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A door panel by Ghiberti showing Cain and Abel.

A door panel by Ghiberti showing Cain and Abel.

The Book of Genesis

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.

Who are Adam and Eve?
History of Judaism
West Asian religion
All our West Asia articles

Adam and Eve have kids

The first baby 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).

Wheat farming
History of sheep

Cain and Abel have a fight

Cain strangles Abel after they offer sacrifices, and then God makes Cain go away – from Salerno Cathedral in Italy, about 1084 AD

Cain and Abel 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.

What is a sacrifice?
Herders and farmers

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. All the Jews are supposed to be descended from Seth.

Why did people tell this story?

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.

More about Adam and Eve

Go on to Noah and the Flood

Bibliography and further reading about the history of Judaism:



Noah’s Ark
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