The initial paragraph of Malachi’s writing declares the great love that Jehovah had for the nation of Israel (1:1-5). When that announcement was made, however, the spiritually dull Hebrews asked, in effect, “Oh yeah, how have you loved us?” To illustrate his answer, Malachi calls attention to God’s divergent uses of Jacob and Esau — in reality, the nation of Israel versus the Edomites.
We must first note that “hate,” when used of God is a figure known as anthropopathism, i.e., the attribution of human emotions to deity. Certainly the type of “hate” that humans have is not to be attributed to Jehovah. Too, “hate” is sometimes idiomatically employed to simply suggest that one is loved less than another (see Genesis 29:30-33; also, cf. Luke 14:26 with Matthew 10:37).
Here are the facts. Both Israel and Edom had sinned. Edom was to be destroyed (these people passed into oblivion by the end of the first century A.D.), but a remnant of Israel was to be preserved — and this because of the nation’s role in the coming of the Messiah. God thus had favored the nation of Israel in the unfolding of His redemptive plan. The comparative character of these two peoples, of course, demonstrated Jehovah’s wisdom in the choice of Israel over Edom. The passage has nothing whatever to do with Jacob and Esau personally. In the margin of your Bible, make this comment: Israel’s precedence over Edom in the divine plan of salvation — not individual election.