Author Topic: YHWH liked Cain's actions  (Read 367 times)

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Offline One Above All

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YHWH liked Cain's actions
« on: December 31, 2016, 05:14:43 AM »
Let's skip over the boring bit that everyone knows (in the fable, Abel was YHWH's favorite and Cain murdered him out of jealousy) and focus on the bit nobody ever talks about. YHWH gave Cain a mark that would show to everyone that he had murdered his brother. But was this mark intended to be a punishment for him? NOPE. It was a reward, as clearly indicated here:
Quote from: Genesis 4:15
But the LORD said to him, "Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.
I mean, yeah, the idea was so that he'd become a "wanderer on the earth (sic)"[1] (oh dear me, the horror; it's not like YHWH had already cursed Adam and Eve and all their descendants[2] with the exact same thing), but YHWH straight-up threatens to punish anyone who dares lay a finger on Cain sevenfold (I'm guessing that's the meaning, or "the LORD" simply forgot that death is a one-off and can't be avenged seven times).
Oh, and his punishment? Yeah, didn't take. He simply moved "east of Eden" and stayed there with his family.[3]

Discuss.
 1. Genesis 4:12 - "When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth."
 2. For those of you unaware of this little factoid, in the story, Cain and Abel are Adam and Eve's descendants, so they were already cursed.
 3. Genesis 4:16 - "So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden."
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Offline CrystalDragon

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2016, 07:59:05 AM »
When I head the "punishing sevenfold" part, I always assumed it meant that anyone who kills Cain would suffer a punishment seven times as painful as what killed Cain.

Another C+A point I find disturbing is that Cain gathered fruit, Abel killed sheep for a sacrifice, and Abel was the favored one.

And the point in your post confuses me too, it doesn't seem like much of a punishment for killing his brother.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 08:04:38 AM by CrystalDragon »
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Offline One Above All

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2016, 08:10:06 AM »
When I head the "punishing sevenfold" part, I always assumed it meant that anyone who kills Cain would suffer a punishment seven times as painful as what killed Cain.
Could be. The book isn't clear on anything.

Another C+A point I find disturbing is that Cain gathered fruit, Abel performed a violent blood sacrifice, and Abel was the favored one.
At least it's consistent. YHWH is a bloodthirsty, war-loving god.
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Offline jetson

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2016, 10:27:53 AM »
From a mythology perspective, it's par for the course. Mythology grants the creator of the story plenty of room for invention. I've come to recognize that the Bible in its entirety is one of the worst narratives from start to finish ever compiled. It is beyond disjointed and nonsensical if taken as a complete story, but we must stand in awe of it because it is talking about the creator of the universe. For that matter, the story is not even complete!

Cain and Abel marks the beginning of the poorly thought out story and narrative that we are supposed to accept wholesale as non-fiction. I mean, they were the first born of Adam and Eve, and yet they married (who, their own sisters?). We are told to believe that it is understood that the women were available as humans procreated from Adam and Eve...sigh.

Maybe this story is the beginning of the jealousy meme that has been with us for so long in story land? Either way, I struggle to understand how any modern human with a 5th grade education can accept this story any more than the story of Santa.

Offline Jag

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2016, 10:55:33 AM »
It makes no sense whatsoever. The "punishment" results in Cain leaving Eden to dwell in the land of Nod (who the heck are the people of Nod, and where did they come from?)[1] where he marries a local woman (or so it seems in the disjointed narrative) and founds a city and a dynasty.

Where do I sign up for that "curse"? Do I have to kill one of my brothers in a fit of jealous rage?

It's a seriously f'ed up story, once you read what it actually says.
 1. and why will no theist ever offer a reasonable explanation to that question that doesn't involve inputting a bunch of stuff the narrative DOES NOT SAY?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 10:59:13 AM by Jag »
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Offline One Above All

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2016, 10:59:45 AM »
It makes no sense whatsoever. The "punishment" results in Cain leaving Eden to dwell in the land of Nod (who the heck are the people of Nod, and where did they come from?) where he marries a local woman (or so it seems in the disjointed narrative) and founds a city and a dynasty.

I didn't even get that far. I think the "If you harm this guy I'll punish you sevenfold" bit shows who YHWH actually favored: the one who wanted its "love" so badly he was willing to sacrifice his own brother to get it.
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Offline Jag

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2016, 11:09:47 AM »
I think the "If you harm this guy I'll punish you sevenfold" bit shows who YHWH actually favored: the one who wanted its "love" so badly he was willing to sacrifice his own brother to get it.
Agreed. The story is pretty disturbing if it is read as it is written, without someone providing an "appropriate" context that plays down the brutality and viciousness of the god being discussed. Sevenfold punishment for harming Cain is a pretty strong prohibition. And you raise a good question regarding why a god would make such a declaration.

From that perspective - that of reading what it says - YHWH inarguably protected Cain from being harmed by anyone else. And given the outcome, his banishment looks exactly like a reward.
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Offline jetson

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2016, 12:00:31 PM »
I think the "If you harm this guy I'll punish you sevenfold" bit shows who YHWH actually favored: the one who wanted its "love" so badly he was willing to sacrifice his own brother to get it.
Agreed. The story is pretty disturbing if it is read as it is written, without someone providing an "appropriate" context that plays down the brutality and viciousness of the god being discussed. Sevenfold punishment for harming Cain is a pretty strong prohibition. And you raise a good question regarding why a god would make such a declaration.

From that perspective - that of reading what it says - YHWH inarguably protected Cain from being harmed by anyone else. And given the outcome, his banishment looks exactly like a reward.

It's the same with the story of the bears that killed the kids. Apparently there is nothing wrong with divinely inspired bear maulings as long as the victims are "thugs" according to an evangelical Christian I spoke with. Yes, he went and did some "research" and came to the conclusion that the "kids" that were mocking Elisha were actually teenaged thugs. Go figure.

I won't let any Christian get away with that kind of dishonesty. I will tell them to own the actions and commands of the god they worship, or STFU about it. Making excuses like that really diminishes the wrath of the almighty murderer of the universe. Puny god.

Offline Timo

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2016, 01:34:28 PM »
It makes no sense whatsoever. The "punishment" results in Cain leaving Eden to dwell in the land of Nod (who the heck are the people of Nod, and where did they come from?)[1] where he marries a local woman (or so it seems in the disjointed narrative) and founds a city and a dynasty.

Where do I sign up for that "curse"? Do I have to kill one of my brothers in a fit of jealous rage?

It's a seriously f'ed up story, once you read what it actually says.
 1. and why will no theist ever offer a reasonable explanation to that question that doesn't involve inputting a bunch of stuff the narrative DOES NOT SAY?

Yeah, it's because Genesis, and the whole of the Torah is basically a patchwork. There's a lot of scholarship on just how it might have been put together. But I think what pretty much everyone but apologists argue for is the idea is that whoever compiled this all had a bunch of material, all of which they thought was holy, but they strung it together instead of putting it all side by side like say the Gospels--those books themselves are ultimately patchworks, as well, but what I mean is that the early Christians didn't compile them all into a single Gospel as the I guess proto Catholic church was coming together. (Although if you look at the more modern tellings of the Nativity, that's definitely what's going on.)

But yeah, the Cain story doesn't make sense as a narrative here for the same reason the descriptions of his descendants don't make sense. They're described as people who do this or that "to this day," and shortly after God destroys everyone but Noah's immediate family in the flood.
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Offline Nick

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2016, 02:09:23 PM »
Let's skip over the boring bit that everyone knows (in the fable, Abel was YHWH's favorite and Cain murdered him out of jealousy) and focus on the bit nobody ever talks about. YHWH gave Cain a mark that would show to everyone that he had murdered his brother. But was this mark intended to be a punishment for him? NOPE. It was a reward, as clearly indicated here:
Quote from: Genesis 4:15
But the LORD said to him, "Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.
I mean, yeah, the idea was so that he'd become a "wanderer on the earth (sic)"[1] (oh dear me, the horror; it's not like YHWH had already cursed Adam and Eve and all their descendants[2] with the exact same thing), but YHWH straight-up threatens to punish anyone who dares lay a finger on Cain sevenfold (I'm guessing that's the meaning, or "the LORD" simply forgot that death is a one-off and can't be avenged seven times).
Oh, and his punishment? Yeah, didn't take. He simply moved "east of Eden" and stayed there with his family.[3]

Discuss.
 1. Genesis 4:12 - "When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth."
 2. For those of you unaware of this little factoid, in the story, Cain and Abel are Adam and Eve's descendants, so they were already cursed.
 3. Genesis 4:16 - "So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden."
If Adam and Eve were the 1st humans and Cain an Able their sons...who was there to warn about putting a hand on Cain?
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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2016, 02:37:52 PM »
Cain's dynasty was to fuck a lot and create people that would see his mark.

Soooo, not only did A&E screw up, the next two humans did as well?
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2. What if there is a rock in the middle of a road, a blind person is speeding towards it, ...they say that they can't see it.   Would you recommend him to keep speeding?

Offline Nick

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2017, 11:26:08 AM »
God needs to start reading the instructions when He puts creation stuff together.
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Offline penfold

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2017, 02:36:10 AM »
I think one point of context worth remembering is that this story was most likely written during the Babylonian exile (i.e. during a period when the Hebrew speaking peoples were enslaved by the great state of Babylon).

This leave open two less obvious possibilities which may explain the peculiar features of the Cain and Able narrative.

First we have to consider the possibility that the whole story is 'stolen' from the Babylonian culture and then subtly altered to fit with the Hebrew speaking people's own theology. We have a clear example of exactly this happening with the flood narrative which is a retelling of the far older Babylonian myth of Utnapishtim as told in the epic of Gilgamesh. It is, then, possible that the story of Cain and Abel is also originally a Babylonian story (now lost), if so the fact Cain is not punished might make good sense because the Babylonians did not have a single God with a single perspective, rather their gods competed and had very human motives (i.e. there is no requirement they act 'justly'). This could explain the apparent tension in the Genesis text[1].

A second possibility, one that appeals to me, is that this story is all about resentment. We are only given one key difference between Cain and Able and this is the former is a farmer and the latter a herdsman. By the time Genesis was being written the Hebrew speaking peoples identified themselves as herdsmen and this was a major difference between them and the Babylonians whose empire was based on agriculture.

Given this the purpose of this story might be to imply that the Babylonians were 'of' Cain while the Hebrew speaking peoples were 'of' Abel; i.e. that God was on the side of the Hebrews not the Babylonians.[2] However as things stood during the exile the Babylonians held all the power, why did God not smite them and free his people? Perhaps it is this ambiguity (the fact that the enemies of the Hebrew Peoples were not being obviously punished by God) that is reflected in Cain's ambiguous punishment.

 1. Similar tensions arise in the Genesis retelling of the flood where God's motives are really muddled, ranging without clear reason between apocalyptic anger, forgetfulness, universal forgiveness etc. A muddle that is resolved once it is appreciated that the single deity of the Genesis version is having to stand in for the multiple deities of the Gilgamesh version.
 2. How literally this 'lineage' would be taken is tricky to know, after all there is a substantial genetic bottle-neck in the story of the flood, but (a) this may have been written separately from the flood and only complied together later and (b) the story clearly contains many metaphorical elements so this could be seen as one too.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 02:39:47 AM by penfold »
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Offline One Above All

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2017, 03:09:18 AM »
I think one point of context worth remembering is that this story was most likely written during the Babylonian exile (i.e. during a period when the Hebrew speaking peoples were enslaved by the great state of Babylon).

This leave open two less obvious possibilities which may explain the peculiar features of the Cain and Able narrative.

First we have to consider the possibility that the whole story is 'stolen' from the Babylonian culture and then subtly altered to fit with the Hebrew speaking people's own theology. We have a clear example of exactly this happening with the flood narrative which is a retelling of the far older Babylonian myth of Utnapishtim as told in the epic of Gilgamesh. It is, then, possible that the story of Cain and Abel is also originally a Babylonian story (now lost), if so the fact Cain is not punished might make good sense because the Babylonians did not have a single God with a single perspective, rather their gods competed and had very human motives (i.e. there is no requirement they act 'justly'). This could explain the apparent tension in the Genesis text[1].

A second possibility, one that appeals to me, is that this story is all about resentment. We are only given one key difference between Cain and Able and this is the former is a farmer and the latter a herdsman. By the time Genesis was being written the Hebrew speaking peoples identified themselves as herdsmen and this was a major difference between them and the Babylonians whose empire was based on agriculture.

Given this the purpose of this story might be to imply that the Babylonians were 'of' Cain while the Hebrew speaking peoples were 'of' Abel; i.e. that God was on the side of the Hebrews not the Babylonians.[2] However as things stood during the exile the Babylonians held all the power, why did God not smite them and free his people? Perhaps it is this ambiguity (the fact that the enemies of the Hebrew Peoples were not being obviously punished by God) that is reflected in Cain's ambiguous punishment.
 1. Similar tensions arise in the Genesis retelling of the flood where God's motives are really muddled, ranging without clear reason between apocalyptic anger, forgetfulness, universal forgiveness etc. A muddle that is resolved once it is appreciated that the single deity of the Genesis version is having to stand in for the multiple deities of the Gilgamesh version.
 2. How literally this 'lineage' would be taken is tricky to know, after all there is a substantial genetic bottle-neck in the story of the flood, but (a) this may have been written separately from the flood and only complied together later and (b) the story clearly contains many metaphorical elements so this could be seen as one too.

Since it clearly wasn't obvious enough, we're taking the Bible at its word. This isn't about a historical analysis of the fable.
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Offline penfold

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2017, 04:07:00 AM »
Since it clearly wasn't obvious enough, we're taking the Bible at its word. This isn't about a historical analysis of the fable.

!?! I'm sorry the word 'Discuss' in your OP led me to think you wanted a discussion.

But if all you want to do is make cheap fun then far be it from me to stop you.

Clearly not the place for me.
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Offline One Above All

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2017, 06:04:57 AM »
Since it clearly wasn't obvious enough, we're taking the Bible at its word. This isn't about a historical analysis of the fable.

!?! I'm sorry the word 'Discuss' in your OP led me to think you wanted a discussion.

But if all you want to do is make cheap fun then far be it from me to stop you.

Clearly not the place for me.

The discussion is about the events as described in the fable, under the assumption that they're factually true. It's not about the historical context of the fable, its origin, etc., all of which presume it to be false. We're assuming the Bible is true as written and discussing whether the events in it match the claims. You were analyzing the story from a historical perspective, which, while useful, isn't the purpose of this thread.

Is that clear enough?
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Offline kindred

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2017, 08:43:01 AM »
You can argue that the mark of Cain is a good example of proper policing. From a practical standpoint, law enforcement is tasked not with punishing criminals but protecting them. A functioning society can't give people what they deserve. A justice system is based on facilitating peace and not enacting justice. Cain might've deserved to die but him being killed by the mob was not conducive to overall peace no matter how well deserved.

Give people what they deserve and they stay stagnant or regress. Give people more than they deserve and they improve. (implication, god gave Cain more than he deserved not for his sake but to create an atmosphere conducive to continuing peace and prosperity)
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Offline One Above All

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2017, 09:00:16 AM »
You can argue that the mark of Cain is a good example of proper policing. From a practical standpoint, law enforcement is tasked not with punishing criminals but protecting them. A functioning society can't give people what they deserve. A justice system is based on facilitating peace and not enacting justice. Cain might've deserved to die but him being killed by the mob was not conducive to overall peace no matter how well deserved.

Give people what they deserve and they stay stagnant or regress. Give people more than they deserve and they improve. (implication, god gave Cain more than he deserved not for his sake but to create an atmosphere conducive to continuing peace and prosperity)

Interesting argument, but it doesn't change the fact that YHWY (supposedly) intended for it to be a punishment.
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: YHWH liked Cain's actions
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2017, 10:55:38 AM »
The book Ishmael takes Penfold's stance on it. Good book by the way. Says it was used to represent a transition from one way of life to the other if I remember correctly.