So after last week’s post about how the Lord really gave Laman an opportunity to step up as a leader, I’m now obsessed about looking at the older siblings in the scriptures. ☺
Cain and Abel. After the scripture mentions his birth, Cain’s story picks up with him offering sacrifice to God. Except, Cain’s offering was a counterfeit. Instead of an animal sacrifice, Cain brought a fruit sacrifice, thinking it would do. He was angry when the Lord rejected his offering. He ultimately killed his brother Abel whose offering was accepted.
Why would Cain administer a counterfeit offering that wasn’t accepted by the Lord? Adam taught him truth. He could have been a leader. Pride and self-aggrandizement led to his downfall and the murder of his righteous brother, Abel.
Japeth, Shem, Ham helped their father build an ark. We don’t really know Japeth’s story, but Shem became the great high priest. Ham married out of the covenant, but seemed to otherwise abide by the covenant.
Jared and the Brother of Jared. Jared led his family, friends, and community, but his brother became the prophet-leader. Jared followed the word of the Lord through his brother.
Abraham, Nahor and Haran. Abraham was the older brother of Nahor and Haran. Though his father was apostate, Abraham sought the covenant. Haran, father of Sarah and Lot, died because of a famine. Although Abraham left Mesopotamia, Nahor continued in the area and is the grandfather of Rebekah.
Lot’s daughters. After seeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s two daughters thought they were the end of humanity, so endeavored to populate it again, with their dad. They are Ruth’s ancestors.
Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was older, but not the birthright heir. He did something that caused him to be cast out of Abraham’s community. Isaac righteously upheld the covenant.
Esau and Jacob. Esau devalued his birthright enough to sell it to Jacob for a mess of pottage, losing his familial leadership and the covenant blessing. His marriages to Canaanite ladies “were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.” After seeing his parents’ distress, he approached Uncle Ishmael for one of his daughters as a wife. Despite being a supplanter, Jacob became the righteous leader of the covenant.
Ruben and Joseph. Ruben was Jacob’s birthright heir but lost the privilege by sleeping with his father’s concubine. The birthright passed to Joseph who kept his covenants through quite a few afflictions. The stories of these 12 brothers are shocking and epic.
Aaron and Moses. Aaron was a righteous mouthpiece and trusted advisor for Moses. He faithfully supported Moses’ prophetic call.
Eliab and David. The Lord chose to anoint David before Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, and four other brothers. Nothing indicates that Eliab didn’t receive Jesse’s birthright, but David became Saul’s successor. David was a man after the Lord’s own heart, with a few heartbreaking episodes.
Amnon, Absalom, and Solomon. Amnon was David’s first born. He raped his half-sister and was killed by her brother Absalom. Chileab, the first son of David’s second wife Abigail, is not really mentioned. David loved his third son Absalom. Absalom traitorously sought David’s kingdom and was killed. David promised Bathsheba her son Solomon would be king. Other sons sought the kingship, but abdicated or were killed.
The scriptures don’t really record their specific righteousness, except for Solomon’s. His righteousness afforded him a personal relationship with the Lord. But that relationship strained and waned and Solomon eventually forgot the Lord.
Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph became a divided family. The older brothers left the faith. The younger brothers perpetuated the covenant.
Aaron, Ammon, Omner, and Himni sought to destroy the church of God, but repented and became powerful emissaries for truth and righteousness.
Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton grew up hearing their father Alma’s conversion story and served in the church. Corianton struggled a bit, but his works in the Book of Alma demonstrate his repentance and a life of devotion and service.
Amalickiah and Ammoron were church members who dissented when Amalickiah sought to become king of the Nephites. They both eventually became wicked kings of the Lamanites and ferociously fought against the Nephites, but both were killed by the Nephite, Teancum.
Nephi and Lehi. Helaman’s sons Nephi and Lehi both lived righteous, miraculous lives.
Peter and Andrew. Andrew, a follower of John the Baptist, met Jesus. He told his brother Peter he had found the Messiah. When Jesus saw them in Galilee and asked them to follow Him, they both straightway left their nets and became disciples and Apostles.
James and John were the “sons of thunder,” and apparently Jesus’ cousins. They left their nets willingly and followed Jesus.
James, Joses, Juda, Simon, and sisters are listed as siblings of Jesus. Initially, “neither did his brethren believe in him.” Ultimately, at least two siblings converted and served as righteous Gospel leaders. As I thought about the Savior’s relationships with family members who did not believe Him, I just felt that He REALLY does understand all of the relationship trials of mortality.
Two incidents came to life after really thinking about the Savior’s familial relationships. “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24.)
And then, on forgiveness. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).
I started my study by wondering how many older siblings failed in their opportunity to be a righteous sibling in their families. But, after looking so specifically at these scriptural siblings, I was struck with the power of their relationships, boundaries of distance, so many wounds inflicted. We see families warring for generations. And even still to this day. But, so many families overcame strained relationships with reconciliation, forgiveness, understanding and peace.
I hope to be the kind of oldest sibling that Hyrum Smith was to his little brother, supportive in God’s appointment, a loyal and true friend. “[Joseph] lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3).
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.