And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:…
Lentils were and are extensively and carefully grown in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria; those of Egypt were, at a later period, particularly famous; and the manner of cooking them is even immortalized on monuments. They are not only used as a pottage, but in times of scarcity, and more generally by the poor, they are baked into bread, either alone or mixed with barley. Lentils and rice, boiled in equal quantities, form still one of the favourite dishes in many parts of the East. When cooked, they are of a yellowish brown colour, approaching to red; some species, growing on a red soil, have this colour naturally; and hence Esau, in his haste, calls the dish simply the red one. The fact, that lentils were among the cheapest and most common articles of vegetable food, enhances the force and point of our narrative. The privileges which the birthright legally confers; the double portion of the father's property; the higher authority in the family; the greater social influence; all these advantages, in this instance enhanced by spiritual blessings as their most precious accompaniment, could have no value for one who regarded his existence merely as the transitory play of an hour; and who was indifferent to the esteem of others, because he had not risen to understand the dignity of mankind. If we were to expect a historical allusion in this fact also, the probable supposition offers itself, that indeed the Edomites, who were masters of the wide tracts from the Red Sea along the whole mountain of Seir, up to the very frontiers of Palestine, might, with a little exertion, have extended their dominion over the land of Canaan; that, with a little degree of ambition and self-control, they might have become a respected and mighty nation; but that their thoughtless and ferocious habits kept them in the dreary solitudes, far from the chief scenes of history and civilization. It is known that the Mohammedans long kept the memory of this transaction alive by distributing daily to poor people and to strangers lentils prepared in a kitchen near the grave at Hebron, where they believed the cession of the birthright took place.
(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: