebecca's pregnancy and giving birth

WE SHOULD PRAY THE FATHER OF THE WORD during each individual reading "when Moses is read,"1 that he might fulfill even in us that which is written in the Psalms: "Open my eyes and I will consider the wondrous things of your Law."2 For unless he himself opens our eyes, how shall we be able to see these great mysteries which are fashioned in the patriarchs, which are pictured now in terms of wells, now in marriages, now in births, now even in barrenness?

For the present text reports that " Isaac asked for Rebecca his wife, because she was barren; and God heard him and she conceived. "And the children," the text says, "leaped in her womb."3

First of all consider why it is that many holy women in the Scriptures are related to have been barren, as Sara herself, and lo now Rebecca.4 But also Rachel, Israel's beloved, was barren.5 Anna also, the mother of Samuel, is recorded to have been barren.6 But also in the Gospels Elizabeth is related to have been barren.7 But in all these instances this term is used because after sterility they all gave birth to a holy person.

So, therefore, also this present Rebecca is said to have been barren but " Isaac prayed," the text says, "the Lord for her, and he heard him and she conceived. And the children leaped in her womb."8 Behold, what did this barrenness conceive? The

____________________
1
2 Cor 3.15.
2
Ps 118.18.
3
Gn 25.21-22.
4
Cf. Gn 11.30.
5
Cf. Gn 29.31.
6
Cf. 1 Sm 1.2.
7
Cf. Lk 1.7.
8
Gn 25.21-22.

-176-

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