The story of Cain and Abel is part of the Christian, Jewish, Islamic tradition and many other cultures. It is one of the most significant stories in the Torah, Quran and the Bible. Cain and Abel were the Adam and Eve’s children, and that makes them the ancestors of the human race. According to the mythology, Cain murdered his brother, Abel, thereby becoming the first human to kill another. The many variations of this story in different traditions suggest different symbolic interpretations. However, the primary significance is a rivalry between brothers, the first murder, and the early grave. Also, they both represent the first human birth and death. Cain was the first to be born of a woman, and Abel was the first human to die.
The First Murder
The Bible tells the story of the Cain and Abel, the first two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was the elder brother, and he became a farmer, while Abel was a shepherd. Both brothers offered sacrifices to God (Yahweh). Cain offered grain and fruit from his farm, while Abel brought animal offerings (lambs). Yahweh accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s which made the latter hurt and enraged. Due to jealousy, he murdered his brother. To punish him for this sin, Yahweh sent him away from his family and according to the bible, “he became a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth.”However, a mark was placed on his head to protect him. Cain later dwelt in the land of Nod, gave birth to Enoch and founded a city.
The early Christians believed that Cain had a yellowish beard, and this color of beard was used by artists to identify traitors and murderers. Abel, on the other hand, was often compared to Jesus, due to his godliness and as an innocent victim. Different interpretations regard Cain as the creator of evil, greed, and violence.
The First Grave
Although not mentioned in the Bible, the fact that God could not find the body of Abel has led to speculations that Abel was buried or hidden. This event at this moment marks the first burial since nobody else had ever died in the Genesis account. According to the Talmud, legend, Adam and Eve made a hollow place and moved the corpse into it, just like they saw a raven did when its young one fell from a tree and died. Then they covered the hole with earth; this was the first human grave. According to the Book of Adam and Eve in the Coptic book, Abel’s body was placed in the Cave of Treasures, where Adam and Eve and their descendants prayed. However, the Quranic version states that Cain buried Abel himself. This was because God commanded him to do so after he saw a raven scratching the ground. Then God created a law against murder.
The dominant symbol of this story in world mythology is the conflict between brothers. Besides, it further reiterates the general belief that there will always be a variance between good and evil In Islamic tradition, the brothers are called Kabil (Cain) and Habil (Abel). In the Persian mythology, they were the gods Ahura and Ahriman.
Also, Cain and Abel have been used since time immemorial to reflect the old conflict between the traditional nomadic life of the Israelites (Abel) and the settled farmers (Cain). Other views imply that the story symbolizes the need for self-control and the consequence of jealousy and competition. Both brothers can also represent different social positions and personality types. While Abel is the younger, a herdsman, faithful, spiritual brother, Cain was the firstborn, farmer, wicked, and an evil son.