Cain and Abel: The First Murder

Delahoyde & Hughes
Orpheus

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.


Works Cited

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.


The Old Testament