The word ‘field’ is the same word used when Isaac was in the field meditating when Rebekah arrived at his home (1). It is very possible that Esau was in those same fields working for his father, taking care of the crops and livestock. He grudgingly performed the duties he hated and every inch of his body repelled against this type of labor.
Exhaustion means 'languishing, suffering from hardship, to faint' (2). Between the physical exertion the work demanded, and his negative emotional resistance, Esau was burned out.
He opened the kitchen door and noticed Jacob cooking a large meal for the camp. Esau was downcast from performing the duties he despised and shouldering the responsibilities he never wanted. He called Jacob’s meal ‘red stuff’ because he wasn’t even sure what was in the pot and then demanded to be served. Esau was willing to eat what he considered to be nasty red lentils as opposed to the savory meat he loved because he didn't have the strength to hunt and cook for himself.
Can you see Jacob’s wheels turning? Jacob knew Esau all his life and he also knew his weakness for food. Esau didn’t treasure the exclusive birthright given only to the eldest son and Jacob took advantage of him. Jacob refused to feed Esau unless he bartered the meal for his birthright. Esau reacted flippantly to the swap. He was not willing to suffer or die for his exclusive, precious rights. In fact, in drama queen fashion, he reasoned his birthright wouldn’t do him any good if he were dead and accepted the deal.
Knowing his brother might change his mind, Jacob demanded Esau swear to keep his word. Swearing was a very serious matter. If someone broke their word, a curse would come upon them, and every area of their lives would result in failure. It would have taken Esau more energy to swear to Jacob than it would have for him to turn around and get food somewhere else. Nevertheless, Esau was fed up with the responsibility of taking care of the fields and cattle. In fact, he may have been relieved that Jacob wanted the responsibilities so he wouldn’t have to continue the work and move forward to living his life his own way.
Esau was a deadbeat son. The opportunity presented itself to relieve himself of sacred duties and he took it. He ate his meal and felt a thousand pound weight lift from his shoulders. He had the attitude of ‘it would have been nice to have but I am not willing to do what it takes to keep it.’ Esau acquired the nickname ‘Red’ because of this monumental moment, and every time he heard it, he would remember this transaction. There would come a day when he will bitterly regret what he had done.
You may think that Jacob is a rat! Or worse! Consider, that if Esau sold his birthright to his twin brother over a pot of beans, could it not be possible that if the right circumstances presented itself, he would have sold his birthright to some other stranger? Perhaps even someone with maniacal motives who could take control of Isaac’s caravan, steal all their wealth, and possibly murder his family?
It was obvious to Jacob that in his father's eyes, Esau could do no wrong. I truly believe it is possible that Jacob felt it was his duty to preserve his family, their future generations, and all that belonged to them. Esau would learn a hard lesson the hard way from this experience, but in the end, it will be his salvation.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This sacred trust of ‘birthright’ that was trash to Esau was a treasure to Jacob. This transaction definitely revealed to Isaac and Rebekah who was willing to carry out their duties. Jacob’s heart was with the family and Esau’s desire was to live as he pleased.
Matthew 16:1 NLT, ‘Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.’
This blog concludes our series, ‘Generations’. On Friday, June 8th, we will begin our study on Genesis 26. If this series has been enlightening or inspirational in anyway, please leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.
Father, as Your child, I have exclusive privileges and promises in Your Word that belong to me. I will not be flippant about the privileges You provided for me or the duties that accompany them. I treasure Your relationship and the desire of my heart is do Your will and to love You always. In Jesus Name, Amen.