Envy of Cain is Crouching at the Door
[T]he conflict between Church and Synagogue is fundamentally an expression of fraternal strife. I would hasten to add that one of the problems perennially bedeviling the Judeo-Christian encounter has been the fact that there has been too much rather than too little brotherhood. After all, the first brothers were fated to become murderer and victim. As long as we regard each other as rival brothers, we may be under the terrible temptation to slaughter each other. There is sorrow in calling Paul my brother. He is my brother; his contemporary followers are all also my brothers. Regrettably, because we are brothers, we may never be quit of Cain’s temptation.
Richard Rubinstein — My Brother Paul
“Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they only hated him the more.
Probably the best way to understand the growth of Christian anti-Zionism and the Jew-hatred it fosters in the 21st century is through the story of Jacob’s sons who threw their brother Joseph into a pit, and after relenting a bit, they followed Reuben’s advice, pulled him back out and sold him into slavery in Egypt where he was expected to die alone and miserable. As it turned out, Joseph not only survived but became a salvific blessing in the place to which they sent him, saving Egypt and his brothers from starvation.
Baptized Christians who claimed to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, did about the same thing to Jews in Europe, the heart of civilized Christendom. They threw the Jewish people into numerous pits during the Holocaust but unlike Jacob’s brothers, murdered them by the millions before sending the remnant to the Land of Israel where officials from the U.S. State Department, figured they would suffer their final destruction. But somehow, like Joseph, the Jews transcended their trauma and thrived.
When Jacob’s sons discovered that their rival brother had survived their attempt to do away with him, they responded with relief and remorse. They manifested repentance over their sins against Joseph. They did not envy Joseph’s status in the place they had sent him. Instead, they expressed fearful joy over his survival and success in the land of Egypt. His survival presaged their own.
Not so with modern-day Christian anti-Zionists who respond in anger over the survival and success of the Jewish people in their old-new home. Instead of manifesting relief, remorse and repentance, Christian anti-Zionists exhibit an envious rage at the survival and success of the Jewish people in the Middle East. They won’t say it out loud, but part of them seems envious of Cain, who was able to finish the job when it came time to do away with his rival brother.
This envy-of-Cain hostility manifests itself as contempt for just about everything Israeli and diaspora Jews have done to achieve their survival and well being in the aftermath of the Holocaust in the mid-20th century. If Jacob’s sons were to follow the example of today’s Christian anti-Zionists, they would defame their erstwhile rival through ugly talebearing, declaring, “Ah, don’t believe the story. He slept with Potiphar’s wife. He did. And sold drugs in prison! That’s how he bought his way out and came to Pharoah’s attention,” they’d declare.
“And once he was working for Pharoah, he threw people into a pit, just like we did to him! In fact, all the stuff we did to him? He did to others afterwards! So what we did was OK!”
In this narrative, Judah, who confessed his sins, is blind to Joseph’s sins, not because of his conscience, but mammon. “Judah just wanted more grain from Pharoah’s storehouses,” Jacob’s unrepentant sons would declare. “And while we’re at it, Dad was always doting over Joseph, putting him in the back of the caravan during the confrontation with his brother Esau. Did he really think we’d be OK playing second fiddle to his chosen one? And now you expect us to be happy at his survival, his success?” We approach Jesus to ask him to be judge and divider over us without paying heed to his warning against coveting.
Sure, we give lip service to this warning to chide Jews, but not to transform our own lives. In our mouths, every warning to us in the New Testament has become a pretext to rebuke the Jews, not to look at ourselves.
Our envy of Cain is crouching at the door.
Please God protect us.