Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bible Series 3: The Murder of Cain

The next major story in Genesis is that of the murder of Cain by Abel. This story is so short that it can fit on a sheet of paper. But it does have a definite plot. Cain tilled the ground; he was a farmer. Abel had a flock of sheep. Both offered to God, but God had no respect for Cain's offering. So Cain killed Abel. God asked where he was. When he found out, he forbade anyone from punishing Cain and made him farm for the rest of life. From that point on, he had a series of descendants; perhaps a dynasty.

There is something wrong with this story. First of all, it seems that not only was Cain involved in the death of Abel, but so was God, for favoring Cain. The world's first discrimination, according to Genesis, was by God Almighty Himself. Next, see what happens to Cain. He does not get punishment that some would say he deserved. Instead, he continued with his way of life and even had progeny. This starts the theme of the wicked being favored in the world, a theme that is revisited in Job. The one good thing in this sordid story was that God forbade Cain from being punished, thus becoming the world's first proponent of abolition of the death penalty, a theme that occurs in the New Testament with Jesus.

A story that somewhat resembles this one is Shakespeare's Macbeth, which involves a king killing someone to maintain his kingdom. Eventually things get worse and worse for him until he is overthrown and killed by his enemies. This differs from the Cain and Abel story, because Cain does not meet any clearcut downfall like this.

Since many people view discrimination as evil, one can view this story as a collusion between God and Satan against the people of the world, a theme that also occurs in Job. It brings up the triple paradox of God being good, God being almighty, and the existence of evil, and in this story, the second and third are true, but not the first. So in general this is a rather strange story, and I hope this story is not the cause of much discrimination, be it racial, religious, or anything else, in the world.


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