Gen 25:29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
Gen 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.
Gen 25:31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
Gen 25:32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
Gen 25:33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
Gen 25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.
A day comes when Esau comes in from a day’s hunt famished, and sees Jacob cooking up a pot of lentils, or literally, a red stew. I believe that both these boys knew what God had told their mother before they were born, but we see Jacob acting just like grandpa and helping the Lord out. He decides to get Esau to openly and completely sell his birthright, knowing how impulsive his brother was.
Why was Jacob cooking in the first place?
Cooking was a woman’s task, especially when the family was camped or living in villages. Men did cook when they were away, but it would have been shameful for a young man to be cooking.
Was he a sissy boy, like so many commentators say?
The answer might lie in the Hebrew tradition called “Sitting Shiva” and the reason for the mourning is the death of Abraham.
Sitting Shiva consists of seven days of mourning for the death of a loved one, during which a lentil stew or soup is prepared. Lentil soup is a traditional food eaten during this time.
Those who are of the immediate family (one’s father or mother, sister or brother, son and daughter, and spouse) are not allowed to cook during this period. Grandchildren are not considered immediate for this very purpose.
THE SALE OF THE BIRTHRIGHT
Though Abraham reached a good old age, beyond the limit of years vouchsafed later generations, he yet died five years before his allotted time. The intention was to let him live to be one hundred and eighty years old, the same age as Isaac’s at his death, but on account of Esau God brought his life to an abrupt close. For some time Esau had been pursuing his evil inclinations in secret. Finally he dropped his mask, and on the day of Abraham’s death he was guilty of five crimes: he ravished a betrothed maiden, committed murder, doubted the resurrection of the dead, scorned the birthright, and denied God. Then the Lord said: “I promised Abraham that he should go to his fathers in peace. Can I now permit him to be a witness of his grandson’s rebellion against God, his violation of the laws of chastity, and his shedding of blood? It is better for him to die now in peace.”
The men slain by Esau on this day were Nimrod and two of his adjutants. A long-standing feud had existed between Esau and Nimrod, because the mighty hunter before the Lord was jealous of Esau, who also devoted himself assiduously to the chase. Once when he was hunting it happened that Nimrod was separated from his people, only two men were with him. Esau, who lay in ambush, noticed his isolation, and waited until he should pass his covert. Then he threw himself upon Nimrod suddenly, and felled him and his two companions, who hastened to his succor. The outcries of the latter brought the attendants of Nimrod to the spot where he lay dead, but not before Esau had stripped him of his garments, and fled to the city with them.
These garments of Nimrod had an extraordinary effect upon cattle, beasts, and birds. Of their own accord they would come and prostrate themselves before him who was arrayed in them. Thus Nimrod and Esau after him were able to rule over men and beasts.
After slaying Nimrod, Esau hastened cityward in great fear of his victim’s followers. Tired and exhausted he arrived at home to find Jacob busy preparing a dish of lentils. Numerous male and female slaves were in Isaac’s household. Nevertheless Jacob was so simple and modest in his demeanor that, if he came home late from the Bet ha-Midrash, he would disturb none to prepare his meal, but would do it himself. On this occasion he was cooking lentils for his father, to serve to him as his mourner’s meal after the death of Abraham. Adam and Eve had eaten lentils after the murder of Abel, and so had the parents of Haran, when he perished in the fiery furnace. The reason they are used for the mourner’s meal is that the round lentil symbolizes death: as the lentil rolls, so death, sorrow, and mourning constantly roll about among men, from one to the other.
Esau accosted Jacob thus, “Why art thou preparing lentils?”
Jacob: “Because our grandfather passed away; they shall be a sign of my grief and mourning, that he may love me in the days to come.”
Esau: “Thou fool! Dost thou really think it possible that man should come to life again after he has been dead and has mouldered in the grave?” He continued to taunt Jacob. “Why dost thou give thyself so much trouble?” he said. “Lift up thine eyes, and thou wilt see that all men eat whatever comes to hand–fish, creeping and crawling creatures, swine’s flesh, and all sorts of things like these, and thou vexest thyself about a dish of lentils.”
Jacob: “If we act like other men, what shall we do on the day of the Lord, the day on which the pious will receive their reward, when a herald will proclaim: Where is He that weigheth the deeds of men, where is He that counteth?”
Esau: “Is there a future world? Or will the dead be called back to life? If it were so, why hath not Adam returned? Hast thou heard that Noah, through whom the world was raised anew, hath reappeared? Yea, Abraham, the friend of God, more beloved of Him than any man, hath he come to life again?”
Jacob: “If thou art of opinion that there is no future world, and that the dead do not rise to new life, then why dost thou want thy birthright? Sell it to me, now, while it is yet possible to do so. Once the Torah is revealed, it cannot be done. Verily, there is a future world, in which the righteous receive their reward. I tell thee this, lest thou say later I deceived thee.”
Jacob was little concerned about the double share of the inheritance that went with the birthright. What he thought of was the priestly service, which was the prerogative of the first-born in ancient times, and Jacob was loth to have his impious brother Esau play the priest, he who despised all Divine service.
The scorn manifested by Esau for the resurrection of the dead he felt also for the promise of God to give the Holy Land to the seed of Abraham. He did not believe in it, and therefore he was willing to cede his birthright and the blessing attached thereto in exchange for a mess of pottage. In addition, Jacob paid him in coin, and, besides, he gave him what was more than money, the wonderful sword of Methuselah, which Isaac had inherited from Abraham and bestowed upon Jacob.
Esau made game of Jacob. He invited his associates to feast at his brother’s table, saying, “Know ye what I did to this Jacob? I ate his lentils, drank his wine, amused myself at his expense, and sold my birthright to him.” All that Jacob replied was, “Eat and may it do thee good!” But the Lord said, “Thou despisest the birthright, therefore I shall make thee despised in all generations.” And by way of punishment for denying God and the resurrection of the dead, the descendants of Esau were cut off from the world.
As naught was holy to Esau, Jacob made him swear, concerning the birthright, by the life of their father, for he knew Esau’s love for Isaac, that it was strong. Nor did he fail to have a document made out, duly signed by witnesses, setting forth that Esau had sold him the birthright together with his claim upon a place in the Cave of Machpelah.
Though no blame can attach to Jacob for all this, yet he secured the birthright from him by cunning, and therefore the descendants of Jacob had to serve the descendants of Esau.
The Legends of the Jews, By Louis Ginzberg
So Esau, not caring, and not really in the position to really give his birthright away, does so anyway.
Esau in verse 30 is given a nickname: Edom.
Edom means red and it not only refers to his ruddy, hairy body, it also refers to this incident. It could also refer to his seeing red after this episode plays itself out. Edom, or the Edomites become a major enemy of Israel and play a role in the end times as well.
We find out later that Esau moves away from his family and establishes his nation in the district named after his appearance “Seir,” called Mt. Seir, or “Hairy Mountain,” “Mt. Hairy.”
In verse 34, we learn that Esau despised his birthright. The idea that he was the first-born, but that he would never have that right must have been something that made him angry, bitter, and hateful towards his family (Hebrews 12:16-17).
Why did God choose Jacob over Esau?
The reason can be found in their personalities.
Jacob starts out as a trickster in many ways, but he learns to become what God had called him to be.
Esau on the other hand, never would have been able to do the right thing.
He was a profane person (Hebrews 12:16-17) who would not repent of his ways and he could not be used by God (Romans 9:10-13)
But that raises the question; Was Esau born that way?
Rom 9:10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
Rom 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
Rom 9:12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
Rom 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Rom 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Rom 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Rom 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Rom 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Rom 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Rom 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
There are those who like to take this passage and use it to make them feel better about the fact that they don’t evangelize. They claim that God makes some people to be His own and that He makes some to go to hell, meaning that He makes both good and bad so that people are destined to either eternal punishment or eternal existence in heaven.
One could take this idea and then think that it is ok to live a sinful life because God made you for it, but that could not be further from the truth.
It comes down to choice, not on God’s part but on ours.
The preceding passage gives us some examples
Romans 9:6-10 speaks of God choosing Jacob over Esau, neither child had sinned but why do you think God would have chosen Jacob over Esau?
I say it was the providence of God. God knows the beginning from the end, God knows what path we will choose and He knows who are His people.
Jacob, though he was not the best person all the time, chose to be a man of God.
Esau was more worried about his own self (Genesis 25:29-34)
Romans 9:14-20 speaks of God using Pharaoh to show His power. God knew what Pharaoh would do, He knew what he would choose and it looks like God is forcing him, but in actuality He is not. He knew what was in Pharaoh’s heart.
Read the Exodus story.
Both were used by God to show His power and might and they look like vessels of dishonor, yet in actuality they chose to be this way. Could they have chosen to be something else, yes but neither chose to acknowledge God in their lives
Esau in his birthright and Pharaoh in his life (Exodus 5:1-2)
We are all vessels of dishonor (flesh); we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
we are all born under the sin of Adam. God wants us all to be saved and that is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ
2 Peter 3:9
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit of God and when and only when this happens, we become a vessel of honor through the Spirit (Romans 8:12-15). This comes through our choosing which vessel that we will be.
and we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son when we are saved in Jesus Christ.