I've I had my fair share of squabbles with my younger siblings, but man, the conflicts we see between blood relations in Genesis brings sibling rivalry to a whole new level. In our readings for this week, two immediately jump off the page: Jacob vs Esau and Leah vs Rachel.
We discussed last week that in Genesis, fertility is an extremely important characteristic that females need to possess. This issue is greatly underscored by the tension between Leah and Rachel, who was made infertile because God felt that Jacob favoured her more than Leah (29:32), and resulted at her being jealous of her sister (30:1). Imagine the frustration that she must have felt at being punished for something beyond her control. To make matters worse, this was her second time being upstaged by Leah (the first incident occurring when their father gave Leah to Jacob instead of her in 29:23). Ironically, the problem of infertility led to a comedic situation in which even more babies were made (some born by slavegirls for their mistresses, no less!).
On a different note, the rivalry between Jacob and Esau was partly the result of sharing the same mother. After all, Rebekah, who disliked Esau because he married Hittites (26:35), had sparked off a major fallout between her two sons by instigating Jacob to 'steal' blessings meant for Esau by pretending to be Esau (27:8-11). And so a mother's deviousness resulted in one of her kin being made a slave to the other (27:37), leading to murderous intentions (27:41).
On a final note, I would just like to point out that God was a central issue in both these sibling rivalries, and had the power to put an end to both by not allowing the problems that sparked the conflicts to arise in the first place. Far be it for me to question God's intentions, but... why?