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