Genesis is a book of beginnings, answering questions of the origins of God, his creation, the cosmos, the world, mankind, and God’s chosen people, Israel. Perhaps the most complex origin and its subsequent development is the relationship between God and man. Genesis 4:1-16 introduces the origin of the family and highlights God’s relationship to man as he relates to his family. The story establishes the premise that God’s face (his presence and blessing) is upon the one whose face is turned (both in disposition and in action) toward his brother. I will explore the unique and intimate relationship of God with Cain, and the implications of this God/man relationship for the Christian today.
This text falls within a specific grouping of Genesis, chapters 1-11. These chapters serve as a primeval history that attempt to answer questions relating to the earliest age of life, describing events happening long before the first recorded Mesopotamian writings and archeological evidence, dating to approximately 10,000 BCE.1 Many scholars have referred to the genre of the Genesis 1-11 literature as ancient myth2 or legend.3 Gunkel defines legend as “a popular, long-transmitted poetic account dealing with past persons or events and usually originated as an oral tradition, history in written form.” 4 No doubt, Israel had a strong remembered past, a historiography, detailed through rich oral narratives and poetic language as well as historical records. To consider these first 11 chapters of Genesis as a fable-like narrative, makes them no less true, but enables the current reader to see, feel, and understand these stories from a unique perspective, considering the larger themes that the teller would be seeking to convey.
Using source and redaction criticism, many scholars attribute authorship of Genesis 2-4 to the person or persons known as J, or the Yahwehist.5 The J writer uses a distinct narrative style with a particular message to the reader, Monarchic Israel, between 10th6 and 9th century BCE.7 Thus the audience of the written J story, found in Genesis 4, would be Jews, living between the covenant code and emerging Deuteronomistic code. They were centering their religious life around a collection of laws given to Moses and recounted mostly in Exodus. These laws revolved around village life, when Israelites placed religious priority on sacrificial worship, on altars built of earth or stone. Much emphasis in the law code was placed on the treatment of the foreigner and the treatment of one another, particularly in the family unit.8 Given this audience, one can see how important it would be to establish the rationale for proper treatment of one’s brother, as it relates to a worshipful, covenant relationship to God, evidenced in early primeval stories.
A. Births of Cain and Abel (4:1-2)
B. Worship of God (4:3-4)
C. God’s response to worship (4:4-5)
II. Cain’s Response to the disfavor of God (4:5-9)
B. Cain’s choices and consequences given by God (4:7)
C. Cain’s action
1. Murder (4:8)
2. Lack of remorse (4:9)
III. Lawsuit against Cain, with God as advocate and judge (4:9-16)
1. Questions/Answers (4:9-10)
2. Witnesses (4:11-12)
B. Guilty Verdict (4:10-12)
C. Punishment and Protection (4:13-16)
1. Ground no longer fruitful (4:12)
2. Banishment from presence of God (4:13-14)
3. Mark on Cain (4:15)
IV. Cain leaves the presence of God (4:16) Genesis 4:1-16 stands on its own as a narrative account, with a strong emphasis on dialogue, but with a poetic touch. The main characters are God, Cain and the anthropomorphic earth. The secondary characters are Abel and Eve, with only a slight passive reference to Adam.9
The plot is set up by God’s seemingly arbitrary regard for one brother’s sacrifice over another. It centers on Cain’s response, in countenance and subsequent behavior, to feelings of disappointment, rejection, and anger. It includes God’s conversation, punishment and protection throughout the response process. The great conflict is between Cain and sin. The climax is God’s guilt sentence against Cain and His subsequent mixed curse and protection in verses 11 and 12, with the falling action of Cain’s response to his punishment and its implications, and the resolution of Cain’s leaving the presence of God.
The author’s use of irony sets the tone for the theme of relationship between God and man, and furthers the case for this account being told as a mythical story rather than an historical account. A face to face meeting of Cain with God is met with a fallen face in Cain’s response. Cain’s ironic response to God’s initial questioning, which can be paraphrased, “Am I the “keeper” of the “keeper” of the sheep instead of the “keeper” of the ground?” sets the tone of a deep connection between the ground, God, and a new responsibility to his brother. The final irony is God’s directive that Cain “settle” in Nod, which itself means “wandering.” This highlights perpetual aimlessness or a lack of peace as distinctly separate from the Presence of God.
Chiastic structure and use of inverted parallelism characterize the poetry of the text. Chiastic structure sets up Cain as a main character and sets the stage for his call to consider, or face, his brother as he relates to God. The chiastic structure of introducing Cain, Abel and their offerings shows that, in this case, God considers the person before He considers the offering.10 The inverted parallelism in Cain’s response to God’s punishment links the soil to the face of God. “Today you have driven me away from the soil; and I will be hidden from your face. (vs. 14)”11 Thus the ground that had once connected Cain to God, now rejects him as it has received the blood of the brother who was treated wrongly. It was through the land that Cain had known God, but now he is driven from the blessing of the fruitful ground, and thus from God’s presence.
The movement of the text is abrupt on verbs, but expanded in dialogue. The verbs in the text are “brought offerings” (vs. 3-4), “had regard for” (vs. 4-5), “rose up and killed” (vs. 8), “put a mark on” (vs. 15) “and went away from.” (vs. 16) Clearly the emphasis is not on these actions, because they are given no more explanation. However, the dialogue between God and Cain accounts for nine of the sixteen verses. Thus, dialogue proves more instructive in developing the hearts of the characters in the story, as we shall see in the detailed analysis of the text.
Humphreys describes the character of God throughout the book of Genesis as “in process of becoming.”12 The text begins with the births of Cain and Abel. God emerges as a father figure when Eve says in verse 1, “I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.”13 Much speculation surrounds the implications of conception and birth in this passage, but Gunkel states that the form “with Yahweh” or “with his help” is unattested amongst scholars.14 The blessing of God to mankind introduced in Genesis 1:28 and carried out throughout the OT is fruitfulness and multiplicity. Whether from the ground, a rib, or through a father and mother, God is always the source of human life, and is established in this account as responsible for the creation of Cain and Abel.
Pivotal to the Genesis 4 story is God’s mysterious favoring of Abel and his sacrificial offering over Cain and his offering. There is much to learn about God and Cain in what is said and not said about their offerings in the text. Although much interpretation has been applied to why God favored one over the other15, the text itself yields little explanation. The Hebrew term used for “offering” in verses 3-5 is the Hebrew word, “minha.” It can refer to a grain offering or an animal offering, and its purpose was not a sin offering, but simply “a gift to honor deity usually in context of celebration.”16 Brueggemann says, “Both brothers do what is appropriate. Both bring their best. Both had reason to anticipate acceptance. There is nothing to indicate that God must discriminate or prefer one to the other. There is no hint of rivalry or hostility. This is simply a family at worship.”17We gather from the text alone, that Cain did nothing wrong, at least externally, and that God arbitrarily made a preference of one man and his offering over the other. Throughout Israel’s history, God is often considered unpredictable and even capricious and elusive. The thrust of the text is how Cain internalizes this regard of God to his brother and not to him. Anger rises up within him. With his face fallen, no doubt feeling rejected and disappointed, Cain’s eyes are averted from the Presence (face) of God, and he wrestles with the fleshly temptations of jealousy and violent rage.
An interesting perspective on Cain’s state of mind is presented by further commentary of this text in a loose Aramaic translation/interpretation of the Hebrew called the Targum Neophiti. In it, a conversation is described between Cain and Abel where Abel says that his offering was better and the world is just, and Cain says that the world has no just retribution (ie. subject to whim or unpredictable.”)18 Though unsubstantiated, the Targum text sparks the imagination that perhaps Cain had no idea why God rejected his offering. This would resonate with a 9th – 8th century BCE Israelite audience who were constantly being reminded by Isaiah, Amos and Hosea that sacrifice alone, without the right orientation of the heart and outward regard for the poor and oppressed, is detestable to God. (Amos 5:21-24; Isaiah 58; Hosea 6:6) Perhaps Cain thought wrongly that the simple act of sacrifice would be automatically accepted and was enough for a right relationship with God.
Huffmon suggests that Cain’s pious response should have been a careful attempt to find out what he had done wrong and to restore a positive relationship with God.19 Perhaps God was testing these two beloved sons, and hoped that they would choose better than Adam and Eve had before them. Regardless, God was actively involved in response to sacrifices made to Him, and he lovingly engaged Cain in his resultant turmoil of spirit, as a father would a son.
Critical to the interpretation of this story are the choices available to Cain at every turn. God, in 4:6-7, asks a pivotal question and gives him powerful encouragement, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” This resonates with the Deuteronomic history of Israel as Joshua is leading Israel into the promised land. Strong emphasis is placed on choosing well and receiving blessing. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”20
As in any good dramatic narrative, conflict must be present. Sin is Cain’s main foe, and it is personified in the text as crouching at the door, desiring him.21 For Cain, this inward struggle against desire develops his character. Abel is the subject of Cain’s jealousy and ultimate violence, but from a close analysis of the text, the conflict is primarily with sin. Crucial to God’s grace is Cain’s ability to choose well and master his evil desires.
John Steinbeck, in a modern retelling of the Cain and Abel story in his book, East of Eden, based his thematic interpretation of choice on the Hebrew word “timshel”, translated in the NRSV as “you must master.”22 He felt the story hinged on the choices that were available to Cain to do well or to not do well, and whether or not he could master sin’s desire for him. Different translations struggle with the vagueness of the verb “timshel”. The NIV says “you may rule,” the KJV says, “thou shalt rule,” and the NEB, “you must master.”23 Regardless of the translation, the possibility of choosing well and mastering sin is clear in the text. This shows the remarkable grace and compassion of God, as evidenced by the way he deals in a very personal and loving way with Cain.
The ground is the final main character in the story, and yields further insight into the Presence of God. The Hebrew verb “imr” translated “keeping, guarding the welfare of” is first introduced in Genesis 2:15 as Adam is tasked to till and “keep” the land. Interestingly, Cain is continuing his father’s call as a “tiller or keeper of the ground.” After the murder of Abel, when God asks Cain where his brother is, Cain retorts with, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and uses this same root verb “imr.”24 God responds to Cain saying that the ground has received the blood of his brother Abel, and the ground is now crying out to him. God then curses Cain “from the ground” saying, “When you “imr” the ground, “it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” (4:12) The blessing of God is thus tied to the fruitfulness of the ground, which itself seems to mourn the death of Abel. From this dialogue, Cain learns that God’s expectation of him to “imr” expands from land to other people as well. He realizes that harming the welfare of another, particularly a brother, damages his relationship with the ground and thus perverts his experience of the Presence of God. Removal from the presence of God seems more than Cain can bear.
God’s final provision for Cain was a protective mark on his body, rather than capital punishment. Genesis 4:17-25 chronicles a continued “blessing” of sorts to Cain, despite being removed from God’s presence in wandering further east of Eden. Cain remains fruitful and multiplies, with numerous descendants who are given the same opportunity as Cain was, to choose good or evil. As we consider these provisions of God, we see his character continue to evolve as a fair and just yet merciful God. This resonates with God’s provision of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, whose blood atones for the sin of all mankind, who equally deserve death.25
The Israelite audience would have understood the Presence of God, associated with blessing. When God dwelt in a tabernacle sanctuary or “resided” between the cherubim of the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:8, Ex 25:22, I Sam 4:4) even though he was present elsewhere in the Israelite camp, he manifested his character in a unique way to bring blessing to his people. Contrastingly, Isaiah 59:2 made clear it that sin could create barriers between God and man, and that “your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”26
A natural response of the Israelite audience, and later the Christian audience, as they considered the pathos of Cain, would be to consider God’s goodness and blessing in light of the existence of evil and suffering. One author writes, “The presence of God is the only Christian theodicy.”27 A deuteronomistic view would have seen suffering as the punishment for sins. While Cain was certainly punished for his sin, the option for Cain to give his anger to God and avoid evil has yielded a deeper theodicy of suffering for Jews and Christians since. Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust writes of Cain: “Did he suffer? Had God treated him unfairly? He should have told him so. Had not God asked him the question: Why is your face so somber? Cain could have, should have, answered. And said what was on his mind. But he chose to remain silent, to swallow his grudge, and transform it into poisonous hate. In so doing, he deprived himself of the right to judge God, by killing his brother.”28
Late second temple Jews until the time of Christ began to expand their interpretation of this text, turning their theodicy focus to Abel. The New Testament writers have much to say regarding Abel, perhaps identifying with him to explain to a first century audience why the righteous sometimes suffer at the hands of the wicked and to explain Israel’s righteousness over their neighboring enemies’ unrighteousness.29 Abel is thus considered righteous in New Testament interpretation (Matthew 23:35; Hebrews 11:4), and Cain becomes synonymous with evil. (I John 3:12)30 Though this is beyond a direct exegesis of the text, it is important to note that continued emphasis on the treatment of others as a part of worship to God has persisted since the original telling of the Cain and Abel story.
Though Cain and Abel are not mentioned specifically, Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, clearly links treatment and disposition toward the brother with worship. He says, “You have heard it was said of ancient times, “You shall not murder” and “whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”31 From this passage, we see that a right inner attitude, or the heart of the worshiper, is dependent on a right relationship with a brother or sister, now beyond a nuclear family to a spiritual one. Brueggemann marries the Genesis 4 passage with Matthew 5 this way when he considers a possible rephrasing of God’s conversation with Cain, “If you do well…if you turn to your brother and be reconciled (Matt 5:24)…you will be accepted. But Cain chose not to do well. He killed. And his life is ever skewed.” We may not kill, but hidden hate, disregard for our brothers or sisters, or even our selfish, narcissistic dispositions in our lives of worship may be equally detestable to God.
With direct reference to Cain, I John 3:12-17 says, “We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother.” The text goes on to say that when we love one another and lay down our lives for each other, we bear the mark of Christ and his love abides in us. The question reverberates in verse 17, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” Levinas says that when we face the other, we face God.32 In the story of Cain and Abel, God’s intimacy was displayed in his face to face dealing with Cain. Cain’s face looked away and refused to recognize the face of God in his own brother. This lead Cain to a spiritual death, separated him from the face and Presence of God, and led to a family line marked by wickedness and catastrophic death. As we consider our call to regard our brothers and sisters, as we love God and worship him wholeheartedly, we are reminded that “brother love is linked to life; brother hate is linked to death. The miracle of new life, the wonder of resurrection, is linked to brotherly reconciliation. This is what it means to pass from death to life. It is a mystery that the gift of new life is so close at hand, present in the neighbor. So close at hand, but so resisted. We do not readily embrace such a mystery. Perhaps that is the reason sin waits so eagerly.”33
In conclusion, Genesis 4:1-16 is a story of the relationship of God and Cain, marked by face to face interaction in worship and response to worship, by conversation and choice in response to deep disappointment and rejection, and by the suffering of Cain, before and after his murderous act, as he considers his ability to experience the presence, or blessing, of God or face life without it. Ultimately, Cain learned, and thus teaches us, that God’s face (his presence and blessing) is upon the one whose face is turned (both in disposition and in action) toward his brother.
Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1981.
———. The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary. New York, NY: W.W. Norton And Company, Inc, 2004.
Blocechl, Jeffrey, ed. The Face of the Other and the Trace of God: Essays on the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2000.
Bloom, Harold. The Book of J. Translated by David Rosenberg. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1990.
Bruggemann, Walter. Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching - Genesis. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1982.
Cain, David. "The Way Of God's Theodicy." Journal of Pastoral Care. 32, no. 4 (1978, January 01): 239-250.
Cline, Eric H. From Eden to Exile. Washington D.C.: National Geographic, 2007.
Davidson, Robert. The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: Genesis 1-11. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1973.
Gaebelein, Frank E., ed. The Expositor's Bible Commentary [Genesis 4:1-16]. Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library Zondervan, 1990.
Greidanus, Sidney. "Preaching Christ from The Cain And Abel Narrative." Bibliotheca Sacra. 161, no. 644 (2004, October 1): 387-397.
Gunkel, Hermann. Genesis. Translated by Mark E. Biddle. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997.
Hauser, Alan J. "Genesis 1-11." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 23, no. 4 (1980, January 01): 297-305.
Hess, Richard S.. "Cain." In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, A-C. Edited by David Noel Freedman. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992.
Huffmon, H.B.. "Cain the Arrogant Sufferer." In Biblical and Related Studies Presented to Samuel Iwry. Edited by Ann Kort and Scott Morchauser. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1985.
Humphreys, W. Lee. The Character of God in the Book of Genesis. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.
Hutabarat, Raymond, and Ph.D. "The Omnipresence And The Transcendence Of God: A Presponse To The Pantheistic View Of God's Presence In The Universe." Journal of Asia Adventist Seminar. 13, no. 1 (2010, July 1): 71-77.
Kawashima, Robert S. "Source And Redaction Criticism." In Reading Genesis. Edited by Ronald Hendel. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Lockyer, Herbert. All the Men of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1958.
Lohr, Joel N. "Righteous Abel, Wicked Cain: Genesis 4:1-16 In The Masoretic Text, The Septuagint, And The New Testament." Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 71, no. 3 (2009, July 1): 485-496.
Meeks, Wayne A., ed. "Genesis 4:1-16." In Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version with notes. San Francisco, CA: Harper One, 1989.
The Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch. Codex Vatican (Neofiti 1) ed. Jerusalem: Makor, 1979.
Redford, Donald B.. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.
Riemann, P.A. "Am I My Brother's Keeper." Interpretation. 24, (1970, January 01): 482-491.
Simpson, A.B. Divine Emblems, Practical Lessons from Old Testament Symbolism. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1995.
Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1976.
Swenson, Kristin M. "Care And Keeping East Of Eden." Interpretation. 60, no. 4 (2006, October 1): 373-384.
Tenney, Merrill C., and J.D. Douglas, eds. "Cain." In The New International Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1987.
Thatcher, Tom. "Cain and Abel in Early Christian Memory: A Case Study In "the Use Of The Old Testament In The New"." Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 72, no. 4 (2010, October 1): 732-751.
Walton, John H. The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.
Westermann, Gordon J. "Genesis 1-15." In Word Biblical Commentary. Waco, TX: Word, 1987.
Wiesel, Ellie. The Messengers of God. Translated by Marion Wiesel. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1976.
1 Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 6. See also Freedman, David Noel. “Mesopotamia,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Volume 4, K-N (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992), 714-716. Includes recorded texts and archeological finds relating to Palestine, Transjordan, and Lebanon, and Southern Turkey.
2 Eric H. Cline, From Eden to Exile (Washington D.C.: National Geographic, 2007), 13. Cline refers to Genesis 1-11 as “prehistory or myth.”
3 Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary (New York, NY: W.w. Norton And Company, Inc, 2004), 9-17. Alter describes Genesis 1-11 as "fablelike or legendary and sometimes residually mythic."
4 Hermann Gunkel, Genesis, trans. Mark E. Biddle (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997), viii.
5 Robert S. Kawashima, "Source and Redaction Criticism," in Reading Genesis, ed. Ronald Hendel (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 50-53. Kawashima attributes this Documentary Hypothesis to Julius Wellhausen, a German scholar, who introduced 4 independent sources combined in two stages of redaction by two editors. These include J, who consistently refer to God as Yahweh, E , who refer to God as Elohim, D the one(s) with a Deuteronomist viewpoint (D), or the even later Levitical Priesty viewpoint, (P), as well as R, the Redactor(s).
6 Harold Bloom, The Book of J, trans. David Rosenberg (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1990), 9. Bloom dates the author J living between the reigns of Solomon and Rehoboam of Judah’s reign (10th century BCE – Solomon’s kingdom falling apart around 922 BCE)
7 Robert Davidson, The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: Genesis 1-11 (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 5-7. Davidson dates the earliest J stories to between 10th and 9thcentury BCE, from Judah in the South.
8 Jonathan Huddleston. "Three Law Codes in Pentatuch" (lecture, Advanced Introduction to Old Testament, Abilene, TX, June 26, 2012). Dr. Huddleston referenced three primary law codes of the Isrealites as the period of Covenant Code (10 century BCE), Deuteronomistic Code (roughly 8th century BCE), and Holiness Code (post exilic, roughly 6th century BCE).
9 Genesis 4:1. "Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived, and bore Cain..." refers to Adam but does not mention him by name in NRSV translation.
10 Sidney Greidanus, "Preaching Christ From The Cain And Abel Narrative," Bibliotheca sacra 161, no. 644 (2004, October 1): 391 and The Society Of Biblical Literature, "Notes on Genesis 4:3-5," in The Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version (San Francisco, CA: Harper One, 2006): 11. Both texts emphasize the double chiastic structure of references to (A) Birth of Cain (B) Birth of Abel (B) Abel keeper of flocks, (A) Cain tiller of the ground and (A)Cain’s offering, (B)Abel’s offering, (B) God’s favor to Abel and his offering, (A)God’s rejection of Cain and his offering as stylistically emphasizing Cain in beginning and end of each chiasm as the main character of the two, but also highlighting the issue of fraternal rivalry.
11 Kristin M. Swenson, "Care And Keeping East Of Eden," Interpretation 60, no. 4 (2006, October 1): 382.
12 Ibid, 14.
13 Annotated Text By The Society Of Biblical Literature, "Genesis 4:1," in The Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version (San Francisco, CA: Harper One, 2006). Unless otherwise noted, all scriptural references will come from this version.
14 Hermann Gunkel, Genesis, trans. Mark E. Biddle (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997), 42.
15 A.B. Simpson, Divine Emblems, Practical Lessons from Old Testament Symbolism (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1995), 15-30. Simpson takes great effort to explain the symbolism of Abel’s fat offerings being the best of his animal sacrifice and God’s preference of blood sacrifice to grain, as well as an emphasis on Cain’s not giving his firstfruits, thus his best to God. Many others have addressed Cain’s lack of remorse after the murder as indicating a haphazard approach to sacrifice as well.
16 John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 262.
17 Walter Bruggemann, Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching - Genesis (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1982), 56.
18The Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch, codex Vatican (Neofiti 1) (Jerusalem: Makor, 1979), 9.
19 H.B. Huffmon, "Cain The Arrogant Sufferer," in Biblical and Related Studies Presented to Samuel Iwry, ed. Ann Kort and Scott Morchauser (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1985) 112.
20 Deuteronomy 30: 19-20 (NRSV).
21 John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 264. Several have speculated that the Hebrew verb “robes”, makes more sense translated as “rabis” in its connection to the noun (sin) and pronominal suffixes connected to “desire” and “rule.” This verb would refer to a well know Mesopotamian demon who lingers around doorways. From the Old Babylonian period on in Mesopotamia these evil demons were believed to ambush their victims.
22 John Steinbeck, East of Eden (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1976).
23 Robert Davidson, The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: Genesis 1-11 (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 5-7. Davidson refers to NIV and KJV but states that the NEB retains the traditional reading, “but you must master it.”
24 Kristin M. Swenson, "Care And Keeping East Of Eden," Interpretation 60, no. 4 (2006, October 1): 384.
25 Hebrews 12:23-25 (NRSV). This New Testament reference mentions the new covenant of Christ, sprinkled with blood, which speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
26 Raymond Hutabarat and Ph.D., "The Omnipresence And The Transcendence Of God: A Presponse To The Pantheistic View Of God's Presence In The Universe," Journal of Asia Adventist Seminar 13, no. 1 (2010, July 1): 71-77.
27 David Cain, "The Way Of God's Theodicy," Journal of Pastoral Care 32, no. 4 (1978, January 01): 239-250.
28 Ellie Wiesel, The Messengers of God, trans. Marion Wiesel (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1976), 631.
29 Tom Thatcher, "Cain And Abel In Early Christian Memory: A Case Study In "the Use Of The Old Testament In The New"," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 72, no. 4 (2010, October 1): 732-751.
30 Joel N. Lohr, "Righteous Abel, Wicked Cain: Genesis 4:1-16 In the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, and the New Testament," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 71, no. 3 (2009, July 1): 485-496. This article details how the Greek translation of the Hebrew uses different words to describe Cain and Abel's offerings. This subtle different seems to give rise in Second Temple literature and beyond through authors like Josephus, Philo, Augustine, and the Targum Neofiti where Abel is exalted as righteous and Cain becomes the epitome of evil.
31 Matthew 5:21-26 (NRSV).
32 Jeffrey Blocechl, ed., The Face of the Other and the Trace of God: Essays on the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2000), 1-315. Author highlights Levinas contributions to "facing" the poor with respect and dignity.