New English Translation
27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skilled[a] hunter, a man of the open fields, but Jacob was an even-tempered man, living in tents.[b] 28 Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for fresh game,[c] but Rebekah loved[d] Jacob.
29 Now Jacob cooked some stew,[e] and when Esau came in from the open fields, he was famished. 30 So Esau said to Jacob, “Feed[f] me some of the red stuff—yes, this red stuff—because I’m starving!” (That is why he was also called[g] Edom.)[h]
31 But Jacob replied, “First[i] sell me your birthright.” 32 “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die! What use is the birthright to me?”[j] 33 But Jacob said, “Swear an oath to me now.”[k] So Esau[l] swore an oath to him and sold his birthright[m] to Jacob.Read full chapter
- Genesis 25:27 tn Heb “knowing.”
- Genesis 25:27 tn The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Jacob with Esau and draws attention to the striking contrasts. In contrast to Esau, a man of the field, Jacob was civilized, as the phrase “living in tents” signifies. Whereas Esau was a skillful hunter, Jacob was calm and even-tempered (תָּם, tam), which normally has the idea of “blameless.”
- Genesis 25:28 tn Heb “the taste of game was in his mouth.” The word for “game,” “venison” is here the same Hebrew word as “hunter” in the last verse. Here it is a metonymy, referring to that which the hunter kills.
- Genesis 25:28 tn The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Rebekah with Jacob and draws attention to the contrast. The verb here is a participle, drawing attention to Rebekah’s continuing, enduring love for her son.
- Genesis 25:29 sn Jacob cooked some stew. There are some significant words and wordplays in this story that help clarify the points of the story. The verb “cook” is זִיד (zid), which sounds like the word for “hunter” (צַיִד, tsayid). This is deliberate, for the hunter becomes the hunted in this story. The word זִיד means “to cook, to boil,” but by the sound play with צַיִד it comes to mean “set a trap by cooking.” The usage of the word shows that it can also have the connotation of acting presumptuously (as in boiling over). This too may be a comment on the scene. For further discussion of the rhetorical devices in the Jacob narratives, see J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis (SSN).
- Genesis 25:30 tn The rare term לָעַט (laʿat), translated “feed,” is used in later Hebrew for feeding animals (see Jastrow, 714). If this nuance was attached to the word in the biblical period, then it may depict Esau in a negative light, comparing him to a hungry animal. Famished Esau comes in from the hunt, only to enter the trap. He can only point at the red stew and ask Jacob to feed him.
- Genesis 25:30 tn The verb has no expressed subject and so is given a passive translation.
- Genesis 25:30 sn Esau’s descendants would eventually be called Edom. Edom was the place where they lived, so-named probably because of the reddish nature of the hills. The writer can use the word “red” to describe the stew that Esau gasped for to convey the nature of Esau and his descendants. They were a lusty, passionate, and profane people who lived for the moment. Again, the wordplay is meant to capture the “omen in the nomen.”
- Genesis 25:31 tn Heb “today.”
- Genesis 25:32 tn Heb “And what is this to me, a birthright?”
- Genesis 25:33 tn Heb “Swear to me today.”
- Genesis 25:33 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 25:33 sn And sold his birthright. There is evidence from Hurrian culture that rights of inheritance were occasionally sold or transferred. Here Esau is portrayed as a profane person who would at the moment rather have a meal than the right to inherit. He will soon forget this trade and seek his father’s blessing in spite of it.
- Genesis 25:34 sn The style here is typical of Hebrew narrative; after the tension is resolved with the dialogue, the working out of it is recorded in a rapid sequence of verbs (“gave”; “ate”; “drank”; “got up”; “went out”). See also Gen 3:1-7 for another example.
- Genesis 25:34 sn So Esau despised his birthright. This clause, which concludes the episode, is a summary statement which reveals the underlying significance of Esau’s actions. “To despise” means to treat something as worthless or with contempt. Esau’s willingness to sell his birthright was evidence that he considered it to be unimportant.