In the story of Cain and Abel, we see the rise of sibling rivalry and the eventual first murder. Out of the two brothers, Abel is the one who pleases God the most. This does not make Cain happy; in fact, he grows bitter and envious towards his brother. Cain's anger and frustration in trying to live up to this model/obstacle version of brotherhood ends with the murder of Abel. This speaks volumes about the artificial brotherhood of the world, one based entirely on stepping over the other and acquiring a desirable object.
This is an interesting start because the story of Cain and Abel bears a striking resemblance to the ancient mythologies of the hostile brothers. The tale of Romulus and Remus is one example of a story similar to that of Cain and Abel. But a distinction is placed between the two--one that separates the romantic lie from reality. Abel is innocent, and Cain, though guilty, is protected by God. The deconstruction of mythology has just begun.
The competitive/rivalry-based relationship of Cain and Abel continues to define the modern 'secular' world which we inhabit. The ultimate aim of this kind of relationship is to please false gods, whether that be the ego, a third person, a certain status, or a collective entity. There is no option for failure, i.e. the conceding of the desirable object. As a result, according to Dostoevsky, the rich die from dissatisfaction, and the poor kill each other. Is there any surprise why this kind of relationship is most likely to end in hostility and violence?
We see the same theme of rivalry continuing in the story of Jacob and Esau. This story, however, does not end in violence, but, rather, it ends in realization of error. Jacob deceives Esau and steals his brother's birthright and blessing. He flees when Esau is enraged, and for a short while, it appears as if he would get away with it. But it is not long before Jacob himself is tricked into extra labor and duped into marrying someone whom he does not love. Jacob learns of the wrongness of deception. He is finally able to look from his brother's perspective, and is ultimately moved towards a mutual understading with Esau.
Finally, in Joseph's story, we see the foreshadowing of Christ. Joseph is envied by his brothers because of his predicted dominant status; he would rule not only his entire family but also the entire region. He is beaten, thrown into a pit, and sold into slavery. And just when he climbs out of one pit, he is thrown into another. He is accused of rape by his master's wife and thrown into prison. Despite all these betrayals and deception, Joseph does not rebel. He maintains his integrity, and at the same time makes no effort to 'compete' against his persecutors. His is the model of a relationship grounded in non-violence--a relationship not of coercion but of persuasion through the imitation of the divine.
Joseph's innocence is eventually restored, thanks to his ability to interpret dreams. Not only is he restored, but he is also elevated to a position of authority. It is during his reign as a man of power when he comes face to face with his brothers who had sold him into slavery. The former persecutors approach Joseph; they are in need and, though they are unable to recognize him, they must depend entirely on his mercy. The power positions are now reversed.
If this were some story written with an ideological pen, Joseph would have been perfectly in the right to give his brothers a taste of their own medicine. After all, according to Nietzsche, might is meant to be exercised, and weakness must be discouraged. The übermensch does not conform to the slave-morality of the Judeo-Christian God. The übermensch belongs to aristocracy and not to slaves. But, as if God knew beforehand about Nietzsche, it is the Christ-man who is of the aristocratic minority, and the persecutors are slaves to the power of the crowd.
When Joseph sees his brothers, he immediately recognizes them and puts them to a test--a unique test designed in such a way that they may realize the wrongness of what they had done to their brother years ago (see Genesis 42-44). The brothers are dismayed by their failure to get away scot-free. Finally they realize the full depth of the violence that had been committed towards Joseph. It is right then when a teary-eyed Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. The brothers are finally reconciled. Jacob, Joseph's father, learns of this episode and travels with his entire family to Egypt so that he can live with his son once again.
Joseph, twice a victim of persecution, and now a ruler, does not exact vengeance upon his brothers. He makes it known to them that he has the power to kill them, but he does not take revenge. He sheaths his sword and chooses mercy, similar to what Christ does in Gethsemane and Golgotha. What prompts Joseph to choose mercy? We have to recognize that Joseph was a precursor to the coming Messiah. Joseph understood that even the harshest of men were made in the image of God. This simple understanding is pivotal in man's relationship with his fellow man, and only in the Bible is this made known.
It is fitting that this particular story is the redemptive ending to the book of Genesis. Joseph concedes the rivalry, recognizes the image of God in his persecutors, and embraces them as his own. This is the familial image of Christ dying on the cross whilst praying, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' This is God, not punishing, but embracing his persecutors. Joseph becomes a Christ figure to his brothers. He imitates the coming Messiah and saves his brothers from mimetic rivalry whilst giving them hope of a better home. He becomes the precursor to the true human being in Christ Jesus, and therefore, he points out the true human relationship grounded in Christ mimesis.