A Daily Genesis

Genesis 4:3-7a

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 4:3-4a . . In the course of time, Cain brought an offering to The Lord from the fruit of the soil; and Abel, for his part, brought the choicest of the firstlings of his flock.[/B]

There's no indication in this scene suggesting their oblations were sacrifices for sin. The Hebrew word for their offerings is from [I]minchah[/I] (min-khaw') and means: to apportion, i.e. bestow; a donation; euphemistically, tribute; specifically a sacrificial offering (usually bloodless and voluntary).

Since the offerings were minchah type offerings-- which are essentially gifts rather than atonements --it would be wrong to insist Abel slew his firstling and/or burned it to ashes. In point of fact, holocaust offerings go by the name of [I]'olah[/I] (o-law') instead of minchah; for example Gen 22:2.

Ancient rabbis understood the brothers' offerings to be a "first fruits" kind of oblation.

[COLOR=#006400][B]T.[/B][/COLOR] And it was at the end of days, on the fourteenth of Nisan, that Kain brought of the produce of the earth, the seed of cotton (or line), an oblation of first things before the Lord; and Habel brought of the firstlings of the flock. (Targum Jonathan)

Seeing as how Cain was a farmer, then in his case, an amount of produce was the appropriate first fruits offering, and seeing as how Abel was an animal husbandman, then in his case a head of livestock was the appropriate first fruits offering.

I think it's safe to assume the brothers were no longer boys, but rather, responsible men in this particular scene because God is going to treat them that way. This incident is not said to be the very first time they brought gifts to God. The brothers (and very likely their parents too), probably had been bringing gifts for many years; ever since they were kids. And up to this point, apparently both men were doing everything right and God was just as much pleased with Cain and his gifts as He was with Abel and his gifts.

But where did they get this religion of theirs? Well; wasn't Abel a prophet?

"Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary." (Luke 11:50-51a)

It's evident then that the offerings were a legitimate part of a God-given religion rather than a pagan ritual. (cf. Heb 11:4)

[B][COLOR=#006400]†.[/COLOR] Gen 4:4b-5a . .The Lord paid heed to Abel and his offering, but to Cain and his offering He paid no heed.[/B]

It's common for poorly-trained Bible students to trip up on the nature of the offerings and totally miss the role that the nature of the men played in their worship; in other words[B]:[/B] they assume Cain was rejected because his offering was bloodless and they attempt to justify their theory by citing the below:

"It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. God accepted Abel's offering to show that he was a righteous man." (Heb 11:4)

However, the focus in both Genesis and Hebrews is not really upon the offerings because it's okay for a minchah to be bloodless. The focus is actually upon faith and righteousness; viz[B]:[/B] the focus is upon piety; viz[B]:[/B] the nature of the brother's conduct rather than upon the nature of their gifts. Abel's conduct was righteous; hence God felt honored by his gift; while Cain's conduct was unrighteous; hence God felt insulted by his gift.

Cain was of a good family. He wasn't the product of poverty or an inner city barrio or dilapidated public housing. His mother wasn't cruel and/or thoughtless, nor did she neglect him or abandon him. He wasn't in a gang, didn't carry a church key, a shank, an ice pick, or a gun; didn't smoke weed, drink, snort coke, take meth, gamble or chase women. He was very religious and worshipped the exact same God that his brother worshipped, and the rituals he practiced were correct and timely.

Cain worked for a living in an honest profession. He wasn't a thief, wasn't a predatory lender, wasn't a Wall Street barracuda, a dishonest investment banker, or an unscrupulous social network mogul. He wasn't a cheap politician, wasn't a terrorist, wasn't on the take, wasn't lazy, nor did he associate with the wrong crowd. The man did everything a model citizen is supposed to do; yet he, and subsequently his gift, were soundly rejected because some of his ways were unrighteous.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 4:5b . . Cain was much distressed and his face fell.[/B]

Cain was a whole lot worse than distressed. He was blazing mad. The word for "distressed" is from [I]charah[/I] (khaw-raw') and means[B]:[/B] to glow or grow warm; figuratively (usually) to blaze up, of anger, zeal, jealousy. Cain is actually in a passionate rage over this and certainly in no mood for a lecture.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 4:6 . . And The Lord said to Cain: Why are you distressed, and why is your face fallen?[/B]

God made an honest effort to talk things over with Cain and resolve their differences; but Cain didn't respond; he was too busy sulking in a black pout.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 4:7a . . If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?[/B]

That is an irrevocable principle, and comes out very early in the Bible because it is so foundational to humanity's association with its creator. Well; Abel did do right and that's why his gift is said to be offered in faith.

Cain's lack of faith is well illustrated at Isa 1:11-20. Yhvh's people were offering all the required sacrifices, they were praying up a storm, and observing all the required feasts and holy days. But God rejected all of it, even though He himself required it, because His people's conduct was unbecoming.

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Yhvh." (Prv 15:8)

Perhaps the classic example is the one below.

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings." (Ps 51:16)

When David wrote that; he had only just committed the capital crimes of adultery and premeditated murder. There was just no way that God was going to accept his sacrifices and offerings on top of that; and David knew it too.

The principle didn't go away. It's still the Lord's way of doing business with people; even with Christians.

"God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." (1John 1:5-7)

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