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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: F.E. Marsh :: Readings 101-150 (Countenance - For)

F.E. Marsh :: 123. Esau

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GENESIS 25:27-32

ESAU represents a man of the world, and Jacob a man of God, although there are blemishes in his life.

As a man’s countenance will often reveal the course of life he is leading, so the several sentences that speak of Esau indicate what kind of a character he was.

  1. The cunning hunter. “Esau was a cunning hunter” (Gen. 25:27). He was no novice in the art of hunting, but he was an adept. By continually giving himself to this pleasure he had become an expert. This indicates at once, that he is a typical character of those who are wholly given over to the pursuits and pastimes of the pleasures of this evil age.
  2. The man of the field. “A man of the field” (Gen. 25:27). From this we gather he was a man of wild and lawless habits, one who did not care to be under the restraint of home, but one who liked his own will and way.
  3. The thoughtful son. “Isaac loved Esau, because he ate of his venison” (Gen. 25:28). From Gen. 27:1-2, we gather that Esau was willing to minister to his father’s wants in obtaining venison for him. It has often been found that those who are not godly have kind and thoughtful traits in their character. It was kind of Esau to satisfy Isaac, whether it was wise for Isaac to want the venison, and thus to keep his son roaming.
  4. The fainting sportsman. “Esau came from the field, and was faint” (Gen. 25:29). Trapp well remarks upon Esau’s faintness while in pursuit of pleasure: “Of carnal pleasures a man may break his neck sooner than his fast. Nor is it want of variety in them, but inward weakness, or the course of unsatisfyingness, that lies upon them. The creature is now as the husk without the grain, the shell without the kernel, full of nothing but emptiness; and so may faint us, but not fill us.”
  5. The stamped individual. “Esau said to Jacob, feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore his name was called Edom” (Margin, “red,” Gen. 25:30). Men have by their actions made their name to be identical with some special sin; hence to mention the name of some men is at once to bring up their sin. Judas is identified with covetousness, Eli with parental weakness, Jeroboam with idolatry, Simon Magus with simony, Korah with pride, and Esau with profanity (Heb. 12:16).
  6. The thoughtless questioner. “What profit shall this birthright do to me?” (Gen. 25:32). Of what use can a birthright be to a man at the point of death? Esau says, in so many words, “I prefer present gratification to deferred privileges.” Thus it was with the rich man mentioned in Luke 16; he lived for the present while on earth, and he lived to repent his folly in hell.
  7. The bad bargainer. “Esau who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright” (Hebrews 12:16). The birthright meant a double portion of his father’s property (Deut. 21:17); it meant authority over his brethren (Genesis 27:29; 49:3), and the right to the priestly office. The first-born of Israel were replaced by the Levites (Num. 3:12). Esau did indeed despise the birthright by selling it for a mess of pottage. There are many to-day who are selling their eternal interests by living for self, living in sin, following the pleasure of the world and the desires of the flesh. What profit can these things give in this life? How will these things look on the death-bed, and in the coming eternity?

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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