Episode 23 – Cain and Abel: The Hostile Brothers

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Bible Series V: Cain and Abel: The Hostile Brothers

The account of Cain and Abel is remarkable for its unique combination of brevity and depth. In a few short sentences, it outlines two diametrically opposed modes of being — both responses to the emergence of self-consciousness and the knowledge of good and evil detailed in story of Adam and Eve.

Cain’s mode of being — resentful, arrogant and murderous — arises because his sacrifices are rejected by God. This means that his attempts to give up something valuable in the present to ensure prosperity in the future are insufficient. He fails, in consequence, to thrive, as he believes he should, and becomes bitter, resentful and murderous.

Abel’s mode of being is characterized, by contrast, by proper sacrifice — by the establishment of balance between present action and future benefit. This ensures his personal and social success, accruing over time. Unfortunately, it also makes him the target of Cain’s malevolence.

This great short story is relevant personally, on the level of the family, and politically, all with equal force, all simultaneously.



  • sharon

    For me the subject of the Cain and Abel story isn’t sacrifice. Sacrifice is delt with in the story of Abraham and his son.
    The story here is about free will, the shadow, and the need to recognize and control it.
    It is about the powerful emotion of jealosy and the absolute need to control it.
    In this story there is every reason for Cain to be jealous of Abel, God Himself is unfair to him. BUT, as god himself tells him: “sin is at your doorstep, and your desire is to it (sin) and you should rule over it”. (the hebrew meaning is to rule over). The powerful desire to sin is recognised (the shadow), and the exsistance of free will to control it is also recgnised, the responsibility of man to his actions is recognised.
    Even in the abscence of police and the rule of law, it is forbidden to kill.
    For me this is the essence of this story.

  • William Krebs

    Absolutely wonderful series. I have a question. There seems to be a trend linking intelligence with morality. Do you think an AI robot would be moral, as you understand morality, if it was programming itself? Wouldn’t an intelligent robot get away with as much as it could by weighing a cost/benefit formula?

  • Jack Tyler

    Wheres the download option?

  • Kevin

    Hello, The soundcloud upload, doesn’t have a download button. Thank you for any help.