The red stuff refers to a stew or soup made from red lentils, often referred to as Pottage. It was prepared by Jacob, the younger twin brother of Esau.
Esau returned home from the fields exhausted and starving, but found that Jacob was unwilling to share his meal. Jacob wanted to negotiate the food in exchange for Esau’s birthright of inheritance.
Esau carelessly traded away the family name, titles, and a hefty portion of his father’s assets for some of the red lentil stuff. This may be the origin of the English phrase “for a mess of pottage.”
Esau became known as Esau Edom. Esau means “the hairy one”, and Edom signifies red. Edom is one of the earliest surnames mentioned in the bible.
Lentils are very common in Egypt and Syria. In A.D. 37, Emperor Caligula utilized 2.8 million pounds of them as cushioning and ballast for an 81 foot tall granite obelisk. Weighing 331 tons, the monument was transported by sea from Egypt to Rome, and was erected between the two turning posts of the Circus Nero (present day Piazza of St. Peter).
Nero’s Circus was a place of Christian martyrdom, including that of the disciple, Saint Peter. Peter would have been able to see the towering monolith from his cross.
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Excerpt from Ancient Minutus