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After Adam and Eve both ate of the forbidden fruit from the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" Yahweh spoke to either the other gods (or sons of God) according to Genesis 3:22, and said, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: 23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." The very next story we read in the Bible is that of Cain and Abel, which is covered in 16 verses of Genesis chapter 4. Which I will quote in a critical frame of mind, using my Freshman Composition training from Atlantic Union College.
The story, as King James approved it about 1611.
Genesis 4:1 "And Adam knew Eve his wife, (that means he had sexual intercourse with her to those of you new to Bible double-talk) and she conceived (became pregnant), and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man (male child) from the Lord."
2 " And she again bare his brother Abel." (We assume that these two boys were the first two children to be born naturally on earth.)
2b "And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground." Instantly, as a Seventh-day Adventist who got my first college education at Atlantic Union College, I'm asking why, in a totally vegetarian family (refer back to Genesis 1:29,30) didn't both sons become farmers, as God told Adam was to be his fate in Genesis 3:17-19, and in verse 23. Sheep-herders don't "till the ground" -- sheep will eat grass growing anywhere!
3 "And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord." This seems to have been a worshipful and helpful thing for Cain to do. Particularly so since God had twice in chapter 3 commanded Adam and one supposes his family to do this. And also a later feast of Israel, the "Feast of First-fruits" is based on such a sacrifice.
4 "And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof." Now one has to wonder who gave this sheep-herder son of a supposedly vegetarian family the idea to bring a dead lamb or sheep to offer to the Lord. The clear intent here is to make this a "first event". We have no record here of Adam ever offering a dead lamb or sheep to the Lord. Certainly these two sons as babies and children did not choose these separate interests and activities. They were at least teen-agers to be out toiling all day at their respective vocations. In later Jewish traditions, at least 13 years old, the age of responsibility.
4b "And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:-- (Although a "new thing" up to this point in the supposed history of the world, God, of course had the option to reward Abel's effort to please Him, although we aren't given a clue as to what the occasion was.)
5 "But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." What form this respect took we're not told either. If the offering was on an altar, placed on fire-wood, then it might have been that the dead sheep was burned up by fire from heaven, while the grain and vegetables were not. But this is assuming something backwards from later stories, a real no-no in Freshman Composition Class at AUC. The least criticism possible here is that this a poorly composed, poorly planned, and poorly written story.
5b "And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." Now the Lord in this story starts talking to Cain about offerings, evidently a subject they had never discussed before, and Cain's attitude.
6 "And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth (angry)? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." A Freshman Composition disaster. In the best light "sin" is likened to a person, over which Cain could and should "rule". Now "lying at Cain's door" God is encouraging him to go to that door an "rule over" sin. Instead, Cain decides to "rule over" his brother Abel.
8 "And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose against Abel his brother, and slew him." All the pertinent details are missing here also. How long did they "talk"? What did they talk about? Whose "field" were they in? What did Cain kill Abel with? Did he try to help him when he became unconscious? Did he try to summon help? It now appears that the later Jewish author had all this information at his or her disposal but has neglected to give it to us!
9 "And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?" Here, as in the Genesis 3 story, God, who is supposed to know everything, is asking questions.
10 "And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." An interesting idea, but hardly literally true.
11 "And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened up her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;--- Now God is providing the earth with a mouth and a personality and gender and the ability to curse people.
12 "When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth." "Mother" earth is now his enemy.
13 "And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear." No sorrow for what he has done, no repentance, no promise to do better, only --"Poor little me, this is too much!"
14 "Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me."
15 "And the Lord saith unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." This seems to convey on Cain a protected status, which is neither explained or justified. "And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." And typical for this particular author, he or she leaves us guessing what this "mark" looks like, and where it was on Cain's body. It now appears that our Jewish author also had this information at his or her disposal but has neglected to give it to us!
16 "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden, --"
17 "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch; and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch." What was Cain's wife's name? Was she his sister? Who were the other people Cain was afraid would kill him?
Of the large genealogy given next, many of his children were talented people, musicians, metalworkers, inventors, and such -- were these "saved" people, or were they all "cursed" like Cain? How did Cain die? And did he ever get to see his father Adam again?
It now appears that our Jewish author had all this information availabe also but decided we didn't need to know it!
Some artist has here taken the trouble to try to picture what it must have been like when Adam and Eve found their dead son Abel out in their field. One assumes that neither son came home when they were expected, and Adam went out to look throughout his cultivated fields and pasture and found dead Abel and the evidence of a fight. And had no idea of where Cain had gone. He appears here to be holding his chest where his heart should be. And Eve is sobbing uncontrollably like any mother would. I can only wonder why our Jewish author has not seen fit to write even one word about their grief. But all this too becomes very clear once we can all read the original Sumerian documents baked into imperishable brick that describes in great detail the history of Kaen and Abael the sons of Adapa..