Esau: Son of Isaac, Brother of Jacob


Common sense isn’t always that common. In fact, the common thread in many decisions is that they don’t make sense. Esau’s life was filled with choices he must have regretted bitterly. He appears to have been a person who found it hard to consider the consequences, reacting to the need of the moment without realizing what he was giving up to meet that need. Trading his birthright for a bowl of stew was the clearest example of this weakness. Esau also chose wives in direct opposition to his parents’ wishes. He learned the hard way.

What are you willing to trade for the things you want? Do you find yourself, at times, willing to negotiate anything for what you feel you need now? Do your family, spouse, integrity, body, or soul get included in these deals? Do you sometimes feel that the important parts of life escaped while you were grabbing for something else?

If so, your initial response, like Esau’s, maybe deep anger. In itself that isn’t wrong, as long as you direct the energy of that anger toward a solution and not toward yourself or others as the cause of the problem. Your greatest need is to find a focal point other than “what I need to know.” The only worthy focal point is God. A relationship with him will not only give an ultimate purpose to your life; it will also be a daily guideline for living. Meet him in the pages of the Bible.

Strengths and Accomplishments

  • Ancestor of the Edomites
  • Known for his archery skill
  • Able to forgive after explosive anger

Weaknesses and Mistakes

  • When faced with important decisions, tended to choose according to the immediate need rather than the long-range effect
  • Angered his parents by poor marriage choices

Lessons From His Life

  • God allows certain events in our lives to accomplish his overall purposes, but we are still responsible for our actions
  • Consequences are important to consider
  • It is possible to have great anger and yet not sin

Vital Statistics for Esau

  • Where: Canaan
  • Occupation: Skillful hunter
  • Relatives: Parents: Isaac and Rebekah. Brother: Jacob. Wives: Judith, Basemath and Mahalath

Key Verses for Esau

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness so one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 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. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears” (Hebrews 12:14-17).

The ESV Study Bible, Large Print edition features the content of the award-winning ESV Study Bible with a highly readable, large-print type. Extensive study notes, charts, maps, and articles make this study Bible a valuable resource for serious readers, students, and teachers of God’s Word.

Esau’s story is told in Genesis 25-26. He is also mentioned in Malachi 1:2,3; Romans 9:13; Hebrews 12:16, 17.

Click here to print or download the scripture character study “Esau: Son of Isaac, Brother of Jacob


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