Laws of inheritance were precise in ancient Israel, and gave priority to the eldest son (Deut. 21: 17) of a man's wife, and therefore by rights Esau rather than Jacob was entitled to his father's blessing (Gen. 27: 36). Cf. Luke 15: 31. However, it was possible for a daughter also to inherit (Job 42: 15) provided that she did not marry outside the tribe (Num. 27: 1–8). If there were no children, the brother of the deceased came into the inheritance.

Paul uses the principle of inheritance to describe a person's relationship to God (Rom. 8: 16–17; cf. Heb. 9: 15).