- Religion and Philosophy
Esau was the elder twin brother of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob. Genesis 25 and 27 relate the conflict between Esau the hunter and Jacob the herdsman over the right of primogeniture, the special privilege and blessing given the firstborn son in ancient society.
Though younger, Jacob first won these privileges from Esau because Esau sold them to him for a "mess of pottage" in a moment of hunger. More importantly, however, Jacob, with his mother Rebekah's assistance, posed as the hairy Esau, thus tricking their father Isaac, who was blind, into bestowing on him the blessing intended for Esau.
Genesis 32 and 33 tell of Jacob's repentance for this act, and of the final reconciliation of the brothers. From then on Jacob was known as Israel, and he became the progenitor of the nation Israel. Esau settled in the region of Mt. Seir, southeast of the Dead Sea, in Palestine, and became the ancestor of the Edomites.
The Edomites were recognized as both kinsmen and enemies of Israel at various points in the history of the Jewish people.