Cain and Abel: The First Murder
Delahoyde & Hughes
CAIN AND ABEL:
THE FIRST MURDER
The name Cain means “tiller of the ground”; Abel means “keeper of sheep.” So these two represent almost a pair of archetypes: the farmer and the nomad. (Think of the song in the musical Oklahoma, “The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends.”)
Cain also sounds suspiciously like Canaan. Is his punishment a remnant of a sort of anti-Canaanite propaganda?
Later culture finds a more universal archetyping in the story: sibling rivalry for the favor of “Dad.” God does play favorites in the Old Testament.
Genesis 4. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, Volume I. 7th ed. NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 1999. 47-48, 61-72.
Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. 3rd ed. Toronto: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1992.