hairy, Rebekah's first-born twin son (Gen. 25:25). The name of
Edom, "red", was also given to him from his conduct in
connection with the red lentil "pottage" for which he sold his
birthright (30, 31). The circumstances connected with his birth
foreshadowed the enmity which afterwards subsisted between the
twin brothers and the nations they founded (25:22, 23, 26). In
process of time Jacob, following his natural bent, became a
shepherd; while Esau, a "son of the desert," devoted himself to
the perilous and toilsome life of a huntsman. On a certain
occasion, on returning from the chase, urged by the cravings of
hunger, Esau sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob, who
thereby obtained the covenant blessing (Gen. 27:28, 29, 36; Heb.
12:16, 17). He afterwards tried to regain what he had so
recklessly parted with, but was defeated in his attempts through
the stealth of his brother (Gen. 27:4, 34, 38).
At the age of forty years, to the great grief of his parents,
he married (Gen. 26:34, 35) two Canaanitish maidens, Judith, the
daughter of Beeri, and Bashemath, the daughter of Elon. When
Jacob was sent away to Padan-aram, Esau tried to conciliate his
parents (Gen. 28:8, 9) by marrying his cousin Mahalath, the
daughter of Ishmael. This led him to cast in his lot with the
Ishmaelite tribes; and driving the Horites out of Mount Seir, he
settled in that region. After some thirty years' sojourn in
Padan-aram Jacob returned to Canaan, and was reconciled to Esau,
who went forth to meet him (33:4). Twenty years after this,
Isaac their father died, when the two brothers met, probably for
the last time, beside his grave (35:29). Esau now permanently
left Canaan, and established himself as a powerful and wealthy
chief in the land of Edom (q.v.).
Long after this, when the descendants of Jacob came out of
Egypt, the Edomites remembered the old quarrel between the
brothers, and with fierce hatred they warred against Israel.