All Commentaries on Genesis 25:31 Go To Genesis 25
Augustine of Hippo
I have already put it to your holinesses yesterday that the reason why the elder son is called Esau is that no one becomes spiritual without first having been “of the flesh” or materialistic. But if they persist in “the mind of the flesh,” they will always be Esau. If, however, they become spiritual, they will then be the younger son. But then the junior will be the senior; the other takes precedence in time, this one in virtue. Before it ever came to this blessing, Esau had longed to have the lentils Jacob had cooked. And Jacob said to him, “Give me your birthright, and I will give you the lentils I have cooked.” He sold his right as firstborn to his younger brother. He went off with a temporary satisfaction; the other went off with a permanent honor. So those in the church who are slaves to temporary pleasures and satisfactions eat lentils—lentils that Jacob certainly cooked but that Jacob did not eat. Idols, you see, flourished more than anywhere else in Egypt; lentils are the food of Egypt; so lentils represent all the errors of the Gentiles. So because the more obvious and manifest church which was going to come from the Gentiles was signified in the younger son, Jacob is said to have cooked the lentils and Esau to have eaten them …. Now apply this. You have a Christian people. But among this Christian people it is the ones who belong to Jacob that have the birthright or right of the firstborn. Those, however, who are materialistic in life, materialistic in faith, materialistic in hope, materialistic in love, still belong to the old covenant, not yet to the new. They still share the lot of Esau, not yet in the blessing of Jacob.