Friday, June 17, 2016

Cain & Abel: A New Telling--"Why Must I Help My Brother? I Hate and Fear Him."

The Story of Cain & Abel: A New Telling
Genesis 4:1-12 (Adapted)

By David Hartley Mark

1. Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “Kaniti—I have acquired a male child with the help of the Lord.”

2. She then bore his brother Abel, (i.e., “Hevel,” meaning “puff of wind,” implying the possible brevity of his life, unless helped by others). Abel became a shepherd, and Cain became a farmer, a worker of the soil. 3. And after the passage of time, Cain brought some lovely fruit and vegetables as a thanksgiving-offering to God for a bountiful harvest, 4. While Abel, on his own behalf, brought the most select, fattest, first-born of his sheep.

And God preferred Abel and his offering, since God, in the Hebrew Bible, had a decided prejudice in favor of shepherds over farmers, since, at the time people were telling this story, the Israelites were mainly nomadic shepherds. Unfortunately, this was unknown to Cain, whose efforts were for naught, so Cain became both angry and jealous, and his face fell.

6. And God said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7. If you present Me with what I favor, which is meat, mainly, I will lift you up. If you don’t do well, Sin will lie at the door. You may choose it or not, but you can master your urge towards it.

… Why don’t you speak with your brother Abel, and learn how to please Me? Perhaps (God continued) you could go into the shepherding business together, and he can learn about farming from you. That would be very commendable and cooperative, for you both. Behold, how good it is, and how pleasant, when brothers live alongside one another in peace.”

But Cain thought in his heart, “Naw, I’d rather not talk to him. I’ll hold a grudge, instead. And he nursed his grudge for a long time,

While Abel wondered, “Why doesn’t my brother Cain come around on Sundays anymore? We used to hoist a couple of brewskies, and watch the Nod Team play the Edens at soccer. Oh, well… time to feed the sheep.”

Instead, Cain walked the fields of Eden, until he passed a shop, with a sign in the window: Evil Inclination Gun Store. For Satan, with God’s permission, had, apparently, done this evil thing, to tempt fledgling humanity.

And Cain entered the shop, to find Beelzebub inside.

And Beelzebub said, “Can I help you, Son of Adam?”

And Cain said, “Do you have anything I could use to hunt? My—uh—sheep have been under threat from Ab—a wolf.”

And Beelzebub answered, “I have a lovely Glock nine-millimeter, and this AR-15 is handy, as well. Can I see your license, please? This concludes our background check. Care to join the NRA? Yes? Fine. Thanks for coming by. Have a 2nd Amendment Day!”

And Cain called his brother Abel, and proposed that they meet in the field, ostensibly to discuss sharing a business.

8. But when they were in the field, Cain set upon his brother Abel with both pistol and semi-automatic rifle, and killed him.

9. But the Lord said unto Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10. Then he (with a small “h,” to denote that every killing reduces God’s Holy Name) said, “What have you done? I hear your brother’s blod crying out to Me from the ground! 11. Therefore, you shall be more cursed than the ground, which opened its mouth to take in your brother’s blood from your hand. 12. If you work the earth, it will not continue to give its strength to you. You will be an endless wanderer (Hebrew, Na v’Nod) upon the earth.”

13. And Cain said unto the Lord, “I cannot carry this heavy punishment! 14. Since You have driven me from the earth and from Your Presence this day, I must hide from You and wander endlessly upon the earth—and anyone who finds me will kill me!”

15. And God said, “Therefore, if anyone kills Cain, I will take sevenfold vengeance upon him.” And God put a mark upon Cain, to prevent anyone who met him from killing him.

16. Cain left the Presence of God and settled in the Land of Nod (lit., “Wandering”), in the East of Eden, where he, and all we Americans, are still, apparently, wandering….