27 When the young men grew up, Esau became an outdoorsman who knew how to hunt, and Jacob became a quiet man who stayed at home.28 Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 Once when Jacob was boiling stew, Esau came in from the field hungry 30 and said to Jacob, “I’m starving! Let me devour some of this red stuff.” That’s why his name is Edom.
31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright today.”
32 Esau said, “Since I’m going to die anyway, what good is my birthright to me?”
33 Jacob said, “Give me your word today.” And he did. He sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 So Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew. He ate, drank, got up, and left, showing just how little he thought of his birthright (Genesis 25:27-34, Common English Bible).
Esau was definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer!!! To miss a meal would not leave one on the verge of death. According to Scientific American, the average person can go about three weeks without food and survive. Obviously, because it is an average, for some people it is a shorter time period and for others, it is a longer period of time.
While it is true, we don’t know how long Esau went without food, perhaps he really was at the point of death, but I believe that to be unlikely. Far more likely, he was just every day kind of hungry and ready for some food.
Have you ever walked into your home and said to a parent or a spouse, “I’m starving?” Most of us have. Perhaps we missed the meal before or even went all day without food. One year during Lent I joined with a group of pastors who fasted until 4:00 in the afternoon each day. By the time I got home from work, I was starving! No, not literally, but I was very hungry every day.
Esau, in today’s reading, gave up his birthright for a bowl of stew. Esau’s birthright was a natural privilege for which the firstborn son was entitled. The birthright entitled the firstborn son to a double share of the inheritance (in the case of Esau and Jacob the inheritance would be divided by three with Esau getting two shares and Jacob one, that is until Esau sold his birthright). The son with the birthright would also become the head of the family and would be the leader in charge of the family. This would have included the family property. He would be responsible for the welfare of the younger sons, the widow, and any unmarried daughters. He would exercise considerable authority over the other members of the family.
Knowing what was at stake, I would have to ask, What would you give up in order to surrender your birthright? Most of us would not give it up at all. Even if we would it would at least be something of great value. Esau was willing to give it up for a bowl of stew. Quite possibly, had Esau waited for his father Isaac, Isaac might have compelled Jacob to give Esau a bowl of stew.
In tomorrow’s Genesis reading, we will see an angry Esau. A portion of Esau’s anger was because of this story. Esau believes Jacob cheated him. The way I see it, Jacob set the price but Esau accepted it. It may not have been a fair price, but Esau did not have to agree. We should be careful what we are willing to sell. There are always people like Jacob in the world that are willing to offer little for something of great value. It is up to us to guard that most precious to us.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved