When people discuss dysfunctional families it's normally the other families and never their own. Most of us think we came from normal families and as a result we also think that our present family is normal. It’s amazing how dysfunction is classified as normal and that gives us comfort.
Because of Adam and Eve everyone of us inherited personal dysfunction so, of course, we all bring in different levels of dysfunction into the marriage and family setting. The good news is we can all blame Adam and Eve.
There is one family in particular that had major dysfunction, and as we examine the family and the consequences, it had a major impact on history and subsequent family trees. We can see not only the dysfunction but how it has impacted human relations then and now, centuries later, which we can certainly identify even today.
For any who read the Bible you will know the story of how Jacob, the younger brother in cahoots with his mother Rebecca, wife of Isaac, deceived Isaac and was able to steal Isaac’s blessing from the eldest son, Esau. Isaac was one of the patriarchs, was well on in age at the time, could not see properly, and his blessing was of a great importance and very significant.
In essence, Jacob passed himself off as Esau so Isaac's blessing to Jacob, assuming it was Esau, was that he would receive earth’s resources. Nations would serve him, he’d have dominion over his brothers and men would bow down before him, and those that cursed him would be cursed and those that blessed him would be blessed.
On the other hand, Isaac's word for Esau was that he would live by the sword and under dominion of his brother. Needless to say, Esau was livid and plotted to take Jacob’s life, but Jacob went off to Rebecca’s family and stayed there for several years. He started his own family, eventually returning and meeting with Esau, who by this time was well off and had lost the anger and desire to kill Jacob. They went their separate ways.
Jacob’s name was eventually changed to Israel and in his family tree his 12 sons were the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. Esau’s children were called Edomites and became the nation of Edom, but during the time of the Roman Empire they were called Idumeans.
When you track Esau’s family tree, you come to a guy named Herod who, during the time of Jesus birth as the Messiah, was in fact King Herod of the Roman Jewish Empire. He was client King of Judah. Jesus was from the family tree of Jacob (Israel). King Herod, hearing from the Magi of the birth of Jesus (the King of the Jews) and in his desire to kill Jesus, gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem where Jesus was born and its vicinity who were two years old and younger.
It's amazing how unresolved family issues can have a way of rearing its head in different ways, in different times, in different families, and that is why Jesus has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
John Grady lives and writes in Fort St. John