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. 

Outline of the Book of Genesis

Genesis General Structure (per Jerusalem Bible)   

I.    The origins of the world

a.    The creation and the fall

The first story of creation (Gen 1:1-2:4)

The second story of creation: paradise (Gen 2:4b-2:25)

The fall (Gen 3:1-3:24)

Cain and Abel (Gen 4:1-4:16)

The descendants of Cain (Gen 4:17-4:24)

Seth and his descendants (Gen 4:25-26)

The patriarchs before the flood (Gen 5:1-5:32)

 Sons of God and daughters of men (Gen 6:1- 6:4)

b.  The flood

The corruption of humanity before the flood (Gen 6:5-6:12)

Preparations for the flood (Gen 6:13-7:9)

The flood (Gen 7:10-7:24)

The decrease of the water (Gen 8:1-8:14)

The exit from the ark (Gen 8:15-8:22)

The new world order (Gen 9:1-9:17)

c.  From the flood to Abraham

Noah and his sons (Gen 9:18-9:29)

How the earth was peopled (Gen 10:1-10:32)

The tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-11:9)

The patriarchs after the flood (Gen 11:10-11:26)

The descendants of Terah (Gen 11:27-11:32)

II.      The story of Abraham

The call of Abraham (Gen 12:1-12:9)

Abraham goes to Egypt (Gen 12:10-12:20)

The separation of Abraham and Lot (Gen 13:1-13:18)

The battle of the four great kings (Gen 14:1-14:16)

Melchizedek (Gen 14:17-14:24)

The promise of a divine alliance (Gen 15:1-15:21)

The birth of Ishmael (Gen 16:1-16:16)

The covenant and circumcision (Gen 17:1–17:27)

The apparition at Mamre (Gen 18:1-18:15)

The intercession of Abraham (Gen 18:16-18:33)

The destruction of Sodom (Gen 19:1-19:29)

The origins of the Ammonites and Moabites (Gen 19:30-19:38)

Abraham at Gerar (Gen 20:1-20:20:18)

The birth of Isaac (Gen 21:1-21:7)

The dismissal of Hagar and Ishmael (Gen 21:8-21:21)

Abraham and Abimelech at Beer-sheba (Gen 21:22-21:34)

The sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22:1-22:19)

The descendants of Nahor (Gen 22:20-22:24)

The tomb of the patriarchs (Gen 23:1-23:20)

Marriage of Isaac (Gen 24:1-24:67)

The descendants of Keturah (Gen 25:1-25:6)

The death of Abraham (Gen 25:7-25:11)

The descendants of Ishmael (Gen 25:12-25:18)

III.      The story of Isaac and Jacob

The birth of Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:19-25:28)

Esau gives up his birthright (Gen 25:29-25:34)

Isaac goes to Gerar (Gen 26:1-26:14)

The wells at Gerar and Beer-sheba (Gen 26:15-26:25)

The alliance with Abimelech (Gen 26:26-26:30)

The Hittite wives of Esau (Gen 26:34-26:35)

Jacob cheats Esau out of the blessing of Isaac (Gen 27:1-27:45)

Isaac sends Jacob to Laban (Gen 27:46-28:5)

Esau’s other marriage (Gen 28:6-28:9)

Jacob’s dream (Gen 28:10-28:22)

Jacob arrives at Haran (Gen 29:1-29:14)

The two marriages of Jacob (Gen 29:15-Gen 29:30)

The children of Jacob (Gen 29:31-30:24)

How Jacob got rich (Gen 30:25-30:43)

The flight of Jacob (Gen 31:1-31:21)

Laban pursues Jacob (Gen 31:22-Gen 31:42)

The treaty between Jacob and Laban (Gen 31:43-32:2)

Jacob prepares to meet Esau (Gen 32:3-32:21)

The struggle with God (Gen 32:22-32:32)

The meeting with Esau (Gen 33:1-33:11)

Jacob separates from Esau (Gen 33:12-33:17)

Jacob arrives at Shechem (Gen 33:18-33:20)

The violence against Dinah (Gen34:1-34:5)

The marriage pact with Hamor and Shechem (Gen 34:6-34:24)

The vengeance of Simeon and Levi (Gen 34:25-34:31)

Jacob at Bethel (Gen 35:1-35:15)

The birth of Benjamin and the death of Rachel (Gen 35:16-35:21)

The incest of Rueben (Gen 35:22-Gen 35:22)

The twelve sons of Jacob (Gen 35:23-35:26)

The death of Isaac (Gen 35:27-35:29)

IV.     The story of Joseph

Joseph and his brothers (Gen 37:1-Gen 37:11)

Joseph is sold by his brothers (Gen 37:12-37:36)

The story of Judah and Tamar (Gen 38:1-38:30)

Joseph in Egypt (Gen 39:1-39:6)

Joseph and the seducer (Gen 39:7-Gen 39:20)

Joseph in prison (Gen 39:21-Gen39:23)

Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s household (Gen 40:1-40:23)

Pharaoh’s dreams (Gen 41:1-41:36)

The elevation of Joseph (Gen 41:37-41:49)

The sons of Joseph (Gen 41:50-41:57)

The first meeting of Joseph and his brothers (Gen 42:1-42:24)

The return of the sons of Jacob to Canaan (Gen 42:25-42:38)

The sons of Jacob return with Benjamin (Gen 43:1-43:14)

The meeting with Joseph (Gen 43:15-43:34)

The cup of Joseph in Benjamin’s sack (Gen 44:1-44:17)

The intervention of Judah (Gen 44:18-44:34)

Joseph reveals himself (Gen 45:1-45:15)

Pharaoh’s invitation (Gen 45:16-45:20)

The return to Canaan (Gen 45:21-45:28)

The departure of Jacob for Egypt (Gen 46:1-46:7)

The family of Jacob (Gen 46:8-46:27)

The welcome of Joseph (Gen 46:28-46:34)

The audience with Pharaoh (Gen 47:1-47:6)

The establishment in Egypt (Gen 47:7-47:12)

The agricultural politics of Joseph (Gen 47:13-47:26)

The last wishes of Jacob (Gen 47:27-47:31)

Jacob adopts and blesses the two sons of Joseph (Gen 48:1-48:22)

The blessings of Jacob (Gen 49:1-49:28)

The last moments and death of Jacob (Gen 49:29-49:33)

The funeral of Jacob (Gen 50:1-50:14)

The death of Joseph (Gen 50:15-50:26)


My understanding of Genesis