sell one's birthright for a mess of pottage
In allusion to the Biblical character Esau, who sold his birthright for a meal of lentil stew (Genesis 25:29-34).
- To make an unfavorable exchange, especially of something of great, but deferred value for something of very low, but immediate value.
a. 1832, Jeremy Bentham, Constitutional Code:
- An elector, who by his vote should contribute to the establishment of a constitution having for its effect, instead of the greatest happiness of the greatest number, the greatest or supposed greatest happiness of the ruling few at the expense of the happiness of the many, would, supposing himself to become in consequence of the misrule, a sufferer to a greater amount than that of the benefit received by his vote, be an Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage.