Bible stories : 03 Cain and Abel.

According to insurance statistics, a healthy and average 42-year old today is approximately halfway to dead. Back in the Genesis days, apparently Adam was nine hundred and thirty years old at his passing. Passing being a euphemism for died. Apparently many of his descendants lived to be over 800 years old.

That’s a lot of years for him and Eve to make some children. Sadly, we only know the name of three of his sons. Say them together. You know the first two well:

Cain. And Abel. It’s always Cain and Abel. Never Abel and Cain. Fascinating.

So Cain was the first little baby ever to appear on earth. Eve loved him, and probably Adam did too. Then a little brother came along. Abel, they called him. Adam loved him, and probably Eve did too. But Cain...Cain wasn’t sure what to think about a sibling.

Eventually they grew up, and hopefully they had some good childhood moments together, like Esau and Jacob hopefully did later on as well. But they were very different people, as siblings sometimes are. Cain wanted to farm, and Abel wanted to shepherd.

Once upon a day, both brothers brought presents to God. Cain brought some of his homegrown corn. Abel brought some of the cutest lambs from his flock.

God received Abel’s gift with favor, but not so Cain’s. Why? That is a question to query God with. But there is little to stop us from conjecturing. Had Cain done something displeasing? Was the corn wilted? Did he stash away the best for himself? Was God wanting eggplant? We don’t know. Bottom line was that Cain was sad, angry, and frustrated. Can’t necessarily blame him. And sometimes when you’re those things, you take it out on the easiest target.

God can be tough to take your frustration out on, at least in those days. So Cain waited for a chance to take his anger out on his little brother. Premeditated. Not cool. Big brothers should never ever, never ever ever do anything on purpose to hurt their siblings.

Once upon another day sometime later, they’re both alone out in the country. Most places likely were country, as opposed to city, as they were the first two children ever born in the world. So they’re alone. Cain attacks Abel. This is very anticlimactic, and we’re not going to go into gruesome detail, but the short version is that boom! Abel’s dead.

Abel’s dead and no one saw. No one saw and -

COME ON, DOES ANYBODY PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR PARENTS’ STORIES?!

If Cain had simply listened to his dad’s bedtime stories, he would know beyond a doubt’s shadow that there is no hiding or running from God! The whole getting booted out of Eden thing…

But God plays it cool.

Asks Cain:

Hey, where’s your brother?

How should I know?
Cain replies, in one of the most iconic and subtext-laden replies in all of history,
Am I my brother’s keeper?

God lets him have it.

I know what you’ve done.
Your brother’s spilled blood is crying to me from the ground.
You thought things were tough on your parents when they had to leave the Garden?
Well, this ground that you love to farm?
It’s no longer going to grow corn and fruit for you.
You are cursed and banished from this land.
You will wander the earth.
Go.

Cain, too late, realized the gravity of what he’d done. In his defense, remember that no human had experienced death up until this point. It was perhaps a vague academic construct, but the idea that a person was dead, was mortal? This was a suddenly crushing realization.

He cried out:
I can’t bear this punishment! This is the land I know...if I wander abroad, then anyone who sees me can kill me!

But God, in an iconic moment, placed a mark on Cain’s forehead to protect him; to warn off those who would do him harm. Cain then wandered off and eventually settled in the land of Nod, which means Wandering.

Back home on the ranch, we don’t know much more about Eve and Adam in their old age, except that their third son was named Seth, and they loved him.

So, it’s what we might call a dark and sad ending with a tiny bittersweet root of joy poking through the gloom at the end.

Additional notes

regarding “normal and healthy 42-year olds” : if that 42-year old lives in a first-world country with access to basic human rights stuff, like clean water and wifi.

regarding the order of various duos, see also : Lennon and McCartney, Sonny and Cher.

Cain is sort of a patron figure or empathetic person for ronin and the other wanderers of the world.