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7 Brothers in the Bible

Some of the most popular stories in the Bible revolve around brothers. However, not all of these stories are about love and heroism, some are about jealousy, sibling rivalry, and forgiveness which mirrors the real-life relationship dynamics among brothers in real life.

From brothers who worked together to lead their nation out of slavery to brothers who sold their own into slavery and even one who murdered his own brother, here is a list of some of the most famous brothers in the Bible.

List of Brothers in the Bible

Cain and Abel

As the first sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel are the first brothers in the Bible. Their story is narrated in the Book of Genesis where Cain, the older brother, was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. 

After the two brothers offered their sacrifices to God, Abel’s sacrifice was more pleasing to God than Cain’s, and this cultivated deep jealousy in Cain that led him to murder his brother in cold blood. He then tried to cover up his murder out of guilt but he couldn’t hide from God who punished him by marking him and condemning him to wander the earth. 

Isaac and Ishmael

Isaac and Ishmael are famous half-brothers in the Bible whose story is also recounted in the Book of Genesis. Their father was Abraham, but they had different mothers. Isaac’s mother was Abraham’s wife Sarah who conceived him in old age, while Ishmael’s mother was Sarah’s servant- Hagar who became pregnant at Sarah’s suggestion.

The two half-brothers went on to become the fathers of two great nations- with Isaac being the patriarch of the Israelites while Ishmael became the forefather of the Arabs. 

Esau and Jacob

Jacob and Esau were the twin sons of Issac and Rebeccah. Esau was the older twin and his father’s favourite while Jacob was his mother’s favourite.  

With his mother’s guidance, Jacob tricked his father into giving him the blessings that were meant for Esau. This incident created a huge rift between the brothers and Jacob had to flee to live with his uncle- Laban after Esau, who was angry, vowed to kill him. 

Eventually, the brothers reconciled, and while Jacob went on to become the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, Esau settled in Edom and his descendants were known as the Edomites.

Joseph and his 11 brothers

During his exile at his uncle Laban’s home, Jacob married two sisters- Leah and Rachel who bore him twelve sons including Joseph.

Joseph was Jacob’s favourite son and he often got special treatment from his father. This favouritism didn’t sit well with his brothers who, filled with envy, sold him to slavery. Joseph found himself in Egypt where despite challenges including imprisonment, he rose to a position of high power. 

Years later when there was a severe famine in Israel, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to look for food where Joseph forgave and invited his whole family to go and live with him.

Moses and Aaron

The Book of Exodus focuses on two brothers- Moses, a lawgiver and leader, and Aaron, a high priest, who played a huge role in leading the Israelites out of Egypt where they had been enslaved to their promised land.

God chose Moses to receive the Ten Commandments and lead the Israelites, and Aaron to be his spokesperson since he was very eloquent. Together, Moses and Aaron confronted Pharaoh, demanding the release of the Israelites, and led the Israelites through the wilderness toward the Promised Land. 

Simon Peter and Andrew

Simon Peter and Andrew were two fishermen brothers in the Bible who became Jesus’ disciples. The two brothers were fishing in the Sea of Galilee when Jesus approached them and told them to follow Him, promising them to be fishers of men instead. They left their fishing nets and promptly followed Jesus, becoming the first of Jesus’ twelve disciples to follow Him.

James and John 

James and John were another set of brothers who were disciples of Jesus. Like Simon Peter and Andrew, the two sons of Zebedee who were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder” were fishermen too who dropped everything and followed Jesus when He called them. Together with Simon Peter, James, and John were part of an inner circle of Jesus’ disciples who were present during some of Jesus’ significant moments including the Transfiguration.

James went on to become the first martyr among the apostles after by King Herod Agrippa I executed him for his faith while John on the other hand lived to an old age and is credited  with writing several books in the New Testament including the Gospel of John. 

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