Cain and Abel (Gen 4:1-4:16)

“Now Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced a man with the help of Yahweh.  Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground.  In the course of time Cain brought to Yahweh an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for this part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And Yahweh had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.  Yahweh said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must master it.’

Adam knew his wife, a euphemism for the sex act of intercourse.  Eve had two sons Cain and Abel with the help of Yahweh.  The first born Cain was a farmer, while Abel was a shepherd. Yahweh seemed more pleased with Abel’s gift rather than Cain’s.  Cain got upset, and Yahweh warned him that sin was lurking.

“Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field.’ And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then Yahweh said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And Yahweh said, ‘What have you done?  Listen, your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.  And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength.  You will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.’” 

Cain lured his brother into the field and killed him.  When Yahweh asked where his brother was, the famous response of Cain was ‘I do not know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?’  What a terrible mess.  Blood revenge is as old as the story of Cain and Abel.  No bad deed goes unpunished.  Above all, we must recognize that we are social in nature so that the first social sin is killing your brother.  The response of Yahweh is equally recognized, ‘Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.’ Cain’s punishment is to have bad soil.  He must wander the earth.

“Cain said to Yahweh, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear!  Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face.  I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.’ Then Yahweh said to him, ‘Not so! Whoever kills Cain, will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.’ And Yahweh put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.  Then Cain went away from the presence of Yahweh, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”

Now the inconsistencies pop up.  We thought we had a nice little intact family story of a mom and pop and two sons.  However, Cain is afraid that he will be murdered, but by whom?  A protective sign, tattoo, or mark is put on Cain so that anyone who bothers him will get a sevenfold vengeance. Cain lost the presence of the Lord and then settled in the Nod, a name that is often referred to a wandering place. Given this story, all of humanity should end here since this bad guy Cain with some kind of mark on him is wandering around and might be eaten by wild animals if nothing else. 

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