Thought from Today's Old Testament Passage:
[Malachi 1:2-3] When Scripture talks about God's hatred, it uses a distinctly biblical idiom which does not imply that Yahweh exhibits disgust, disdain and a desire for revenge. There are clear objects meriting God's hatred, including the seven evils of Proverbs 6:16-19, all forms of hypocritical worship and even death itself, as Jesus demonstrated at the grave of Lazarus. … Hate can be a proper emotion for disavowing and for expressing antipathy for all that stands against God and his righteous standards. Only one who has truly loved can experience burning anger against all that is wrong and evil.
But in this antonymic pair of love and hate, as used in Scripture, there is a specialized meaning. A close parallel to the emotions expressed for Jacob and Esau is Jacob's response to his wives, Rachel and Leah, in Genesis 29:30-33. While verses 31 and 33 say that Jacob hated Leah, verse 30 clarifies this usage by stating in the same context that he loved Rachel more than Leah. A similar situation is found in Deuteronomy 21:15-17.
To summarize, the hated one is the one loved less… In this text, he merely affirms that Jacob had had a distinctive call, for when he had been blessed, all the nations of the world would eventually, if not immediately, profit from his blessing. Thus, there came a ranking and a preference, in order to carry out God's plan and to bring the very grace that Esau would also need.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988), pp. 245-246.