First Sibling Rivalry

After being forced to leave the garden, Adam and Eve had to find a place to begin, anew. They knew that life was not going to be as easy as it had been because they had been disobedient, but they had no idea what was really in store for them. Everything they had taken for granted—the beauty of the trees, the coolness of the water, the abundance of herbs and fruits and vegetables—was now understood to be a necessity and they had to learn to use what they had proficiently.

They scouted out the land and chose a spot near a well of water.  They claimed it for themselves before anyone else could come along and use it, exclusively.  Adam and his other children managed to hew trees and find huge stones they could use to build houses to protect them from others who now, appeared to be a bit suspicious.  It didn’t matter that they were all related.  That change in the atmosphere (penalties for disobedience) was now leading every man down a different path and it was not always a path of cooperation.

Adam discovered that tilling the earth was not easy; especially since he had to create some tools to use to make it easier.  He shaped pieces of rock by rubbing them together until he had a sharper edge on one side and then he tied that piece of rock to a piece of sturdy broken branch.  He had to bend over and push the tool along the earth to turn the soil in order to get the soil ready for the seeds he had ready to plant.  This was hard work and he really didn’t get very far each day.  But every day, he rose with the sun and when the sun went down, he went to sleep, tired and his eyes burned from the sweat that poured down his face.

Eve’s life was not any easier.  They still enjoyed following the mandate to be fruitful, but now, having a baby was miserable work.  Just as God had promised, she brought forth her children in the midst of agonizing pain and there was nothing anyone could do.  They had a number of children after being evicted from the garden and most of them learned to help her and Adam; the girls in the house and the boys in the field either tending the animals that had been domesticated or in planting the fields. When Cain was born, there was an air of expectancy—something about him was different and his parents knew—they would never forget about him. Cain was competitive and had an angry, dominating spirit that often got him into trouble with his parents. A hot-head who didn’t want to listen to anyone because he always thought he was right. Then, Abel was born and once again, there was air of expectancy about this birth as well. Abel was compliant and totally obedient.  He listened wisely to everything his parents said and learned that pleasing them always brought with it a reward.  He loved getting rewarded for doing the right thing. The children grew and were trained to help sustain the family.  Cain was trained to be a tiller of the soil, while Abel was trained to keep the sheep.  For a long time, they were satisfied with their roles in life and with their family, until they decided to bring offerings unto the Lord.

During those years, Adam and Eve had taught their children to respect and worship God, the Creator of all Things and without Whom, nothing would have ever been created.  They had also taught them to bring an offering unto God.  Apparently, their parents had established a scheduled time for which these offerings should be made and when it was time to make that offering, Cain brought unto God an offering from the ground he tilled and Abel brought unto God an offering of the sheep he tended. He remembered the story his parents had told them and the sacrifice that God had made of the animals to clothe his parents.

God was pleased with Abel’s offering and not so pleased with Cain’s.  He took Cain aside and tried to explain a few facts to Cain, but Cain was angry and would not hear what God said.  The only thing he cared about was Abel winning God’s favor.  He had totally forgotten about the story about how his parents had been kicked out of the Garden of Eden and didn’t seem to appreciate the fact that God was not happy with his offering—an offering from the land He had cursed. He found an opportunity to confront Abel and that’s when things went awry.

When Cain got to the field where he knew he would find Abel, resting against a tree.

“Abel,” Cain asked, “You got a minute?”

“Sure, Cain. Anything for you brother,” Abel responded lazily, twisting a piece of straw in his hand.

“Why is it that God always likes your offerings and never cares about mine?”

“I don’t know.  Did you ask Him?”

“He tried telling me something that didn’t make any sense so I stopped listening.”

Abel looked at Cain, wondering why they were having this conversation.  “Cain, if you didn’t want to hear what God had to say, what makes you think I can explain things any differently?  Why would you listen to me?”

“I thought you might know something other than sitting around on your butt all day being a smart…!”

“Whoa!  There’s no need for that kind of language.  I only do what Mom and Dad said we should do.  I actually listen to them.”

“So, what are you trying to say, I don’t?  Cain was heated by now and not by the sun.

“What I’m saying is that we both heard the story about how they got kicked out of the garden and how God cursed the ground as a punishment for Dad.  The way I see it is, if God cursed the ground, why would He want anything from it?

“So, now you’re saying I’m stupid?  Cain had moved closer to Abel by now and Abel had to stand up to try to get out of the way.

“I didn’t say you were stupid.  I said that I listened.  Now, if you get my calling you stupid from that, that’s on you,” Abel smiled teasingly.