Good going! We have completed half of our first month of readings.
By Emanuel Bowen
Today’s reading announces the parting of the ways of Israel (formerly Jacob) and Esau. From this time on, the two brothers and their offspring were at odds.
The rest of the chapter delineates the prolific family line of Esau, which became the Edomites. These people settled primarily in the area south of Israel (see historic tribal map – above).
Jacob and his family looked askance at Esau and his clan, primarily because Esau’s group intermarried with their pagan neighbors. The family line became diluted, as each household grew distracted by devotion to idols and false gods.
Throughout Hebrew history, the Edomites were perceived as an enemy and a threat to Israel.
Have you ever known a family with a seemingly unmendable rift? Family friction may be the most painful conflict of all.
Relatives often know one another more intricately and intimately than other people. We know how to help each other, but we also may carry a deeper understanding of how to cause harm.
As a parent, I often find myself struggling to redirect youngsters, as they engage in their own sibling rivalry.
“You are the best friends either of you is ever going to have,” I say.
“Yeah, right,” I often hear.
It’s true. Friends may disappear in time. Acquaintances may transfer and relocate. But families do not lose their connection. At least, we ought not to.
Although family members may grate on one another’s nerves occasionally, they may also prove to be the most valuable earthly allies, when truly needed.
Just watch brothers or sisters in action. They may nitpick and natter at one another. If an outsider threatens one of them, however, they will spring to attention to defend him or her. It’s in their blood, literally. (Yesterday’s reading demonstrated this instinct quite overtly.)
Seeking Sweet Solution
How might we find ways to mend broken relationships with relatives? Do we have any unfinished business, as modern psychologists tag unresolved conflicts, with members of our own clans?
Will we pass these differences on to our children, or will we seek reconciliation in our own lifetimes?
“How wonderful, how beautiful,
when brothers and sisters get along!
It's like costly anointing oil
flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron's beard,
flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It's like the dew on Mount Hermon
flowing down the slopes of Zion.
Yes, that's where God commands the blessing,
ordains eternal life.”
Will you pray with me?
You are the only Holy Judge,
Who tempers justice and mercy.
Your grace trumps our grievances,
And Your wisdom outweighs our worries.
Teach us to trust You with the outcome,
Particularly when we are
Or even ignored.
You miss nothing.
May we place the ends in Your holy hands.
For You hold the future.
We praise You.