Daily Word

Despising a birthright | Genesis 25:27-34

27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a civilized man, living in tents. 28 Now Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for game; but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 When Jacob had cooked a stew one day, Esau came in from the field and he was exhausted; 30 and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a mouthful of that red stuff there, for I am exhausted.” Therefore he was called Edom by name.

31 But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” 32 Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” 33 And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore an oath to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and got up and went on his way. So Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 25:27-34 (NASB)

Fast forward

Fast forward to the boys as young adults. Their personalities are formed and, unfortunately, favoritism among the parents set in. Isaac loved (or favored) Esau since he liked to eat game (as opposed to lamb from the flocks). Rebekah loved Jacob since he was civilized and lived in tents. “The Hebrew word for mild has the idea of “wholeness,” instead of someone who is weak or effeminate.” (endurigword.com)


As the first-born son, by tradition, Esau would inherit the majority of the estate and, by extension, the blessing. Even though they were twins so technically conceived at the same time, all that matters is who is born first, who comes down the chute first (they had no c-sections of course). “In the case of this family, the birthright determined who would inherit the covenant God made with Abraham; the covenant of a land, a nation, and the Messiah.” (enduringword.com)

Despising a birthright

One day, Esau was hungry after being in the field (presumably hunting). His appetite was his god. He was more interested in food than in his birthright so he sold it legally to the crafty Jacob for some food. Jacob was a trickster (as his name implies in Hebrew) and took advantage of Esau’s weakness. Probably not the ideal of godliness – especially since it demonstrated he, like his grandparents, was trying to do God’s work in his own way; conniving to get the birthright.

For his part, Esau demonstrated a complete disregard for the spiritual inheritance. He indicated he had no relationship with God and didn’t care. Saying he “despised” his birthright is pretty strong language. God treated this attitude of his heart with the same severity. (c.f., Hebrews 12:16)


  • Do you understand the birthright you have as a follower of Christ? You are adopted. You’re a joint heir with Jesus Christ. You have every spiritual blessing. Here’s a list to refer to. How are you treating this birthright?
Man tears up contract. Image from criticalconcepts.org *

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