And the children struggled together within her
When she was quick with child: this was some time before her delivery, and was not a common and ordinary motion felt by women in such circumstances, but an extraordinary one; the two children in her strove with each other, as if it was for mastery, or who should get out first before the proper time; which not only gave her great uneasiness of mind, but pain of body: this was an emblem of the future difference between those two children, Esau and Jacob, and of the contentions that would be between their respective offspring, and of the enmity and war between good and bad men in all ages, and of the conflict between flesh and spirit in all good men: and she said, if [it be] so, why [am] I thus?
that is, either if it be so with me as is not with others in the like condition; for, as Aben Ezra suggests, she had inquired of other women, whether it had ever been so with them, and they replied, no: then, says she, how comes it to pass that it should be different with me from others? or, if those children by struggling should kill one another, or be abortive and kill me, why should I have been so desirous of conception? or prayed for it, as Jarchi observes? or, if so it is, and this will be the case, "why am I thus" F3? this unhappy woman, to be in such circumstances, to endure so much pain, and to no purpose? why have I conceived and carried my burden so long, and at last cannot be delivered, or bring forth a live child? all my prayers and pains have been in vain: and she went to inquire of the Lord;
to the school of Shem the great, say the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, and so Jarchi: the Arabic writers say F4, she inquired of Melchizedek; and, according to Aben Ezra, of some prophet, or of Abraham, who lived fifteen years after this event: and indeed, if she inquired of any particular person of note for religion, and as a prophet, there is none so likely as he, who was the friend of God, and had great intimacy with him, and to whom he revealed his secrets. But perhaps no more is meant by it, than that she went either to some proper and private place, and prayed unto the Lord that he would show her the reason of what had happened unto her; or to some public place of worship, and where prayer was wont to be made, and where she inquired by means of such as were engaged therein concerning this matter; see ( Psalms 73:17 ) .
F3 (ykna hz hml) "eur ego hoc?" Tigurine version, Montanus, Fagius.
F4 Patricides, apud Hottinger, Smegma Oriental. p. 335. Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 15.