I have googled for the definition of the expression envy of his brethren, but didn't get more than references to the Bible. What does this expression mean?
closed as general reference by slim, FumbleFingers, Lynn, Jasper Loy, Mitch Feb 29 '12 at 21:22
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The expression means that some man's brethren envies something.
This means that the shoes Toby has were causing envy in his brethren.
I will assume you know what of and his mean.
Envy is an emotion similar to jealousy. So really, Toby's brethren didn't envy his shoes, but Toby for having the shoes. In other words they wanted Toby's shoes.
Brethren indicates either actual brothers, a collection of male affiliates that one is emotionally close to, or a group of people one has been pigeon-holed as being very alike to.
The envy of somebody is equivalent to the subject of envy from somebody. (The OED gives one meaning of the word as "The object of envy").