What’s the historical enmity between Jacob and Esau?

BibleAsk Team

The Historical Enmity Between Jacob and Esau

The enmity between Jacob and Esau had been of long standing, probably derived from the birthright incident (Genesis 25). This hostility was foretold by the Lord to Rebekah, their mother, in Genesis 25:22-26. This enmity continued in their descendants the Edomites and the Jews. This animosity surfaced when the descendants of Esau refused to give permission to the children of Israel to go through their land on the way to Canaan (Numbers 20:14–21).

In the promised land, this enmity became more evident during the wars that Saul waged against them (1 Samuel 14:47). Also, David took severe measures against the Edomites, slaying “every male” and placing garrisons “throughout all Edom,” making them “servants” (2 Samuels 8:13, 14; 1 Kings 11:15).

And this strife between the two enemies continued under David’s son, Solomon (1 Kings 11:14–22). During the reign of Jehoshaphat, the Edomites, called “the children of Seir” (Genesis 32:3; 36:8; Deuteronomy 2:5), united together with the Moabites and the Ammonites, to invade Judah (2 Chronicles 20:22).

But the independence they lost under David, they regained under Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:8–10). And the struggle between Edom and the Israelites was taken up when Amaziah of Judah successfully attacked the Edomites, capturing their stronghold, Sela, and putt many of them to death (2 Kings 14:1, 7; 2 Chronicles 25:11, 12).

Still incompletely subdued, they again attacked Judah in the time of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:17). And when Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Edomites rejoiced over the calamities that befell Judah (Psalms 137:7).

Finally, the Hasmonaean King John Hyrcanus I brought the Edomites’ independence to an end in the year 126 b.c., when he forced them to accept the rite of circumcision and the law of Moses, and to submit to a Jewish governor.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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