Cain and Abel - A Reimagining

There were once two brothers. They were the first two children of the first two humans on the planet. The older boy’s name was Cain and the younger’s was Abel. Like any two brothers they were competitors. They were the only two children in the world, yet they were rivals. If Cain picked his mother a flower, Abel would bring a kitten for her to pet. They would argue about which one their mother loved best. They had the whole world to themselves but even that wasn’t big enough for them both. It seemed to Cain, that, somehow even though Abel was younger and sometimes even clueless, he always seemed to be the favorite.

Cain became a successful farmer. He could coax the flinty soil to give up grain and fruit, cotton and flax. Abel didn’t see the point in working that hard, though he usually ate the best of the dates and figs from the table himself. Abel watched the animals and learned how livestock could also produce food and clothing, all he had to do was to keep the sheep and goats fed, watered and protected; mainly he just sat and watched.

Their parents told them the stories of their creation, their idyllic beginning, and their failure. They said that God was the creator as well as the judge and that God expected to be acknowledged. Cain was quick to understand. He chose the best he knew how. Would God prefer dates or barley? Or maybe a bunch of grapes or a bowl of figs? Just to be sure, he put a little of everything he raised on a platter, garnished it with a few of the flowers he grew just for his own pleasure, and set it on a pile of stones for God.

Abel watched these goings-on. He didn’t want to be left out. He thought maybe an animal might be a good gift, maybe one of those cute lambs from his flock. After all, his mother seemed to find such delight in their scampering joy of life. But how could he give it to the God who made it in the first place? He had helped his father pick out a meaty yearling to butcher and roast, and had enjoyed the flavor himself, trying not to think about how cute lambs were. So, he picked one out, slit its throat, and started to roast it, realized that God wouldn’t need to eat like he did, so he burned it to ash and bones in the fire.

Just as their mother had done, God liked Abel’s gift better. Or maybe God liked Abel better than Cain. Either way, Cain was furious. It was unfair! He hadn’t understood the rules, but he realized that he had lost this contest. He didn’t know quite how it had happened, but he knew he had been beaten.

Abel had shown him his next move. Abel had killed and had won. Cain would kill and be vindicated. But after he had murdered his brother, he realized that he had only compounded his losses. He could not face the truth. When God confronted him with Abel’s death, Cain made an excuse, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Cain’s punishment was banishment. All he had ever really wanted was to be loved, to be accepted – by his parents, by his little brother, by his God. Be what he received was rejection and loneliness.