Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner


Feb 2022


BLOODSHED-1/Cain and Abel




Having studied IDOLATRY from Genesis Chapter One

And ADULTERY Vs MARRIAGE from the story of Eden

We are about to study BLOODSHED From Cain and Abel



The story begins with Adam and Eve coming down from Eden

to live on real Earth. What was their spiritual level?



In Eden they had already learned

1: Truth from Lie – values associated with Din, Justice, ELKM

2: Good from Evil – values associated with Hessed, Grace, Mercy, YHVH

3: All aspects of sin

4: They were given the “Six Commandments of Adam”

5: They learned to be ashamed of sin

6 The learned the value of repentance and G-d’s Forgiveness

7: They took with them a brunch of the Tree of Life




Historical considerations




Where did they show up on Earth?

Tradition says that they appeared first on Mt Moriah,

on the site where the future Altar would stand

where the priests would chant during the offering:


This place is where Adam was created

And this is where Adam’s of atonement” (Talmud)


Back in Eden, Adam and Eve, could violate only

IDOLATRY and ADULTERY, which they did,

Here on Earth, the other four Commandments became

also relevant to their life.  Foremost of them

The Third Commandment: BLOODSHED







Let’s read the text.

After the story of Eden, the verses say:




Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived
and she bore Cain, and she said
I’ve bought a Man with YHVH

“And she again bore his brother, Abel
“And Abel was a keeper of the sheep, 

while Cain worked the ground” (Genesis 4:1-2)



When did Adam and Eve show up on Mt Moriah?

If you count the world’s history from today backwards,

You’d arrive at Cain and Abel, living 5882 years ago.

We tend to call that number “the age of CREATION”

Although it does not include the Six Days of Chapter One.



The length of the Six Days of CREATION was certainly much longer

13.8 B years according to Science, or 14 B years according to Kabbalah.

As we’ve seen, Moses’ account does match perfectly well

the Scientific narrative of CREATION



Thus, since the average length of a Day of CREATION  was  2.1 B years,

Our Day, the Sixth Day, has already been around quite a long time.

Therefore, G-d’s decision to create Adam, as told by Moses,

took place at the Middle of the Day, quite long time ago,

several million human years ago.



And when ELKM said, at that time, “Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image

ELKM had at that point an “image and form of an ideal Adam”  on His Mind,

as Rashi says, a Very Good Adam, that Adam should aspire to become in history.

And at that point ELKM  started this  historical process to bring Adam on Earth.


Knowing now the history of our Glob, we can say that

this long historical process has brought on Earth many humanoids,

like Homo Erectus and Homo Neanderthal and finally Homo Sapience,

who first appeared according to Science   around 400.000 years ago




We can say, that all these pre-historical beings, are beyond the interest of the Torah,

since they do not affect any longer our current civilization





So, let’s ask again: What is the historical truth

 of the story of Cain and Abel?


Some say that the story is just a metaphor

that depicts Man’s murderous nature.


Other scholars see the story as a remnant of the ancient struggle

between the Shepherds and the Farmers,

Cain presenting the Farmers, and Abel the Shepherds



Let’s note that the story of Cain and Abel is an introduction

to a whole segment of the Torah, from Adam to Noah’s Flood,

that starts with BLOODSHED – Cain killing Abel,

and ends up with Noah’s Flood and the Rainbow Covenant,

which spells the BLOODSHED’S Laws detail.


Hence the entire story from Cain and Abel to the Great Flood

Might be a metaphor, told by the Torah

to introduce the subject of BLOODSHED and its Laws,

Without any historical ground



 Yet we, having discovered the historical truth about Genesis Chapter One,

We may assume that the story told by the Torah about the period

between Cain and Abel to Noah’s Flood  is also historically true



Let’s note that 5880 years ago, when Cain killed Abel,

is the year 4000 B.C, around 2000 years prior to the first Egyptian pyramid.



The archeologists and historians admit, that from some unknown reason

there is a gap in our knowledge of what happened to Mankind

during that period -between year  2000 and 4000 years BC.



For instance, we do not know precisely who built the first pyramid

Or who built the Sphinx that predates the first pyramid?

We can’t explain the many findings of advance human technology

All over Earth.


And we can’t explain the story of the lost Continent, Atlantis,

and the stories about a great, destructive Flood that are told

by many cultures all over Earth.


Thus, it is conceivable that as science uncovers more information

about that missing, dark area in human history, between 2000 and 4000 BC,

We would come to understand better the Torah’s stories

and the various personalities that are shown in it


Meanwhile, we should focus on the moral message that Moses tells us

about MURDER and BLOODSHED, Sins that brought the Flood





Fascinations caused by living on Earth




The Torah describes Adam and Eve’s first experience as follows:


“And Adam knew his wife Eve,
and she conceived and bore Cain
And she said, I’ve bought a Man with YHVH

And she again bore his brother” Abel
“And Abel was a keeper of the sheep, while Cain worked the ground” (Genesis 4:1-2)



Sorrow of Labor
Let’s recall that earlier, when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden,

their verdicts were as follows:
The woman would suffer menstrual pains as well the pains and sorrows of child labor
The male, Adam, would work hard – “by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.”


In other words,
On Earth they would encounter Evil, the Angel of Death,

as the name of the Forbidden Tree implies.








 Love with Passion





Let’s read it again:

“And Adam knew Eve his wife
And she conceived and bore Cain.” (Genesis 4:1)



Adam knew his wife – PASSIONATELY, the Midrash says.

And passion would henceforth dominate the story.


The Hebrew word “knew”, comes from daat, which refers to intimate encounter

Be it sexual encounter, or any other one, such as the encounter with death.


Back in Eden their marital relation was cold, in realm of right and wrong,

Now on Earth it became passionate, in the realm of Good and Evil

And this new passion would be an important ingredient in

committing murder and BLOODSHED






 Fascination with Bloodshed






With the new life on Earth, they were also fascinated by


Back in Eden, living under the Tree of Life, there was no death

But here on Earth, taking life away became a powerful fascination



You can see that fascination with BLOODSHED and Death

in the artistic inscriptions that Cave Man left on his  cave walls.

These inscriptions express deep fascination with scenes of

hunting and the fierce fight for life.

You can still see Mankind’s Fascination with Death even today,

in the way that warriors decorate themselves and their weapons

or in the way we are fascinated by action movies
and in the way young men flock to join the evil ISIS.





Fascination with Ownership




In addition to the above, the life on Earth caused them

to be fascinated with Ownership

Back in Eden no one owned anything,

Since ownership has a meaning when there are several entities

Who draw a line of ownership between them.


And when Adam and Eve live in Eden alone,

There was no meaning to ownership


So, ownership became relevant to their life

Immediately along with the birth of another human being

Whose name is Cain



Right of Ownership




As they moved from Eden to Earth, G-d  told Adam that

he would earn his livelihood by the sweat of his brow,

He would acquire ownership on things he produces


Eve too was punished by hard child labor,

but this would allow her to own her child she produces


In fact, here G-d sanctioned private ownership

Without which there is no meaning of THEFT




She named him Cain

We can see Eve’s fascination with ownership

In the name Eve gave to her firstborn son

As it is said



“And she conceived and bore Cain, for she said,

I have purchased (acquired) a Man with YHVH!” (Genesis 4:1)


The name Cain is rooted in the Hebrew verb Cano, to purchase



Here Eve, like all new mothers, expresses her fascinations

and expectations, in the name she gave her firstborn son

saying I have purchased a man, her child. This child is mine.




 Ownership incites Jealousy
Ownership does promotes jealousy

For if something is mine, it is not yours.

If she is my mother, she is not yours
If this is my G-d, He is not yours,

a necessary prelude for murder!





Fascination with YHVH




Y-H-V-H is mine!
In her childbirth, Eve acquired not only a son

but also an awareness of YHVH.  As it says:
I have purchased (acquired) a Man with YHVH!” (Genesis 4:1)



Let’s note that here, in Eve’s words, the name YHVH appears

the first time ever, alone in the text, with full Glory

(Rabbi  Bachye)


Prior to that point, YHVH appeared in the open

Only in the story of Eden,  and only side by side with ELKM

Before that, YHVH appears at the end of Genesis Chapter One,

But only as a shy, modest acronym, that is seen only by learning



But here, after giving birth to her first child Cain,

Eve recognizes the Attributer of Mercy and Compassion

with full strength, standing alone




Why Eve and not Adam?

Eve must have had a hard and painful labor, as the CREATOR had told her.

She must have even faced the Angle of Death, Evil.

But after giving birth, as she held her first baby in her bosom,

While her face was flushed with crimson red,

and her blood flooded with gushing hormones,

Eve must have felt a surge of happiness, love, compassion and a hope

for her newborn son, as well as towards all Mankind.



At that precious moment,

She KNEW,  first hand,  what  our MOTHER IN HEAVENS, the Attribute YHVH,

feels for us!



Eve was the first human, who “knew” Y-H-V-H intimately, passionately.

Back in Eden, she could never have such feeling.

For in Eden she faced neither death nor  birth.



She therefore named her newborn son ‘Cain’

for she said: “I have acquired a man with YHVH.”

Meaning – I have acquired both – a child, and awareness of YHVH



What about her husband?

Adam must have had great sympathy for his wife,

but he could not acquire the same feeling for YHVH,

that our mother Eve felt.


Let’s noter that MERCY in Hebrew is ra-cha-mim,

from the root re-chem, a Womb.




But let’s pay attention to what Eve’s said:

“I have acquired a man with YHVH,

This child is mine, YHVH is mine

For I acquired them by my labor.


And I want my son to let all mankind share

that marvelous knowledge of YHVH




She appointed Cain

Eve said:

Cain will connect Mankind with YHVH.

Cain would serve as Mankind’s first, firstborn priest


She said,   

Cain would bring all Mankind, Men and Women,

To know YHVH intimately as I have just known Her.

 My son would lead Mankind to the future Sabbath


In sharp contrast, she gives birth to her second son, Abel

Abel, the breath who faded away



“And she, again, bore his brother, Abel.
And Abel was a keeper of sheep,
While Cain was a tiller of the ground “(Genesis 4:2)



You readily notice the vast difference in the way

Eve related to Abel birth


The verse refers to him as “Cain’s brother,”

as if this was his only merit

Unlike with Cain, Eve felt no special elation by his birth.

Abel, the passing breath
Moreover, it seems that Abel himself did not aspire

to connect Man with YHVH, to be a priest.


His name, Abel, Hevel, means in Hebrew ‘vanity,’ a passing breath.

Tradition says that this wasn’t his true name,

and that the Torah hints that he would pass away like a ‘breath,’

gone with the wind, leaving no child after him.



Abel, the modest
The name ‘Hevel’ also infers that he saw himself as a passing breath,

that he was a modest person.

Unlike his older brother Cain, he did not take himself too seriously.


Abel was not pretentious
Their different character is reflected in their perspective trades:

“And Abel was a keeper of sheep,
And Cain was a tiller of the ground.” (Genesis 4:2)



Cain, most likely, was vegetarian. He raised crops

to avoid BLOODSHED, even of animals.

After all, wasn’t he the priest of MERCY?

Abel, in contrast, was a shepherd who slaughtered sheep.

He was not pretentious, and most likely he consumed meat.



You see their difference in the way they brought

Gift offering to YHVH



Why gift offering?


“And in the process of time, it came to pass,
that Cain brought of the fruits of the ground

as a gift-offering to YHVH,

And Abel, he too, brought of the first-lings of his flock

 and of the fat parts thereof.” (Genesis 4: 4)



They brought gift offerings to YHVH,

Attempting to connect, or “purchase Man with YHVH” –

as their mother had told them to do


Where did they erect their Altars?

Tradition says: on Mount Moriah, across from Eden’s Gate,

where Adam and Eve stood first time on Earth.



We can imagine the scene.

Cain pacing up the ramp to the top of his Altar.

His head decorated with a colorful laureate,

wearing a long, white rob that covers his nakedness.


To his watching family, Can must have looked as pure as an Angel.

Proudly he paces up the ramp carrying his fruit basket on his shoulders,

his face shining in excitement. He lifts up the basket,

offering it to YHVH,  then placing it on the Altar’s fire.


His siblings, sisters and brothers, watch him with admiration.

In their mind he is their designated, beloved spiritual leader.



We can imagine the scene,

Since the Torah orders us to re-enact it every Festival of Weeks.

At the time of the Temple, every OWNER of a field in the Holy Land

had to make a pilgrimage to the Temple and offer there

a gift from the best ‘first fruits’ to the Altar, as Cain did.


The owners carried a basket with fruits on their shoulders

And, as they reached the altar, they lifted the basket up

to HaSheM, as a thanksgiving gift-offering


Tradition says that the Festival of the Weeks

falls on the annual anniversary of Abel’s murder.


In contrast to Cain’s pretentious posture,

the OWNER in Israel who brought his fruits to the Temple,

he recited a text expressing humility, thereby correcting Cain’s arrogance




What about Abel?


The verse says: ”And Abel too brought his first-lings.” 
The language is clear: Abel ALSO offered his gift,

following his illustrious brother.


Abel did not see himself a priest, or someone who’d change the world.

He simply followed the example of his elder brother.



We can imagine also Abel

Approaching the Altar, wearing no colorful laureate

and carrying no colorful flowers and fruits.

Instead, he is carrying a slaughtered lamb on his shoulders

whose blood  is still dripping on Abel’s simple clothes


Shyly, with great modesty, Abel is placing his offering on the Altar’s fire,

Saying or praying  to YHVH: ‘I am Hevel, a nothing, a passing breath.

Please YHVH, accept my humble offering…”


Whom do you think would YHVH prefer?