Genesis 25:30
And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
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25:29-34 We have here the bargain made between Jacob and Esau about the right, which was Esau's by birth, but Jacob's by promise. It was for a spiritual privilege; and we see Jacob's desire of the birth-right, but he sought to obtain it by crooked courses, not like his character as a plain man. He was right, that he coveted earnestly the best gifts; he was wrong, that he took advantage of his brother's need. The inheritance of their father's worldly goods did not descend to Jacob, and was not meant in this proposal. But it includeth the future possession of the land of Canaan by his children's children, and the covenant made with Abraham as to Christ the promised Seed. Believing Jacob valued these above all things; unbelieving Esau despised them. Yet although we must be of Jacob's judgment in seeking the birth-right, we ought carefully to avoid all guile, in seeking to obtain even the greatest advantages. Jacob's pottage pleased Esau's eye. Give me some of that red; for this he was called Edom, or Red. Gratifying the sensual appetite ruins thousands of precious souls. When men's hearts walk after their own eyes, Job 31:7, and when they serve their own bellies, they are sure to be punished. If we use ourselves to deny ourselves, we break the force of most temptations. It cannot be supposed that Esau was dying of hunger in Isaac's house. The words signify, I am going towards death; he seems to mean, I shall never live to inherit Canaan, or any of those future supposed blessings; and what signifies it who has them when I am dead and gone. This would be the language of profaneness, with which the apostle brands him, Heb 12:16; and this contempt of the birth-right is blamed, ver. 34. It is the greatest folly to part with our interest in God, and Christ, and heaven, for the riches, honours, and pleasures of this world; it is as bad a bargain as his who sold a birth-right for a dish of pottage. Esau ate and drank, pleased his palate, satisfied his appetite, and then carelessly rose up and went his way, without any serious thought, or any regret, about the bad bargain he had made. Thus Esau despised his birth-right. By his neglect and contempt afterwards, and by justifying himself in what he had done, he put the bargain past recall. People are ruined, not so much by doing what is amiss, as by doing it and not repenting of it.A characteristic incident in their early life is attended with very important consequences. "Jacob sod pottage." He has become a sage in the practical comforts of life. Esau leaves the field for the tent, exhausted with fatigue. The sight and smell of Jacob's savory dish of lentile soup are very tempting to a hungry man. "Let me feed now on that red, red broth." He does not know how to name it. The lentile is common in the country, and forms a cheap and palatable dish of a reddish brown color, with which bread seems to have been eaten. The two brothers were not congenial. They would therefore act each independently of the other, and provide each for himself. Esau was no doubt occasionally rude and hasty. Hence, a selfish habit would grow up and gather strength. He was probably accustomed to supply himself with such fare as suited his palate, and might have done so on this occasion without any delay. But the free flavor and high color of the mess, which Jacob was preparing for himself, takes his fancy, and nothing will do but the red red. Jacob obviously regarded this as a rude and selfish intrusion on his privacy and property, in keeping with similar encounters that may have taken place between the brothers.

It is here added, "therefore was his name called Edom," that is, "Red." The origin of surnames, or second names for the same person or place, is a matter of some moment in the fair interpretation of an ancient document. It is sometimes hastily assumed that the same name can only owe its application to one occasion; and hence a record of a second occasion on which it was applied is regarded as a discrepancy. But the error lies in the interpreter, not in the author. The propriety of a particular name may be marked by two or more totally different circumstances, and its application renewed on each of these occasions. Even an imaginary cause may be assigned for a name, and may serve to originate or renew its application. The two brothers now before us afford very striking illustrations of the general principle. It is pretty certain that Esau would receive the secondary name of Edom, which ultimately became primary in point of use, from the red complexion of skin, even from his birth. But the exclamation "that red red," uttered on the occasion of a very important crisis in his history, renewed the name, and perhaps tended to make it take the place of Esau in the history of his race. Jacob, too, the holder of the heel, received this name from a circumstance occurring at his birth. But the buying of the birthright and the gaining of the blessing, were two occasions in his subsequent life on which he merited the title of the supplanter or the holder by the heel Genesis 27:36. These instances prepare us to expect other examples of the same name being applied to the same object, for different reasons on different occasions.

"Sell me this day thy birthright." This brings to light a new cause of variance between the brothers. Jacob was no doubt aware of the prediction communicated to his mother, that the older should serve the younger. A quiet man like him would not otherwise have thought of reversing the order of nature and custom. In after times the right of primogeniture consisted in a double portion of the father's goods Deuteronomy 21:17, and a certain rank as the patriarch and priest of the house on the death of the father. But in the case of Isaac there was the far higher dignity of chief of the chosen family and heir of the promised blessing, with all the immediate and ultimate temporal and eternal benefits therein included. Knowing all this, Jacob is willing to purchase the birthright, as the most peaceful way of bringing about that supremacy which was destined for him. He is therefore cautious and prudent, even conciliating in his proposal.

He availed himself of a weak moment to accomplish by consent what was to come. Yet he lays no necessity on Esau, but leaves him to his own free choice. We must therefore beware of blaming him for endeavoring to win his brother's concurrence in a thing that was already settled in the purpose of God. His chief error lay in attempting to anticipate the arrangements of Providence. Esau is strangely ready to dispose of his birthright for a trivial present gratification. He might have obtained other means of recruiting nature equally suitable, but he will sacrifice anything for the desire of the moment. Any higher import of the right he was prepared to sell so cheap seems to have escaped his view, if it had ever occurred to his mind. Jacob, however, is deeply in earnest. He will bring this matter within the range of heavenly influence. He will have God solemnly invoked as a witness of the transfer. Even this does not startle Esau. There is not a word about the price. It is plain that Esau's thoughts were altogether on "the morsel of meat." He swears unto Jacob. He then ate and drank, and rose up and went his way, as the sacred writer graphically describes his reckless course. Most truly did he despise his birthright. His mind did not rise to higher or further things. Such was the boyhood of these wondrous twins.

29. Jacob sod pottage—made of lentils or small beans, which are common in Egypt and Syria. It is probable that it was made of Egyptian beans, which Jacob had procured as a dainty; for Esau was a stranger to it. It is very palatable; and to the weary hunter, faint with hunger, its odor must have been irresistibly tempting. Red pottage; red by the infusion of lentiles, or saffron, or some other things of that colour. The word is doubled in the Hebrew text, to show how vehemently he desired it.

Edom, which signifies red; as he was at first so called from the colour of his hair, so now that name was confirmed and given to him afresh upon this occasion: q.d. He was rightly called Edom, or red, not only historically for his colour, but prophetically for this accident.

And Esau said to Jacob, feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage,.... Or, "with that same red (l), red"; not knowing what it was, or what it was made of, and therefore only calls it by its colour; and the word being doubled, may denote that it was very red; or he, being in haste and greedy of it through hunger, repeats it in a quick and short way: this pottage was made of lentiles, as we learn from Genesis 25:34; which sort of food was much in use with the Egyptians, Egypt abounding with lentiles; and particularly Alexandria was famous for them, from whence they were carried into other countries, as Austin (m) relates. The lentiles of Pelusium, a city in Egypt, are made mention of by Virgil (n) and Martial (o), for which that place was famous; where, as Servius says (p), lentiles were first found, or where they grew the best; and, in the Misnah (q), an Egyptian lentil is spoken of, as neither large nor small, but middling. Pliny (r) speaks of two sorts of it in Egypt, and says he found it in some authors, that eating of these makes men even tempered, good humoured, and patient; and observes (s), that they delight in red earth, or where there is much ruddle, or red ochre, from whence they may receive a red tincture; and the pottage made of them is of such a colour. And Dr. Shaw (t) says, that lentiles dissolve easily into a mass, and make a pottage or soup of a chocolate colour, much used in the eastern countries: and, as Scheuchzer observes (u), coffee is of the bean kind, and not unlike a lentil, and makes a red decoction. The colour of it took with Esau, as well as it was sweet and savoury, as Athenaeus (w) reports; and especially, he being faint and hungry, desires his brother to give him some of it, and even to feed him with it:

for I am faint; so faint that he could not feed himself, or however wanted immediate sustenance, and could not wait till other food he had used to live upon was dressed:

therefore was his name called Edom; not from his red hair, but from this red pottage; for Edom signifies "red", and is the same with the names Pyrrhus and Rufus.

(l) "de rufo, rufo isto", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; so Piscator, Schmidt. (m) Comment. in Psal. xlvi. tom. 8. p. 174. (n) Virgil. Georgic. l. 1. ver. 228. (o) Martial. l. 13. epigr. 9. (p) In Virgil. ut supra. (Georgic. l. 1. ver. 228) (q) Misn. Celim. c. 17. sect. 8. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 12. (s) lbid. c. 17. (t) Travels, p. 140. Ed. 2.((u) Physica Sacra, vol. 1. p. 78. (w) Deipno Sophist. l. 4. c. 14, 15.

And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
30. Feed me … with] i.e. “let me, I pray thee, swallow a little of.”

that same red pottage] Heb. the red pottage, this red pottage. Esau’s words repeat the adjective “red”: either this was the name by which the pottage was known, or else Esau in his faintness and weariness is represented as simply pointing and gasping out “that red, red mess1[22].”

[22] “The phrase ‘mess of pottage’ does not occur in the A.V. of 1611, but is used proverbially of the means whereby Esau sold his birthright (Genesis 25.). The actual phrase was used in the heading to this chapter of Genesis in the Bibles of 1537 and 1539, and in the Geneva Bible of 1560. Coverdale, in his Bible of 1535, used the phrase in other passages, viz. in 1 Chronicles 16:3 and Proverbs 20:7, but not in Genesis 25. See A New English Dictionary (Oxford University Press),” Spectator, Nov. 29, 1913.

therefore was his name called] A separate tradition accounting for the origin of the name “Edom”: see note on Genesis 25:25.

Edom] That is, Red.

Verse 30. - And Esau said unto Jacob, Feed me (literally, let me swallow, an expression for eating greedily), I pray thee, with that same red pottage; - literally, of that red, red (sc. pottage), or thing, in his excitement forgetting the name of the dish (Knobel), or indicative of the haste produced by his voracious appetite (Wordsworth, Luther), though the duplication of the term red has been explained as a witty play upon the resemblance of the lentil broth to his own red skin, as thus: "Feed with that red me the red one" (Lange) - for I am faint (vide supra, ver. 29): therefore was his name called Edom - i.e. red. "There is no discrepancy in ascribing his name both to his complexion and the color of the lentil broth. The propriety of a name may surely be marked by different circumstances" (A. G. in Lunge). The Arabians are fond of giving surnames of that kind to famous persons. Cf. Akil-al Murat, which was given to Hodjr, king of the Kendites, owing to his wife saying in a passion, "He is like a camel that devours bushes" (vide Havernick, 'Introduction,' § 18). Genesis 25:30The difference in the characters of the two brothers was soon shown in a singular circumstance, which was the turning-point in their lives. Esau returned home one day from the field quite exhausted, and seeing Jacob with a dish of lentils, still a favourite dish in Syria and Egypt, he asked with passionate eagerness for some to eat: "Let me swallow some of that red, that red there;" אדם, the brown-red lentil pottage. From this he received the name Edom, just as among the ancient Arabians persons received names from quite accidental circumstances, which entirely obscured their proper names. Jacob made us of his brother's hunger to get him to sell his birthright. The birthright consisted afterwards in a double portion of the father's inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17); but with the patriarchs it embraced the chieftainship, the rule over the brethren and the entire family (Genesis 27:29), and the title to the blessing of the promise (Genesis 27:4, Genesis 27:27-29), which included the future possession of Canaan and of covenant fellowship with Jehovah (Genesis 28:4). Jacob knew this, and it led him to anticipate the purposes of God. Esau also knew it, but attached no value to it. There is proof enough that he knew he was giving away, along with the birthright, blessings which, because they were not of a material but of a spiritual nature, had no particular value in his estimation, in the words he made use of: "Behold I am going to die (to meet death), and what is the birthright to me?" The only thing of value to him was the sensual enjoyment of the present; the spiritual blessings of the future his carnal mind was unable to estimate. In this he showed himself to be βέβηλος (Hebrews 12:16), a profane man, who cared for nothing but the momentary gratification of sensual desires, who "did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way, and so despised his birthright" (Genesis 25:34). With these words the Scriptures judge and condemn the conduct of Esau. Just as Ishmael was excluded from the promised blessing because he was begotten "according to the flesh," so Esau lost it because his disposition was according to the flesh. The frivolity with which he sold his birthright to his brother for a dish of lentils, rendered him unfit to be the heir and possessor of the promised grace. But this did not justify Jacob's conduct in the matter. Though not condemned here, yet in the further course of the history it is shown to have been wrong, by the simple fact that he did not venture to make this transaction the basis of a claim.
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