Monday, October 29, 2012

Brother Against Brother in Genesis

Brother Against Brother in Genesis
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Genesis 27:29 and 37 reveals that Isaac and Rebecca had more children after Jacob and Esau though they are never listed by name in any kind of genealogy.

In Genesis 16:11-12 and 25:18 we see that Ishmael and his descendants will fight his brothers, the sons of Abraham (Specifically Isaac and his descendants; Jew and Israelite) for supremacy and favor in the Land and with GOD and man. We see Ishmael’s nephew Esau is a kindred spirit (Gen. 27:40) competing with his brothers. Also, both were archers and hunters according to the Torah. Esau is so much like Ishmael that he marries into the family. He marries a daughter of Ishmael in order to try to win back some favor of his parents seeing as they don’t like is other wives who are of Canaanite origins. By taking a daughter of Ishmael he therefore stays in Isaacs family because Isaac and Ishmael had the same father, thus steering clear of the Canaanite women his folks disliked.

I would like to draw your attention to Genesis 27:45 and the phrase, “Why should I lose you both on the same day?”

This is reminiscent of Genesis 4:1-16, the account of Cain and Able. By Divine right according to the Torah, Cain deserved the death penalty, but GOD in His mercy sentenced Cain to exile instead, so Eve would not bare the loss of both of her sons in one day.

Notice the parallels, though strangely opposite they are:

Cain and Esau seem to have more in common with each other, yet we see Cain and Jacob are exiled for their protection; Cain to the land of Nod and Jacob to the land of Haran to his uncle Laban house where Jacob (trickster) is out “Jacob-ed (tricked)” by his uncle.
Abel and Jacob would seem to be somewhat of kindred spirits; however we see Abel and Esau have this in common. Death. Abel by physical death and Esau by social and familial death by losing his birthright, blessing and inheritance and thus being as good as dead to his family and clans.