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Cain and Abel

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Although, the collective memory of Cain and Able has eroded into submicroscopic dust their tragic saga continues haunting mankind. Consequently, their lives in one manner or another, all too often mirror what we all face.

 

I cannot remember how many times I have read the accounts of Cain. And, despite the presented biblical facts something always remained missing about this disastrous relationship of brotherly love that seems to be rooted in privilege, jealousy, murder and purposeful or unintentional deception.

 

Although the actors within all of Genesis are replete with abundant ignorance and intrigue stalks the landscape it’s easy to draw improper conclusions without having all the facts. Therefore, if one reads this whole account on a word by word basis without any interpretation other than the original transliteration I feel that a case can be made for an alternative view that may offer added insight to better understand why this biblical event took place.

 

Before proceeding, I should state that I do not know if the authorized KJV translation is 100% accurate, and I’m forced to suspect that some darkness or at least a few clouds of misunderstanding has infiltrated portions of this great book.

 

 

 

Genesis 4:1   And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

 

Cain is a 1st born and some firstborn’s belong to YHVH (Exodus 13:2, Exodus 22:29, Numbers 3:13, Numbers 8:17 , Nehemiah 10:36, Matthew 1:25, Hebrews 12:23) and/or have special rights (Genesis 43:33, Deuteronomy 21:17, 1 Chronicles 5:1, 2 Chronicles 21:3). Did Cain have unique blessings from YHVH?

 

It would seem logical that Adam & Eve passed on to Cain what they learned from YHVH, as well as what they gleaned from the of knowledge. If so, Cain knew a lot about technology, but of right and wrong I wonder how much different Adam and Eve were compared to parents today that cannot seem to adequately teach this concept. So, likely as not, Cain was lacking in experiencing the correct way to manage good and evil. Plus, although the Scripture is quiet regarding the Serpent I seriously doubt that darkness allowed a lot of light to permeate Cain’s life.

 


Genesis 4:2   And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Notice, that Abel is not a keeper of goats, cattle or any other type of livestock. Thus, are sheep superior for food, clothing and offerings, as well as more manageable than other animals in a land full of thorns and rock where there’s little grass? Could there be other reasons why sheep are specifically utilized? A question that comes to mind – is sheep referencing an animal or a human flock? Oddly, near the end of the gospels Yeshua is a Shepard (keeper) of sheep and is violently sacrificed. Could there be any intended similarities?  

 

Cain, on the other hand is a tiller of the ground. The word tiller at first glance appears to be referencing an agrarian culture. Although I have no doubt that Cain was a farmer, I also suspect that Cain knew a lot more about farming methodologies than simply using a stick with an attached stone to plow fields. If Cain only farmed and Able was in charge of animals then was Cain able to grow all the necessary food stocks to feed everyone including Abel’s sheep adequately without utilizing beasts of burden to help plow the fields? Did Able furnish any of the beasts of burden, and if so did Able charge a price for his expertise?

 

Eventually, the question becomes – how much technology did Cain actually have at this point in his life span? Did Cain become familiar with making metal tools by which to better till the ground? If so, was he a skilled blacksmith, which would suggest metallurgical talent, and if he had these abilities then he was the 1st prospector and miner. It seems to me that this field of study is immature, and deserves a lot more cultivation.

 

A few other questions that seem to deserve prospecting are: 1) are there two competing mindsets – one vegetarian and one meat eating,  2) did trading of sheep for grain occur, 3) was some type of medium of exchange used, 4) why would Cain and Abel trade or sell their best if needed for an offering, and 5) if their best was not bartered then inferior grain, metals and meat was the norm, so why was this type of stagnation encouraged?

 

 

Genesis 4:3   And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

 

For some inexplicable reason it seems most people are of the opinion that Cain offered a plant or some kind of grain. Likewise, most people agree that an offering is a sacrifice, which represents the best of what is produced.

 

Scripture is silent as to the kind of fruit Cain offered. Obviously it was not animal, for this was Abel’s domain. So, was this offering wheat, apples or something else? If Cain’s offering was not vegetable matter – could it have been a metal object fashioned with his own hands? Did Cain locate and harvest a rich deposit of gold or silver? Did he refine, forge and sculpt a metal object, reminiscent of an image or idol that would later be called abominable?

 

Based upon the way this verse is structured it appears that there was a preset time for this offering to be made and each brother had a sufficient amount of time to prepare for this event. Because it’s implied that Cain and Abel made their offerings at about the same moment I have to ask – do plants mature and bring forth trophy winning fruit at the same time that an animal would be in its prized splendor?

 

The next verse states that Abel’s firstlings were offered and begs the question – was Cain’s first plants or metal objects offered?

 

 

Genesis 4:4   And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

 

Did Abel round-up a bunch of wild sheep or did he tend to an inherited flock that produced these firstlings. The word firstlings I presume were juvenile or barely adult?

 

Did Abel have to protect these sheep from predators and accidents? What kind of care did Abel have to extend to produce a worthy offering of at least one live animal and one that was slaughtered to extract the fat?

 

Notice that it says YHVH had respect unto Abel, as well as his offering, suggesting that Abel did something prior to or after the offering that Cain did not. Was the respect YHVH showed towards Abel due to Abel’s faith that his work was based on caring for and not fashioning the best of the best? This previous question leads me to wonder why would Abel care more for one or two sheep that he was unsure would meet YHVH’s approval, unless YHVH or Adam and Eve explained to Abel what must be done to gain this sought for approval?

 

Did Abel feed grain to his flock to aid in the production of fat and healthly sheep? If so, where did he get this grain? Was grain growing naturally and abundantly, which is unlikely because all manner of thorn was Adam’s reward. Did Cain grow the best grain possible and allow Abel to have these portions of the harvests? If Abel did not feed grain to his flock did Abel enlist Cain’s aid to make (fertilize) a better grass, which would indicate tilling the ground for Abel?

 

If Cain had stores of grain would Able simply ask Cain for grain and Cain loving his brother so much would comply with Abel’s wants? I seriously doubt this occurred based upon the lack of brotherly love throughout scripture. Nevertheless, if such love or mutual respect took place then this division of labor suggests that some type of incentive (trade and commerce) to help each other was present so that each could prosper.

 

Neither Scripture, nor any other non-canonized books state that Adam and Eve tilled the fields, so they could eat the fruits of their labor in a somewhat hostile countryside. Thus, what part, if any did Adam and Eve play in the production of Cain and Abel’s work that led to the respective offerings? Did Cain and Abel grow all the food-stocks required for bodily nourishment?

 

It seems rational to me that Able would want the very best grains and grass for his sheep so that YHVH would know that he did his best to present the best of the best. But, would Cain give his best produce to his brother if he was offering these same best of the best plants and grains to YHVH? I have a hard time believing such an event took place, because the rebellious nature of Adam and Eve surely filtered down to their offspring. Therefore, why would Cain render unto his brother what he would need unless Able gave back something that Cain required or needed, which I doubt would have been the best of the best sheep to eat. No, something more was involved in this whole affair between these two brothers and their parents. Unfortunately, Scripture does not elaborate, but does provide lots of clues if we extrapolate how man is today and apply this to the brothers.

 

It’s clear that Able killed some of the animals to produce this “fat”. Therefore, both Cain and Abel had knowledge of death and the means by which to accomplish death.

 

 

Genesis 4:5   But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

 

Neither Cain nor his offering was given respect. Therefore, was Cain’s offering truly representative of Cain’s talent?

 

Other than the traditional concept that Cain’s offering found no favor with YHVH because it (grain or some kind of plant) was inferior quality I take the stand that perhaps Cain offered something totally different from what conventional wisdom conveys.

 

Cain undoubtedly had knowledge of farming (tilling) the ground, but as I suggested previously he also must have had implements to till the ground, which means at a minimum rudimentary to highly advanced metal working which came from mining (digging – tilling). Therefore, Cain likely as not also found abundant sources of silver and gold, for he was the first to work the ground and would naturally spot these metals which were likely reasonably pure and malleable.

 

Perhaps, Cain was the first human to offer YHVH an ornament or idol made of gold or silver? And, maybe YHVH although appreciating Cain’s work did not like the idol concept even though it was Cain’s best work. Furthermore, anything fashioned from man’s hands as an offering, scripture later indicates that YHVH finds less than desirable.

 

Assuming Cain offered a metal object, maybe, if he had offered his best fruits from plants YHVH would have found both his work and offering acceptable? But, possibly Cain gave the best fruits (plants or grains) to his brother and thus fell short of the expectations of YHVH?

 

There are strange occurrences in scripture where the slick, violent and deceitful are cast as major players, whereas many righteous, decent and honorable men are held in contempt and killed. So, who’s to say with unequivocal knowledge that Abel did not use chicanery to obtain Cain’s best fruits leaving Cain with only an intentional inferior offering?

 

Any child whose work is not appreciated by parents praise becomes downtrodden and wroth and will hang their head in shame and likely as not get angry and seek to find a place to hang the blame.

 

If Cain offered the best of the best ore, which is YHVH’s handiwork, somewhat similar to both plants and animals, instead of molding these metals into an object perhaps YHVH would have found favor with Cain’s offering? Could it be that YHVH appreciates man’s work as man applies his labors towards tending to YHVH’s creation(s), but does not particularly “appreciate” the work of man’s hands?

 

Another viewpoint that I don’t want to overlook is located within Hebrews 11:4   By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. This verse suggests that dead animals can still communicate with YHVH, whereas the metals don’t die and thus are not actually sacrificial offerings, whereas minerals might be, because they like man can be refined. I’m not saying that metals can’t be offered unto YHVH, because at Ezra 8:28 it is plain that such is acceptable. Regardless, scripture does not say that Cain’s offering was done in faith, which may be the key as to why YHVH did not give the same credence to Cain as He did Abel?

 

A major question previously hinted at is – who taught Cain and Abel the methodologies necessary to gain approval from YHVH? With this question in mind the follow-up portion would be – YHVH created this scenario for Able to TEND and Cain to TILL, where Able oversees and Cain uses his hands. Therefore, again if YHVH finished all His work at end of the 6th day, then, are we not learning to understand what YHVH created, instead of living in an unknown and unfinished work?

 


Genesis 4:6   And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

 

If I looked up to a father figure and he disapproved of my work I too would be ashamed or disgruntled.

 

Is YHVH asking Cain why the long-face in view of the fact that YHVH knew Cain could do better? Or, just maybe YHVH was setting the stage for all His creation to learn the lessons that YHVH wants us all to learn. Does not YHVH know everything and surely YHVH pre-knew what Cain would do, cause YHVH set up the circumstances to be what they were to be. So, perhaps, like an adult asking a child a question, the adult or parent is only trying to get the child to analyze or think.

 

I see no point in adding to Cain’s historical legacy of being a good-for-nothing villain. Instead, repeating what conventional wisdom dictates seems to be counterproductive, which certainly has not produced understanding. So, perhaps a revised view of Cain’s episode is in order so we won’t be doomed to repeat that which produces no fruit (refined understanding)?

 

 

Genesis 4:7   If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

 

It seems apparent that learning is what YHVH had in mind, and failure to meet expectations is not necessarily bad because failure is a great learning tool. However, not heeding the advice that failure teaches suggests that sin (missing the mark) will continue being a contentious sore that won’t heal till the lesson is learned.

 

 

Genesis 4:8   And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

 

Here’s a possibly preposterous notion that might curdle the processes of thought. If an offering must unblemished to be acceptable how could Cain faithfully offer anything other than Abel who was the best? Furthermore, how could Cain sacrifice what he grew if it did not have mammalian blood (life) that was constantly offered throughout subsequent scriptures?

 

As I asked previously – who coached these brothers on how to produce and present the offerings? Did Adam & Eve pass on the knowledge of good and evil to both brothers? I have doubts that the knowledge of good and evil was adequately taught because Scripture (1 John 3:12 and Jude 1:11) and modern teaching flat-out states that Cain was evil, unrighteous and rebellious. Is it possible that there’s another side of this episode that has not been told? To partially substantiate the foregoing I offer another question that deserves contemplation – why did Abel submit his offering before firstborn Cain who theoretically enjoyed special rights and privileges?

 

Obviously some time has passed since Cain’s offering was rejected. Apparently, Abel did not suspect Cain’s belligerence, because Scripture does not stipulate that this talk was peaceful or antagonistic. Nonetheless, why are they in the same field and who’s field is it?

 

Jealousy and anger are ever-present emotions and likely as not both Cain and Abel had all the emotions we have today. Is it likely that Cain gave so much of his best to Able that Cain was left with inferior products to make an offering with? If so, I can see how and why Cain got exceedingly angry at his-self for being so foolish. And being human took this misplaced resentment out on the one person who he now blamed for his own failure to think for himself. Conversely, did Cain get angry at Abel because he was suckered into a no-win game that Abel deceitfully engineered? I am of the opinion that an honest man does not get conned. So, could Cain have been a bit greedy to get hood-winked or bamboozled out of his inheritance by a younger brother? If this actually happened, what kind of incentive could Able possibly provide that would create this scenario?

 

A similar setting has often been found by greenhorn prospectors, who spend hours panning the creeks and discreetly pocketing the glistening yellow minerals collected in their gold pans only to later discover they fooled themselves into believing they had accumulated a fortune that was actually mica or iron pyrites. This bitter lesson is not easily forgotten and the prospector benefits in the end with this newfound knowledge.

 

Now, that the dastardly deed has been consummated – what kind of instrument was employed to kill Abel? Was it a handy rock (mineral), a tree limb or was it a metal tool? If metal was it iron, because iron later in scripture becomes instruments of war? Although my questions may be a bit odd, here’s one that will surely grab hold and not let go –  is it possible that the metals used Cain to delete Abel because Abel did not use metals? This may sound far-fetched, but even today if refined metals are not part of daily life death due to starvation or an inability to compete is close at hand.

 

Many biblical believers do not support the concept of destiny, because it withdraws the free choice we are told we are endowed with. Nevertheless, why did YHVH Who knows all permit this circumstance unless destiny is a reality? To partially validate this premise I suspect that YHVH completed his work and now we all who have been given the blessing of life are forced to live out what YHVH created by learning to understand. If this idea is erroneous then why does scripture suggest predestination in Romans 8:29 & 8:30, as well as Ephesians 1:5, & 1:11?

 

The concept that man has “free choice” confounds me, because I can find no evidence that such exists or similar words is actually stated anywhere in scripture. It is argued that freewill and free-choice are the same things, but I have serious reservations as to the accuracy of such a belief, because neither freewill nor free-choice can be valid if there are attached consequences. The exception to the foregoing is that perhaps the spirit is free, but as I see it nothing is truly free, because all is of The Father and being such cannot change what is.

  


Genesis 4:9   And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

 

Why would an all-knowing Heavenly Father ask Cain such a question unless YHVH wanted the answer received so that Cain could learn?

 

How many times do adults/parents witness children taking what appears to be an easier way out of an awkward situation by fabricating mumbo-jumbo or an outright lies to avoid confrontation with the adult because the child knows the adult is toooo big to confront?

 

Although it is commonly perceived that Cain lied when he said “I know not”, I suspect that Cain was telling the complete truth, because how would Cain know where Abel departed to, unless of course that during those days that kind of knowledge was available to the living?

 

My biblical studies indicate that seldom do brothers behave as being each-other’s keeper. Yet, Yeshua stressed this behavior, which further supports my theory that we are here to learn to understand what has already happened.

 

 

Genesis 4:10   And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

YHVH speaks to Cain as if He does not know what Cain did, although Abel’s blood is able to communicate this act to YHVH, which leads me to speculate as to why Abel’s blood did not crieth out immediately when the act was consummated? Again, an All Knowing YHVH obviously knew during and beforehand, so this act was (pre) destined.

 

Is it likely that the serpent influenced Cain’s actions? If so, at least Cain was wise enough not to blame Satan as his parents had done.

 


Genesis 4:11   And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
Genesis 4:12   When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

If Cain was skilled in extracting the metals from the earth and the earth gleefully gave Cain of itself this curse would cause Cain to find it difficult to now extract the metals, which all present day prospectors and miners know all too well.

 


Genesis 4:13   And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

 

I find this portion of scripture being played out in everyday modern life. To me there’s not a lot of difference between a parent disowning or kicking the child out of the home prior to the child believing he’s ready for such. Sometimes, parents push the children out of the security of the home so that the child is forced to grow-up and learn the lessons of waiting life.

 

Another possibility is that Cain’s suffering was partially due to not being able to win the metals as easily as he did prior to exterminating his brother.

 

Some people are of the mindset or belief that Cain and Abel were twins, because scripture does not specifically state that Eve conceived again with Abel and that no appreciable time passed between these births. Thus, as some biblical believers suggest – one of these brothers was mythological, for only one was actually physically conceived and as a consequence the good and evil were manifested in Cain, thus Abel theoretically being good and Cain being bad. If this scenario has merit then what happened could be considered as logical for we all have to wrestle with our + and – natures.


Genesis 4:15   And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Clearly, Cain recognized that other people inhabited the land(s) where Cain was to become a vagabond and realized that his presence in their land would not be looked upon with favor because he would be an uninvited invader.

 

This mark must have had universal meaning that we know not of today. This mark also implies that YHVH raised-up others for His purposes, which are unknown to us. Then again, perhaps those inhabiting the land were the angels of Satan who were called giants?

 

YHVH protects Cain with the mark, but why did He do this act of kindness?  Could it be that 1) like any parent YHVH wants His offspring to prosper despite the realities of what the child may have done, or 2) YHVH foreknew what He had made and therefore could not hold Cain accountable?

 


Genesis 4:16   And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

 

Was Cain sent into Nod to initiate and teach farming and mining?


Genesis 4:17   And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

 

Cain gets or takes a wife from an unknown source or place. This wife is either a sister as some suggest or originated from other people’s existing in close proximity, but not mentioned biblically. Either way – the ramifications continue to create contentious viewpoints.

 

Building a city suggests Cain had a huge amount of knowledge by which all aspects of construction and politics could harmoniously function and not cave in with the first strong wind.

 


Genesis 4:22   And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

 

Where did this knowledge of brass and iron originate if not from YHVH, Adam & Eve (tree of knowledge) and Cain?

 


 

Joseph Cummins

 

Created: 05-24-06
Revised: