He was born red. A violent shock of red hair covered his head, his forearms, his infant legs. A bad omen, said the midwife, and turned away from him to his crowning brother. The second-born was far more favourable. Fair and smoothed-skinned like his mother, timid and pious like his father; a much better heir. Yet he, Esau, would inherit the birthright.
He was a boy of the field. While his brother spent his days in their father's tent, Esau would escape to the solitude of the wilderness, running through the woods, chasing deer. In the evenings he'd return, carrying his prey. A wild child, his mother would hiss, "I am weary of life because of him".
"Let the child be", said his grandfather, kissing the top of his fiery red head. God didn't intend for us all to be tent-dwellers. Esau adored him. He'd sit for hours at his feet, listening to tales of voyages and battles, cattle and estates. All these would be his someday. Let his mother disapprove; his grandfather would be proud.
One night his grandfather wasn't there. His brother was sitting by the fire, stirring pottage, listless. He's dead, he murmured, he died this morning. Esau cried out, a great and bitter cry. What good is the birthright to me now? he wept.
From that day on, Esau terrorised the fields, a bandit and mercenary, loved by none, feared by all. His brother inherited the birthright, and fled the land. "Let him run", said Esau, " I'll kill him someday".
When his brother returned, Esau gathered his men and went to meet him. They knelt before each other, as Esau drew his dagger. But his brother reached out and threw his arms around his neck, kissing the top of his fiery red head. "My brother", said he, "Let me find favour in your eyes". Esau felt the warmth of his brother's embrace, and thought of the solitude of the wilderness, and wept.