The story begins with Cain and Abel, the first children of Adam and Eve. Cain becomes a farmer, while Abel becomes a shepherd. Both offer sacrifices to God, but God shows favor to Abel’s offering of the best portions of his flock, while not regarding Cain’s offering of
Cain, the firstborn, was a farmer, and his brother Abel was a shepherd. The brothers made sacrifices to God, but God favored Abel’s sacrifice instead of Cain’s. Cain then murdered Abel, whereupon God punished Cain by condemning him to a life of wandering.
Cain, a farmer, became enraged when the Lord accepted the offering of his brother, a shepherd, in preference to his own. The Lord exiled him from the settled land after he murdered Abel.
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The Story About Cain And Abel In The Bible
The story of Cain and Abel in the Bible is about the first children of Adam and Eve, who had different occupations and offered different sacrifices to God. God favored Abel’s sacrifice of sheep, but rejected Cain’s sacrifice of crops. This made Cain angry and jealous, and he killed his brother with a stone. God punished Cain by making him a wanderer and putting a mark on him to protect him from others. The story is related to themes of sibling rivalry, sin, murder, and human civilization.
The story of Cain and Abel is a powerful reminder of the love and grace of God. Despite Cain’s sin, God showed him mercy and protected him from others. The story is also a reminder of the consequences of sin and the importance of obedience to God. Cain’s jealousy and anger led him to commit the sin of murder, and he was punished for his actions. The story of Cain and Abel is a symbol of hope for all who seek God and a reminder that God’s love and grace are available to all people, regardless of their background or circumstances.
The Story of Cain And Abel Explained
This is a summary of the Biblical account of brothers Cain and Abel. You can read more in-depth Bible verses from the Scripture below and use the articles and videos to understand the meaning behind this teachable event in the Bible. For a quick overview, Cain and Abel were the first and second sons of Adam and Eve. While Cain was a farmer, Abel was a skilled shepherd who took care of the family’s animals. One day, Cain and Abel made sacrifices to the Lord to worship and thank Him. Cain brought some of the produce from the land, while Abel brought the firstborn of his sheep. God showed favor to Abel’s sacrifice because it was an offering that came from the best Abel had to give. This made Cain very angry and jealous. Cain lured his brother Abel into the fields and killed him with a rock. The Lord called to Cain, asking what happened, and after Cain lied about killing his brother, God punished Cain. While God’s harsh punishment on Cain was that he would no longer be able to grow crops on his land, He did promise Cain that no one would kill him.
His name means “a possession; a spear”. The firstborn son of Adam and Eve (Genesis 4). He became a tiller of the ground as his brother Abel followed the pursuits of pastoral life. He was “a sullen, self-willed, haughty, vindictive man, wanting the religious element in his character and defiant even in his attitude towards God.” It came to pass “in process of time” (marg. “at the end of days”), i.e., probably on the Sabbath, that the two brothers presented their offerings to the Lord. Abel’s offering was of the “firstlings of his flock and of the fat,” while Cain’s was “of the fruit of the ground.” Abel’s sacrifice was “more excellent” (Hebrews 11:4) than Cain’s and was accepted by God. On this account, Cain was “very wroth,” cherished feelings of murderous hatred against his brother, and was at length guilty of the desperate outrage of putting him to death (1 John 3:12). For this crime, he was expelled from Eden and henceforth led the life of an exile, bearing upon him some mark which God had set upon him in answer to his own cry for mercy, so that thereby he might be protected from the wrath of his fellow-men; or it may be that God only gave him some sign to assure him that he would not be slain (Genesis 4:15). Doomed to be a wanderer and a fugitive in the earth, he went forth into the “land of Nod”, i.e., the land of “exile”, which is said to have been in the “east of Eden,” and there he built a city, the first we read of, and called it after his son’s name, Enoch. His descendants are enumerated to the sixth generation. They gradually degenerated in their moral and spiritual condition till they became wholly corrupt before God. This corruption prevailed, and at length, the Deluge was sent by God to prevent the final triumph of evil. (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)
Seven things we know about Cain:
- he worships in self-will
- is angry with God
- refuses to bring a sin offering
- murders his brother
- lies to God
- becomes a vagabond
- is, nevertheless, the object of the divine solicitude
What the Bible Says About Abel
His name means “a breath, or vanity, a grassy place, a meadow”. he second son of Adam and Eve. He was put to death by his brother Cain (Genesis 4:1–16). The two brothers received training in the responsibility of worshiping God under the direction of their father. “And in process of time” (marg. “at the end of days”, i.e., on the Sabbath), each of them offered up to God the first fruits of his labors. Cain, as a husbandman, offered the fruits of the field; Abel, as a shepherd, offered the firstlings of his flock. “The Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering, but unto Cain and his offering he had not respect” (Genesis 4:3-5). On this account, Cain was angry with his brother and formed the design of putting him to death, a design which he at length found an opportunity of carrying into effect ( Genesis 4:8). Genesis 4:9 Compare 1 John 3:12. There are several references to Abel in the New Testament. Our Savior speaks of him as “righteous” (Matthew 23:35). According to Hebrews 12:24, “the blood of sprinkling” speaks “better things than that of Abel,” i.e., the blood of Jesus is the reality while the blood of Abel’s offering was only the type. The comparison here is between the sacrifice offered by Christ and that offered by Abel, and not between the blood of Christ calling for mercy and the blood of the murdered Abel calling for vengeance, as has sometimes been supposed. It is also said (Hebrews 11:4) that “Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” This sacrifice was made “by faith;” this faith rested in God, not only as the Creator and the God of providence but especially in God as the great Redeemer, whose sacrifice was typified by the sacrifices which, no doubt by the divine institution, were offered from the days of Adam downward. God accepted Abel’s offering as a result of that “faith” that anticipated the significant atoning sacrifice. Cain’s offering had no such reference and therefore was rejected. Abel was the first martyr, as he was the first of our race to die. (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)
5 Descriptions of Abel
- Shepherd: “Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground,” thus representing the two fundamental pursuits of civilized life, the two earliest subdivisions of the human race. On the Hebrew tradition of the superiority of the pastoral over agricultural and city life, see The Expositor T, V, 351. The narrative may possibly bear witness to the primitive idea that pastoral life was more pleasing to Yahweh than husbandry.
- Worshipper: “In the process of time,” the two brothers came in a solemn manner to sacrifice unto Yahweh in order to express their gratitude to Him, whose tenants they were in the land (Genesis 4:3, See see sacrifice). We do not know how Yahweh indicated His acceptance of one offering and rejection of the other. That it was due to the difference in the material of the sacrifice or in their manner of offering was probably the belief among the early Israelites, who regarded animal offerings as superior to cereal offerings. Both kinds, however, were fully in accord with Hebrew law and custom. It has been suggested that the Septuagint rendering of Genesis 4:7 makes Cain’s offense a ritual one, the offering not being “correctly” made or rightly divided, and hence rejected as irregular. “If thou makest a proper offering, but dost not cut in pieces rightly, art thou not in fault? Be still!” The Septuagint evidently took the rebuke to turn upon Cain’s neglect to prepare his offering according to strict ceremonial requirements. Dieles (Septuagint in the place cited), however, implies nathach (nattach) and would only apply to animal sacrifices. Compare Exodus 29:17; Leviticus 8:20; Judges 19:29; 1 Kings 18:23; and see COUCH.
- Righteous Man: The true reason for the Divine preference is doubtless to be found in the disposition of the brothers (see CAIN). Well-doing consisted not in the outward offering (Genesis 4:7) but in the right state of mind and feeling. Acceptability depends on the inner motives and moral characters of the offerers. “By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent (abundant, pleiona) sacrifice than Cain” (Hebrews 11:4). The “more abundant sacrifice,” Westcott thinks, “suggests the deeper gratitude of Abel and shows a fuller sense of the claims of God” to the best. Cain’s “works (the collective expression of his inner life) were evil, and his brother’s were righteous” (1 John 3:12). “It would be an outrage if the gods looked to gifts and sacrifices and not to the soul” (Alcibiades II.149E.150A). Cain’s heart was no longer pure; it had a criminal propensity, springing from envy and jealousy, which rendered both his offering and person unacceptable. The opposite character of Abel’s works and the acceptance of his offering specifically evoked his evil deeds and hatred of his brother, which culminated in the act of murder. The evil man cannot endure the sight of goodness in another.
- Martyr: Abel ranks as the first martyr (Matthew 23:35), whose blood cried for vengeance (Genesis 4:10; compare Revelation 6:9,10) and brought despair (Genesis 4:13), whereas that of Jesus appeals to God for forgiveness and speaks peace (Hebrews 12:24) and is preferred before Abel’s.
- Type: The first two brothers in history stand as the types and representatives of the two main and enduring divisions of mankind and bear witness to the absolute antithesis and eternal enmity between good and evil. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
The Sacrifices and Devotions of Cain and Abel
In process of time, when they had made some improvement in their respective callings (Heb. At the end of days, either at the end of the year, when they kept their feast of in-gathering or perhaps an annual fast in remembrance of the fall or at the end of the days of the week, the seventh day, which was the Sabbath)—at some set time, Cain and Abel brought to Adam, as the priest of the family, each of them an offering to the Lord. There was a difference in the offerings they brought. It is expressly said (Heb. 11:4 ), Abel’s was a more excellent sacrifice than Cain’s: either (1.) In the nature of it. Cain’s was only a sacrifice of acknowledgment offered to the Creator; the meat offerings of the fruit of the ground were no more, and, for aught I know, they might be offered in innocency. But Abel brought a sacrifice of atonement, the blood whereof was shed in order to remission, thereby owning himself a sinner, deprecating God’s wrath, and imploring his favor in a Mediator. Or, (2.) In the qualities of the offering. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, any thing that came next to hand, what he had not occasion for himself or what was not marketable. But Abel was curious in the choice of his offering: not the lame, nor the lean, nor the refuse, but the firstlings of the flock —the best he had, and the fat thereof —the best of those best.
What Does The Story of Cain And Abel Symbolize
The book of Genesis is a book of beginnings. It records the founding events which set the rest of human history and God’s salvation plan in motion. Although the content of the book itself was originally recorded (or compiled) by Moses in Hebrew, the title given in our modern Bibles comes from the Greek word which means “origin.” As we would expect, many “firsts” are recorded: the first words of God spoken in relation to our universe (Genesis 1:3); the first day (Genesis 1:5); the first week (Genesis 2:1-3); the first people (Genesis 1:27), etc. Genesis 4 gives us the account of the first two siblings, Cain and Abel. They are the initial two people born with a sinful nature. In the broader scope of the biblical narrative, the account of Cain and Abel introduces the reader to a harsh reality—all generations of humanity are bound to the curse of sin which was perpetuated by Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden.
Of the two brothers, Cain was the firstborn. Scripture records the words of Eve when she gave birth to Cain, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). Such a statement may give pause to the reader and cause them to ask if Scripture is advocating men as being more valuable than women. This is not the case. From the beginning, God clearly teaches both men and women are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). In order to understand this statement, one must keep in mind the Lord’s words to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. God promised to redeem humanity from the curse of sin through the male offspring of Eve (Genesis 3:15). Furthermore, in the beginning, God blessed Adam and Eve, telling them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).
By God’s design, childbearing is a blessing of marriage. Cain’s birth was significant for at least two reasons. First, it was proof of God’s faithfulness since He had not withheld His goodness from them, allowing the divine blessing of childbearing to continue despite their sinfulness. Secondly, as a male child, Cain served as the first hopeful prospect for God’s promised Redeemer. With this in mind, we can see Eve did not degrade womankind, instead, she rejoiced in God’s goodness and expressed optimism toward humanity’s salvation.
No comments of Eve are recorded upon Abel’s birth but based on the context, the same benevolent dispositions which surround Cain easily extended to Abel as well (Genesis 4:2a).
From there, the biblical text jumps ahead in time when both Cain and Abel were of age to work independently. Abel kept flocks while Cain tilled the ground (Genesis 4:2b). In time, both brothers offered a sacrifice to the Lord. Abel selected from the firstborn of his flock, whereas Cain brought an offering from the fruit on the ground. The Lord accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. Much debate and conjecture have risen to pinpoint the particular nature of each brother’s sacrifice which caused the Lord to respond differently. This article will not delve into this discussion. Instead, it will focus on what Scripture clearly reveals.
The author of Hebrews tells us Abel’s faith distinguished his sacrifice from Cain’s (Hebrews 11:4). The Lord rejected Cain’s sacrifice because of his wicked heart (1 John 3:11-12). God again displayed His faithfulness and goodness to sinners as He gave counsel to Cain and provided an opportunity to repent. God warned Cain to master his sinful nature because it would end up mastering him if he didn’t (Genesis 4:6-7). Cain’s following actions reveal the wickedness of his heart to the reader. Instead of heeding God’s word and repenting, Cain murdered his brother out of hatred and envy (Genesis 4:8). God then confronted Cain and gave him a chance to confess his sin by asking, “where is Abel your brother?” Yet again, Cain demonstrated the wickedness of his heart. First, he blatantly lied to the Lord saying, “I don’t know.” He then gave a callous, sarcastic remark as he asked the Lord, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Such a horrid response demonstrated Cain’s lack of remorse.
When Cain failed to confess his sin, God openly confronted him, pointing to the spilled blood of his brother (Genesis 4:10-11). As a result of Cain’s sin, God punished him. Cain was cast out of the land of Eden, away from the presence of the Lord. He was cut off from his family and sentenced to a nomadic life. His labor as a tiller of the ground was cursed since the ground would no longer yield its strength (Genesis 4:11-16). Even though cursed, the Lord was merciful to Cain and put a mark on him to deter any family members from taking personal revenge for Abel’s death (Genesis 4:15).
In conclusion, the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible is a story of sibling rivalry, sin, murder, and human civilization. It is a powerful reminder of the love and grace of God and a symbol of hope for all who seek Him.