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Friday, 20 August 2010

Breaking down the Bible
Genesis, 4
The First Mourning.

Genesis 4:1

 'And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.'

It seems they weren’t supposed to have sex before the Fall, were they? How would they have reproduced then?

Genesis 4:3

 'And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.'

Genesis 4:4

'And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:'

Genesis 4:5

Cain and Abel
Cain and Abel
'But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.'

Why would God do that ? Because he saw Cain’s heart and rejected him? Or was it to play the brothers off against each other simply because virtuous lives were too humdrum to provide an action-packed spectacle?

Genesis 4:6

'And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?'

As if He didn’t know!

Genesis 4:7

'If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.'

OK, once again it’s a test and only Cain had to be tried, since Abel was the good guy and no sin lay at his door.

Genesis 4:8

'And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.'

I wonder what did they argue about. Back then the good guy was already weaker than the bad one, and good lost out to evil. The question is: why didn’t the Almighty protect the good and virtuous one, letting the villain to kill him instead? Isn’t God supposed to protect the good? Or maybe we didn’t get God’s message right — in reality life is punishment and death is reward, so He actually did Abel a favour and took him back to Paradise? No mention of that, though.
Maybe we shouldn't cling to life at any cost?

Genesis 4:9

'And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?'

Genesis 4:10
'And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.'

Genesis 4:11

The First Mourning. The death of Abel
The death of Abel,
(William Bouguereau)
'And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;'

Genesis 4:12

'When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.'

Just like human justice, the virtuous is gone and the murderer is kept alive. Clearly, today’s penal code is drawn on this principle.

Genesis 4:13

'And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.'

Genesis 4:14'

Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.'

If his punishment was greater than he could bear, shouldn’t he have been grateful to whoever slain him or even sought anyone who would kind enough to kill him and thus end his suffering? Why didn’t it occur to him to commit suicide, that would be a liberation, wouldn’t it? But no, curiously he didn’t seek death at all — he was worried someone would kill him, because deep down he was happy he got away with the crime and made believe his comeuppance was ‘greater than he could bear’ so that God didn’t sent him a worse scourge. Clever bastard, but didn’t God see through his tricks?

Genesis 4:15

'And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.'

Nice, whoever slays the murderer will be punished! Why? For doing him a favour? No explanantion whatsoever, either. But who could kill Cain if there weren’t anyone else on the Earth except for Adam, Eve and Cain himself? Speaking animals?

Genesis 4:16

'And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.'

Isn’t God omnipresent? Or he doesn’t show up in godforsaken places, instead he comfortably resides in the garden of Eden — a prehistoric equivalent of today’s Bahamas, Borneo, Bora-Bora, Punta Cana and suchlike.

Genesis 4:17

'And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.'

One of the uncountable biblical puzzles: who was Cain’s wife, if there wasn’t anybody else on the Earth? What kind of woman would mate with a fratricide? An alien, a speaking animal, or Adam and Eve had a daughter and Cain married his sister? Anyway, neither inbreeding nor crossbreeding seemed to be a problem at the time.

Then God rewarded Cain for killing his brother by giving him a long life, numerous descendants, as well as professional satisfaction and realization of his ambitions — he built a city and certainly proclaimed himself King.

I’m at a loss to understand how exactly all these fortunes qualify as punishment, unless there was something else to the story that this book fails to mention. Wouldn’t anyone in his right mind at least think himself lucky if he had a big and prosperous family and rule over the city he’d built himself?

Genesis 4:23

'And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.'

Genesis 4:24

'If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.'

Why did Lamech kill someone and then decided to confess his crime to his wives? No comment policy in the book. Apparently his crime was even more heinous than Cain’s according to the punishment he said he deserved, but he, too, got away with it.

By the way, another example of divine (or the writers') sexism — a man could have several wives, but a woman only got one husband. Besides, for no obvious reason the first three women’s names to be mentioned were those of Lamech’s wives and daughter. Still no explanation is offered as to where Adah, Zillah and other child bearers came from, an educated guess is they were either the men’s sisters or other relatives (or aliens, or speaking animals), although it’s clear women in general weren’t considered worth mentioning.

Genesis 4:25

'And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.'

Wouldn't it have been more just to preserve Abel instead?

Those were the days — people lived hundreds of years, were able to procreate at any age and only had two or three children. However families must have been rather weird: a great-great...-grandfather/mother could suddenly get a new brother or sister.

Genesis 4:26

'And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.'

Sounds like a line from Nostradamus. What triggered this sudden outburst of collective bellowing to heaven? Was Enos born with horns, tail, scales, wings or some other freaky trait?
To be continued...

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