The story of Kayin and Hevel 1 – Intention of action and sin crouching at the doorway

Bereshith 4 shows us what can go wrong when we have no good intentions and when our heart is not pure and honest in our actions.

The 1st man and his Chavah knew each other already in the Gan Eden. The French talmudic and biblical scholar Rashi, acronym for Rabbi Shlomo ben Isaac (ca. 1040–1105), thinks the conception of Kayin occurred in the garden of Eden before his parents had sinned.

After their expulsion from Gan Eden, now seeing that he himself would not live in his body forever, he was forced to propagate the species. The standard narrative tense, va-ýda haʾadam (compare v. 25) indicates that they had children only after they were forced out.

In the 4th chapter of the book of the Beginnings we come to see that the Chavah (Mannin Eve – wife of Adam) got pregnant and was pleased with her child, knowing she only could have it because the Elohim allowed her to have it. Commemorating the fact that she had “gained” (kaniti) a child. With the help of the Adonai,“Help” is not in the Hebrew; she is saying that she gained a child “along with” or “with [the help of]” here is “from” Jehovah. This time she considers herself and her partner, partners with God.

“When He created me and my husband, He created us by Himself. But this time we are partners with Him.”

“ The human knew Havva his wife; she became pregnant and bore Kayin. She said: Kaniti/I-have-gotten a man, along with YHWH!
And she continued bearing—his brother, Hevel. Now Hevel became a shepherd of flocks, and Kayin became a worker of the ground.”
(Genesis 4:1–2 SB)

That the Chava continued bearing, there not been written that she is not first said to conceive again, supports the traditional assertion that Kayin and Hevel were twins.

Kimhi remarks:

What Eve was saying is, “I have caused there to be in the world a person who was not created as we were, and I did this along with the Lord, who put His part into the child by breathing a soul into him while he was still in my womb.” The Hebrew verb to “gain” can refer to gaining something by creating it: “creator of heaven and earth” (14:19, 22). Eve uses the Tetragrammaton alone because creation (achieved by God) was now over, and the created things would henceforth reproduce themselves by natural means. From this point on, the Holy One is sometimes referred to as God, sometimes as Lord, and rarely by both of them together. In each case, there is a reason for the choice. (See also Ibn Ezra’s comment.)

Kayin, as a worker of the ground wanted to honour his God for the things he received from the earth. Therefore he brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. Perhaps we are to infer that Hebel or Abel offered his ‘earnings for the ground’ with greater devotion (the choicest of the firstlings as opposed to the fruit of the soil). Alternately, the episode may evidence the high regard for shepherds and the pastoral life manifest, for example, in the early life of national heroes such as Joseph, Moses, and David. Like Hebel, however, all the latter — and many others chosen by God in the Tanakh (e.g., Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon) — were younger brothers. The “story of Cain and Abel” thus demonstrates a theme widespread in the Tanakh: the difference between God’s Will and human conventions, such as primogeniture. In this text, the emphasis falls, however, not on the reasons for God’s preference, but on Kayin’s fatal and culpable refusal to reconcile himself to it.

“ It was, after the passing of days, that Kayin brought, from the fruit of the ground, a gift to YHWH,
while as for Hevel, he too brought—from the firstborn of his flock, from their fat-parts. YHWH had regard for Hevel and his gift,
but for Kayin and his gift he had no regard. Kayin became exceedingly upset and his face fell.
YHWH said to Kayin: Why are you upset? Why has your face fallen?
Is it not [thus]: if you intend good, bear-it-aloft, but if you do not intend good, at the entrance is sin, a crouching-demon, toward you his lust— but you can rule over him.”
(Genesis 4:3–7 SB)

An important lesson is given here in those few verses. For the Elohim it is a matter of “intending good”. What matters is what our intentions are and how our heart feels. God always knows what is going on in our hearts.

“ But ADONAI said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have already refused him. For He does not see a man as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but ADONAI looks into the heart.””
(1 Samuel 16:7 TLV)

God having no regard for the offering of Kayin had to do with Kayin’s intentions, his thoughts which were not ‘pure’. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Almighty God, to Whom nothing can be hidden, sees into the heart. The Elohim takes pleasure in those who give Him honour with honesty, and in those who hope in His steadfast love.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword—piercing right through to a separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
No creature is hidden from Him, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
(Hebrews 4:12–13 TLV)

“ADONAI delights in those who revere Him, in those who trust in His lovingkindness.”
(Psalm 147:11 TLV)

We learn here that each individual is personally accountable for what he or she does. We learn, too, that it is up to each person to make the right choices, to do good or going one way or the other way, the wrong way.

“If you do well, it will lift. But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the doorway. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.””
(Genesis 4:7 TLV)

Doing the right or good things will make us better, going the right way and making it easier to come close to God. When not doing well, we are in fact “sinning” or going against the Will of God. When we have actions, speech and deeds against the Elohim, defying His glorious presence, we become sinners and unclean in the eyes of the Highest.

When we walk in the wrong way and do what is evil in the sight of the Bo’re, God’s anger shall burn against us. It will not be well with the ones who have no pure thoughts and those who are wicked, neither will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not fear before God.

“Even though a sinner might commit a hundred crimes and prolong his days, yet I know that it will be well for those who fear God, for those who revere Him.
But it will not go well with the wicked, and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.”
(Ecclesiastes 8:12–13 TLV)

“be sure your sin will find you out.”
(Numbers 32:23 ESV)

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Preceding

Elohim avoiding man to violate His other commandment

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Additional reading

  1. Bereshith 4:1-7 Eve’s discouragement over the curse of many children and trying to please God
  2. Cain & Abel
  3. Cain his killing, marrying and death

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Related

  1. Genesis >> Chapter 4
  2. Question 69: Cain was “very wroth” 
  3. Question 3814: birth of Adam’s sons. (Gen 4:1-2, KJV) Cain is “conceived”. Abel, she “again bare”. 
  4. Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 4:3-5
  5. Abel
  6. Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 1/260: Abel
  7. Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 2/260: Abel
  8. Don’t Put Air In That Balloon!
  9. accepted
  10. Why was Cain’s offering rejected?
  11. Sin is crouching at the door (Genesis 4:7)
  12. The Widow’s Offering

4 thoughts on “The story of Kayin and Hevel 1 – Intention of action and sin crouching at the doorway

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