Cain and Abel - why did Cain kill Abel?

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).

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):


Noah's Ark
Main Judaism page
Main religion page



Who runs

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.

More about Professor Carr's work on the Portland State University website

Help support! is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

Today's special find from Amazon:

This is a great kit: mold your own human skeleton, put it together, attach the magnets and stick it to your fridge! Learn what's inside your body.

The Story of began in 1995 as a student project funded by Portland State University. For the last fifteen years, (formerly "History for Kids") has been entirely independent of the University, using ads to keep the service free. now has about 3000 articles, all researched and written inhouse by university professors; we try to add a new article every day. About 30,000 people a day visit (that's about a million people a month!), from every country in the world. Our many awards include the Encyclopedia Britannica's Best of Web 2009.

Science Topics and Donations Biology Physics Weather Geology Mathematics Chemistry Astronomy Donations

Keep in touch with!

Send us an email now and we'll add you to our mailing list - new ideas and projects, announcements of new archaeological and scientific discoveries, seasonal offers and project ideas, and special gifts.

Sign up for' email newsletter

October's history and science ideas for you to take home:

Thanks for visiting! Check out today's current events post