“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41).

Luke’s Gospel is saturated with allusions to the stories in the Hebrew Bible. Noticing these allusions is critical to understanding Luke’s message. It cannot be a coincidence, therefore, that Luke chooses the same word used in the Greek translation of the story about Rebekah’s pregnancy when her twins “leaped about” within her. The purposeful use of this word is all the more likely when we consider both the similarity of these stories and the infrequent use of this particular word elsewhere in the Septuagint.

The allusion to this narrative not only signals the redemptive importance of the birth narratives of John the Baptist and his younger cousin Yeshua, but also its connection to the unfolding story of God’s plan to bless all the families of the earth through the seed of Abraham. The allusion to Esau and Jacob, moreover, highlights the critical fact that the younger child will be far greater than the older, and thus the older will indeed serve the younger child (see Gen 25:23; Luke 3:16).

There is, however, an obvious difference between these two stories which is signaled by the specific Greek word for “leaped.” Whereas the original Hebrew word (hitrotsets) is entirely negative, the Greek translation of this word can also mean “dance” or “leap for joy” in other contexts (see Jer 27:11; Ps 114:4; 6). Thus Luke’s use of this word does not refer to a power struggle between John and Yeshua, but John’s great joy, already in his mother’s womb, to worship his greater, albeit younger cousin.

Another Point of View

And consider yet another profoundly important implication in our modern context: impersonal fetuses do not dance with joy; real babies do. John was already a person in Elizabeth’s womb, and a profoundly important person at that.

Luke’s description of this dancing unborn baby demonstrates his profound respect for this unborn person’s dignity, destiny, and worth!

O that our generation would start referring to unborn babies as people who are profoundly important to God rather than as inanimate, impersonal objects. And to all the expecting mothers who love Yeshua, fill your homes with the sound of praise and worship so that your unborn children will, like the unborn John the Baptist, already begin leaping and dancing before Yeshua with joy!

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Ps 139:13-17).

Show the world you are One for Israel!

Order your 2024 ONE FOR ISRAEL

Prayer calendar