Following up on last week’s post about the slaying of Abel by Cain in an act of sibling rivalry retribution, we consider whether this was the first killing that occurred (post fall/Eden). And of course, I stirred the waters up last week by suggesting that many other slayings may have possibly occurred before this – which is problematic for some believers in that I am possibly treading on the toes of some enshrined thinking about God and Creation.
The first one regards the idea that, Adam and Eve were the only two people on earth.
Hence, when Cain slays Abel, population of earth goes down from 4 to 3 – that is, Adam, Eve and Cain. However, banished to the land of Nod, Cain and his wife….WHAT???? Where did she come from? Moreover, who were her parents and how did she meet Cain? I’m sure there’s a genealogical list somewhere that will help us to understand this anomaly but basically – if it’s true that Adam and Eve had neighbours who were giving birth to sons and daughters, then the idea that Adam and Eve were parents of all is not feasible – for no other reason as to the feasibility of the gene pool created by such an event.
The second one regards the nature of murder in a newly created world.
Of course, this idea that there may have been a multitude of families with grown up children suggests that (like Adam and Eve’s children) other families might have suffered the same immature response in their children who found themselves unable to process disappointment and manage pride. Perhaps Cain’s Wife (let’s call her ‘Lileth’) had a brother (Tim) who experienced disappointment and killed someone a few months before Cain killed Abel. Maybe having realised that he’d blown it with his family or had now drawn the ire of another family that wanted to avenge the killing, he ran away to find sanctuary in a city – yes, I know it will be a surprise for many that a city might be built with so few people yet we are only a hop, skip and a jump away from the coming together of different people groups to build the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). And of course… the idea that in the years that follow…as more and more people get murdered or slain, that some cities will be singled out to be ‘cities of refuge’ where a criminal can run to and find sanctuary from relatives or neighbours who want him dead.
And the last and less referenced one, the saga of the Neanderthal
Our current understanding of history is that humans and Neanderthals lived side by side for a long time. While the coexistence of each at this time was relatively assured, it seems that human’s ability to work, think, organise themselves and cooperate with one another gave them an advantage over Neanderthals who were unable to match this dynamism. Moreover, they were less able to defend themselves against humans who were better equipped and organised with the result that they were hunted or displaced from fertile areas and in the centuries that followed, eventually died off and became extinct.
Which of course, brings us back to the question of last week – was Abel the first person slain? Possibly though highly unlikely as there were many families on the fertile plain with equally rambunctious adult children with hot heads and short fuses. While Genesis narrative suggests that Cain brought violence into the world, there is no reason to doubt that the violence (or lack of compassion) visited on the Neanderthal population is any different from that which others suffered. However, the more socially aware might question whether the commission placed on Adam and Eve – and all who follow after them – to care for everything in the Garden was fulfilled if Neanderthals were removed in the process.
Til next time…..