Friday, 11 April 2014

Cain and Abel

Though much is written, read, preached and even painted of the fall of Adam and Eve, somewhat less is their fate after their expulsion spoken of. But the trials and pains of the first Man and Woman had barely begun when their teeth first sank into the Forbidden Fruit...

Abel - Son of Adam and Eve
Painting by Theophanes the Greek
Fear and guilt their only companions now, Adam and Eve took their first steps beyond the Gates of Eden, a cherubim hovering high above, sword of piercing fire gleaming bright. Outcasts, accursed and exiled they were, but free. The whole world stretched before them, a world before the dominion of Men. For seven days and seven nights they mourned and lamented in grief. But on the eighth day, the tears stayed their fall, and the blow softened. A new emotion rose within, for in place of sadness their struck the pangs of hunger. For seven days the first Man and Wife wandered the bare land in search of food, a long time indeed for us today, longer still for the couple who once called Eden home. Far and wide they searched and still no food they found. Then at last they came to the Tigris river. Grieving at the pain of loss and pain of hunger, Eve wept by the banks of the great river. Then it was that Satan the Adversary, Lucifer of old, came down to her. With honeyed words the Fallen Archangel soothed her and led her back to Adam, but Adam, fooled once but not again, saw the truth behind the veil of beauty. "Hast thou again been ensnared by our adversary, by whose means we have been estranged from our abode in paradise and spiritual joy?"

It was then that Eve saw through it too at last, and loud was her wail, as she railed against the accursed one "Woe unto thee, thou devil. Why dost thou attack us for no cause? What hast thou to do with us? What hath we done to thee?... Why dost thou harry us, thou enemy and persecute us to the death in wickedness and envy?".

It was then at last that He the Adversary of Man, Satan was allowed the chance to vent his fury upon the two:


         " All my hostility, envy, and sorrow is for thee, since it is for thee that
           I have been expelled from my glory, which I possessed in the Heavens,
           for in the midst of the angels and for thee was I cast out in the Earth...

          ...and Michael the Archangel went out and called the angels saying:
          Worship the image of God as the Lord God hath commanded...
          and I answered, I hath no need to worship Adam..
          Why dost thou urge me? I will not worship an inferior and younger being
          that I, for I am his senior in the Creation, before he was made was I already made.
          It is his duty to worship me... "
               - THE CRAFT OF SATAN

Bided rage and wounded pride did he pour upon the first Man and Woman, his disguises cast aside, Serpent no longer, but Fallen Angel. But near his match was the anger of Adam, who saw the very source of his ruin before him now. "O Lord my God, my life is in thy hands. Banish this Adversary far from me, who seeketh to destroy my soul", spake he, and in that moment the Lord of Hell vanished from sight, the gentle breeze all that punctuated the silence. But a moment had passed when a flash of light heralded the arrival of the Archangel Michael, who bore the pity of Heaven to the first couple, and unto Adam he imparted the knowledge of the land, how to work it, and how he might grow food from it so that he might be sustained. To Eve he brought tidings of coming pain, "Prepare thee to bear", said he, and to Heaven he swiftly returned.


The Fratricide of Cain
Painting by Peter Paul Rubens
Adam beheld his wife and saw she was with child, and soon enough the progeny was born who would bring such disaster to the Line of Adam. Upon the grass the babe lay, and in his tiny hand he took a blade of grass, and eagerly gave it to Eve. To him they gave the name of Cain. It was not so long later that Eve gave birth again, to a son again. To him they gave the name of Abel. But the birth was far from easy, for a terrible nightmare afflicted Eve. A gory phantasm had emerged in the blackness of her dreams, the blood of her newborn son in the hand of Cain, and her first born was gulping it down as a ravenous beast. From whence, or whom, this ghastly vision had been sent, was a mystery, though it came when the Morning Star was at its brightest. The last time so wretched a vision had come to her, terrible indeed were the consequences...

Adam, fearful of this premonition, acted swiftly, determined to avoid further catastrophe in their lot in life. He decreed that the boys would be separated from each other, and each would live in his own dwelling. Adam raises Cain in his own ways, a tiller of the ground and tender of Earth, whilst Abel becomes a shepherd of his flock, caring for his sheep.


Adam and Eve weep over the body of Abel
Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
So the sons of Adam grew strong, and under their care the earth grew bountiful in Cain's flora, and Abel's fauna. But over time, lonely Cain grew envious of his brother and the company of his flock, where he had naught but plants to share his plot with. When the time came to pass, and the first harvest rose from Earth's tilled pastures, Cain offered the bounty of the land to God. When the first lambs breathed the air of the pure skies, Abel offered the finest of his flock unto God. God looked kindly upon the offer of Abel, "but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell". Feeling humiliation course through him, Cain's anger grew at with injustice. The Morning Star glowed brightly. Denied the presence of God, Cain looked upon Abel, and saw not a brother of his flesh, but one who had taken the favour of the Lord in place of him. Then it was that Cain spake with his brother, and it came to pass that together they walked in his long tamed fields. Brighter still glowed the Morning Star. The fire of injustice burned in the veins of Cain, and, seizing a bough from his own tree, the first born of Adam struck Abel upon his crown, and slew him upon the face of the Earth. His bearing regaining as he panted with the exertion, Cain looked upon the broken corpse of Abel, and an ominous feeling gripped him, as it had his father when the flesh of the apple had touched his lips.

The sky darkened, and the voice of the Lord sounded unto Cain. "Where is Abel thy brother? And Cain spake, I know not: am I my brother's keeper? To him the Lord called, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground". Cain fell to his knees, for he knew that nothing could be hidden from the Most High. The judgement of God thundered across the fields of the Earth, "And now thou art cursed from the Earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; 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...". The punishment was more than Cain could bear, and he feared that any who found him would slay him now. "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".

Banished to the Land if Nod to the east of Eden, Cain set forth upon his ageless exile, unable to face his mother and father after what he had done. So was set the curse of Cain, that would linger in his descendants, that the Great Flood would one day seek to purge. Great was the lamentation of Adam and Eve when they came upon the body of Abel, their son, and sorrow too was to be found even in the eyes of his flock, who wept for their fallen master. But the trials of the first family were far from over...
         

The story of Cain and Abel can be found in the Book of Genesis, Chapter four of the Biblical Old Testament. However, much more can be found in several of the many books rejected from the original Bible, a collection of scripts known as the Apocrypha. Cain's treachery can be found in the following excerpts:


United Kingdom

The Apocrypha
The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, Vol. 14 of 14: With an Historical Survey and Descriptions (Classic Reprint)
(Containing many books rejected from the Bible more than a thousand years ago, adding enormously to the stories of Genesis)

United States

The Apocrypha
The Lives Of Adam And Eve From The Old Testament Apocrypha
(Containing many books rejected from the Bible more than a thousand years ago, adding enormously to the stories of Genesis)

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