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We all know the story of how Esau lost his birthright; you can read it in Genesis 25:27-34.

Jacob did not steal Esau’s birthright, nor was it given to him. It was sold to him — he bought it.

How did Jacob manage to get such a bargain? He negotiated well while Esau negotiated very, very poorly. Here are a few lessons we can learn from what happened between them:


1. Don’t negotiate when you are hungry: If you do, the other party will prey on your hunger. Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” Jacob saw his hunger and took advantage of it. Don’t be like Esau. Of course, this doesn’t refer to physical hunger alone. Hunger of any kind prevents you from thinking straight, and that’s not a good time to negotiate. All kinds of desperation should be avoided if you must safeguard your birthright.


2. Don’t negotiate when you’re tired: You need to be spiritually and mentally alert when negotiating. Everyone gets tired, but that’s not the time for negotiation. In all of Jacob’s negotiations he was the one dictating. He was on top of his game, ready, prepared, advantaged and wise. He was peaceful but strong — very strong. Always ensure that you’re in top shape at all times, especially when you need to negotiate something pivotal to your destiny.


3. Don’t exaggerate your need: “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” Come on, Esau! Dying of starvation? Really?

Esau obviously wasn’t going to die of starvation, even though he was very hungry. That day’s hunger wouldn’t have killed him. Yet he sold his birthright for a single meal. A truly poor bargain!


4. Don’t get irritated when negotiating: “What good is my birthright to me now?” Irritation led Esau to speak and act carelessly. He was irritated, and so he showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn. The Bible tells us that he later desired the blessings of the firstborn, but it was too late though he begged with many tears.


5. Don’t sign any deal in haste: Esau was too hasty in his negotiation, and the result was a poor deal. He didn’t take time to think through and understand what he was doing. He later expected to get the blessing of a firstborn after he had sold his birthright! What did he think happened when he SWORE AN OATH selling his birthright to Jacob? Haste can ruin you. Take your time.


If you don’t like where you are, you have to do more than pray. You need to take a look at the choices you’ve made up to this point and access the system you’re operating with.

Esau is described in Hebrews 12:16 as a godless man, concerned about earthly things rather than respecting and valuing spiritual things. He didn’t have his priorities right.

God wants you to be an eternal glory and a joy of many generations. Don’t be an Esau.

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This article was first published on 31st July 2016 and updated on August 2nd, 2017 at 9:09 pm


Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

Comments (1)

One thought on “Esau and Jacob: 5 Negotiating Lessons”

  • Excellent tips! Thanks Joy.

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