Re: Digest 1249
Sep 24, 1997 10:40 AM
by Bart Lidofsky
Dr. A.M.Bain wrote:
> I never got it either. I once looked up the hebrew meanings of the
> words, and logic suggested that Abel would have killed Cain .....
The misunderstanding is possibly because the 5 Books of Moses do not
stand alone. At least according to Jewish tradition, there was an oral
law handed down along with the written law. Now, it is obvious that
there were changes in both over the centuries, almost certainly more so
with the oral law, which was finally transcribed during the time of the
Babylonian Empire into the books known as the Talmud.
In any case, in the Talmud, it explains that Abel gave the best of his
flock, while Cain gave essentially leftover garbage. More precisely,
Abel gave because he wanted to give, while Cain gave reluctantly, which
is why Abel's offering was accepted, and Cain's was not (sort of, "If
you don't want to give me a gift, then I won't take it"). Cain's anger
was more at himself, for screwing up, but Abel was a present symbol of
that screw-up. Hence, he directed his anger at Abel.
If one takes Genesis as an explanation of humanity in symbolic form,
and God as a symbol of Unity, the story of Cain and Abel is a
demonstration of the importance of intent, and how even proper actions
with the improper intent can bring about disaster.
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