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Catholic Dictionary




Son of Isaac and Rebekah and twin brother of Jacob (Genesis 25:24). Esau, also called Edom because of his red hair, was a rugged outdoor man, while Jacob was shrewd and calculating. This is illustrated in the familiar story of Esau selling his birthright to his brother for a meal of bread and lentil soup (Genesis 25:29-34). Jacob's duplicity was indicated in the plot that he and his mother concocted to elicit the blessing of his dying, blind father by disguising himself as Esau. Estrangement between the brothers lasted for years (Genesis 27), but when Jacob sought reconciliation, Esau was surprisingly forgiving in the light of Jacob's wretched behavior. Despite the improved relations, they settled in different sections of the country (Genesis 32, 33), "for they had acquired too much to live together" (Genesis 36:7).