So, with my last entry I discussed the story of the Creation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent “sin”, their punishment (which included having all of humanity cursed for their mistake), and their expulsion from Eden. As the book of Genesis continues into chapter 4, we see the birth of Adam and Eve’s first cursed offspring, Cain and Abel. For those that know the story, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is “oh, that’s the one about that guy who killed his brother,” and while that’s true, let’s look it over anyway.
“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” (Genesis 4: 2-4)
Interesting… I guess it makes sense. Someone needed to work the farms, because as we saw with the whole “forbidden fruit” scene, God cursed Adam and his male descendants with having to work the ground for their food. It looks like Cain is following in his father’s footsteps. How unlucky for Cain…
“The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” (Genesis 4:5)
Odd… When the brother’s story begins we see that each has their own responsibility, Abel tends the animals, Cain tends the fields, but for some reason God isn’t happy with Cain’s offering. Basically we have Cain working his butt off, bringing some of his work to offer to God, only to have God shake his head in disgust because it wasn’t a big juicy steak like Abel’s? I’m guessing God is not a vegetarian…
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” (Genesis 4:6)
Oh gee, I wonder! Could it be because the God of the Universe just turned his nose up on something he’s worked hard to bring him, while at the same time patting his brother on the head and telling him how good he is? Are jealousy and resentment bad things? Sure they are, but again, we have to remember that God is supposed to know everything that has, can, and will happen. He knew the offerings that these primitive brothers were going to bring, he knew how Cain would react, yet he played the brothers against each other anyway, and he couldn’t just leave it at that. He had to keep poking and prodding Cain, which I would only imagine would upset someone even more.
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
I’m still having trouble understanding up until this point, what it was that Cain did wrong in this story. In a world without many career options, is it such a bad thing to grow vegetables to help feed your family? Man can’t live on meat alone, right? I think if I were Cain I’d be pretty upset that the Creator of all things was telling me my life choice to work the fields sucked too (even though that very same Creator cursed the men of the world to do just that!)
To make a long story short, Cain, worked into a blind rage by his loving Creator, lures his brother to a field and kills him. Shocking.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:9-10)
Once again, as with Adam and Eve in the garden, we see God acting all clueless. I’m not sure why this is necessary. Cain knows God knows and sees all, and God knows Cain knows he sees everything, yet here he is once again asking silly questions for which he already knows the answers. If Adam and Eve’s story is any example, then a heavy handed curse is sure to come next…
“Now you are under a curse (Surprise!) and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
My goodness, God sure loves cursing his creation… For Cain he’s basically taken away all he’s ever known and has driven him from his family. I wonder why God just didn’t kill him? God also says a curious thing here: “The ground… opened it’s mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.” But I wonder who truly has Abel’s blood on their hands here? Let’s look at the facts: We have God, who knows everything, past, present, and future and then we have Cain, a primitive man who knows basically one thing, which is how to work the fields, and who also doesn’t have any human interaction outside of his family. In my opinion, if anyone is responsible for Abel’s death in this story, it’s God. He would have to know every single thing that would happen, which means he could easily have patted Cain on the head along with Abel and said “Good boy! What nice vegetables you’ve brought me!” Instead, he chose to play the brothers against each other and then he toyed with Cain’s emotions, driving him into a rage. God may as well have smashed Abel’s head in himself. I guess that wouldn’t have been quite as fun or dramatic as driving Cain insane and making him do it, right? After all, there was no reality television back then! How else was God going to amuse himself?
“Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” (Huh? Where did these other people come from that Cain’s talking about?)
But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” (Genesis 4:13-16)
What a happy, storybook ending! Not only would God not give Cain the dignity of a swift execution, he made sure no one else could do so either; how loving! Of course I guess it wouldn’t be a Bible story without shame, pain, anger, some blood, God’s wrath, and a few curses! If there’s anything to learn from the Cain and Abel story, it’s that vegetables are from the Devil. So make sure you remember that all you vegans and vegetarians out there! 😉
Well, that brings this week’s entry to a close. I hope you’ll read my next one when I discuss the story of Noah; The First Genocide!
James Garcia: 8/26/2015