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The following years were the saddest I ever endured. I was simply not prepared for the horrors which followed one after another. My whole being ached for my children and their children.
Adam knew much without having to be told, for the Holy Spirit informed him of the many things his rebellious children were doing. Our sons and daughters who had respect for Adam and myself witnessed many things and related them to us. They felt that we had a right to know the actions of our children.
I believe that the beginning of much which followed began on the day of the sacrifices of Abel and of Cain. I had seen the emotions on Cain's face as he had run from the sacrifice, but I had not supposed that he would hold those emotions to himself and let them gnaw at him. He had left us with humiliation and hatred in his heart, for the sacrifice of the fruits of his field had not been acceptable to the Lord. Abel's sacrifice of a perfect lamb had been accepted. This had caused Cain to feel that Abel had scored against him once again.
These are the events, pieced together from the accounts of many, which so saddened our lives.
Cain lived with the family of one of his brothers. This was one of our sons who did not believe that there was a need to worship a Lord whom he had never seen. Satan had shown himself to many and had called the sacrifice and the commandments a sham. He called himself the Only Begotten and demanded that our children worship him. Many did worship him, for the ways of Satan were much to the liking of many of our children. His ways were for each person to think first of all for his or her own needs and wants. The result of this was that the strong should prey upon the weak. The men were the strong, and among them the cunning and deceitful were the strongest.
Cain, who had not believed in the Lord as we had raised him and taught him, now found a place where he could be at ease. He was soon actively worshipping Satan and assuming the life which went with it.
He had always competed against Abel. He felt that we loved Abel more than we loved him. When Abel was ready to give his own sacrifice to the Lord Cain had gone home and considered all that this could mean. Satan appeared to him.
"Cain, your brother, Abel, is to give a sacrifice to the Lord, is he not?'
"Yes, he is," Cain acknowledged.
"You are more of a man than Abel is. You must give a sacrifice as well."
"But why should I sacrifice? I do not worship the Lord. Why would you have me do this after all you have said of the falseness of God?" Cain was puzzled.
"Your brother is no better than you are. Why should he be allowed to shine in the eyes of your parents, Adam and Eve? You are the better man. If you will sacrifice they will see you for what you are, worth many men."
"But I have no lambs. The sacrifice is to be of the flocks and herds."
"That is no problem, surely. Many who have no lambs simply trade what is theirs for what they consider proper. But I myself think it would be proper for you to sacrifice what is your own. What is this hard and fast rule that the sacrifice must be the first-born of the flocks and herds? The Lord must have respect for all the children which he claims to have created. Has he no respect for the produce of the farmer? Does he not respect the tent-maker and the weaver of cloth? Does he not recognize the worth of the potter and artificer of metals? The sacrifice must be changed to fit the needs of all. You should be the one, Cain, who will make the way clear for all your brothers."
"You are right. My labor is as important as Abel's and takes more skill. It is a part of me. Why should I hide it? I will do as you suggest."
"I am glad that you will allow me to guide you in this matter. It takes a wise man to take needed advice." Satan gazed at Cain with approval. "In you is a man for whom all can be proud. Farewell for now, we will see each other again."
And so Cain had given his sacrifice which had been wholly rejected by God. This had pleased Satan. As he had manipulated me in the garden, so he had manipulated Cain. He had played on Cain's pride and his constant wish to excel over Abel. It had only resulted in humiliation and fury on the part of Cain.
Even though Cain's anger was livid he still visited us on occasion. I do not know what he was seeking from us, forgiveness, sympathy, to see things his way? He explained his actions without telling us that it was Satan who had influenced them. We could not understand his position.
At a moment when his anger had cooled sufficiently Adam and Abel tried to explain to him the meaning of the sacrifice. The perfect lamb or bullock was to always remind us of the promise that God would sacrifice his Only Begotten Son. Only by the sacrifice of God's Son could we ever hope to be brought back into the presence of God. By offering other than the prescribed offering, especially an offering such as Cain's, the meaning of the sacrifice was totally lost.
"Through lack of understanding, you have made a mistake, Cain," his father entreated. "Offer another sacrifice which will be acceptable."
"It is an unreasonable commandment. I have seen no evidence of an Only Begotten. It is your sins, Father and Mother, which supposedly have locked us out from God's presence. I and your other children have not sinned. We are simply living our lives. Some of us do not choose to grovel to a God which may or may not even exist. Continue your sacrifices! As for myself, I have had enough of the myths which you have wrapped around your God. I have had enough to last forever of the garden and the fruit and the treacherous serpent. I do not value the condescension of angels and the dire warnings of everlasting death." Cain stood and swept us with a look of scorn before he finally turned and stalked away with indignation in every line of his body.
We know that sometime after Cain would no longer listen to his brother, Abel, or his father, or myself, the Lord spoke to Cain. To hear the very voice and words of the Lord are to be envied. Since the garden I had only heard God's voice on rare occasions. I could listen forever, for my soul yearned to hear him and to see him. And so I could not understand my son. He heard the voice and words of the Lord and rejected them as of no value.
"Oh, Lord, when will I see you again?" I cried in my heart. "When will Adam and I walk with you again as we once did? How can I make my children understand what we have lost, and what we must have once more? How can I make them understand your mercy, that you hold out your arms to us by the sacrifice of your Son?"
Satan was pleased with the results of Cain's sacrifice. But the Lord confronted Cain.
"Why are you full of wrath, Cain? Why is there humiliation and anger on your face? If you do well, your efforts are accepted by me. If you do not do well, your efforts are not accepted, and the sin is yours. Satan desires to have you, and unless you follow my commandments I will let him have his way. You will rule over him, for from this time you will be the father of his lies. You will be called Perdition, with no hope of salvation. I created you also, before I created the world, as I have created all things. It will be said that all abominations, all hateful things, were come from Cain, because you rejected the greater counsel of God and listened to the lies of Satan. Unless you repent this will be the curse that I put upon you."
These words of the Lord made Cain even more angry. He would not take the counsel of the Lord or listen to him anymore. He would not listen to his brother, Abel, who was righteous. Abel's righteousness became like a thorn, constantly digging into Cain's flesh.
Cain soon took a wife. She was the daughter of his brother. It was not a joyous event for us, we knew that Cain's new wife worshipped Satan as well. I mourned for the children which she would bear. How would they ever know the truth?
Satan approached Cain again.
"Cain, Abel's ability to always please God has become a reproach to you. He is causing you to feel shame for which you do not deserve. What would you do about him?"
For a few moments Cain considered. Then his hands gripped the tool which he used for working the soil. His knuckles whitened as he wrung the wooden handle. His voice exploded, "I would crush him! I would squeeze the breath from him. But first I would have him know that I hate him and his mealy-mouthed words of righteousness and holiness!"
Cain's eyes were focused far into the distant haze as he contemplated his own words. Satan calmly observed Cain's face. His own mouth formed a smug and yet grim smile. His eyes glittered. At last he spoke again.
"I can deliver Abel into your hands to do as you wish."
"What?" Cain shook his head and returned out of his reverie. His eyes focused on Satan once more. "You can deliver Abel to me? How?"
Satan spoke carefully, "You must swear to me by your throat, and if you tell it you shall die." Cain unconsciously moved his hand to his neck as if for protection. "Your brothers must swear by their heads and by the living God, that if they tell they will die. Your father must never know to what you swear. You must do all that I say and this day I will deliver Abel into your hands."
"I will swear to do as you command and my brothers will swear it also," Cain assured him.
Satan and Cain spoke together at length. Finally Satan withdrew.
Cain stretched like a cat and cried to himself with exuberance, "Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret. I may murder and get gain."
Unbeknownst to us, many of our sons were joining into Cain's secret pact with Satan. They took great joy and pride in being a part of this group. Cain was known to them as Master Mahan, he was their leader. The reason we did not know of it was because the price of betraying the secret was death.
One morning I awoke with a feeling of unease. I could not understand from where the feeling was coming. I went about my day's activities of caring for children, cooking and making clothes. Even though my daughters began clothing production at an early age, we were hard pressed to keep everyone properly covered. Simple modesty had long since ceased to be our most important reason to be clothed. Clothing protected us from the sun, the cold of night, the thorns which could so easily tear our skin. We wore them until they fell apart and could be mended no more.
As I sat quietly weaving, I could not shake the uneasiness I felt. Perhaps I was pregnant again and was simply feeling it in a new way. I would love to have another child, so why should I be this way today?
Adam had gone to his flocks, taking three of our younger sons with him. Abel had gone to care for his own. Adam and Abel could not be constantly together anymore. Abel was a man now, with flocks and responsibilities of his very own. I knew that many of the daughters of my sons were interested in Abel. I had noticed shy smiles and giggles, tricks to catch his attention, and bold declarations from others, I watched with amusement. Abel would make an excellent husband. It would be a pleasure to watch him make his choice of a wife. I knew he would choose well.
The day wore on. A quarrel broke out between my two youngest. Screaming and crying quickly had me racing to them in irritation. I dealt with them roughly, slapping them both and putting them at a distance from each other. I went back to my place to weave. They both watched me warily, with their noses running and clean tracks down their dirty faces from their tears. Bithiah had her thumb in her mouth and her other hand twisting her hair. When I saw their woebegone faces I was at once sorry for treating them that way. I walked over to them and picked up Bithiah and took Nahum by the hand.
"I'm sorry I got so angry with you. Let's go down to the water and wash you both," I offered. "You have been playing so well for so long that you are a mess. But you are my special messes, aren't you?"
They both giggled and we went gaily to the river. I washed them and tidied them and we were feeling better when Adam and our younger sons who had been with him came suddenly looking for me.
The boys were crying. I had never seen them cry this way. They cried quietly with desperation and seemed as if they would faint.
"What is the matter? What has happened?" I cried to them.
Then for the first time I looked at Adam. His face was white and grim. He looked as if he were a beaten man. I had never seen him this way, not even the day we left the garden.
Suddenly there was a squeezing in my chest. The blood which coursed through my body to give me life stopped. My tongue became as if it were an independent thing and would not obey me. I struggled to speak to Adam.
"What Is wrong, Adam? Tell me!" My feet which had become heavy like rocks slowly took me to him and I put my hands on his upper arms and looked into his face, seeing the bewildered pain in his eyes.
"We went to find Abel." The tears began to course down Adam's cheeks.
My hands squeezed tightly on his arms but he could not continue. I knew. I knew now what was wrong. Abel was dead, Abel was dead! I stepped back from Adam and dropped my hands. The earth spun around me and darkened. Time ceased altogether and finally it started again. I saw that I was still on my feet and that Adam was a man who was fighting to stay whole. My young sons, and my two youngest, whom I had completely forgotten, were lost, not understanding what was happening. If there was any comfort in me to give at all I must give it to Adam. I folded him in my arms and he crushed me to himself as if he could not ever let go.
The horror I felt would not even allow tears to fall from my eyes. I held onto Adam to support him and my mind raced as to what must now be done. The children could not be left long standing in confusion and fear. They must be comforted also. We must get help from our older children to go get Abel and bring him home. I could not stand the thought of him lying alone.
I leaned back and put my hands on the sides of Adam's head, it was as if suddenly he were one of my children and I must speak to him gently and softly. "Adam," I spoke as calmly and gently as possible, "We must take the children to the cave and leave them there. Gedaliah, Reuel, and Uri," I spoke to the older boys, "you three and Rachel will have to take care of the little ones." They nodded in relief, action would break the fear which had gripped us.
"Adam," I looked into his face once again, this time he roused himself. The grief was still in his eyes, his face was careworn, but I knew that he was our head again.
"Let us go, children. This is a very sad day for us, but we must do what we can for Abel, your brother." As he said these words Adam swung Bithiah up onto his now straightened shoulders. We went the short distance to our cave.
We quickly and calmly explained to Rachel, who was the oldest, what had happened and what we must do. She was shocked and saddened but there was no time for grief now. The younger children must be fed and cared for and we must bring Abel back home. Adam and I turned quickly and silently toward the homes of our oldest sons.
Soon we had Nethanel, Beninu, and Shemaah and some of our grandsons with us. We hurried grimly to the spot where Adam had left Abel. He was next to an outcrop of rock. Already a scavenging bird had found him. The sight of the bird maddened me and I ran forward to chase it away. It flew away slowly, on powerful wings as if to mock me. I stared after it, hating it, and the tears finally flowed and I knew that Abel was dead. That the animals could feed on my sorrow was more than I could bear. I turned to Abel's body, his father and brothers were already gathered around it. They made a place for me and I knelt down by Abel. I picked up his head and cradled it in my lap and held it close to my breast.
Slowly I noticed that Adam and my sons, and grandsons were hotly discussing something. There was a great deal of blood on the ground. Much blood had soaked into the earth. The blood had come from an ugly wound in Abel's head and had poured also from a wound in his chest. Most of the blood had either dried or become sticky. It was on me as I held Abel to me.
"An animal did not do this, Father," Beninu announced.
"Did something fall on him?" I asked.
"Look around, there is not fallen rock. I see nothing that could have caused Abel's death," Nethanel observed.
I was puzzling what could have killed my son. Suddenly I noticed that the eyes of the men were locked together as if they were speaking. I drew Abel's head closer to my breast as if I could protect him and turn back time. But I was suddenly afraid. Was there something even worse than the fact that Abel was dead?
"My sons, you and your father are keeping something from me, aren't you?" I whispered.
Adam and Nethanel looked tenderly at me. The others cast their eyes down. Then they all looked at each other again.
"It is possible, Mother, that Abel was killed by ... someone." Nethanel's jaw clenched tightly as if in great anger.
"What?" I could not believe such a thing. "What?" I looked around at their faces in bewilderment and shook my head.
"What?" I couldn't say anything else. My mind shut and I began to rock back and forth with Abel in my lap.
How we got Abel home, how Abel's wandering flocks were gathered up and cared for, the things the men said after that shocking revelation, are things that I cannot remember. Somehow Adam and my sons and grandsons accomplished the immediate tasks without my help or knowledge.
When we returned home some of our sons stayed with us for the night. Abel's body was laid to rest tenderly a distance from us and our sons guarded his body through the night lest wild animals disturb him. Adam slept little that night, though he was exhausted. I arose constantly through the night checking on my sleeping children as if they too would be snatched from me. I constantly looked in the direction of Abel's body and once or twice went over to him to gaze at his now sleeping face. Tomorrow I would not see him ever again.
Cain washed Abel's blood from off his own body and went to his home. There was triumph in him which had been hard to conceal. Many of his brothers had known what he was to do, but there was no need of words to let it be known that he had been successful. Words could be dangerous in the new game in which Cain and his brothers had entered.
Cain threw himself down into a relaxed position before the fire on which his young wife prepared dinner. He watched her idly and with a smile of contentment. As she passed him he grabbed her forearm and pulled her down to him. She laughed softly and with pleasure as he pinned her back to his chest and blew gently into her ear.
"I am a very fortunate man, am I not? I have a beautiful wife, like fire. You please me. And all the earth lay at my feet to give us whatever we choose."
"Ah, and I am a very fortunate woman. But perhaps what you would have the earth give you now would be a hot meal". She struggled to release herself as Cain tightened his hold on her. She raked her nails over his arm and drew blood. Cain laughed with good humor and let her go.
She leaned over the fire and dipped up stew for Cain and for herself. She gave him his bowl and sat close to him.
"One day you will have others to serve you. I would not have you working so hard as my mother. Hard work wears away a woman's beauty and I would have you stay young and beautiful. I deserve a beautiful woman," Cain laughed. He began to eat slowly.
"How will you give me this easy life? My mother has always worked hard. Your mother has worked hard. If the children we women bear are to live, that is our lot in life. What woman would raise my children and do my work as well as her own?"
"Have you no imagination?" Cain chided. "Some are born to do hard work. They enjoy it. The more they have to do the more enjoyment there is for them. We should not be selfish by depriving them of their greatest source of happiness."
"Oh Cain, you are a dreamer! And I love you for it! I would like to be free to do as I please, I admit it. Still, some tasks can be pleasant, I suppose. It would be nice to choose which I would do."
Cain put down his bowl after his third helping. "I will be back, I have important thinking to do." He left the camp as his wife's eyes followed him. A little smile played about her mouth. She returned to her work humming softly.
Cain went into his field. He enjoyed the feeling of ownership which standing in it gave him. This is where he did his best thinking. This is where he made his best bargains. The result of today was the best bargain he had ever received. To have power and revenge was worth much.
Today he had had to leave Abel's flocks. How was he to go about acquiring them now that his brother was no longer a nuisance to him? He must go warily, showing his great sorrow and laying his claim to Abel's property. He must make it appear that he was doing his father and brothers a great favor by taking this worry from them.
"Where is Abel, your brother?"
Cain started in surprise. Who of his brothers who knew his secret would dare to speak of it aloud?
"Where is Abel, your brother?" A cloud which hovered close to Cain flashed a bright light. For an instant Cain thought that he was staring into the bright ball of the setting sun. He turned his head away to shield his eyes from its brightness but found no soothing shade for them. The light was coming from the cloud and was unmerciful in its intensity.
"Where is Abel, your brother?" The voice was like a roar and came from the cloud. Cain was suddenly terrified, but no one had the right to openly speak of the deed which he had done this day and he became haughty in his fear and anger.
He answered the voice with scathing sarcasm, "I do not know where he is! Am I his keeper?"
"What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries to me from the ground."
At last it came into Cain's mind that it was the Lord who demanded an answer. Cold fear seeped into him, for he had thought that he could keep this secret from the Lord. He now knew that he had grossly underestimated the God which his parents worshipped. The Lord had spoken to him before, and Cain had brushed the words aside as not important.
The voice continued relentlessly, "And now, you shall be cursed from the earth. The earth has opened her mouth to receive your brother's blood which was shed by your hand."
"When you till the ground, it shall not from this time yield to you her strength. You shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth."
"Satan tempted me, because of my brother's flocks! And I was angry also, because you accepted his sacrifice and did not accept mine!" Cain almost screamed it piteously. "My punishment is greater than I can bear. For, this day you have driven me from the face of the Lord, and I shall be hidden from your face. I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth. He that finds me will slay me, because of my sins, for these things are not hidden from the Lord."
The voice of the Lord replied to Cain's outburst, "Whoever slays you, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold. I, the Lord, set a mark upon you, that no man should kill you."
Cain was left trembling in his field. His ownership of it meant no more to him now. Cain knew, with absolute certainty that the Lord meant what he said. The earth was cursed to Cain. It might produce and give abundantly to other men, but not to him. Cain ground his teeth, dropping to his knees and bending his head to the dirt. He pounded his fist into the very earth which was cursed to him and the ground received the tears which he shed, just as it had earlier received the blood of Abel.
We buried Abel with great sorrow the morning after his death.
Follow along in the scriptures (links to Center Place Library)
Inspired Version of the Bible
Genesis Chapter 5:8-26
forward to chapter 13
Copyright 1991 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: September 18, 2001