The first of twin sons born to Rebekah and Isaac. His birth was in 1836 BC according to the Biblical Timeline. When he was born, he comes out very red and hairy. Hence, he was named Esau, which means red. He is also called Edom, which also means red.
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Esau Trades His Birthright for a mess of pottage
Esau was well-known to be a skilled hunter and man of the outdoors. In fact, the most notable mention of him in the Bible involves his hunting endeavors. Esau had been out hunting and came home famished. His brother Jacob was preparing a red bean stew. Esau was so hungry that he came in and demanded some of the stew from his brother. This in fact also attributed to his name Edom.
Jacob, taking full advantage of his brother’s hunger, negotiated with Esau. He wanted Esau to swear to surrender his birthright to Jacob in exchange for his red stew. Esau, who placed little value on his birthright, gave no consideration to the consequences of the bargain and willingly agreed. For this reason, it is said that Esau despised his birthright. This birthright that was the bargaining chip of the brothers consisted of the following:
- Leadership in worship
- Headship of the family
- Double portion of the inheritance
- Ownership of the covenant blessing that the Lord God promised to Abraham
The account of these events can be read in detail in the Book of Genesis chapter 25:27-34.
At age 40, Esau married Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite (Genesis 26:34). Both caused sincere grief to Esau’s parents. Marrying those that were not followers of the one true God was frowned upon. In Genesis chapter 27, Esau did attempt to regain his birthright when his father called him and asked him to prepare him a wild game meal before he pronounced his blessing on his oldest son. When Esau went out to hunt, his mother Rebekah and his brother Jacob conspired to deceive Isaac. Making Isaac believe that he was Esau, Jacob convinced Isaac to pronounce his birthright blessing upon him. Thus Esau’s attempt to regain his birthright failed miserably. In Genesis 28:8-9, Esau later realized how displeased his parents were with his decision to marry Canaanite women and attempted to appease his parents. For this reason, he went to Ishmael, his father’s brother, and obtained permission to marry his cousin Mahalath in addition to the two wives he already had.
Esau Reunited with Jacob
Twenty years after the pronunciation of the birthright on Esau’s brother Jacob was the first time the two brothers met again and eventually paid their final respects to their father. They were friendly and amicable toward each other as you can read in Genesis chapter 33. However, descendants of Jacob, known as the Israelites, and the descendants of Esau, known as the Edomites, were continually at war against each other throughout time. This was foreshadowed in Genesis 25:23 when the Lord told Rebekah that, “Two nations are in your womb and two peoples from within you will be separated: one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” Esau showed a continual disregard for the Lord God through his disregard for the value of his birthright and his choices of wives. These decisions set the tone for the remainder of his life.
In the Rest of the World
During the time of Esau’s life, Emperor Yu ruled in China. Also, the Intermediate Kingdoms existed in Egypt, Ramman leads in Assyria, the Hittites took over the area that Turkey occupies, and Hammurabi held the position as the first ruler of Babylon.
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