One of the most common proof-texts used to show that God arbitrarily elects some to salvation while damning others without merit or cause is Romans 9:13
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Many people have a hard time with this passage as it is often posited as evidence of God’s sovereign choice unto election of Jacob and express damnation of Esau “before he had done good or evil”.
The first thing to note about this section is that the phrase “for Esau I have hated” is derived from the words of the prophet Malachi who, in Malachi 1:2-3, was talking about the nations of Edom and Israel. In the same manner Paul, writing in Romans 9 after a lengthy discussion regarding the need for his fellow Israelites to repent, was discussing the lineage of the chosen Messiah. It is a very large exegetical stretch to come to the conclusion that Romans 9 is talking about individual salvation since the context is the messiah’s lineage. consequently, the pots mentioned in Romans 9:19-26 are not people but nations.
At this point, many (primarily from the reformed camp) will argue along the lines that “nations are made up of people”. While this is true, we are still a long ways away from a particular view of election.
Hebrews 12:16 seems to indicate that Esau was a profane man but you don’t seem to think that God foreknew that or that such a knowledge could have played a part in God’s choosing. It seems plausible that the foreknown, freely made choice to sin was the basis for God’s hatred and condemnation of both the person of Esau as well as the nation that sprung from Esau’s loins; why then would we think that the same sort of freely chosen and foreknown transgressions wouldn’t be the basis of God’s choice to bring the promised seed through one and not the other?
For a more in-depth treatment of this subject I encourage you to listen to: