Video: The Story of Cain and Abel

Today’s question: “I was wondering if you would comment on the Cain and Abel story and possibly develop some of the symbols, foreshadowings, etc. It is a rich passage that I would love to get your take on, especially since it is the first thing we are told after the fall of Adam and Eve.”

Peter Leithart has an interesting recent post on parallels between Genesis 3 and 4 here.

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About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Bible, Genesis, Hermeneutics, OT, OT Theology, Podcasts, Questions and Answers, Theological, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Video: The Story of Cain and Abel

  1. Mike Ford says:

    Abel “foreshadowed” the 2nd born Man (born of the Spirit) and Cain “foreshadowed” the 1st born (born of the Flesh) Man. Or, put another way, Cain represents those born from Adam (carnal headship), and Abel represents those born from Jesus (spirit headship).

    The same pattern is seen in Ishmael/Isaac, Esau/Jacob, Manasseh/Ephraim and Saul/David. This “typology” foreshadows the supremacy of Christ (Spirit) over Adam (Flesh).

  2. Mike Ford says:

    One more observation elaborating on the “typology” above.

    Cain killing Abel foreshadows the Jews (carnal) crucifying Christ (Spirit) and Abel’s blood on the ground foreshadows Christ’s blood shed for us. Seth is a “type” of Christ resurrected after being crucified.

    At least, that’s what I think!

  3. galleddrim says:

    Dr Roberts, thanks for this! Just one question. On the nature of the offerings, have you read JBJ’s thoughts on the timing of the giving? It seems that it might have been done at the end of the harvest (thus no firstfruits). Also, I think there’s something to what you said about the firstborn secondborn dynamic. Following the idea that this may be a public corporate gift, I’ve argued that Abel should have offered first, and then the produce offering would have been acceptable.
    Would be interested in your thoughts:

    • Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed reading your post!

      Yes, I’ve read JBJ’s treatment of this in Trees and Thorns. If his interpretation is correct, which it quite possibly is, Cain’s decision to offer his produce, yet not his firstfruits is, if anything, arguably more significant. He would have delayed the time of sacrifice, so that he already secure the best for himself, giving God only the lastfruits as a sort of insurance. I didn’t mention this in the video, but it is an interesting point.

      The lamb definitely should have been sacrificed first. And, arguably, this would mean that Abel should have sacrificed first. However, I’m less settled on this point: Cain might have been expected to obtain a lamb from his brother.

      • Hmmmm. So you think that would indicate a delay from the proper time of giving? Interesting. I guess I assumed it simply indicated that it was a festival of Ingathering (Exodus 34:22).

  4. Particularly interesting in your video were the thoughts on Lamech and Tubal-Cain. I had read the story of T-C killing Cain and then Lamech avenging him immediately on his own son. And though it made sense to me that Gen 4:23-24 hints that Lamech killed his own son (because “young man” can mean son), I always took the story of T-C’s killing of Cain as spurious. But you’ve given some legs to it here!

    One interesting insight I got from Charles J. Ball

    Old Babylonian
    Bal-gin, BIL.GI
    Nin ka-(si) or

    Nogma or “Naamah”

    Bao-xi, Fu Xi 伏羲
    Nü-kua-(shi) or
    Nü-wa-(shi) 女娲

    I have recently been tracking down BIL.GI / Gibil and looking at those connections.

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