Mess of Pottage

Life Issues: A Mess of Pottage



Early on in “A Mess of Pottage,” Halah confides to Jess of her wish to see her young fresh faced brother Jacob lead the tribe in preference to her older, bigger and hairier tribesman brother, Esau. Esau, according to tradition, is the rightful heir.

Halah is tired of the nomadic lifestyle that her father Isaac encouraged. She sees Esau, the hunter, as a continuation of the old order of having to ‘move on though it feels like we just got there.’ Jacob stands for progress and staying put.

During the episode, Jacob tricks Esau to give up his birth rite to lead the tribe in return for ‘pottage’ (a strange, oldish word for porridge). Upon the failure of the whole ‘pottage’ plan, Jacob then schemes with his mother, Rebekah, to get Isaac to grant him the leadership of the tribe. Isaac, very sick and blind, is under the misapprehension that he is granting the leadership to Esau. When Isaac learns of his mistake, he is heartbroken and dies.

What Halah wants
Halah battles with her conscience right the way through the episode.

She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. She just changes her mind half way through. What she wants is for Jacob to be the leader. Her mother, Rebekah, also keeps telling her that Jacob would be a more befitting leader than Esau. Besides, Rebekah, Jacob and even Halah want to find a nice patch of land and put their feet up. Enough of this hunting and gathering nonsense.



As Halah learns of the ‘below the belt’ tactics that Jacob has been up to, however, she starts to wonder whether Jacob would really be such a good leader after all. This business has certainly shown her a side of him that is none too pleasant.

Halah does not want to be involved in her mother and Jacob’s devious plot to trick Isaac but her hand is, in many ways, forced by her mother. By this stage it is certainly clear that Halah is going to have to make a crunch decision as to where her loyalties lie. She goes for the underdog and good on her too!

What Halah feels is right
Halah has observed how Esau is loyal to his father. He realises the ritual expected of him and follows the protocol, as Isaac would wish.

Halah sees that Esau actually has done more to deserve the birth rite than that scheming no-good Jacob.

She is thus caught in a quandary.

She wants Jacob to rule because it would mean that she would get to live the lifestyle of her choice.

She feels that Esau has been wronged and she thinks it is right that he should rule the tribe.

Sometimes what we want does not fit in with what we think is right.



Has this happened to you?

In this situation, we should listen to our conscience first and act accordingly.

If Halah had decided to stay with Jacob and Rebekah, she would be as good as agreeing with the way they went about cheating the birth rite. Esau would be left to wander off alone with just the trees, birds and occasional bandit for company, feeling oh so lonely and quite aggrieved I would imagine. And rightly so, too.

He would be asking himself what had he done that was so wrong? After all he’d tried to be a good son to his dad hadn’t he – and this is what happens – it just isn’t fair!

By taking a stand and going off with Esau, Halah is acting upon what she believes is right. She is standing up to be counted and telling the rest of her family that ” No. It certainly is not OK what you did to poor Esau, and taking advantage of father and all on his death bed – both of them certainly deserve a lot better.”

She is showing loyalty to Esau but she is also showing loyalty to what she believes in and this shows true character. Like Annie in The Good Samaritan, Halah is prepared to act upon what she truly believes is right although it may not be the easiest path to take at the time.