Famous Ancient Enemies, Tribal Warfare and Blood Feuds

Most Americans Do Not Get It

Close-up of a section of the floodwall along the Tug Fork River at Matewan, West Virginia, USA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed levees and floodwalls along the river to protect the town. The wall depicts the families involved in the noto
Close-up of a section of the floodwall along the Tug Fork River at Matewan, West Virginia, USA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed levees and floodwalls along the river to protect the town. The wall depicts the families involved in the noto | Source
Hatfield Clan
Hatfield Clan | Source

Hatfield and McCoy Feud in Appalachia

Most people think of the Hatfield and McCoy feud that took place in the American South during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when the term blood feud is mentioned. A blood feud is an ongoing situation where the members of a family or clan murder one another to avenge the death of a family member.

The feud between the Hatfields and McCoys caused hard feelings between the two families that exist until the present. Award winning actor Kevin Kostner is making a movie about this feud. Filming is taking place in Romania.

In spite of the fact that the long running feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families is so well known, it is regarded as something of a curiosity and not something that happens every day or could happen to any family. That is why I believe that the blood feud is not something that most Americans understand. There are some places in the world where people do not forget...ever! Gaining an understanding of this concept might shed some light on the wars that have persisted through the ages.

Ur of the Chaldees Ziggurat

Blood Feuds Through The Ages

There have been many such blood feuds throughout the ages. Some are very real and some appeared in contemporary fiction such as the feud between the Corleone family and the Tattaglia family in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. These feuds, or vendettas are famous because of the deeply held beliefs of the participants.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is such a blood feud. The bitter hatred between these people goes back to the ancient time of the first Patriarch Abraham. If you went to Sunday School as a child you learned that Abram was born in a place called Ur of the Chaldees. Ur was located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia about 6200-6500 years ago. The Chaldeans settled the area in about 900 B.C. Ur is also known as the ancient city of the Sumerians, and was the home of Abram the son of Terah (Genesis 11: 27). Ancient Ur is located about 140 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq and today is called Tall al Muqayyar, Iraq. Most of the Ziggurat of Ur is still standing.

According to the Biblical story in Genesis, God called Abram out of the land of his fathers and led him to a land that would belong to Abram and his descendants forever (Genesis 12: 1-3). During this event Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. The story continues with Abraham and his wife Sarai. They had no children and after waiting many years for God’s promise to happen, Sarai lost her faith because she was old. At this time she was nearly a hundred years old. Sarai begged Abraham to take her maid servant as his concubine (mistress) to give him a child. Abraham did not want to do this, but eventually a child was born to the servant Hagar.

Jealousy came between the servant and the wife and Sarai wanted Hagar. The conflict was so bad that Hagar ran into the desert to flee from Sarai. However, God met with Hagar and told her she would have a son who would be called Ishmael who would be the father of a great nation. In time, Sarai also gave birth to a son just as God had promised, who was called Isaac. This is the beginning of the conflict that has become a blood feud between the children of a great man, Abraham.

Also known as First Mourning; oil painting currently located in National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires.  Public Domain
Also known as First Mourning; oil painting currently located in National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires. Public Domain | Source
Esau sold birthright for a mess of pottage.
Esau sold birthright for a mess of pottage. | Source

More About Blood Feuds

A blood feud in Biblical terms was a serious thing. Many people read the Bible stories in the Old Testament and try to view them through modern eyes and using modern values. This is not the right way to view these stories because the ancient people lived lives that were completely different. Their values did not compare with the lives we live today.

During ancient times in war the reason the family and children were killed is because the mother would teach the children to hate the enemy. In due time the sons became men and the war would continue. This is a very simplistic explanation of the blood feud concept but this is the basis for the hatred and enmity between Israel, the Palestinians, and other Arab countries.

The United States is a very young country. Our forefathers threw off the ties that bound them to the old world. This included getting rid of many traditions that had been pretty much forgotten through the years in Europe. However, the blood feud is alive and well in the Middle East and as a people we would do well to get a basic understanding about it.

Israel believes that they have a mandate from God because they are the legitimate descendants of their father Abraham. The Palestinians also believe that they are descendants of Abraham and will never give up what they perceive as their right to the Promised Land.

Do Americans Understand a Blood Feud?

Does the blood feud impact the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian situation?

  • Yes, it is the root of the problem.
  • No, they just hate each other.
  • I do not understand why they hate each other.
See results without voting

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Comments 4 comments

Marilee 3 years ago

That adesrseds several of my concerns actually.

Kaspar 3 years ago

Great post with lots of impnotart stuff.

Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas Author

I think you are right, Tom. My understanding came from my study of the Bible. I gained insight from studying the Old Testament and the tribes of Israel. Most people just really do not get it and so we try to stop something that is unstoppable. Thanks for commenting.

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV


I can't believe I am the first commenter on your HUB. It is very well written and very on point in the Palestinain and Israeli constant warfare.

I guess I understand blood fueds a little more than most Americans. I live in the northern part of West Virginia, when I was a little boy one of my neighbors was a McCoy. He knew something of the Hatfield and McCoy fued. There were still some hard feelings even in the 1950s. The bloodletting had subsided but the feelings still were unfriendly.

After further discussion I came to the conclusion that blood feuds were more of tribal phenomenon. Since in more primitive societys the tribes consisted of extended families.

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