Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants]

ἴστε γὰρ ὅτι καὶ μετέπειτα θέλων κληρονομῆσαι τὴν εὐλογίαν ἀπεδοκιμάσθη, μετανοίας γὰρ τόπον οὐχ εὗρεν, καίπερ μετὰ δακρύων ἐκζητήσας αὐτήν.

Hebrews 12:17 (KJV)

17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears

The text says that Esau sought the blessings with tears which seem to attest to some form of repentance but still his father did not revoke the blessings he had bestowed upon his brother Jacob

Does this refer to Esau as being incapable of repentance or that his father Isaac could not revoke what he had bestowed upon Jacob.

  • 1
    "no place of repentance" has to do with grounds for changing his father's mind. He had made is bed, as the saying goes.
    – enegue
    Jun 21, 2018 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


'Place' in Hebrews 12:17 is τοπος, topos, as in Acts 1:25.

... apostleship from which, transgressing, Judas fell to go to his own place.

[Interlinear Literal from the Englishman's Greek New Testament (Bagster)].

Judas traded his position for thirty of silver after which the position was no longer his and was available for another, as prophesied in Psalm 109:8 and as referred to by Peter :

... his bishopric let another take (Acts 1:20)[KJV]

Thus also did Esau. The place referred to is the place which Esau had already relinquished, before the incident with Isaac. I do not think that Isaac is involved in this at all.

The deal was already done, long before.

Esau traded his place for a bowl of soup. And he did so without a thought, without a care, without a blush - because he cared nothing for the birthright. He regarded it as less than the worth of a single meal.

Just as Herod regarded the head of John the Baptist as less than the value of half his kingdom. All Herod need do, in front of his courtiers and his wife, is tell them that Salome has asked for something outside of the bargain estimate.

It is all a matter of valuations.


Jacob wanted the blessing. And, years later, when he met Esau again, Esau had got over his brief tears, had settled for what he really wanted and to the man who had just spent the entire night in prayer, wrestling for a blessing :

I will not let thee go unless thou bless me [Genesis 32:26]

Esau gave the response :

I have enough, my brother [Genesis 34:9]

Happy, now, Esau is content. But Jacob still wrestles on.

In the end, they both got what they really wanted. Esau took to wife a woman of the Hittites which was a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. Esau revealed by his choice that he despised his birthright because he despised his parents and despised what Abraham and Isaac lived for.

He wept because he lost outward, natural blessings. But for the spiritual things after which his fathers yearned, he cared nothing. When push came to shove and when he felt just a stirring of hunger, he would trade what he did not value for a momentary gratification.

What he traded was his position.

And having traded it, he no longer possessed that place.

It now belonged to someone else.

Because repentance is not one, solitary act. Repentance (μετανοια,metanoia) is a matter of the mind (νοια, noia). It is a lifelong habitation. One dwells there, in the place of repentance, never moving,

Once relinquished, it can never be recovered. The place has disappeared. It no longer exists.

So he can cry all he likes. He can seek it as thoroughly as he can. But it no longer exists, what he seeks. It has disappeared, forever.

Afterward - he was rejected.

The gift of repentance is priceless. And this gift has been made available to the Gentiles, now, not just Israel :

Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. [Acts 11:18 (KJV)]

But those who lightly esteem this gift and who think it can be traded (backwards and forwards) now possessing it, now casting it aside (for a while) that profanity may be indulged, will discover - to their horror - that God is not mocked.

Cast it away - trade it for a moment - and it is gone forever.

So discovered Esau, weeping. So discovered Judas, hanging.

Wherefore, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear :

For our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:28, 29 [KJV].


This is an allusion to Esau's bitter tears later in the story:

KJV Gen 27:33  And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed.  Gen 27:34  And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.  Gen 27:35  And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.  Gen 27:36  And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?  Gen 27:37  And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?  Gen 27:38  And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.  Gen 27:39  And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;  Gen 27:40  And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

He did receive a consolation blessing but the original blessing was long gone.

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