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 become 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
References in periodicals archive ?
Guests will be served a five-course feast of pottages, roasts and pies, rounded off by pudding and cheeses, and accompanied by flagons of ale and fine wine.
The restaurant is staging a number of medieval banquets this year marking events such as the summer solstice and the London Olympics, where diners will feast on a five-course meal of pottages, roasts and pies, pudding and cheeses, and drink flagons of ale and wine.
Gallons could also be found on South Street in St Hilda's when it was still a busy shopping area with shops including Appleby's grocers, Berry the fruiterer, Taylors' tripe, Mary Sera's cream, Pottages drapery, Jack Graingers' butchery, Griffins newsagents and Sherris' sweet shop.
They discuss particular dishes--soups, broths and pottages, herring, blancmange, olios and fricassees, and boiled and baked puddings--and their history.
The evening includes a Mead reception, musical entertainment and a fivecourse feast of pottages, roasts and pies, rounded off by pudding and cheeses - all served by resident friars and town wenches.
Hearty offerings such as rustic barley bread, suckling pygge, pottages and saffron fava bean stew will be washed down with Lindisfarne mead and flagons of local ales, all of which feature on decadent banqueting menus.