a mess of pottage
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.
a mess of pottageLITERARY, 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)