To the woman he said,
“I will make most severe
Your pangs in childbearing;
In pain shall you bear children.”
Bearing twins can be especially painful—and dangerous. The vulnerability of a twin pregnancy and the anxiety it could cause is vividly reflected in Rebekah’s cry as the twins Jacob and Esau struggle in her womb (Genesis 25:22). Although the implication of the Hebrew verb describing the two babies inside Rebekah’s womb is somewhat ambiguous, the thrust is plain: “Why do I live?” (NRSV); “Why do I exist?” (NJPS). It is hardly surprising to find that ancient religious practices addressed the special concerns of the mother pregnant with twins.