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Cain and Abel - why did Cain kill Abel?
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Cain and Abel

Florence baptistry
Cain kills Abel (in the background).
Baptistery at Florence, Italy

According to the Book of Genesis in the Bible, after Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, they began to have children. The first one they named Cain, and the second they named Abel. When these two children grew up, Cain became a farmer and Abel became a shepherd (he took care of sheep).

Wheatfield
Sheep
They both offered sacrifices to God: Cain sacrificed some of his wheat, and Abel sacrificed one of his sheep. But God liked Abel's sacrifice better.
Cain was very angry, and he killed his brother Abel. So God was angry with Cain, and made him go away and live in a country far away. And Adam and Eve had a third son, Seth.

This story shows a memory of the beginnings of farming and sheep-raising, which would have been around 10,000 BC. It also shows one of the oldest themes of West Asia, which still continues today: the conflict between the settled farmer and the wandering shepherd, where each considers the other to be bad, and believes that God is on his side.


This is the Simpsons' version of the story of Cain and Abel. It's a little on the gory side, so if you don't want to see cartoon violence, don't click here:


To buy an excellent Child's Bible, click on the picture (this is the one I learned from, and the one I give my own kids):


cover

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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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