Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sibling Rivalry

Here is a picture that I found of Jacob and Joseph at this website (take a look; it's a really nice website)
If you have brothers or sisters, you'll find that, no matter what your age may be, there will always be rivalry. You're just not going to get along all of the time. People don't choose their relatives, after all. Thus, there are bound to be personality clashes and arguments. Family members know you well and they know how to push your buttons. And you know how to push their buttons and irritate them, just as they irritate you.
I have three sisters and we don't always get along perfectly. We are a regular human family, after all, not a sit com family, in which all communication challenges and disagreements are cleared up in half an hour, minus all of the time taken up by commercials (which, these days, is a tremendous amount of time). We communicate poorly at times and we make inaccurate assumptions about one another. Sometimes, our expectations of one another are unrealistic. But my sisters and I don't stay angry forever. We squabble, but we apologize and forgive and we let the source of irritation go (until the next time!!!).
OK. Well, in the Bible, there are so many examples of sibling rivalry. The feuding between brothers seems to lead to nothing but disaster. They don't seem to have the concept of forgive and forget. They truly let their battles and their jealousy get out of hand. It started off with Cain killing his brother Abel. Cain was jealous of Abel so he killed him. Cain was punished because he killed Abel and then tried to cover up the crime by asking God if he was his brother's keeper. Cain ended up by being a wanderer. God put a mark on his forehead so that he would not get killed by "hostile people." The hostile people, by the way, are never identified. They're just hostile.
Another example of sibling rivalry occurred much later. The first twins mentioned in Genesis were Esau and Jacob. They actually began feuding while still in the womb, which distressed their mother, Rebekah. The boys were very precocious. Since they hadn't been born yet, they had no social skills. Their mother was thrilled to have children. They were an answer to twenty years of prayers on the part of their father. Rebekah had to wait a long time to get pregnant because, like other women in the Bible, she had fertility issues. When Esau and Jacob were born, it was obvious that they were fraternal and not identical twins. They looked very different from each other and they had very different personalities. Their parents did very little to stop the rivalry. Rebekah favored Jacob and Isaac favored Esau. Jacob was able to trick his father into giving him the blessing reserved for the older son. Apparently, neither brother learned any social skills. Even though Jacob and Esau were twins, Esau was born first and, thus, was the older brother. This ensured that the rivalry would continue for years and years. Neither brother was willing to "kiss and make up." They did, however, separate and they focused on their own lives.
So, fast forward a number of years. Jacob was sent off to spend a few days with his uncle Laban. He never left. After working for Laban for a long time, he ended up by marrying Laban's two daughter, Rachel and Leah. Jacob was a busy man, with two wives (sisters Rachel and Leah) and two mistresses, both servants in the home of Jacob's father in law. Jacob had twelve sons and at least one daughter (Dinah). Jacob was not shy about showing his sons and the world that Joseph was his favorite. He gave Joseph a colorful coat. That made the brothers angry. Joseph was the son of Jacob's favorite wife, Rachel. Poor Rachel later died while giving birth to her other son, Benjamin. Jacob had all of his other children with Leah and with the two maid servants. Rachel had fertility issues, like Rebekah and Sarah and other women in the Bible.
Anyway, the brothers conspired against Joseph. They wanted to kill him but, instead, sold him into slavery and then told their father that Joseph was deceased, killed by a wild animal. That made Jacob cry.
Joseph ended up in Egypt and had all sorts of adventures. He ended up in jail because his owner's wife wanted to have an affair with him and he refused and she got her revenge. Well, Joseph's talents as interpreter of dreams eventually saved him. He told the Pharaoh that the disturbing dream that he had meant that there would be seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine and that the only way to keep everyone from dying was to collect food during the seven years of plenty and save it so that people would be able to eat when the famine struck. The pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph that he made him a big shot with a signet ring and a gold chain around his neck and a chariot and a lovely Egyptian wife.
During the famine, the brothers went to Egypt to buy food because they heard that food was available for sale.
Lots happened and, to make a long story short, the brothers discovered that Joseph was still alive, and the family was reunited. The discovery was made because Joseph decided to test his brothers. He had Benjamin framed for a theft that never actually occurred. Judah spoke out on behalf of his youngest brother. Judah acknowledged that he and his brothers had done a terrible thing to their brother, Joseph, whom they believed to be deceased. They begged Joseph, whom they didn't yet know was Joseph, to show mercy to Benjamin. In this story, the brothers were able to let go of jealousy and animosity and were able to accept responsibility for their bad behavior. At this point, Joseph let them know that he was not dead, that he was their long-lost brother.
I'm still reading this adventure so I'll write more about it by the end of the week.
Only two days left for Genesis!
Oh, and Andrew Lloyd Webber made a really fun show from this story, called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I've seen it, in different locations, three times. It's very entertaining and the music is fun. Watch it, if you get a chance!
More later!

No comments:

Post a Comment