Cain and Abel

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Genesis

Genesis 4
2-7
And again she gave birth to his brother Abel. But Abel was a pastor of sheep, and Cain was a farmer. Then it happened, after many days, that Cain offered gifts to the Lord, from the fruits of the earth. Abel likewise offered from the firstborn of his flock, and from their fat. And the Lord looked with favor on Abel and his gifts. Yet in truth, he did not look with favor on Cain and his gifts. And Cain was vehemently angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain: "Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master."

Possible reasons why Cain's offering was not acceptable:

  • type of offering: grain vs. meat
  • quality of offering: Abel gave "from the firstborn of his flock, and from their fat."
  • the interior dispositions of Cain and Abel: "Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master."

New Testament

Hebrews 11:4
By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s. Through this he was attested to be righteous, God bearing witness to his gifts, and through this, though dead, he still speaks.
1 John 3:11–12
[W]e should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.