What’s Your Price?
And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” … Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.”
“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you,” commanded our Lord in Matthew 5:42, so I’ve never really understood why the author of Hebrews 12 castigates Esau for selling his birthright rather than castigating Jacob for demanding it of him. But that’s where that hermeneutical principle of ‘interpret Scripture with Scripture’ comes in handy. Put yourself in Esau’s shoes, friend. He’s evidently just come back from a failed hunting expedition, his face is sunburnt to a crisp, and he needs food badly. Why doesn’t Jacob say to him, “Perfect timing, brother! Stew’s off the boil—sit down and I’ll pour you a bowl!”? How can he exploit Esau’s weakened condition for his own gain? Well, because Jacob’s name doesn’t mean ‘brotherly love’, but ‘cheater’; and he’s only just begun to live up to it.
Re-reading the drama of Genesis is reminding me just how awesome God’s grace really is. Because I can’t tell the heroes from the villains sometimes.