Biblical Principle #86: GOD Hated Esau

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God hated Esau (because Esau was profane).


We previously established that:

  1. GOD made promises to Abraham.
  2. Though Abraham had multiple children, Isaac was the son of promise through whom GOD would fulfill His promises to Abraham.
  3. The recipients of GOD’s promises to Abraham are those with the faith of Abraham.

Isaac and Rebekah had twins: Esau and Jacob.

From their birth, it was revealed that Esau would serve Jacob:

22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her:

“Two nations are in your womb,
And two peoples shall be separated from your body.
One shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”

Genesis 25:22 OSB

Because Esau was the oldest, he had the birthright. In those days, tradition was that the oldest son received a double portion of the father’s inheritance. It was that son’s right by birth.

In a short-sighted foolish decision, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew because Esau was so faint from hunger that he thought he was going to die (see Genesis 25:27-33).

Does that seem like a good trade to you? A double portion of your father’s (rich) inheritance for a bowl of stew.


Later, Jacob—with an assist from his mother—deceived Isaac into giving him the blessing Isaac had reserved for Esau (see Genesis 27).

This made Esau so angry he decided he was going to kill Jacob. (I must admit I sympathize with Esau’s anger after this blessing incident. It does seem that Jacob deserved a good beating for his deception.)

So Isaac and Rebekah send Jacob to Rebekah’s family to stay with her brother Laban a while. Turns into 14 years, but who’s counting.

In the course of these recorded events (found in Genesis 27-28), we learn that Esau had already married three Canaanite women (see Genesis 36): Adah, Aholibamah, and Basemath. Esau’s apparently foolish choice of women were a major cause of strife within the family.

Rebekah, Esau’s mother, said:

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of this land, what good will my life be to me?”

Genesis 27:46 OSB

In the Septuagint, Rebekah literally said, “I loathe my life because” of these Canaanite women. The clear implication is that she was referring to Esau’s wives and the general (lack of moral) character of the local pool of women that Jacob was around there.

Isaac shared the sentiment, for he sent Jacob away with the instruction:

1 Now Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2 Arise, go to Mesopotamia, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.

Genesis 28:1-2 OSB

After Jacob’s long stint in Mesopotamia, he returned to Canaan and patched things up with Esau.

But it seems that Esau never healed his relationship with GOD.

Long after Esau’s death, the biblical writers record disparaging comments about Esau, his land of Edom, and his descendants, the Edomites:

2 “I have loved you [Israel],” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau the brother of Jacob?” says the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have appointed his borders for destruction and made his heritage as dwellings of the wilderness.”

Malachi 1:2-3 OSB

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

Hebrews 12:14-17 NIV

Esau realized too late how foolish he had been. He cried, but he couldn’t undo what had happened.

Esau was the oldest son of Isaac, Abraham’s son of promise, and therefore the lineage of the promise should have run through Esau.

Why, then, was Esau rejected by GOD?

Because Esau was a profane person, godless.

It is critical to internalize that the seed of Abraham are not the children by physical birth, but the children who have faith like Abraham.

Jacob had faith like Abraham. And GOD blessed him for it. And the promises of Abraham passed down through Jacob, rather than Esau, as a result.

The apostle Paul explained it this say:

1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 9:1-16, 31-33 NIV

Don’t be a godless person like Esau. Have the faith of Jacob and become a child of the seed of Abraham.

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