People so often use this statement to claim that the gentiles innately hate Jews, is this an accurate understanding of the statement?

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    Many think not rygb.blogspot.com/2012/12/halacha-byadua-eav-soneh-lyaakov.html
    – rosends
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 10:55
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    I should blog an answer as opininated answers here get downvoted. Not all goyim are descended from Eisav, not even spiritually as some descend from Ishmael. Eisav's hatred is based on the concept that our blessing was "stolen" from him.
    – CashCow
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 11:24
  • I had heard this statement. Can you edit in a link to its source?
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 15:22
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/18554/603
    – Menachem
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 16:02
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    This question would be more compelling if you edit it so that the question body includes: 1) the statement, in English and Hebrew, 2) the source of the statement (or at least where you've heard it, and 3) some idea of where you've heard the interpretation you're asking about.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 19:42

2 Answers 2


As noted in the comments in @Danno's link, there is no source for interpreting the Midrash as referring to nations as opposed to Yaakov and Esav themselves in any early Jewish literature. Furthermore it is noted that other texts of the Midrash, such as Yalkut Shim'oni (B'haalotcha 722) read והלא בידוע שעשו שונא ליעקב which removes any sweeping implications from the statement.

  • Note that even the lone early source; Abarbanel, cited in the comments as a supposed exceptional commentator who understood it as referring to the nations themselves, is not explaining the statement itself, but rather saying that just as Esav hated the Jews, so do his Italian descendants. He does not say that this is the intent of the Midrash, nor does he say that it is an inherent, rather than acquired trait, nor does he apply it to all non-Jews.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 16:04

In his Teshuvot Ivra (siman 116), R. Eliyahu Henkin writes that we should not interpret this hatred as something innate (or something like that) because a perverse person stops being perverse after appropriate behavior.

He states that the saying of Ben Zoma in Avot “Who is he that is honored? Those who honor others" also applies to the nations and that our friendship or enmity toward others also influence their behavior toward us.

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