I have had a number of people ask me the question, “What is the House of Esau?” They are wondering if there is any special relevance this term might have to missionary work other than the fact that we are to take it to the world. I would appreciate your opinion. Thanks so much.
As you know, although Esau was the older brother, Jacob received the blessing of the first born and became heir to the blessings of Abraham through his father, Isaac. Esau married two Hittite women, which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. (Gen. 26:35.)
Because of the disobedience of Esau, his name was changed to Edom and his descendants are known as Edomites. The Arabic nations have descended from Edom, and the Jewish nations from Jacob and Judah. Dire predictions against the Edomites were made by the Lord’s prophets.
Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.
The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD (Obadiah 1:1-4).
And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. (Obadiah 1:18).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written that
Through the lineage of Jacob, God sent those valiant spirits, those noble and great ones, who in his infinite wisdom and foreknowledge he knew would be inclined to serve him. Through Esau came those spirits of lesser valiance and devotion. Hence, in the very nature of things, many of Jacob’s seed were righteous in this life, and many of Esau’s were wicked, causing Malachi to say in the Lord’s name, some fifteen hundred years later, that God loved the house of Jacob and hated the house of Esau (Mal. 1:2-3.). (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol.2, p.277).
According to Brigham Young, the House of Esau comprises the gentile nations (Discourses of Brgham Young 6:344). The promise has been that in our day the gospel is first taken to the gentiles and then to the Jews. So the House of Jacob, manifested principally through the House of Ephraim, are acting as saviors on Mt. Zion to the descendants of Esau. President Young further stated that
We are called to be Saints, to be the chosen people of the Lord Almighty, to be the saviors of the children of men, to gather the house of Israel, and save the house of Esau (Journal of Discourses, Vol.12, p.118).