Today in the book of Genesis, I would like to blog about my insights regarding Cain and Abel. The text surrounding the contrast and conflict of these two brothers is the first we come across in Scripture. It is not lengthy and there is much speculation because of this.
Before I unpack the text, I want first to lay out the facts that we do know from the passage in Genesis 4:
- Cain was the oldest
- Cain was a farmer
- Abel was a shepherd
- Cain presented fruit as an offering
- Abel presented a firstborn from his flock
- Yahweh accept Abel’s offering
- Yahweh did not accept Cain’s offering
- Cain was angry and jealous
- Cain sought out Abel, contended with him and killed him
- Cain’s punishment was more than he could bear
- Cain was afraid of vengeance
- God had mercy and put a mark on Cain to protect him
- Cain was banished to the desert
All of this we learn in fifteen verses. Some of the questions that remain are, “Why didn’t God choose Cain’s offering? Did Abel’s blood really call out to God? What was the mark of Cain? Were Cain and Abel the only two offspring of Adam and Eve at that time?
The First Murder in the Bible
In answering the above, we can only speculate. God chose to be silent in reference to these questions. As this is the first mention of murder and the spilling of blood in the Bible, this compounds our difficulty with this passage.
It would be understandable if one assumes there were other children of Adam and Eve based on Genesis 4:14 where Cain replies to Yahweh, “…anyone who finds me will kill me,” and 4:17, where we see Cain has a wife and offspring. We can surmise that Cain and Abel get mentioned because of the magnitude of their conflict. A comparison here will also show us that Cain represented the darker side of humanity, and Abel the better side.
The Offerings of Cain and Abel
We cannot tell from the text what Cain offered, apart from the fact that it was part of his harvest. Something I would add would be that in Abel’s offering, it is mentioned he offered the “firstborn.” It is not stated, however, that Cain offered the “first fruits.” This makes me think that Cain’s offering was delayed and perhaps half-hearted. He was not eager to present and offering to the Lord.
Abel, on the other hand, was.
We get a glimpse at the heart of God in the matter and that He was communing with His creation. In verse 6, God converses with Cain. The text in verse 7 is striking. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.”
From this verse we can know that Cain did not do well. We can also see that the rejection of Cain’s offering was a rejection of Cain himself. Cain recognized this and became full of rage, so much rage, as well as jealousy that he went off to encounter his brother. Cain was obviously aware that Abel’s offering had been accepted. The result was that Cain lost complete control of his emotions and killed his brother.
Cain Overcome by Sin
Here sin is personified like a wild animal lurking about ready to attack and devour its prey, in this case Cain. It is as if God forewarned Cain that sin was about to overcome him, to repent and take heed of his life. But Cain didn’t listen. Instead, he acted foolishly and went to find Abel to rid of him forever.
Watch this space for Part 2…
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…