Cain was a very young man, full of energy and strength. Devoted to his work and his family. Meanwhile, his twin, Abel, though kind and loving, did not take to work in the same way. From their youth, Abel was quick to run for the open fields, playing on the grass with his animals. It was no surprise that Cain would grow up to be a great tiller of the earth, while Abel would become a simple tender of the flock.
As evidence of Cain’s amoral seriousness, their mother recalls an evening when, out of an abundance of curiosity and control, Eve asked each child to bite her arm. Abel, being gentle of spirit, merely imprinted a long and lingering kiss upon her elbow. But Cain, the firstborn, bit down hard and strong, taking out a small bloody piece of his mother.
Eve backed away, and carefully bandaged her forearm. She went to her husband and said, “Our Cain will be a wicked man.”
From that day forward, it was clear that Adam and Eve loved Abel dearly, even while they held Cain with suspicion. Cain knew this and his jealousy ate away at him, consuming his thoughts as he worked the fields. His difficult labor only intensified his resentment, as he toiled from dark to dark, sweating, bleeding and aching to bring the harvest in.
Often, Cain would notice a small shadow under the fig tree on the hill. He would sometimes pause to listen to Abel sing and play his guitar into the wind. The sounds of his brother’s songs were beautiful and soothing to him. For brief moments, Cain would feel love for the gentle spirit of his twin. But, as he remembered his work, his anger would return. He wished to kill his brother, but knew not how.
Satan took pity on the burden of this son of man. Taking the form of a raven, he cawed at Cain to capture his attention. Then, once Cain’s mind was fixed on Satan’s intentions, Satan picked a quarrel with another raven. As the two black birds fought, Satan picked up a blade of obsidian and used it to slit the throat of his rival. As the defeated raven fell to the ground, Satan dropped the blade nearby. Cain picked up the stone, turning it over in his hand. Taking it by the flats, he sliced at his own calloused palms, and as bright red lines appeared upon his hands, he could see that this stone was sharper than any knife that he had ever wielded.
Hiding his weapon in his girdle, Cain asked his brother if he would play him a song under the fig tree. Abel, delighted at the idea of an audience, gleefully led his brother to his favorite spot, the vantage point where he kept watch over his flock.
At the top of the hill, Abel sat with his guitar on his lap. He began to strum a song that Cain loved. The poetry spoke of this day being the first day of all our lives, an opportunity to begin again.
Cain, moved by his brother’s melodious sonnet, changed his heart, and swore to always protect Abel from that day forward. He removed the obsidian from his tunic and threw it down into the valley. But Satan was watching. Still in the form of the raven, he flew quick and sure towards the shiny jagged stone, and held it in his talons. Then, in a smooth motion, turned to Abel and buried the blade in the young man’s throat. Bleeding uncontrollably, Abel writhed and convulsed as Cain held him in his arms, wailing for help. All the while the fear in his Abel’s eyes seared a brutal mark onto Cain’s mind.
When their mother and father arrived, Abel had already perished, and Cain was subdued and put into chains.
Devastated by his loss, Cain made no effort to defend himself from the charges against him. His mother pointed to the blood on his hands, his father pointed to Cain’s unending litany of complaints against Abel. Physical evidence and motive, all bore witness to his crime. As night came on, Cain quietly asked to be put to death, so that he may join his beloved brother in eternal sleep. But Adam refused, having no strength to see both of his children dead on the same day. Instead, he banished Cain to wander the earth for the remainder of his days. And though ever gifted as a tiller, he would never again till his own land. And as for rest, Cain’s only respite would be his haunted memories of his brother’s final song.
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