Sibling Rivalry throughout the Old Testament
Brotherhood is an important concept, within families and churches, which contributes to a good kinship and heavenly closeness, delineated by the Holy Spirit, as being “knit together”. From the fleshy brothers and sisters in Bible, we learn both positive and negative lessons on the subjects of brotherly love.
The Old Testament sibling rivalries between Cain (the killer of his brother Abel) and Abel, Esau (the eldest son of Isaac) and Jacob, and Joseph (the 11th son of Jacob and one of the 12 patriarchs of Israel) and his brothers were different from each other and alike at the same time, but they all hold morals for us nowadays, for blood brothers nowadays still confront most of the same problems in life that disputed brothers in the history thousands of years ago.
The tradition of Judeo-Christian
In present days, most of the nurture parents don't appear much concerned with the possibility of happening of this state of difficulty inside their families. In Western cultures this may in part be because of the superiority in influence of Christian teaching & customs, in which "A kindly and lenient attitude toward people" is considered to be the "apotheosis" type of love. Intimately associated with this problem are some of the most basic & unmanageable questions in two of the greatest religions of modernistic world, Christianity ("Who is my neighbor?”, which means, "Who are those that I should consider as my brothers and sisters?") and Jewish religion ("Am I my brother's keeper?," which is to say, "Do I have a moral obligation to attend to the well-being of my brothers and sisters?").
In the Christian Evangel, Jesus and his Believers repeatedly tell their acolytes to "love each another as brothers”. This echoed monition may incline to render a certain feeling that "A kindly and lenient attitude toward people" is a natural condition that will come out "by itself" whenever there are brothers or sisters within a family, & that nurtures don't have to do anything but relax & see the blossoming of this heavenly "natural" phenomenon.
This belief (in brotherly love as a natural condition) appears to neglect the reality that Jesus and the Believers came into existence & brought up within the Jewish acculturation, which was already more than three thousand years old at that time. Now, to promote the peaceful coexistence of peoples, beginning with peace and harmony within each family have been one of the main objectives of the Judaic culture and traditions. It looks like that, after 3000 years of looking at the problem of sib rivalry (remember the story of Abel & Cain as an instance of what occurs when nothing is done) the Judaic people would have formulated reasonably efficacious functions of addressing it, "brotherly love" was in fact synonymous with "pure & unselfish love” so that by the time of Jesus Christ within the Judaic culture.
And, even though it is not in particular difficult for parents to get their children to "love each other as brothers,” unluckily the natural condition that tends to take place "by itself" is the opposite one, sibling competing as for profit or a prize. Many examples that exist of this situation support that.
Childbirth is still considered a miracle even in a world steeped in science. Our newly born bring us delight & joyfulness. They hold open fresh openings of new living. Beyond the Eden’s Garden, in a world suffering the outcomes of sinfulness, Cain’s birth brings the blessings of delight to Adam & Eve. New life is the reminding message of the original blessing of God - a blessing God remains ascertain to give regardless of human sin.
Eve conveyed her joy in her words, "With the help of the Lord, I have produced a man". About the birth of Cain based on how one fabricates the underlying Hebraic text there are two possible meanings of the words of Eve. First possible construction is "I have brought forth a man, the Lord”. If it is so, Eve may be prognosticating redemptory promise of God to bring rescue to the humanity through "woman’s seed". If it is so, Eve, like other Hebrew mothers during the history of bible, untimely expects the messiah to come rapidly (in her own lifetime).
This mental interpretation is potential but improbable. The more belike interpretation is to construct her stating the following way, "With the help of the Lord, I have produced a man". This discloses the awareness of Eve that God continues the original benediction by helping her in the conception & Cain’s birth. Although the world stands under the judgment of God because of human sinfulness, there is clemency in the judgment of God. The blessing of new life continues through the birth of a child, but it is comes with pain, proof that the original blessing of God continues regardless of the sins of the human.
It is amazing to mark that at Abel’s birth, there is no similar mention of delight. The name Abel means “vapor” or "breath". No recorded words of Abel are preserved throughout this story, which is really amazing to note. His actions are only recorded. And his activities are guiltless. Abel worships God, which is pleasing for HIM. Abel is considered guiltless by God in light of his worshipful actions, as disclosed by The New Testament. But Abel produces no offspring, just like a breath or vapor. His bloodline is extinguished through the evil act of murder by Cain.
"Sibling rivalry" is defined as the enmity or antagonism between brothers and / or sisters which results in circumstances like common children's family conflicts (which may start with the pulling of the hair of a sibling by another or with the involuntariness to share a plaything, and which challenge parents’ patience all over the globe) to much more severe events such as the permanent ill will between siblings who are adults, or the Biblical case of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain.
It is not hard to find out the reason of sibling rivalry. Similar examples are demonstrated by Nature. The problem is fundamentally one of contention for limited or scarcity of resources. The competition is usually for food in nature; whenever there are 2 species or individuals that deplete the similar type of food in the same expanse, probability is, they will combat each other up to a time that one of them manages to defeat, get rid of the other, providing the achiever with the undivided consumption of the food resources available in that expanse.
There are some of the extreme cases of sibling rivalry that can be observed in nature. For example, as baby sharks develop within the uterus of the mother, the biggest baby kills completely all of his brothers & sisters, making sure for himself all of the available resources of food. In another illustration, eagles make their nests in mountains and trees for great heights. As other babies come out of their eggs, the first baby eaglet kills all his sibling eaglets by pushing them out from the nest. That makes him the sole consumer of the food that the mother eagle is going to bring for the babies.
A similar competition can be observed between siblings in human families. However, in this case, the scarce resources are the attention, approval, love and time that the parents have for each of their children. Taking the view of this state of affairs in very simple terms, if the parents have only a certain defined amount of undivided (person-to-person) time to pass to all their children, it is gentle to see that if there is only 1 child in that family, all of the available time of the parents will be for that only child; if the family has 2 children, then each child can have one-half of the parents' time; and if there are 3, then each child gets one-third; and so on.
What happens when the second child is born? To begin with, the amount of exclusive time that the parents can give to the first-born is immediately reduced to at least half of what it used to be. The true situation is even worse. A new baby requires enormous amounts of time, effort, and attention. What the first-born feels is that suddenly mom and dad hardly have any time to spend and play with him or her, and when they do, they are usually tired and irritated.
The neglected child, which is mostly the eldest one, almost unconsciously, begins looking for parents’ attention and ways to try to get them to "stop loving" the younger one. Afterwards, the eldest will also start to directly annoy the younger child. When the parents will come to know this, they will bawl out and may give punishment to the older child. However, this isn’t the solution of the problem. Punishment simply makes the eldest to develop ways to lessen, annoy, and chafe the younger one that the parents won't be able to notice.
Now, something that should be pointed out quite clearly is that sibling rivalry is not the oldest child's fault, nor that of the other children in the family. Also, it is not the parents' fault either. The truth is that the root causes of this problem are the timeless and universal circumstances shared by all human families. As mentioned at the beginning, reading the Bible one can see that this is not a new problem.
It should also be emphasized that the discussion presented herein is by no means a complete description of this complex problem. It is rather an attempt to point out the most important factors that contribute to this situation. There are many other modifying factors. For example, if the second child's sex is different from that of the first, then this will tend to lessen the development of the rivalry as, from the start, the second child has something special that the first child doesn't have, namely the fact of being a girl or a boy. On the other hand, if both children are of the same sex then the likelihood of the problem arising increases. Also, as is discussed in what follows, the difference in ages between consecutive children can greatly influence the development of this situation.
In the End
We also study something regarding how we should spend our lives in a fallen-world. We come across that for human flourishing sin is a very real threat. Our freedom exists in obedience to the counsel of God. Struggle against sin is our womb to tomb challenge. Only Good people begin a good society. Social injustice of Cain is fired by his personal sin (the sin he declines to admit and confine). The beast ambuscades at the door of our hearts, looking for any chance to get in & bring devastation to others and ourselves. We must recognize the edacious beast. We must combat the good battle of faith our whole lives.
If we are to grow we must face and admit our faults. Cain rejected to do this. In contrast to Cain, we should feel responsible for our deeds and attitudes and continuously try to adapt them to the will of God. We can’t live in the past, but we must strain to live today in the God’ morality.
We can possibly start by deny comparing ourselves with others. This account discloses how this propensity to compare ourselves with others is harmful. "Whoever compares focuses no longer on God, but squints toward the other, contributing either to discontentment & disheartenment or to haughtiness and presumption”.
Finally, contrary to denial of Cain, we do bear an obligation to others. Leastwise, we must not harm others. At the most, seeking their good, we must learn to love others. The good of others is closely linked with an allegiance to recognize our own sin & devote to combating it by faith in God. In case of failing to listen to God not only brings injury to ourselves but others as well.