The Twelve Brothers


Faith of Our Fairy Tales #7 (Original story)

Story Scripture: Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – Genesis 4:9

Story Saying: Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet. – Vietnamese Proverb

Behind the Story: The sibling love in this story runs strong. A king and queen had twelve children, but they were all boys. The queen was going to have a thirteenth child and they all hoped it would be a girl. The king wanted a girl so much that he promised to kill the twelve boys if the wife had a girl so she could have all of their possessions and be the only one to inherit the kingdom.

The queen was very sad about the king’s decision. The youngest boy, Benjamin, noticed her sadness and pestered her until she told him what was troubling her. Together they made a plan. The boys would leave the castle and go into the forest until the baby was born. From the highest tree, they would take turns watching the tower. If the baby was a boy, a white flag would go up in the tower and Benjamin and his brothers would be able to return home. If the baby was a girl, a red flag would go up and Benjamin and his brothers would run away as fast as they could.

The queen did not want to see her boys go, but she promised to pray for them each night and hoped for God to protect them. James 5:16 tells us to “pray for each other”. When we do not have control over a situation, the best thing we can do for the people involved is pray consistently and in faith believing for God to work everything out for their good.

Unfortunately, for the boys, the new baby was a girl. A red flag went up in the tower and the boys fled deeper into the forest. They were angry that they had to suffer for the sake of a girl, so they promised to avenge themselves by killing whatever girl they found. Here we can find another lesson. When wrong is done to us, we are not to take revenge. It is God’s duty to avenge. It may not happen when we want, but He will always repay. Imagine how different the Biblical story of Joseph would have turned out if he had avenged his brothers for mistreating him the way he did. Because Joseph placed his faith in God, he became the prime minister of Egypt and ended up saving his entire family – a future nation – from death by famine.

Because of their mother’s prayers, the twelve brothers found a bewitched hut in the forest and decided to stay there. The oldest ones went out hunting for their food. The youngest one, Benjamin, stayed at the hut and cooked their food. For ten years, they lived together in this way.

After a while, the girl the queen had given birth to grew up. She had a good heart and was very beautiful, and had a golden star on her forehead. During a great washing day at the castle, the girl saw twelve shirts which had belonged to her brothers. When the queen told the girl what had happened to her brothers, the girl determined to find them. And find them she did. While the older brothers were out hunting, the girl came across the hut and Benjamin told her of their promise to kill every girl they met. “I will willingly die,” the girl said, “if by so doing I can save my twelve brothers.”

When the older brothers returned to the hut, they had a change of heart and a change of mind when they saw their sister and decided they would not kill her or any other girl. So the siblings lived together with love and joy in their hearts for one another. Even though much unpleasantness had driven them apart, the brothers and sisters put aside any bad blood and determined to live together in unity. It is good and pleasant when we live together in harmony. God wants us to set aside our differences, release past pain, and as much as possible live at peace with everyone.

The hut had a garden in which were twelve lily flowers. The girl decided to pick these flowers and give them to her brothers, but the moment she picked them, the hut and the garden vanished, and her twelve brothers turned into ravens and flew away. Now the girl was all alone. An old women appeared and told her that since she had picked the twelve flowers her twelve brothers would always be ravens unless she did not speak or laugh for seven years. If she spoke one word, if she spilled one laugh, all her brothers would be killed.

The girl promised to free her brothers from the raven curse. For seven years, she neither spoke nor laughed. Even when a king asked her to be his wife, she did not say anything. During her wedding, she did not say a word. During the few years that she lived with her new husband, she did not say anything. Because she did not speak or smile or laugh, the king’s mother, who was a wicked woman, spoke evil things of her and persuaded the king to have her killed.

Amid false accusations, the girl still did not say a word. Even as she was tied to the stake and even as the fire began to burn her clothes, she did not say anything. Just as she was about to be burned, the last minute of the seven years expired. The twelve ravens flew down, and when they touched the ground they turned back into her twelve brothers and immediately saved her. Then they all rejoiced, and the king’s wicked mother died an evil death.

Jesus the Christ endured many false accusations during His time on earth. During his mock trial and crucifixion, many evil things were spoken about Him, but Jesus never responded. When they hurled insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, Jesus entrusted himself to His Heavenly Father, God Almighty, Who judges justly. Because Christ is our Perfect Example, we should do the same.


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