Allow me to be much more succinct, per feedback received.

It seems to me that Esau clearly states, at least in his belief, that the birthright and the blessing are two separate and distinct things when he says in Gen 27:36 "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." Then he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?"

Hebrews 12:16,17 says "...that no one be immoral or irreligious like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears."

To clarify my question for those seeking additional detail

In Genesis 27:36 Esau clearly sees his birthright (which he willingly sold for a low price) and his blessing (which was stolen by Jacob) as two separate things, but Hebrews 12:16-17 conflates the two events, ignoring the theft of the blessing, and thus appearing to conflate the two terms.


So, my question is, can anyone explain how or why the two terms are clearly conflated in Hebrews? Thanks in advance to any helpful souls out there with knowledge of the original Hebrew & Greek that might help me understand the wording of Hebrews 12:16,17.

Additions per further discussion:

It seems clear to me that the author of Hebrews has a different understanding than Esau and the author of Genesis of the meaning and application of birthright and blessings from one's father. I can only find a few places in all of the Bible where birthright is mentioned. I think the most in-depth exploration of what a birthright means is in 1st Chronicles 5:1,2 which states that Reuben lost his birthright by laying with his father's concubine in Genesis 35:22.

  • 2
    Hi Jaster 83 welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here! Please be sure to take the site tour (hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour) and read up on how this site is a little different than other sites around the web: hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/653/… Thanks! My own two cents, it seems to me that Esau & the author of Hebrews understood the consequences of Esau's actions differently. Seems a reasonable question to ask, upvoted +1. Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 23:33
  • @Jaster83 I also modified the format of the question in hopes of soliciting additional responses. If you don't like the changes I'm happy to roll them back. I'm sorry you felt unwelcome. Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 23:46
  • @HoldToTheRod Honestly, my first instinct was to be insulted that you edited the question, but after seeing your edits, I agree that your minor edits of my tone will be much more conducive to eliciting good responses, and I appreciate the welcome, and you giving me a respectful, and much needed, gentle nudge to calm down, even taking the time and going to the effort of removing the caps in places. Thank you.
    – Jaster83
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 0:30
  • I fail to follow your reasoning; are we reading the same text(s) ?
    – Lucian
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 2:40

1 Answer 1


God himself communicated with the boys' mother and God himself made it clear who would serve whom. Rebekah and Jacob followed God's will in the matter, despite Isaac having other ideas (initially).

The blessing was to be given to he who had the birthright. Esau relinquished that birthright (in exchange for a bowl of soup).

Jacob represented himself as the firstborn (with Rebekah's assistance) to the dim of sight Isaac. His partial blindness is perhaps a contextual metaphor.

Which firstborn, indeed, Jacob now was ; Esau having, voluntarily, recused himself from the privilege.

Hebrews does not 'conflate' birthright and blessing, Hebrews (rightly) sees one as consequent upon the other.

Blessing is consequent upon birthright, both in the natural realm and also in the spiritual realm.

After relinquishing the birthright, Esau wept. But there was no place found for him, despite his tears. He had despised that place. He had relinquished it. And, now, it no longer existed.

Jacob was the firstborn. No other place of firstborn existed to give to Esau.

And, therefore, the concomitant blessing went to Jacob.

Not Esau.

  • Thank you for your... valuable input, Nigel. You say that the blessing is linked to the birthright, so there is no conflation of the two in Hebrews 12:16,17. However, Genesis 26:37 clearly shows Esau disagrees with you. So, now you have interacted with this question on multiple occasions, and I thank you for all you have done, but I don't think you have what I would consider a satisfactory answer. Again, thank you for all of your incredibly insightful input on the topic that has blatantly ignored Genesis 26:37.
    – Jaster83
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 18:08
  • @Jaster83 You are most welcome. I do not mind at all if Esau disagrees with me. I would be worried if he did not.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 18:20
  • So, follow my logic here, as I explain why I don't particularly think your answer is very good. So I can see why the blessing should go to the one with the birthright. Makes sense. Esau proved he had no regard for his birthright when he sold it for a single meal. Why then is the deception necessary? He clearly tells Isaac that he is Esau, not that he, Jacob, has bought Esau's birthright for a pittance. Can you reference anywhere in the Bible that states that "blessing" is perk of birthright? They are clearly different things, as is seen with Jacob's blessings of his many sons.
    – Jaster83
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 23:12
  • @Jaster83 As you will see in the Tour and Help, comments are not designed for prolonged discussion and I would not wish to further extend my answer. But I would be very willing to be invited to a private chatroom for that purpose. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 5:54

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