The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So, Esau despised his birthright.
Meditation: Isaac married Rebecca who gave birth to twin boys. Esau was the firstborn and Jacob was born second. In ancient near east cultures, the law of primogeniture (first-born son) prevailed. As the first-born son and legitimate heir to Isaac, Esau would have been the ancestor of Jesus, the Messiah. But, the line of succession changed.
One day, Esau returned to camp after a time away in the open fields, probably hunting. Esau saw Jacob cooking red lentil stew. Identifying that he was famished, Esau asked Jacob for stew. Jacob’s response was that he would give Esau the stew if Esau swore an oath to give Jacob his birthright. Esau swore the oath in exchange for lentil stew.
Someone in the camp may have heard Esau’s oath to transfer his birthright to Jacob. Despite the tumultuous relationship between the two brothers, Esau never denied that he traded his birthright to Jacob.
Consider the difference in value between a bowl of lentil soup versus being the heir to a wealthy father. Obviously, Esau cheapened his birthright. It wasn’t valuable to him.
Men and women today are famished for someone to believe in, someone to trust. Jesus’ behavior to his human brothers and sisters is diametrically opposite from the behavior of Jacob. Jesus invites each of us to come to him and live with him. We don’t have to barter for Jesus’ blessing. Freely, he nourishes us with himself and his words, i.e., “the one who feeds on me will live because of me” (John 6.57).
Reflection: You don’t have to barter for salvation, for immortal life with Christ. He gives it to you free-of-charge.
Copyright 9/1/2020: Carolyn Adams Roth