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Morrish Bible Dictionary


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A twin son with Jacob of Isaac and Rebekah, though Esau was actually the first-born. He is described as "red, all over like a hairy garment;" with this his name corresponds, which signifies 'hairy.' Genesis 25:25 . The first thing we read of him is the selling of his birthright to his over-reaching brother Jacob, for a mess of pottage. Concerning this he is called in the N.T. a profane person, because he valued not that which was the gift of God. He afterwards sought the blessing carefully with tears, but found no place of repentance. Genesis 25:29-34 ; Hebrews 12:16,17 .

Jacob, through want of faith in God, surreptitiously obtained the blessing of his father (who, contrary to God's election, intended it for Esau), in which Isaac said that he had made Jacob Esau's lord, and given all his brethren to be his servants. The blessing of Esau was "Thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass, when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck." Genesis 27:37-40 . Esau hated his brother, and intended, when the days of mourning for his father were ended, to kill him. The words of Isaac were fulfilled. David put garrisons throughout all Edom (where the descendants of Esau dwelt, Genesis 36:8 ) and all they of Edom became his servants, 2 Samuel 8:14 ; but later on in the days of Joram, Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah; and though Joram wasable to punish them, yet Judah was growing weaker, and 'Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, unto this day.' 2 Kings 8:20-22 . Obadiah announces Edom's final judgement: no remnant is restored. See EDOM.

Esau had three wives (see BASHEMATH)and a numerous posterity, which increasedto a powerful tribe. When he went to meet Jacob he was accompaniedby four hundred men. It may be God had warned Esau, as He did Laban, not to hurt Jacob; or possibly his anger may have abated: forwhen they approached, "Esau ran to meet him, and embracedhim, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept." They were thushappily reconciled, and at the death of Isaac his two sons buriedhim. Genesis 33:4 ; Genesis 35:29 .

In Malachi 1:2,3 Esau is referred to as having been hated by Jehovah, whereas Jacob had been loved. This is quoted by Paul in Romans 9:13 , where God's sovereignty is being enforced. It was foretold that the elder shouldserve the younger before they were born, and before they could have done either good or bad: this was God's sovereignty. But it was not foretold that God would hate Esau; it is not mentioned till the close of the Old Testament, after Esau in his descendants had displayed his unrelenting enmity to Israel, and Esau personally had long before that despised the gift of God in his birthright. The passage in Malachi is thought by some to refer to the nations which descended from the two brothers.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Esau'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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