Genesis 25:29
And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
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(29, 30) Jacob sod pottage.—The diverse occupations of the two youths led, in course of time, to an act fatal to Esau’s character and well-being. Coming home one day weary, and fainting with hunger, he found Jacob preparing a pottage of lentils. No sooner did the savoury smell reach him than he cried out in haste, “Let me swallow, I pray, of the red, this red.” The verb expresses extreme eagerness, and he adds no noun whatever, but points to the steaming dish. And Jacob, seeing his brother’s greediness and ravenous hunger, refuses to give him food until he has parted with the high and sacred prerogative which made him the inheritor of the Divine promise.

Therefore was his name called Edom.—Esau may have been called Edom, that is, Rufus, the red one, before, but after this act it ceased to be a mere allusive by name, and became his ordinary appellation.

Genesis 25:29-32. Sod — That is, boiled. Edom, or red. Sell me this day thy birthright — He cannot be excused in taking advantage of Esau’s necessity; yet neither can Esau be excused, who was profane, Hebrews 12:16, because for one morsel of meat he sold his birthright. Various have been the opinions what this birthright was which Esau sold, but the most probable is, that, together with the right of sacrificing, and being the priest of the family, it included the peculiar blessing promised to the seed of Abraham, that of being the progenitor of the Messiah, and the heir of the special promises of God, respecting Christ’s kingdom. It was at least typical of spiritual privileges, those of the firstborn that are written in heaven. Esau was now tried how he would value those, and he shows himself sensible only of present grievances; may he but get relief against them, he cares not for his birthright. If we look on Esau’s birthright as only a temporal advantage, what he said had something of truth in it; our worldly enjoyments, even those we are most fond of, will stand us in no stead in a dying hour. They will not put by the stroke of death, nor ease the pangs, nor remove the sting of it. But being of a spiritual nature, his undervaluing it was the greatest profaneness imaginable. It is egregious folly to part with our interest in God, and Christ, and heaven, for the riches, honours, and pleasures of this world.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. No text from Poole on this verse. And Jacob sod pottage,.... Or boiled broth; this he did at a certain time, for this was not his usual employment; the Targum of Jonathan says, it was on the day in which Abraham died; and whereas this pottage was made of lentiles, as appears from Genesis 25:34; this the Jewish writers (i) say was the food of mourners; and so this circumstance furnishes out a reason for Jacob's boiling pottage of lentiles at this time: and hence also they (k) gather, that Jacob and Esau were now fifteen years of age; for Abraham was an hundred years old when Isaac was born, and Isaac was sixty at the birth of his sons; and Abraham lived to be one hundred and seventy five, and therefore Esau and Jacob must be fifteen years old when he died:

and Esau came from the field, and be was faint: for want of food, and weary with hunting, and perhaps more so, having toiled and got nothing.

(i) Pirke Eliezer, c. 35. (k) Seder Olam Rabba, p. 3. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 1.

And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
Verse 29. - And Jacob sod pottage: - literally, cooked something cooked; ἔψησε δὲ Ἱακὼβ ἕψημα (LXX.); prepared boiled food, of lentils (vide on ver. 34) - and Esau came from the field, and he was faint - exhausted, the term being used of one who is both wearied and languishing (cf. Job 22:7; Psalm 63:2; Proverbs 25:25). When Rebekah conceived, the children struggled together in her womb. In this she saw an evil omen, that the pregnancy so long desired and entreated of Jehovah would bring misfortune, and that the fruit of her womb might not after all secure the blessing of the divine promise; so that in intense excitement she cried out, "If it be so, wherefore am I?" i.e., why am I alive? cf. Genesis 27:46. But she sought counsel from God: she went to inquire of Jehovah. Where and how she looked for a divine revelation in the matter, is not recorded, and therefore cannot be determined with certainty. Some suppose that it was by prayer and sacrifice at a place dedicated to Jehovah. Others imagine that she applied to a prophet - to Abraham, Melchizedek, or Shem (Luther); a frequent custom in Israel afterwards (1 Samuel 9:9), but not probable in the patriarchal age. The divine answer, couched in the form of a prophetic oracle, assured her that she carried two nations in her womb, one stronger than the other; and that the greater (elder or first-born) should serve the less (younger). הפּרד ממּעיך: "proceeding from thy womb, are separated."
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