Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16)

Adam and Eve had two sons - Cain (a farmer) and Abel (a shepherd). In due course, they brought offerings to God. Cain brought an offering from the crops that he had grown; Abel brought the best parts of a first-born lamb. God accepted Abel's sacrifice and rejected Cain's. Cain was very angry. However, God warned Cain that he should persevere and do what was right, and not give in to his anger. He should overcome the (potential) sin that was crouching at his door. [God was testing Cain.]

Cain then suggested to his brother that they should go out into a field together, and there he murdered Abel. The Lord asked Cain where his brother was, to which Cain replied "Am I supposed to take care of my brother?" But God knew what Cain had done, and said that his brother's blood was crying out to him from the ground. God punished Cain.

Punishment:

  • Ground would no longer be fertile
  • Cain would become a restless wanderer on earth

However, God put a mark on Cain so that nobody could kill him. If they did, seven lives would be taken in revenge. Cain became a nomad and lived in the land of 'Wandering' [sometimes called 'Nod'], east of Eden.


Themes

  • Jealousy - Cain was jealous of his brother Abel and gave in to this, which led to...
  • Sin - Cain was taken over by anger and sin, despite being warned of this danger by God.
  • Test - Cain was being tested to see how he would react. God even warned him to be careful, but still Cain got it wrong.
  • Murder - the first murder in the Bible was committed as a result of religion!
  • Lying - Cain lied to God and denied responsibility for his own brother - even though God gave him a chance to own up and apologise for what he had done wrong.
  • Consequence - Punishment - Cain was punished for what he had done.
  • The Ground - just as man had been created from the ground in the Garden of Eden, so Abel's blood cried out to God from the ground.
  • Forgiveness - despite what he had done, God put a mark on Cain and protected him.

Contemporary Issues

  • Murder. Is killing ever justifiable? Punishment for murderers?
  • Punishment.
  • Family relationships between brothers.
  • Jealousy.

 

Revision

Why do you think that God accepted Abel's sacrifice, but rejected Cain's? Try to give three or four reasons. Think about Cain's angry reaction and temper…




What would happen to anyone who killed Cain?

 



What do we learn about God from this story?

 

 

How do you think murderers should be punished today, and why? Refer to this story in your answer.



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