Genesis 25:29–30 (JPS):

And Jacob sod pottage; and Esau came in from the field, and he was faint. And Esau said to Jacob: 'Let me swallow, I pray thee, some of this red, red pottage; for I am faint.' Therefore was his name called Edom.

The Hebrew version, too, has Esau saying red twice ("הָאָדֹם הָאָדֹם"), implying that the lentil pottage was very red, or at least that the color was very important - see other occurrences of repetition: Genesis 22:11 compared with Genesis 22:1, 2 Kings 4:19 and 2 Samuel 19:1 (in 2Sam too the English translations omit or miss the strict repetition).

But red lentils lose their color when cooked, and tomatoes and bell peppers weren't around, being from the Americas.

Is there some lore about the content of the stew that Jacob cooked?

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    In my experience we often refer to foods by the ingredients (a Red Onion Soup is not red). Maybe the nezid was Adom because it was being called by its primary ingredient.
    – rosends
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 20:01
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    You seem to be a chef. Can you provide a source to back your claim that red lentils no longer remain red after being cooked? It's also possible that the stew wasn't completely cooked when Esav saw it. He was so hungry that he wouldn't have cared!
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 20:55
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    @nitzanms - what color does the lentil soup? "Biblical-Red" has many "non-red" shades. E.g. The Red Heifer is not the color of a traffic-light-red; it is gingery-brown, like regular cows. Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 9:21
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    this question seems to have eluded the authors of this recipe cookingwiththebible.com/reader/Default.aspx/GR3410-342/recipe
    – wfb
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 17:34
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    This blog post suggests that fresh sumac berries would have been a commonly available ingredient that would be tasty with lentils and could make food red >> toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/2011/02/jacobs-lentil-stew-2 Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 16:50

5 Answers 5


I heard once, do not remember from who, questioning the word נא from הלעיטני נא מן האדם האדם הזה - since when did Eisav say please? The answer I was told was Eisav was not saying please, Eisav was saying give it to me raw - like in Shemos 12:9 אל תאכלו ממנו נא. Thus this red lentil soup was still raw and it retained its color.

See here from Rabbi Gershon Steinberg Zatzal.

הלעיטני נא מן האדום וכו'. שואלים המפרשים הרי "נא" הוא לשון בקשה בדרך ארץ, וכי דרכו של עשו לדבר בלשון נימוסי כל כך, ועוד מקשים איך קרא לעדשים אדום, והרי דרכם של עדשים כל מה שמתבשלים יותר נהיים ירוקים, והתירוץ הוא שהפירוש של נא הוא שאינו מבושל כדי צורכו, וכמו שכתוב בקרבן פסח אל תאכלו ממנו נא ובשל מבושל אלא צלי, הרי ד"נא" הוא מלשון בישול שלא כדי צרכו, וזה מה שהתכוין עשו, ולא היתה כוונתו לדבר בלשון יפה אלא לרמז ליעקב שיתן לו לאכול עוד לפני שיגמר להתבשל כדרך הגזלנים שאוכלים מיד כשנתבשל שליש בישול, ולכן אמר אדום שעדיין לא נהיו ירוקים מרוב בישול.

  • This has little to do with pshat. On a pshat level the only negative thing about Esav is that he planed in killing Yaakov after he stole the blessings, but ultimately changed his mind and reconciled with him. (And Esav's parents disapproved of his choice of wives). None of this even happened, yet so there is no reason to assume anything negative about him. Furthermore, it is uncertain if נא ever actually means please. See: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/64102/…
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 16:35
  • @mevaqesh: Yep. I will be Dan Eisav Lkaf Zechus. Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 17:19
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    Targum writes כען not כד חי as he does in Shmos 12 9. So as cute as this pshat may be....
    – user6591
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 13:21
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    I don't understand your first paragraph - you heard once, but don't remember where? Your second paragraph, the quote in Hebrew, answers the question perfectly! Isn't that where you heard it from? I think you should delete the first paragraph and provide a translation of the second.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 2:36

The Ramban on that passuk writes that the food was red either from the lentils, or it was red from some other ingredient, but Esav did not know what it was, so he just called it red.

So he does entertain the idea of a different ingredient that made it red, but does not identify it.

On a different note, here is a chidush.

Torah Temimah n Chukas chapter 19 note 8 brings three times in the Talmud where something black is really just something red whose color got 'laksa', ruined.

Nida 19a about menstrual blood.

Succah 33b about Haddassim.

Chulin 47b concerning lungs.

He goes on to say that the drasha of 'completely red' by the para aduma is coming to specifically exclude a black cow from being considered red.

Back to your question, perhaps we can assume here as well that the lentils were once red, but the color through cooking was in fact 'laksa' ruined and darkened, but still qualifies to be called red.


Double words will often connote an extreme, but not always.

Rashbam: דרך אדם הממהר לשאול דבר מחבירו כופל את דבריו, וזה שהיה רעב הרי הוא כאומר תן לי מהרה לאכול.

It's the way of someone who's quickly asking something from his friend to repeat his words, and this that he's hungry, it's as if he's saying 'give me quickly to eat'.

Da'as zekeinim miba'alei tosafos He was saying "give me some of this red because I am red" as Esau was born red, יצא אדמוני.da'as zekeinim

Personally, I think that the Rashbam fits more in with p'shutoi shel mikra

  • Can whoever down voted please leave a comment?
    – user613
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 1:39
  • I don't think your answer merits a downvote, however: It gives a possible explanation for the repetition of the word that is not related to the color itself, instead of giving information about what made the soup red. I understand that this information may not exist, in which case it should be mentioned in the answer.
    – nitzanms
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 10:12
  • anyway, I upvoted because the answer is useful.
    – nitzanms
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 10:13
  • @nitzanms I figured, which is why I clarified my answer as to what I was discussing, though I forgot to remove my comment once I realised the issue. However, I still think it's a valid answer as the way I understood the questioner was that he was asking why there's a double expression, and he was under the assumption that a double expression always meant an extreme. If others understood the question differently, that's fine.
    – user613
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 11:41
  • Being the person who asked the question, I have some insight about my meaning. ;) Anyway, I agree that the question contains an assumption, and if the assumption is shown to be invalid that's a valid answer.
    – nitzanms
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 12:14

I think the base was egyptian beets. The israelites probably had vegetables in posts as they were lost in the wilderness and herbs too. All that was need to make a good healthy borsch is the quail which god provided. It is still made today. The Jewsih recipes go back at least 1000 years but are likely 4000 years old. The greeks belived in the power of the beet (aphrodite-Eve) I believe it was in the garden and angels taught pre- flood patriarchs of it. Lentils were too hard to find in quantity and not easily available. Besides they really stink after a few days. Borsch can be added onto with more vegetables in days to come and gets better!

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    I can't tell if this is a joke answer or not. The first sentence is the only one relevant, and it lacks any support. Everything else is irrelevant and somewhat comical.
    – Seth J
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 15:04
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    I'm having trouble understanding what Israel's time in the desert has to do with an incident that happened centuries earlier. I think your answer boils down to "red came from beets, which the Egyptians had"; am I understanding you correctly? Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 21:54

The red lentil stew was red cabbage. Very hardy and especially good for you.

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    I think that you should give sources for your statement. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 3:56
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    How do you know this? You can edit your post to add more information. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 18:46

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