Why Did God Hate Esau?

EsauDid you ever wonder why God hated Esau? After all, hate is such a strong word. Yet God chose Jacob over Esau and He says several times that He hated Esau. But why?

Well, when we read Romans 9 we see that Paul explains God is sovereign; He can bless and curse whomever He wants to. Now before you go thinking, “that’s not fair” or “what’s the use of trying if God is this big, old meanie who does whatever He wants”, remember God’s character.

God is righteous, just, and fair. As it says in Hosea, “I am God, not a human being.”

Okay, so God is not a man who by whim of emotion hated Esau. So there must be a good reason. And we should look at that reason so we can avoid being like Esau. As we study the story of Esau, we discover there are actually several reasons why God hated him. Today we will look at one of them.

Esau was self-centered, living for the moment, and godless. Being the firstborn had no value. He preferred to be out hunting rather than tending to his inheritance and learning the ways of Adonai from his father and grandfather.

His grandfather?! Yes, if Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, and died at 175, then he was alive for the first 15 years of the Esau’s life. Esau would have heard the story of creation and the story of the flood. He would have heard from Abraham how the Creator called him from the land of Ur and promised to give him land and a family so large that no one could count them. He would have heard first-hand how his grandmother, Sarah, was barren and by a miracle of God gave birth to his father when she was 90. He would also hear how his parents had prayed for 20 years for his birth. Or maybe all those stories bored him. Maybe, like so many teenagers today, he headed out the door to do his own thing rather than having to listen to another long, boring story.

red lentil stewObviously it all meant nothing to him because he sold his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew. Why? According to Esau he was “about to die” from hunger. Seriously? This man was a prince. His grandfather, Abraham, had accumulated so much wealth that he had to split off from Lot. His father Isaac added more to that and had so much that the Philistines asked him to leave their area. And yet here he was, starving to death ready to give up the right of firstborn for a bowl of vegetable soup! There wasn’t even meat in it!

So what exactly did Esau sell? What was the right of firstborn?

When it comes to inheritance, the firstborn is entitled to a double portion. That means if there are two children, the firstborn gets two-thirds of the estate, and the second child gets one-third. Likewise, if there are three children, the estate is divided into four, the firstborn getting half, and the remaining two children one-quarter each.

So maybe Esau was thinking that one-third of the estate was plenty. But there’s more.

The firstborn becomes the head of the family. As the head, he operates in the role of the priest in the family. In this case, he would be the one to lead the family in the worship of Adonai, teaching the family His statutes, laws, and ordinances. But wait! What laws? The giving of the law didn’t happen until Sinai.

When we look at Genesis 26, where God met with Isaac, God explained He was going to bless Isaac “because Abraham heeded what I said and did what I told him to do – he followed my mitzvot, my regulations, and my teachings.” So there was something that Abraham knew about God, and he passed that on to Isaac who in turn passed it on to the twins. Or did he?

Remember, Genesis 25 tells us that Esau became a skillful hunter while Jacob stayed in the tents. It was in the tents that Jacob learned from his parents the way of Adonai. It was in the tents that he would observe his father leading the family, worshiping God, and running the family business. Jacob would know the value of the covenant promise God gave to Abraham and confirmed with Isaac. He would know that the greatest inheritance for the firstborn is that covenant promise.

But Esau spent his time doing what he wanted. And what he wanted was to hunt and be outside. And when he came in, he wanted to eat. It reminds me of how we are today with a need for instant gratification. Think about it. Jacob was cutting a deal. He offered Esau instant gratification – a bowl of vegetable stew – in exchange for the covenant promise from God.

At the snap of Esau’s finger he could have had a team of servants prepare a feast for him. But he couldn’t wait. He didn’t want to wait. He didn’t want to think about the consequences, because he wanted instant gratification. Whatever God had to offer him, he wasn’t interested. So when Jacob offered him a trade, he took it.

So what can we learn from this?

  • We should have our priorities in order, keeping God and family in the forefront of our minds.
  • The promises of God, even when they seem slow in coming, far outweigh the satisfaction of the moment.
  • We should always stop and think about the consequences of our choices.

Does it make a little more sense now, why God hated Esau? Did you learn something new? If so, be sure to share this post and come back for part two!

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5 Responses to Why Did God Hate Esau?

  1. xino November 26, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    i’m sorry but this is 100% wrong and not from Holy Spirit!
    You merely wrote this out of misunderstanding of the bible.

    This clearly shows lack of understanding about God.

    You say God is love, if he is love, how can he hate Esau? high contradiction!!!
    (in fact bible says God is love 1 John)

    And I don’t know where you got the idea of inheritance means having estates. How?

    please read this:

    God never hated Esau as a person, but hated the practices of Esau’s descendants.

    • Ro Pinto November 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm #


      I believe you missed the point of this post. Whether the word שָׂנֵא means ‘hated’ or ‘rejected’ or ‘unloved, it is God’s own description of how he views Esau.

      I read your post, yet I see a contradiction. Here in the comments you say that God is love (and He is) and that He never hates, yet in your post you assert that hates Esau’s descendents. That is still hate.

      I would ask you where did the practices in this family line begin? It wasn’t with Isaac, but when we read the story of Esau, we see He was the one who walked away from God.

      As I pointed out above, He was given the privilege and responsibility of firstborn. The inheritance was not only 2/3 of the wealth of his father, but more importantly, the covenant promise – the line through which the promised seed would come and bless the world. But Esau wasn’t interested. He sold that promise for a bowl of soup. Satisfying his immediate need was worth more than a relationship with God.

      And that was the point of the post.

      One other note: you mentioned in your post that the proof that God loved Esau is his wealth. That God blessed him abundantly. While that could be true, I think Job would take issue with that while he was going through his trial, and Asaph would ask you to read his psalm (73).

  2. Grey January 30, 2015 at 1:46 am #

    Very good my friend. Those r the facts that r in tha BIBLE.
    Esau is the father of the nations that took the hebrew isrealites back to bondage in Deut:28…
    Its sad but true…buts whats sader is the millions of hebrews that lost their ancestory through the trans atlantic slave trade!
    We come from shem, not ham and we will be re-routed back to Isreal! PRAISE THE MOST HIGH.
    And esaus decendants will suffer the curses he has coming. Judah is going through our curse now! Thats why ALL RACES hurt and disrepect Black Hebrews. They call us African American. Lol. Our curse was Deut.28 for not obeying THE MOST HIGH.
    But esau will soon see after WW3…lmao the shepard will gather his true lost sheep.

  3. damilola August 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    I do not agree wt dz post. It was predestined right from the womb that esau will serve d younger brother Jacob. So everything that happened merely fufilled d word of God. Lets stop making excuses for God or trying to rationalize d circumstance. Gods ways are not our ways neither r his thoughts. He says he will bless whom he will n curse who he will not necessarily becos of their evil deeds its because he is God n he chooses to do as he pleases. He is sovereign. Let us just pray that we find grace n favour in d eyes of God

    • Ro Pinto August 25, 2016 at 8:13 am #

      You are correct, Damilola, that God’s ways are not our ways. And I am certainly not looking to make excuses for God. He doesn’t need me to do that.

      What I am looking to do is learn from the mistakes of others. God’s word is true, and it is there for our benefit. So when I look into the character and actions of people that God is pleased with, I learn what to do.

      Conversely, when I look at the character and actions of people with whom God was not pleased, I learn what not to do. All to grow in grace and favor with God and man, striving to reach the prize of our upward call in Messiah Yeshua.

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