Esau, ay-SAV, עֵשָׂו
Esau (Wikipedia)
Matthias Stom, Esau [right] selling his birthright to Jacob or The Lentil Stew, 17th century

Esau (/ˈsɔː/; Hebrew: עֵשָׂו‎; Standard Hebrew: Esav; Tiberian Hebrew: ʿĒśāw; ISO 259-3 ʕeśaw; Greek: Ἡσαῦ Hēsau; Latin: Hesau, Esau; Arabic: عِيسُو‎‎ ‘Īsaw; meaning "Hairy" or "Rough"), in the Hebrew Bible, is the older son of Isaac. He is mentioned in the Book of Genesis, and by the prophets, Obadiah and Malachi. The New Testament of the Christian Bible alludes to him in the Epistle to the Romans and in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

According to the Hebrew Bible, Esau is the progenitor of the Edomites and the elder twin brother of Jacob, the patriarch of the Israelites.Esau and Jacob were the sons of Isaac and Rebekah, and the grandsons of Abraham and Sarah. Of the twins, Esau was the first to be born with Jacob following, holding his heel (the Hebrew name Yaacov meaning "Heel-holder"). Isaac was sixty years old and Rebekah is believed to have been younger when the boys were born. Esau's grandfather Abraham was still alive, being 160 years old at that time.

Esau, a "man of the field" became a hunter who had "rough" qualities that distinguished him from his twin brother. Among these distinguishing qualties were his red hair and noticeable hairiness. Jacob was a shy or simple man, depending on the translation of the Hebrew word "Tam" (which also means "relatively perfect man"). Throughout Genesis, Esau is frequently shown as being supplanted by his younger twin Jacob (Israel).

« Back to Glossary Index
Skip to toolbar