One of the greatest wrongs that can be done is to punish someone without cause. This type of action is unwarranted and uncalled for because there is no basis for engaging in such an action. However, this is exactly what happened with Cain, the first born son of Adam and Eve. How was he supposed to know how to properly perform a sacrifice to God? No precedent was established and there was no instruction given on the proper way to perform this ritual. This was the first time that it was ever done. How was Cain supposed to know? It isn’t right to punish someone for their ignorance where such ignorance was through no fault of their own. But that is what happened to Cain.
The rationale behind punishing Cain was because he failed to sacrifice the best of his crop before God. But all that occurred in regards to instruction was for Cain to bring a part of his crop whereas Abel was to bring a part of his flock to the altar, nothing more. This was the first time this ritual was ever performed, so how were they to know what the proper etiquette was when engaging in such a situation? The individuals engaging in the ritual need to receive proper instruction on how to conduct themselves in such a matter. Otherwise, the ritual being performed would not be done properly and it would not satisfy the requirements that are expected of it. And if such a matter were to occur, it’s the fault of the teacher, not the student, for whatever failings are to occur.
That is what happened with Cain. He was punished for not knowing how to perform the ritual sacrifice properly. It was not his fault for receiving inadequate instructions on the proper way to conduct the ritual. And the fallout to come due to the actions of Cain also lie at the feet of those who failed to teach him. But the reason why such a woeful lack of instruction was given was to set him up in order for him to take a fall. And why? Because a moral lesson needed to be taught and he was the sacrificial lamb so that others might benefit. So Cain was thrust into this situation and was made into a villain for simply being a victim.
Cain was a simple farmer trying to tend his crops and his brother Abel a shepherd boy when they were called forth to perform this sacrifice. Called forth to provide a part of what they were assigned to do, Cain brought his crops and made his sacrifice. From there, Abel brought fourth his flock and made his sacrifice. Once completed, God gave favor to Abel but not to Cain. When asked about this matter, it was stated that Abel was rewarded because he sacrificed the best of his animals before God whereas Cain did not present the best of his crop.
As natural as rain falling from the sky, Cain became both confused and angered by this response. Such a reaction is to be expected in this matter for Cain is a human being. Any other reaction to such a situation would indicate that Cain would have an underlying mental or emotional problem. He was wronged and punished unjustly, so it was natural for Cain to become angry and jealous over this matter for he was well within his rights to do so. He was forced to fail through no fault of his own. And he was forced to witness the fact that his younger brother was chosen as a favored child of God.
After garnering his emotions, Cain thought the situation through. And being no fool, Cain learned his lesson. God wants sacrifices of the best that one has to offer, and what is more valuable than family? So with his second sacrifice, Cain will offer the best that he can provide, and with how valuable this second sacrifice will be, he’ll hope that it will make up for his previous shortcoming in the previous sacrifice. But once again, no one instructed him in any form of lesson. He had to learn on his own. But with this lesson, he had to learn the moral repercussions of killing another human being. Once again, no precedent or instruction was provided on this matter. So with his tools, Cain provided the best thing he had available to sacrifice and presented the body of his brother upon the Alter of God, hoping that God will look upon him with favor. Poor Cain.
(c) 2010 Bradley P. Thomas