BibleAsk Team

Why did God prefer Jacob over Esau?

Topic: God

Did God Hate Esau?

This question often comes up after reading Romans 9:13: “As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Romans 9:13). This strong expression does not imply real hatred, as the term is used today, but that God had preferred Jacob above Esau in His choice of the progenitor of the chosen race (verses 10, 11).

It was common in Biblical times to use the term “hate” to express preference. For example Jacob preference for Rachel is compared with his “hatred” for Leah (Genesis 29:30, 31). And in the New Testament, Jesus speaks about “hating” one’s father and mother (Luke 14:26) and “hating” one’s life (John 12:25). This simply meant that a person prefers someone or something over another.

Why Did God Prefer Jacob?

Genesis gives us several reasons why God “preferred” Jacob over Esau (Romans 9:13). The first one is because Esau in Genesis 25:30-35 showed that he didn’t value God’s blessings at all. In fact, he “despised his divine birthright” (verse 35). He valued worldly blessings over the spiritual ones.

The second reason is that Esau didn’t cultivate the graces of self control over his physical passions. Paul in the book of Hebrews describes Esau with the term “pornos,” implying that he was a man ruled by his physical appetites (Hebrews 12:16).

A third reason is that he took wives from among the Hittites (Genesis 26:34). This very act could have been a disqualifying factor for receiving the birth right blessing because marrying from among the neighboring idol worshipers/pagans was clearly an ungodly decision and forbidden.

Jacob certainly had his faults, but his faults had more to do with immaturity than with basic character faults (Genesis 32:26-29). He obviously WANTED God’s blessing so bad that he had to use even wrong means to acquire it. God “preferred” Jacob over his brother because Esau did not want the spiritual privileges, lacked self control and Godliness.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Categories God

More Answers: