What kind of twins were Jacob and Esau?
I always assumed they were not identical twins, as the physically different characteristics imply, and I was comfortable with the description of Jacob holding Esau’s heel as possible if the sacs separating them had ruptured before birth. What brought this issue to the fore is the fact that in Spanish there are two different words used for twins. “Gemelos” means identical twins and “Mellizos” mean non-identical twins, there’s no word for just “twins”. Therefore when I wrote “twins” in this week’s essay, my friend, Marcello Farias, who helps me translate my writings into Spanish asked “What kind of twins were they?” I was under the impression they were of the Mellizo variety, not identical (dizygotic is the scientific term, i.e. from two amniotic sacs) as opposed to Gemelos, identical, monozygotic, one sac.
Marcello, ever thorough and inquisitive, did some more research and came across this fascinating article that provides a beautiful scientific explanation for the possible discrepancy in physical appearance of twins that might have been born from one sac.
Given the fact that we don’t know what type of twins they were, I will stick to Marcello’s original translation of just calling them “hermanos” — brothers.
Enjoy the article: