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The Bible Story of Cain & Abel

Updated on February 24, 2013

Genesis Chapter 4

After Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, they had children. Their firstborn was Cain and later they had Abel. The female children aren’t mentioned, but they must have been born because later Cain has a wife.

Cain became a tiller of the ground and Abel raised sheep. Cain decided to give an offering to God from his crops and Abel gave an offering of one of his lambs. God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.

I’ve always questioned why God didn’t accept Cain’s offering. How did Cain know a crop offering wasn’t acceptable? In Leviticus it says not only a blood offering is acceptable, but an offering of crops was also offered at different times.

Cain and Abel
Cain and Abel | Source

In the Old Testament, a blood offering was required for the forgiveness of sin. That is why Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins, but in Genesis it doesn’t say that Cain was making an offering for his sins.

Maybe Cain didn’t make the offering with a right attitude. When we give to God we need to do it joyfully and give our best. If we give out of obligation or the need for approval, it means nothing.

It angered Cain that God didn’t accept his offering. He became resentful and jealous of Abel, because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his. We don’t know what Cain and Abel’s relationship was like.

Afterwards Cain went out into the field and murdered Abel. This alone, shows that Cain didn’t have a right heart. Now, not only had Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, but Cain had committed the despicable sin of murder.

Cain could have gone back and made a different offering that God did accept, but instead he let his hatred for Abel brew in his heart because of his anger and jealousy. When we do wrong, we need to go back and make it right. Cain didn’t even try to make a better sacrifice, instead he killed Abel.

God punished Cain for his sin, by sending him out in the wilderness. Cain worried that someone would kill him in revenge for Abel’s death and he let his fears be known to God. Then God gave him a special mark to show others not to kill him.

God didn’t punish Cain out of anger or just to punish him. He punishes all of us when we commit sin to teach us how to do right. The punishment Cain received seems harsh, but his sin wasn’t a simple sin.

God let Eve have another child which she named Seth, to make up for the loss of Abel.


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    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      ajwrites57, Thanks for commenting. I think good parts of our society have forgotten.

    • ajwrites57 profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Anger, resentment, hatred, murder--almost that progression from the first sin--anger. Oh, by the way whatever happened to sin? People in our society and world have forgotten this concept--don't you think?

    • profile image

      rachel day 6 years ago

      very nice. And I think you are right about cain giving with the wrong atitude

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      timcgaa70, Thanks for commenting. I had forgotten myself that Eve meant that.

    • tlmcgaa70 profile image

      tlmcgaa70 6 years ago from south dakota, usa

      you are correct that it was Cains attitude that displeased GOD. not what he was offering. and I believe the reason GOD put the mark on Cain was to stop the first murder from becoming a chain of murders. and Cardisa...remember that Adam named his wife Eve...the mother of all people.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      Vicki99, Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy I could help.

      Homesteadbound, Yes, I wish it did mention all of their children. It would be interesting to know how many they had. Thanks for commenting.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      It is interesting that only 3 of their children were ever mentioned when you knew that had to be quite a few more. It's kinda hard to populate the earth with only 3 boys.

    • Vicki99 profile image

      Vicki99 6 years ago from Meridian Idaho

      Nice Hub Barbara Kay. I enjoyed reading your synopsis and the comments that it inspired. It gives me something to think about when I read Gen Ch 4 again.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      Smokes Angel, Thanks for reading the hub and your thoughtful comments.

    • Smokes Angel profile image

      Smokes Angel 6 years ago from Broke Alabama

      This hub gives you a different take on the story. They don't tell you this, but I bet there was a running competition between the two brothers for a long time. Just like you see it with brothers today. Maybe Cain was just so sick of his brother being the "ALL STAR" he took it in his own hands. Regardless of what happens

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      b.Malin, Thanks.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      Hey Barbara, Great Take on this famous Bible Story.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      Lesley, Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Lesleysherwood 6 years ago

      That is exactly it. It wasn't really to do with the fruit verses the blood, although that is a major factor. It was attitude. Just the same as when Eve ate of the fruit of the tree. It was deeper than a bit of fruit. It was a deliberate act of apostasy. Good hub.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      Cardisa, None of us really knows for sure but your hypothesis could be correct. Who knows, there may have even been another garden on earth where the same thing happened. Genesis is really sketchy about a lot of things.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Barbara. I agree with you 99%. Well as far as the Cain and Abel story goes. I do however believed that God did create other people after creating Adam and Eve. The bible did not say that they were the only people God created but that they were the first. In reference to this, "Cain went into the land of Canaan and took unto himself a wife"...the statement is clear that he first went o Canaan where he later met his wife. Next it stated that he feared that others people would kill it that he feared that his parents would kill him or that other people on the earth would? This fear came about after being exiled into the wilderness. There are many other instances in Genesis that implied there were other people created after the first man and woman.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      lone77star, I'll have to search Chapter 4 more and see what I think. I'll read some of your hubs. You have some interesting ideas. Thanks for commenting.

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      An interesting analysis, Barbara Kay. I think you're right about Cain not having the right attitude. A gift given grudgingly is a stain on the soul. Just as with "forgiveness" performed while holding a grudge. Both are abominations.

      Something I've always wondered about was why God would give such incredible protection to a liar and a murderer, yet would destroy whole nations (men, women and children), later.

      Sometimes we take things too literally. Sometimes there is a deeper wisdom hidden in the details. Chapter 4 of Genesis is no different.

      Would it surprise you to learn that Chapter 4 is not about murder (Cain killing Abel, and Lamech killing two for the hurt he suffered), but about an affirmation of life? And about a code embedded in Genesis?

      Biblical literalists have for ages taken the timeline finalized in Genesis to show that the universe and humanity are only 6000 years old. Science, which is the master of the study of reality, shows that humanity is at least 200,000 years old and that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. Simple logic tells us that ignoring reality is another way of describing "delusion." And belief in a lie is not "faith." Imagine my surprise when I found a biblical timeline embedded in Genesis which was compatible with those of science. I had found a rather elegant code in Genesis.

      And the story of Cain and his descendants is an integral part of that "code." Both the mark placed on Cain and that placed on Lamech are critical for the understanding of Chapter 4 as a vital connection to the generations of man and to life.

      "If deciphering wisdom hidden in the Bible elicits the very thing the Bible is hoping we will achieve—humility under God—then one can easily assume that every effort would have been made to hide a great amount of wisdom therein" (a quote from a book I'm writing).