Raising Cain – Part 2
Welcome to Part 2 of the Bible account of Cain and Abel. Like most Bible related stories, prepare yourself thoroughly, for the logic of the Bible can cause nausea
For some reason, these two boys got it into their heads that God liked gifts. There is no
record of sacrifices prior to this point. The concept of sacrifice appears to be a later development that is transposed back on this ancient setting by a later writer. Where did Cain and Abel get this idea and how did they know what to offer? In particular, how could they possibly have known that God preferred dead animals over vegetables? Actually, this whole preference seems to be backwards. You would think that God would not want his precious, freshly created animals to be slaughtered and hacked up. If anything, the produce of their farm would be humanity’s most valuable possession and would therefore be the most valued sacrifice. Let’s not forget, some religions and cults believe that humans only ate fruit and veg at that time.
Let’s modernise this a bit. Imagine that you have two children. One of them picks a flower and presents it to his mother as a gift. The other one slits the dog’s throat and throws him on the barbie. Which is the good one? I think God should rethink this part of the story and make Abel the bad guy.
The Land of Nod
This part of the story makes no sense to me whatsoever. With only four people on the planet, why would there be another country?
The New World Translation of the Bible makes things even worse. It translates this name, not as the Land of Nod, but as the Land of Fugitiveness. Not only is this grammatically suspect, but it raises the problem: If there are only four people on the planet and there has never before been a crime, there would be no fugitives, let alone enough of them to require their own “Land”.
The Bible is pretty generous with the death penalty. It is prescribed for just about everything from blasphemy to gathering grain on the Sabbath. It is especially adamant about murder. Yet, for some reason, with God himself acting as judge, Cain was not sentenced to death, even though he killed 25% of the population of the earth. You would think that God would want to make an example of him. This is an interesting precedent, that advocates of capital punishment might want to consider.
As part of his sentence, Cain must become a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth. Therefore, he moves away, gets married, has children and creates a city. That doesn’t sound like either a fugitive or a wanderer. Apparently, Cain’s only punishment was the requirement to move to another region. That’s not much of a punishment. In my life, I have moved several times. By my count, I have at least four free murders coming.
Cain was concerned that someone would find him and kill him. It is also implied that there would be people around who knew he was a killer, but did not know that God had let him off.
This issue raises numerous concerns. First of all, why would anyone kill him? There was no man-made or god-made law that prescribed the death penalty for murderers. Cain had been judged by God and received his sentence. Everyone on the planet must have known it. Why would Cain think that there would be people who would kill him? Besides, who would be Abel’s avenger? His father and mother would have known the story and Cain was his only brother. It is almost as if the story writer has forgotten how many people occupy the earth and feels that Abel would have close relatives or friends who would come seeking revenge.
Likewise, why would Cain need identification? I am getting tired of mentioning that there were only four people around at the time.
Finally, where would he get the idea of revenge? There had never been any crime before, so obviously, there would never have been revenge up to this point. His concern seems to be based on a fairly well developed tradition of law, punishment and vengeance. These traditions were still centuries in the future.
Stay tuned for the final part of the story, next Thursday, 17th September 2010.