pottage

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mess of pottage

Something of little, trivial, or no value but which appears to be attractive or valuable on first reckoning. An allusion to Esau in Genesis 25:29–32, who sells to Jacob his birthright to his family's estate for a bowl of lentil stew (pottage). Only after the economic crash did it became fully clear what messes of pottage these sub-prime mortgages proved to be for first-time homeowners. If we allow our obsession with job creation to undermine the health of the environment, humanity will ultimately end up selling its birthright for a mess of pottage.
See also: mess, of, pottage

sell (something) for a mess of pottage

To exchange something of great, important, or fundamental value for some financial gain that proves to be of little, trivial, or no value but which appears to be attractive or valuable on first reckoning. An allusion to Esau in Genesis 25:29–32, who sells to Jacob his birthright to his family's estate for a bowl of lentil stew (pottage). The convenience of the Internet age has also brought an unprecedented level of access to people's personal information, leading some to believe that we've sold our right to privacy for a mess of pottage. If we allow our obsession with job creation to undermine the health of the environment, humanity will ultimately end up selling its future for a mess of pottage.
See also: mess, of, pottage, sell

sell (one's) birthright for a mess of pottage

To exchange something of great, important, or fundamental value for some financial gain that proves to be of little, trivial, or no value but which appears to be attractive or valuable on first reckoning. An allusion to Esau in Genesis 25:29–32, who sells to Jacob his birthright to his family's estate for a bowl of lentil stew (pottage). If we allow our obsession with job creation to undermine the health of the environment, humanity will ultimately end up selling its birthright for a mess of pottage.
See also: birthright, mess, of, pottage, sell

a mess of pottage

LITERARY, OLD-FASHIONED
If someone exchanges something of lasting value for a mess of pottage, they foolishly exchange it for something of no lasting value. I think he has sold his soul for a mess of pottage. Note: A mess of pottage is a dish of vegetables. This expression comes from a story in the Bible, which tells how Esau was hungry and sold his privileges as first-born son to his brother Jacob in return for this meal. (Genesis 25:29-33)
See also: mess, of, pottage

sell something for a mess of pottage

sell something for a ridiculously small amount.
This expression comes from the biblical story of Esau, who sold his birthright to his brother Jacob in return for a dish of lentil broth (Genesis 25:29–34). Mess is a term for a serving of semi-liquid food and pottage is an archaic word for soup or stew. Although the phrase is recorded from 1526 it does not occur in the Authorized Version of the Bible ( 1611 ); it does, however, appear in chapter headings in the Bibles of 1537 and 1539 and in the Geneva Bible of 1560 .
See also: mess, of, pottage, sell, something