11 ¶ And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahairoi. 12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham: 13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, 14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: 16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. 17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. 18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.
19 ¶ And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac: 20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. 21 And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. 27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
This passage of Scripture starts off with an account of Ishmael’s death and of his progeny who grew to great numbers and occupied what has come to be known as Arabia. Then, an account is given of the birth of Esau and Jacob. Esau was his father’s favorite while Jacob was his mother’s favorite. Esau was an outdoors kind of guy who liked to hunt and Jacob hung around the house or tent. He was probably a big help to his mother and a “momma’s boy.” As we will see though, he was not a wimp or a “simpering milquetoast.” The elder shall serve the younger is a prophecy of Esau playing second fiddle to Jacob. He will be willing to give up his birthright for a bowl of stew and Isaac will be tricked into giving his blessing to Jacob.
Esau will lend his name to Edom which eventually will be known as Idumea.
Ge 36:1 Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom…8 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.
Ezekiel 35:15 As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
The kingdom of Edom no longer exists but its geography lies within the southern reaches of the country known as Jordan. Some commentators believe that it is the location of the wilderness where the survivors of the Beast of Revelation’s final fight against the Jews will flee in Revelation 12. There lies the famous rock city of Petra. Esau’s legacy then runs throughout history and Jacob and Esau will be united in a manner of speaking in the end, if this is correct.
Why is Jacob favored over Esau? Esau was a carnal man who was willing to give up his birthright to appease his appetite and lost his blessing. Jacob was clever and crafty, which we think of as not being very good character traits especially since he used them to obtain a blessing from his father by deceit and treachery. Why did God choose Jacob over Esau? The history of the carnal man of uncontrolled appetites is a history of war and rebellion. It is a history of corruption and injustice. Esau represents what is wrong with charismatic leaders who cause young women to think things they should not and cause young men to deliver up their common sense to follow blindly. He is a man of the earth, a natural man.
1Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The natural man is lusty and everything he sees exists to serve him; either his appetites, his sexual lust, or his need to dominate others for fear of being dominated himself. He is praised in our literature and media and millions will follow him. The trouble is that he would trade God’s inheritance for another meal, approval and validation from others, and a chance to have what he wants at the moment. He despises what he calls, “pie-in-the-sky religion,” and concerns himself only with satisfying his immediate needs in the here and now. He could not envision eternity for all he was worth. He cannot even perceive of the idea of God usually. He is too busy putting food in his belly, perhaps a beer, glass of wine, or liquor to his lips, or pursuing the latest tech gadget or get rich scheme to even consider the fate of his soul. The question you should ask yourself, young man, is, are you an Esau?
Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
On the other hand, Jacob, though clever and resourceful, deceitful even, who will wrestle with God Himself, can be molded into God’s man. Full of flaws himself, character flaws, fearful and uncertain at times but obedient as often as he can be, in the end, God’s choice of him to further God’s work of reconciliation, of bringing mankind to God, bears fruit in Joseph and his brethren, the forebears of the Hebrew “race” from whence the Redeemer of mankind comes and from whom God’s ministry of reconciliation flows.