The not so loving brothers, Cain and Abel

This Jahwist story continued in Genesis, chapter 4.  Adam knew his wife, a euphemism for the sex act of intercourse.  Eve conceived and bore two sons, Cain, the oldest, and Abel, the younger one, with the help of Yahweh.  Thus, childbirth was ascribed as a gift from God.  The name of Elohim was no longer used with the name Yahweh, just Yahweh alone.  The first-born Cain was a farmer, while Abel was a shepherd.  This set up the age-old dispute between the farmers and the ranchers.  Yahweh seemed more pleased with Abel’s gift rather than Cain’s.  Then Cain got upset.  Yahweh warned him that sin, חַטָּ֣את (ḥaṭṭaṯ), ἥμαρτες (hamartes) was lurking, because he did not have control over his emotions.  This was the first time that the word sin was used, meaning miss the mark, a transgression, go wrong, or incur guilt.  Cain was going against what he knew was right and against the divine order of things.  He then lured his brother Abel into the field, where he killed him, the first mythical human murder.  However, the Hebrew text does not say how this was done.  Ever since then, humans have been killing each other, all out of a supposed good reason.  When Yahweh asked Cain where his brother was, the famous response of Cain was “I do not know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?” In fact, we all are our brother’s keepers.  What a terrible mess.  Above all, we must recognize that we are social in nature so that the first social sin is killing your brother.  The enemy is usually someone close to us.  Nevertheless, blood revenge is as old as the story of Cain and Abel.  The response of Yahweh was equally recognizable, “Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.”  No bad deed goes unpunished.  Cain’s punishment was to have bad soil, so that he would have to wander the earth.  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 was afraid that he would be murdered, but by whom?  A protective sign, tattoo, or mark was put on Cain so that anyone who bothered him would get a sevenfold vengeance.  Cain lost the presence of Yahweh and then settled in Nod, a name that is often referred to as a wandering place, but only appears here and nowhere else in the Bible.  Cain got mentioned 18 times but Abel was only mentioned 8 times in the Hebrew Bible. Given this story, all of humanity should have ended here.  This bad guy Cain, with some kind of mark on him, was wandering around and might be eaten by wild animals, if nothing else.  Thus, this story was not one story about all humans, but about this one little family, since there was a whole world out there, besides them.  What do you think about Cain and Abel?

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