Famous Brothers Throughout Time

By | April 20, 2019

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Cain and Abel make offerings. Genesis cap 4 vv 3-7. De Vos. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

The bond of brotherhood is strong, but sometimes the intensity of sibling rivalry can be just as strong. History is filled with brothers whose interactions had lasting results, not only on their own lives but on the lives of those around them. In some cases, they came together for good; others were more nefarious. But, in all cases, they will not soon be forgotten.

Cain and Abel

In the Bible, Cain, and Abel, the eldest sons of Adam and Eve, are the first brothers. Consequently, they are also the first example of sibling rivalry gone too far. Cain was a farmer and Abel, a shepherd. Both brothers brought offerings before God: Abel brought the firstborn of his flock while Cain brought crops from his harvest. After God favored Abel’s offering over Cain’s, Cain killed Abel in a fit of jealousy, committing the first murder. His punishment was an exile, but God gave him a mark of protection to prevent him from being murdered himself.

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Isaac blessing Jacob. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

Jacob and Esau

The first set of twins mentioned in the Bible (though it is argued by some that Cain and Abel were twins), Jacob and Esau also had a bit of a rivalry. Before they were even born, God told their mother, Rebekah, that she would give birth to two sons, representing two nations, and that one would be stronger than the other. When they were born, it seemed as if the extremely hairy Esau would be the stronger of the two as he came out first with the smooth-skinned Jacob grasping his heel. And that certainly seemed to be the case as Esau grew into a mighty hunter while Jacob kept to the house.

But Jacob was clever, convincing his brother to trade his birthright for a bowl of soup. Of course, these were just idle promises made in a moment of hunger. But as their father Isaac lay on his deathbed, old and blind, Jacob, with the help of his mother, disguised himself so that he felt and smelled like Esau and went before his father to receive the elder son’s blessing. Once the blessing was given, it could not be rescinded; however, Jacob fled to avoid retribution from his brother. Having received God’s covenant as part of the blessing, Jacob went on to become the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.