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Food For Thought: Did God Really Hate Esau?

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The idea that God hated Esau before birth has always been an odd circumstance to me. Even as I write this, its still a point of interest, so I decided to do some extra digging into the matter. Before I get into what I’ve found, let me explain why the concept never sat right with me. This short study is an addendum to the following study:

A Few Observations

In Deuteronomy there is a specific law concerning the Edomites and how Hebrews should treat them.

Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.” – Deuteronomy 23:7-8

This raised a few questions:

  • Why would God tell Hebrews not to hate who he hates?
  • Why would God allow people he hates to enter the congregation at all?

In Deuteronomy 2:5 God promises Esau land for a possession. Why would he do that for people that he hates? These questions are what led me to the following information.

Here’s What I Found

Our concept of “hate” and what the Greek word can mean in the New Testament.

  • miseo (Strong’s #3404): I hate, detest, love less, esteem less.

To “love less” or “esteem less” is a much different concept than what we think of as hate. In that context it would seem that God loved both, but played favorites by choosing Jacob. This brings me to the Old Testament.

  • sane (Strong’s #8130): enemy, foe, be hateful odious, utterly

The Old Testament word can definitely be translated as “hate”, but in context it also seems fitting that God made Esau his “enemy” or “foe”. I’m not saying that God didn’t hate Esau, but there seem to be other possible interpretations that fit the context better than “hate” as we think of the concept.

The Breakdown

None of the above is anywhere near conclusive. I’ll do more digging over the next few weeks to see what turns up, but for now it’s just something to think about. Here’s a verse to keep in mind when things give rise to questions about certain actions that God takes:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

Feel free to share your thoughts.

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