|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 31. - And Jacob said, Sell me this day - literally, as the day; as clearly as the day (Jarchi, Kimchi, Drusius); immediately, statim (Rosenmüller); perhaps simply today, σήμερον (LXX., Glassius, Gesenius, Kalisch; cf. 1 Samuel 9:13, 27; 1 Kings 1:49) - thy birthright. The right of primogeniture in the family of Abraham implied
(1) succession to the earthly inheritance of Canaan;
(2) possession of the covenant blessing transmitted through the paternal benediction; and
(3) progenitorship of the promised seed. Under the Mosaic institute the privileges of the firstborn were clearly defined. They involved succession to
(1) the official authority of the father;
(2) a double portion of the father s property; and
(3) the functions of the domestic priesthood (vide Genesis 27:4, 19, 27-29; Genesis 49:3; Exodus 22:29; Numbers 8:14-17; Deuteronomy 21:17).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Jacob said, sell me this day thy birthright. Which had many privileges annexed to it, as honour and authority in the family next to parents; a double portion of inheritance; some say the exercise of priesthood, but that is questioned; the parental blessing, and especially in this the promises of the Messiah, and of inheritance of the land of Canaan, and which was typical of the heavenly inheritance: all which Rebekah knew by the divine oracle were designed for Jacob, and which no doubt she had acquainted him with, and advised him to deal with his brother about parting with his birthright as he had opportunity; and very likely they had talked together about it before in a distant manner, and Esau had shown some indifference to his right, and made no great account of it; and now, an opportunity offering to get him in the mind to part with it, he takes it, and moves for a sale of it immediately, at once, without any more delay, and even before he had his pottage; thus taking the advantage of his brother's necessity: or, sell it me "as the day" (x), let the bargain be as clear as the day, as Jarchi interprets it; let it be made in plain and full terms, that there may be no dispute about it hereafter, or any revocation of it: but the former sense seems best, as appears from Genesis 25:33, where the same way of speaking is used.
(x) "juxta hunc diem", Fagius, Drusius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
31. Jacob said, Sell me … thy birthright—that is, the rights and privileges of the first-born, which were very important, the chief being that they were the family priests (Ex 4:22) and had a double portion of the inheritance (De 21:17).
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