For the past week I have been looking deeply at the story told in chapter 4 of the Book of Genesis, which tells of Cain & Abel. I have been amazed at what I see there, but what I see may seem difficult for many Christians to accept.
I say this in the light of the recent televised “debate” between a Scientist and a Creationist – where the Creationist believes the earth is only 6,000 years old. There seems to be so much support of the Creationist views that what I see coming from the story of Cain & Able could be viewed as offensive to some.
Since my objective is not to be offensive (although the truth does hurt from time to time), I will hold off on posting what I see on this blog. I will announce when I have posted a rather lengthy article some place else, when that is completed. However, it would be nice to know what the general opinions of others are, in reference to the Cain and Abel story.
Some points of focus can begin from these questions:
1. Were Cain and Abel twins, something like Esau and Jacob?
2. Why did God not respect Cain’s offering?
3. Why did God tell Cain that anger and a sourpuss face opened the door for evil to come in, and that Cain controlled that gateway?
4. What is the symbolic meaning of Cain asking God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
5. Who made the ground so hard that Cain could no longer be a “tiller”?
6. Why would God seem so harsh in his punishment levied against Adam and Eve, banishing them from Heaven to toil and pains, simply for going against his commandment, but then be so lenient towards Cain for murder, actually protecting him from attacks by others?
7. What is the mark the Lord set upon Cain?
8. What is sevenfold punishment?
9. What is the symbolism of Cain moving from the land he farmed to Nod, east of Eden, and building a city that he named after his son, Enoch?
10. What is the symbolic purpose for Cain’s lineage being written?
11. Cain’s great great grandson, Lamech, married two wives and had a set of twins with each wife. The first set were both brothers and the second set were brother and sister. What is the symbolism of us being told that Cain’s great great great grandchildren began tent dwelling herders (nomads), musicians (harps and organs), and metal working (iron and brass)?
12. What is the meaning of Lamech telling his wives, “I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt”?
13. What is the meaning of Lamech being avenged “seventy and sevenfold”?
14. Can there be a symbolic link to Sodom and Gomorrah (twin cities?) to the city named Enoch?
15. What is the significance of Adam and Eve having a replacement for Abel (Seth)?
16. What does it mean when Genesis 4:26b says, “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord,” after Seth produced his son Enos(h)?
If these questions are too many or too difficult to answer (even after a Google search), please ponder them on your own. There are some important lessons in this chapter of Genesis. I welcome all responses and dialogues. Still, let me leave you with this tidbit that I have found helpful:
All of the names of people have meaning that plays a role in understanding the text. such as, Cain means, “reed, spear, shaft” (something grown straight and tall), while Abel means “vapor, breath, emptiness” (the unseen presence). Look up the names of the lineage of Cain.
Written by Robert Tippett.
UPDATE: I have finished a short book that puts depth of meaning to the words presented in Genesis 4. The title is The Cain & Abel Story: An Interpretation. It is showing up on major booksellers as a paperback (126 pp, 5×7).