1. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    23 Aug '10 00:51
    In Genesis 4 we have the story of Cain and Abel. Abel was the keeper of sheep while Cain was a tiller of the ground. It is further recounted how they each brought an offering to the Lord and that He approved of Abel's offering, but not of Cain's. Cain then slew Abel and was subsequently cursed. I will here offer up an interpretation of Genesis 4 as influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's 'Discourse on Inequality.'

    Abel, in this interpretation, represents mankind as pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers (or alternately as nomadic herders) while Cain represents mankind as post-agricultural farmers. Abel is primitive mankind living in his natural state, while Cain is civilized mankind living in an increasingly unnatural state.

    Contrary to Hobbes, who claimed that mankind in his natural state was engaged in a war of 'all against all', his existence brutish and short, and that he needed civilization to keep his violent passions in check, Rousseau claims the exact opposite. His view is that mankind in his natural state was a much more peaceable creature and that it is civilization that has corrupted him. Natural man, his needs being few, had few desires. They were of an immediate quality and easily met. Civilization, having artificially compounded his needs, also greatly increased his desires. These artificially induced desires, which required long term planning to be met, laid the groundwork for private property, greed, avarice, hierarchy and an unnatural state of competition. We are relying on civilization to keep in check the very impulses that it is responsible for unleashing.

    That is why the Lord is not pleased with Cain’s offering. Cain is the farmer. Farming made private property necessary, which made civil society necessary (Genesis 4:17 recounts how Cain founded the first city), and that this is what The Fall really is. It is the removal of mankind from his natural state by civilization and his subsequent corruption by it. Rousseau gives the following quote:

    The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.


    Abel, the natural man, is the favorite of the Lord, while Cain, the civilized agriculturalist, is frowned upon. His murder of Abel represents the displacement of simple hunter gatherer lifestyles by agricultural civilization. That transition is not serving to keep our supposed violent nature in check, but rather has been the very cause of it. And for that, Cain was cursed by the Lord.
  2. Joined
    02 Jan '06
    Moves
    10087
    23 Aug '10 03:34
    Originally posted by rwingett
    In Genesis 4 we have the story of Cain and Abel. Abel was the keeper of sheep while Cain was a tiller of the ground. It is further recounted how they each brought an offering to the Lord and that He approved of Abel's offering, but not of Cain's. Cain then slew Abel and was subsequently cursed. I will here offer up an interpretation of Genesis 4 as influenc ...[text shortened]... k, but rather has been the very cause of it. And for that, Cain was cursed by the Lord.
    In other words, Cain is the Republican and Abel is the Democrat? What is Seth then, an independent?
  3. Joined
    02 Aug '06
    Moves
    12622
    23 Aug '10 04:223 edits
    Cain's raising of crops was quite practical. But why was Abel taking care of livestock ? It does not seem that it would be for meat eating at this time.

    It was not until after the flood of Noah that God told man to come off of his fully vegetarian diet (Genesis 9:1-3)

    Abel raising cattle for clothing and milk are a possibility. Sacrifices and worship, as offerings, I think is also the reason for Abel's unusual profession.
  4. Joined
    11 Nov '05
    Moves
    43938
    23 Aug '10 04:30
    Question: How many people were there at this time? All in all?
  5. Joined
    02 Jan '06
    Moves
    10087
    23 Aug '10 04:48
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    Question: How many people were there at this time? All in all?
    Before or after Cain slew Abel? 😛
  6. Joined
    11 Nov '05
    Moves
    43938
    23 Aug '10 04:51
    Originally posted by whodey
    Before or after Cain slew Abel? 😛
    At the time as he was slewn. Say right before.
  7. Joined
    13 Mar '07
    Moves
    33343
    23 Aug '10 09:14
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Abel, the natural man, is the favorite of the Lord, while Cain, the civilized agriculturalist, is frowned upon. His murder of Abel represents the displacement of simple hunter gatherer lifestyles by agricultural civilization. That transition is not serving to keep our supposed violent nature in check, but rather has been the very cause of it. And for that, Cain was cursed by the Lord.
    Maybe Cain was cursed by the Lord because his tentative steps towards improving the frankly lamentable natural order that God had created pointed the way towards science, technology, medicine and all the other mechanisms that would ultimately lead people to question their blind faith in and dependence on the deity. Can we be surprised that God was worried? Kind of like Zeus and Prometheus.
  8. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    23 Aug '10 10:13
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    Question: How many people were there at this time? All in all?
    The story is metaphorical. Cain and Abel weren't actual people. They are representations of parts of society. I think the people of antiquity were more comfortable with that level of abstraction than are today's biblical literalists.
  9. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    23 Aug '10 10:38
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Maybe Cain was cursed by the Lord because his tentative steps towards improving the frankly lamentable natural order that God had created pointed the way towards science, technology, medicine and all the other mechanisms that would ultimately lead people to question their blind faith in and dependence on the deity. Can we be surprised that God was worried? Kind of like Zeus and Prometheus.
    None of our so called 'improvements' have made us any happier. By artificially multiplying our desires exponentially they have had the paradoxical effect of making us considerably less happy. Despite all his "labor saving" devices, modern man spends more time working to satisfy his needs than do people in primitive hunter-gatherer societies, whose needs are far fewer. Not only that, but modern man spends his time working in increasingly unnatural environments which breed alienation and discontent. Mankind has become alienated from his true self, which is the essence of what The Fall represents.

    An example that some people may be familiar with is that of the Bushmen from the movie 'The Gods Must Be Crazy.'
  10. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    23 Aug '10 10:43
    Originally posted by jaywill
    Cain's raising of crops was quite practical. But why was Abel taking care of livestock ? It does not seem that it would be for meat eating at this time.

    It was not until after the flood of Noah that God told man to come off of his fully vegetarian diet [b](Genesis 9:1-3)


    Abel raising cattle for clothing and milk are a possibility. Sacrifices and worship, as offerings, I think is also the reason for Abel's unusual profession.[/b]
    Don't think so literally. 'Taking care of livestock', in this case, represents pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer societies, or alternately that of nomadic herdsmen. Genesis, in my opinion, isn't meant to be read literally at all. The characters (most of them) aren't actual people, but represent some part of society.
  11. Joined
    19 Jul '08
    Moves
    77354
    23 Aug '10 11:05
    Originally posted by rwingett
    The story is metaphorical. Cain and Abel weren't actual people. They are representations of parts of society. I think the people of antiquity were more comfortable with that level of abstraction than are today's biblical literalists.
    So you believe this one guys opinion on who or what he thinks Cain and Able were or were not? And if they weren't real as the Bible says they were, then at what point do you believe that anyone in the Bible was actually a real live person that history other then the Bible says were real? Abraham, Moses, Pharaoh, David, Jesus, Pilate, Paul, etc, etc?
  12. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91623
    23 Aug '10 11:18
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Don't think so literally. 'Taking care of livestock', in this case, represents pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer societies, or alternately that of nomadic herdsmen. Genesis, in my opinion, isn't meant to be read literally at all. The characters (most of them) aren't actual people, but represent some part of society.
    I like it rwingett. You are wise in your interpretation, and in that wisdom comes practicality and purpose.
    Although your interpretation is simplistic, its as good as any for the amount of actual truthful info we have about these matters.

    G-75, the bible cant all be taken literally, if you want a better understanding of what really happened, you'll have to consider that the bible is partly metaphor.
    This may be a big step for you, but seeing as you dont even respond to my questions, it may be a crucial and necessary one!
  13. Standard memberwolfgang59
    Infidel
    Dunedin
    Joined
    09 Jun '07
    Moves
    45641
    23 Aug '10 11:21
    Originally posted by rwingett
    In Genesis 4 we have the story of Cain and Abel. Abel was the keeper of sheep while Cain was a tiller of the ground. It is further recounted how they each brought an offering to the Lord and that He approved of Abel's offering, but not of Cain's. Cain then slew Abel and was subsequently cursed. I will here offer up an interpretation of Genesis 4 as influenc ...[text shortened]... k, but rather has been the very cause of it. And for that, Cain was cursed by the Lord.
    I like this interpretation a lot, although (as you indicate later) i think it more logical that Able was a nomadic herdsman rather than a hunter-gatherer.

    The writers of Genesis were therefore looking backwards to better-times (much as the Press do now - "The Good Old days"😉 and blaming the ills on the world on the new-fangled innovation of agriculture.
  14. Donationrwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    Royal Oak, MI
    Joined
    09 Sep '01
    Moves
    26187
    23 Aug '10 11:36
    Originally posted by wolfgang59
    I like this interpretation a lot, although (as you indicate later) i think it more logical that Able was a nomadic herdsman rather than a hunter-gatherer.

    The writers of Genesis were therefore looking backwards to better-times (much as the Press do now - "The Good Old days"😉 and blaming the ills on the world on the new-fangled innovation of agriculture.
    The ancient Israelites, of course, would have been ignorant of hunter-gatherer societies. So they depicted Abel as a "keeper of sheep." The life of a nomadic herdsman would be the closest equivalent that they'd be familiar with. But I suspect that they were hearkening back to something far more primeval than that.
  15. Subscriberduecer
    anybody seen my
    underpants??
    Joined
    01 Sep '06
    Moves
    56453
    23 Aug '10 11:54
    Originally posted by rwingett
    In Genesis 4 we have the story of Cain and Abel. Abel was the keeper of sheep while Cain was a tiller of the ground. It is further recounted how they each brought an offering to the Lord and that He approved of Abel's offering, but not of Cain's. Cain then slew Abel and was subsequently cursed. I will here offer up an interpretation of Genesis 4 as influenc ...[text shortened]... k, but rather has been the very cause of it. And for that, Cain was cursed by the Lord.
    interesting, but really quite a stretch. If we more closely examine the text, it is apparent that that God's favoring of Abel has less to do with the way one provides a living for self and family, and more to do with how one Thanks the creator for the gift of nature and how it is able to provide.

    NIV: In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

    You see Cain brought some of the fruits (and not the first fruits) while Abel brought the coveted fat portions from the first fruits (or the finest portion) as an offering. Abel was far more generous with his offering than Cain. Cain, an already stingy soul, become jealous of Abel and slew him.

    NIV: Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."


    God questions Cain and his motives. Cain had not done what was right and what he knew he should have; instead he sinks further into sin, allowing it to become his master, and brings his brother into a field to hide his crime.
Back to Top