Survival in a world where there was no science... no food tasters... no guidance but from
experience and trial-and-error... can only be defined as perilous. These human beings
that had been placed in a perfect garden... these innocents... would need all the help that they
could get. They needed God's help. It was imperative for them to survive.
From the very beginning, Adam and Eve were told what was good for them to eat.
It did not include the killing of animals for food. (Although scripture says that
God used animal skins to cover them when they left the garden).
1:29 -- "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon
the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed;
to you it shall be for meat."
3:21 -- "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make
coats of skins, and clothed them."
And so, if killing animals was permissable to make coats for Adam and Eve, then
there must not be any taboo against killing them for food... right? So, perhaps this
verse about what Adam's diet was to be is just a notation of no real importance.
We should just assume that early man... including Adam and Eve... were meat
Such an assumption would not follow the text of the scripture. Most importantly,
what God did... does not imply that Adam had permission to do it. The specifics of
what Adam and Eve could eat were spoken by God. They were to eat "herbs" or
greens, and the fruit and nuts of trees "as their meat." They had not been told that it
was permissable or even healthy to eat animals.
And, so, in time... we come to the next stated event in this story:
4:3 -- "And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the
ground an offering unto the Lord.
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.
And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.
And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
And the Lord said unto Cain,
Why art thou wroth: and why is thy countenance fallen?
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin
lieth at the door.
And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."
Did the author of Genesis forget to tell us about God needing or demanding sacrifices?
Or, is this an invention of Cain to offer God a sacrifice... and Abel, following suit... tried
to go him one better by killing a "firstling" lamb?
Did they see the people around them
offering sacrifices to their own gods... and decide that their God would want it, too?
But... why give something to God... that God himself had created?
Did God have a need that he couldn't fill himself?
How does burning something on an altar... give anything to ANY god...?
Whatever the situation may have been, it appears from the words we read that...
God treated these offerings as a time of judgment or approval. We can
even look at this event and see that these offerings very much were
presented for God's approval.
Did God sit down and prepare to eat?
Did God declare that for these sacrifices they would be rewarded in some way?
Did God say to Cain and Abel... "This blood is due because of your mother's disobedience,
but more... much more... is required"...?
Are we reduced to... trying to read the mind of God... and his intentions?
Very simply... this offering was distinctly... one of vegetables... and one of meat.
This was a presentation intended to seek the judgment of God... or the opinion of
God... about the eating of meat. God had no regard for Cain's offering... but then, Cain was
following the directive given to Adam. This was expected... and good. There was no need
But, Abel's offering was distinctly different. It wasn't fruit of the field. Abel was presenting
meat... as food... "with the fat thereof." This butchering of a lamb for food seems to have
been a "first of a kind" thing, and was being presented to God for his approval.
And God looked upon it to consider it... giving regard to it. These scriptures do not say
that God gave his approval or permission... he merely gave "regard" to this question before
God could have been expressing approval... for this asking... upon this "first." He
may well have been expressing that this was the way to honor him... by
presenting all "firsts" to him to seek his approval... his blessing. Meaning that...
before they did anything for the first time... they needed to ask for God's
approval... or his "blessing." It was essential to their survival... and to their best
development as a people.
Perhaps we can glean from this simple story of these brothers that... God was laying
out a design for mankind... step by step... one that would assure their survival...?
There would not always be an abundance of food. There would be drought. There
would be cold. There would be times when the earth gave forth nothing but thistles.
To survive... to have sureness and life... to have strength... they would need to have a
way to stay alive... no matter what. They would need meat. Without health they would
be susceptible to disease. Without strength they could not protect themselves when
We might well assume that this request... this calling upon God for an opinion... was
instigated by Cain... who may have been aware of what Abel was intending to do...
that he was going to kill and then eat his lambs. Cain may well have expected that God
would stop this... and punish Abel for doing such an abhorent thing. And "Cain was
wroth and his countenance was fallen" certainly at the sight of this butchery... and
at the sight of God's seeming approval and interest in this butchery.
God says to Cain,
"If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin
lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him"
This cannot be taken as a rejection of Cain... since "thou shalt rule over him" was
part of this lesson. It very well can be taken from this... that God was teaching
Cain a premise of righteousness. That premise being... that... knowing for oneself
that one is correct in something... gives dignity enough... and that the other person
would seek to emulate you.
Alternately... this comment to Cain can be taken as a lesson in survival... and eating
well for one's best strength. If a man appears weakly... stronger men will seek to
overwhelm him as an easy prey. These words simply... cannot be said to be exclusively
about the devil and sin... or about the need for a blood payment to God as protection
That God did not respond in a way that would correct Abel's acts... upset Cain.
We know this because further in the passage Cain says "Am I my brother's
keeper?" Could he not well be expressing his outrage that Abel... the shepherd and
keeper of sheep... would dare to kill them, and eat them...?
Cain sounds sarcastic... and it very much sounds as though he killed Abel as
punishment for killing the lamb... for Abel's outright violence... and he didn't
expect God to care.
God's reaction to Cain's killing of his brother was to cut him off from the land. He
could not live off of the fruit of the land.
He would be forced to eat meat to live.
4:11 -- "And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened
her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the the ground,
it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou
be in the earth.
And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold thou hast
driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I
shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth: and it shall come to pass, that every one
that findeth me shall slay me.
And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken
on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him."
We should note... that... God did not punish Cain with death... God put a mark on him
to protect him from others who might call him to account for this.
We should understand the reason for this mercy for Cain. We must consider the likelihood
that it was because Cain's intent was not murder... it was justice.
Cain could not abide his brother's violence.
If God would not stop this... he would.
In this story... we learn something very important about God.
4:10 -- "And God said,
'What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me
from the ground."
God... knows... when... something... has... died.
Drought fell upon the land.