Welcome to my podcast co-host, Lyndsey Kirk! Thanks for writing today’s post for us!
One of my favorite TV shows to watch is Family Feud. I like trying to guess the best answers to the questions. I like the funny things people say. And with a hilarious host like Steve Harvey, the show can be a riot! It’s my secret hope to be on the show someday with my family. Ok, it’s not actually a secret…my whole family knows because I plead with them to be on the show every time we watch it.
One time I was explaining the show to a friend who had never heard of it, and based on the title alone he conjectured, “So, is it just family members fighting and seeing who comes out on top?” Well…not exactly. Though that would probably be a widely watched TV show, and you probably wouldn’t have to search far for contestants.
A Family Built for a Feud
Let’s look at a biblical family built for a feud. Remember Jacob? He had 12 sons by four wives. If any family was tailor-made for my friend’s version of Family Feud, this was it.
Nothing rips a family apart like tragedy. Sadly, the family tragedy we’re about to see involved a Canaanite man taking advantage of Jacob’s daughter Dinah.
“Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her.” Genesis 34:1-2
Rape is horrible for any woman—or any family—to endure. You might expect that a terrible event like this would incite Jacob to a protective anger on behalf of his daughter. Instead…
“When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home.” Genesis 34:5
What? Dad does nothing?! Unbelievable! He sits around and waits for his sons to come home to help him deal with it. Now I’M ready to feud with Jacob! But two of his sons have an idea about how to handle it.
“Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. They said to them… “We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males”…and every male in the city was circumcised. Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.” Genesis 34:13, 15, 24-25
Jacob is angry with his sons—not necessarily because they acted deceitfully or because slaughtering a whole town was reprehensible, but because he thinks their actions will bring the wrath of the surrounding people upon him.
“Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.’” Genesis 34:30 (emphasis added)
Jacob’s daughter is raped, his sons care about her honor, they go extremely overboard on retribution, and Jacob seems only concerned about himself. Family Feud: Round 1.
When most of his sons are grown, Jacob’s most-loved wife, Rachel, births another son. But this birth brings another family tragedy.
“While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty…As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.” Genesis 35:16, 18
As Jacob grieves Rachel and moves on from Ephrath (to eventually arrive at Mamre, where he will soon grieve the death of his father), his eldest son Reuben betrays him.
“Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it.” Genesis 35:21-22
In between two major family deaths Jacob must also deal with his eldest son’s betrayal, sleeping with Bilhah, the maidservant of his beloved Rachel. Family Feud: Round 2.
The Favorite Brother
Oh, and don’t forget favoritism. It seems Jacob didn’t learn his lesson from his parents playing favorites between him and his twin brother Esau. Or maybe it’s just something about human nature to find favorites. Either way, Jacob carries on the family tradition.
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” Genesis 37:3-4
To make matters worse, daddy’s little buddy Joseph, keeps telling his brothers about his recurring dreams of being elevated over them, causing the brothers’ ever-growing hatred for
Joseph. They eventually sell him as a slave to the Midianites (after fighting over whether they should kill him or not). Sheesh! Can you say “Family Feud: Round 3”?
Judah Leaves Home
Finally, amongst all the other family tension, Jacob’s fourth son decides to leave the family camp.
“At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah.” Genesis 38:1-5
Not only does he leave home, he marries a Canaanite woman…which hasn’t worked out well for anyone else in the family. And Judah’s story continues in Genesis 38 with further instances of sexual impropriety (and women being taken advantage of and not being cared for—what is the deal?!).
Leaving home, marrying a Canaanite, and failing to follow the family’s standards (God’s standards) for marriage and sex and family. Family Feud: Round 4.
What do you do with a Feuding Family?
So what do you do when your family is feuding and life is a train wreck? What happens when God’s promised blessing feels like a…well, a curse?
I can tell you what our REAL GOD does with a feuding family—He sticks with them. If you read through to the end of Genesis, you’ll see how our REAL GOD shows up and restores and repairs the damage brought by feuds and betrayal. He uses the feud to further His purposes and His Kingdom.
Maybe the current feud or tension you’re stuck in is only the middle of the story. Maybe God’s blessing really is a blessing, and it only seems like a curse in this moment. Keep reading the story to the end. Keep going with God. Stick with Him. Trust in Him. He can certainly use the feud to further His purposes in you.
- Guest blogger Lyndsey Kirk explores Jacob’s wives and kids. A family made for a feud.
- Our God uses the poor choices in family feuds to further His purposes and His Kingdom.
- Maybe your current family feud is only the middle of the story. Keep reading to God’s good end!
- Some people jump to the conclusion that God is punishing them when life deals them hard blows. Do you think Jacob ever wondered that? Does Scripture ever infer that this was God’s punishment or that these circumstances were simply results of human choice?