Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

It is stated 2 times in the Bible that God loved Jacob but he hated Esau.

Once in the OT in the book of Malachi

Malachi 1- 2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.


And once in the NT in Romans where Paul quotes the statement in Malachi.


Romans 9-13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated

It seems like a rather definite statement. Did God really hate Esau? Isn’t God a God of love?

What does the term “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” actually mean.

Many people completely misunderstand the meaning of the statement and then incorrectly use it in their teachings, such as the Hebrew Israelites who believe and teach that the White race are descendents of Esau who God hated, and that God hates ALL the descendents of Esau who was the father of the Edomites who they claim are the White race and so therefore God hates all the White race. The White race being Edomites and the descendents of Esau. ( I will not be dealing with the issue of are the White race Edomites? here)


Now if we simply take the verses alone, which it is not, and with no context and no understanding, which it does have, then the argument that the Hebrew Israelites postulate does at least appear to have some Biblical support. But like all false doctrines this only works when that certain understanding is read into verses and or the proper context and understanding is removed and we are left simply with the verse itself and the already inferred understanding of that verse. It’s basically a self supporting argument or simply put circle reasoning. This is not how to get a correct understanding of the Bible and leaves you with a false doctrine like that of the Hebrew Israelites.

So what does this actually mean?

If you have read my writing On Luke 14-26 where Jesus states that you must HATE your Mother and Father you will know that the word HATE is not always used to mean to detest or abhor.

Luke 14-26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.


If you haven’t read the writing I would suggest reading this in order to better understand the term.

So let’s have a look at the usage of the term in the Bible and see what it is actually saying.

We shall start with Malachi


Malachi 1- 2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

First thing we need to know is that Malachi is speaking to Israel the word of the LORD

Malachi 1- 1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.

God states that he loves you (Israel) but ye (Israel) asks the question how have you loved us? It is to this question that God states that he loved Jacob who was the brother of Esau yet hated Esau.

So the Israelites asked HOW God loved them.

And he explained to them exactly how.

God continues

and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness”  4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. 5 And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.

God was opposed to Esau he offered no protection to the Edomites while he blessed and protected Jacob and the Israelites.

“Loving” Jacob and “hating” Esau did not mean a literal “love” or a literal hate in this context, in the use of the terms in this verse. The Hebrew word translated as Hate is שָׂנֵא Sane.

While it most certainly can mean to hate in the sense of to detest, it can also mean to be an enemy of. God’s hate towards Esau was that he was an enemy of Esau in the meaning God was not with Esau, Esau was not under the protection of God while God’s love for Jacob was that he was with Jacob, he was his protection.  Through Jacob God had called his people, the Israelites. He had brought them out of Egypt, he had brought them into the promised land and he had saved them from complete destruction. Whenever they were faithful and called upon God as their God, God had heard their call and was faithful to his promise to them.

To further understand this we need to understand the story of Jacob and Esau

Jacob and Esau were twins, the sons of Isaac and his wife Rebekah.  Esau was born first Jacob it was stated held onto the heel of his brother.

Genesis 25- 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.

We must notice that Isaac loved Esau, while Rebekah loved Jacob

Genesis 25- 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob for the price of some bread and pottage and then despised that birthright.

Genesis 25- 29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34th Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

During the last days of Isaac before he died, Jacob stole the blessing of his father Isaac that was actually meant for his elder brother Esau. Esau being the elder and the one that Isaac loved was to obtain the inheritance and blessing of his father. Genesis 27-19/29

Genesis 27 – 28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be everyone that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

Because of this deception by Jacob, Esau had declared that he HATED Jacob and that he was going to kill him.

Genesis 27- 41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.

Although the same English word hate is used here the Hebrew word used for hate is שָׂטַם Satam, This is a different word than that used of Esau by God  and it means to oppose or persecute, to bear a grudge.

So we have to be careful when instantly assuming an English word has a certain meaning.

Even in English we can say “I hate to bother you” which has the meaning of being sorry for or regret not a physical detestation.

So we see that Esau had already commited the murder of his brother in his heart.

Rebekah found out and told Jacob to flee from Esau until Esau forgot his anger

Genesis 27- 42 And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;  44 And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; 45 Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?

Jacob did as he was asked to do but before he left Isaac  told Jacob not to marry a canaanite

Genesis 28 – 6 When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan;

And Jacob OBEYED his father and his mother.

Genesis 28- 7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;

Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father (he had 2 Canaanite wives) went and tried to obtain blessing by marrying a non Canaanite.

Genesis 28-  8 And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.

Esau however did not call upon the God of his father, he tried to win blessings and favour rather than relying on God, but Jacob was obedient and called upon the LORD the God of his father Isaac.

At Bethel Jacob made a vow to God that if God was with him that the LORD would be his God.

Genesis 28- 20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:

When Jacob fled from Laban the father of his wife Rebekah Jacob states that God (of his father ) has been with him

Genesis 31- 5 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.

We see that the vow that Jacob had made was acknowledged by God

Genesis 31-  13 I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, andwhere thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.


When he returned to his land as God had told him he again prayed that God was with him and to protect him from his brother Esau 

Genesis 32- 9And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 10I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

So the statement God had made in answering the question of the Israelites how he loved them was to show the Israelites the sons of Jacob that he was with them. He was their God while he was not the God of, he was not with those of Esau and his sons.

What about Paul’s quote of Malachi in the Book of Romans. What did Paul mean by quoting this passage.


Romans 9-13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated

Just like the use of Malachi the use here is not simply in isolation. It is not simply a verse with no context and no understanding.

WE must put the verse back into context in order to get a proper understanding of what Paul meant by quoting the verse.

Paul starts chapter 9 by saying that he Is an Israelite according to the FLESH, that he wished he could be separated from Christ for his people and that all the covenants, the law and the promises were given to the Israelites according to the flesh.

Romans 9- 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 Whose arethe fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

So Paul’s purpose here is to express concern for the Jews his brethren, who had rejected Christ.

Paul then makes the argument that not all Israel are those that are of Israel

Romans 9- 6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Meaning that not all of the physical descendants of Israel (Jacob) are actually classed as being Israel. We know this as many times the physical descendents were allowed to perish when they turned away from God (such as in the wilderness).

Paul continues to make the argument regarding the flesh and states that just because a person is a physical seed of Abraham it does not mean that they are a child of God. Abraham’s other sons were not included only Isaac was.

Romans 9- 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

Paul clearly showing that it was never about the FLESH but the PROMISE. The Israelites believed that it was through being a physical descendant of Abraham that made a person the seed of Abraham.

Something that John the baptist had argued against during his mission.

Matthew 3-9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Jesus also explained to the Israelites that being a physical seed did not automatically mean they were Abraham’s children.

John 8-  37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.

Those that did the works of Abraham were.

Paul wrote in Galatians that those that were Christs were the seed of Abraham and heirs of the PROMISE

Galatians 3-29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The seed was not according to the flesh.


Romans 9- 11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Not of works but of him that calleth. As we have already seen it was Jacob and not Esau that called upon the lord.  

It had been said that the elder shall serve the younger. Esau was going to serve Jacob

Romans 9- 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger

Then Paul quotes Malachi in verse 13

Romans 9-  13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Remember that Esau was considered an enemy of God seeing that he did not call on God and so God was not with him.

Paul had stated earlier in Romans that those that were enemies of God were reconciled back to God through the death of Jesus.

Romans 5-10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

The context and understanding of the statement is that God was with Jacob and he was not with Esau. The promise according to the flesh did not include everyone. But those of Jacob. Esau was the flesh of Isaac he was a physical descendent of Abraham yet was not included in the promise.

Paul then goes on to ask does that mean that God is unrighteous? Does the fact that God did not include all people in the covenant, in the promises make him unrighteous.

Romans 9- 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

To which he answers NO

Romans 9-  15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

This is a quote from Exodus

Exodus 33-19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

Paul then explains that what is done is so that God’s name might be declared throughout the earth.

Romans 9- 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.


This is before Paul then argues for the inclusion of the gentiles.


He begins this part of his argument by questioning the Israelites. Can they who are formed of God and have been protected by God, question God about what God does with his creation? Can God not do what he wishes in order that his power be known?

Romans 9- 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

Then Paul states that those that are called by God are not only Jews but gentiles also.

Romans 9- 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

The Gentiles were included in the promise through Christ through the adoption according to God’s own will.

Ephesians 1-5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Paul then states that it has already been fortold that God would include people who were not his people in the children of God.

Romans 9- 25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

This being taken from Hosea 3-23

Hosea 3-23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.

Paul then argued against the Israelites who did not believe that the Gentiles could be included into the children of God,  that God. who chose the Israelites as his people and did not chose others, as the creator, could include the gentiles if he so chose to do so , and did include the gentiles as his children through his son Jesus.

Paul’s whole reasoning was to show that God being God who had declared the Israelites as his people and was not with others despite them being the physical flesh of Abraham was to show the Israelites that their belief in being the flesh of Abraham was what set them apart was incorrect and that it was not the flesh but the promise to which the gentiles were through Jesus to be part of.


Love and Hate in this context simply meant God being with or not being as in being the God of a people. The whole purpose was to show that being part of God was not due to the flesh but those of the promise. Those that followed and believed God. God “loves” he is with,  those that seek him, and obey him and he “hates”, he is not with those that do not.


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