In the Old Testament, Abel was the brother of Cain, and the youngest son of Adam and Eve. Cain became envious of Abel, who had received God's favor over Cain, and Cain killed his brother in fury, committing the first murder of the world. The relevant passages are 4:1-17 in the Bible and 5:26-32 in the Qur'an.
During the First Tiberium War, GDI Commando Nick Parker found in the Cairo Temple a mysterious tomb. Within the tomb was a wall sculpture of a man killing another man. It is believed it is depicting the murder of Abel. It is also implied that the tomb holds the remains of Abel.
After TWI, excavations of the Cairo Temple of Nod had unearthed a wall sculpture of Cain killing Abel. It was placed within a museum for study.
Cain and Abel were the first and second sons of Adam and Eve in the history of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Their story is told in Genesis 4:1-16 and the Qur'an in 5:26-32. In all versions, Cain, a farmer, commits the first murder in history by killing his brother Abel, a shepherd, after God rejected Cain's sacrifice but accepted Abel's.
Murder and Motive
For convenience, the story can be considered in two sections — 1. murder and motive and 2. confrontation and consequences.
Religious sources of the Cain and Abel story can be found in Genesis (950 to 450 BC) in the Hebrew Bible, Sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida) of the Qur'an (early 7th century) and Pearl of Great Price (1851).
Genesis (Judaism & Christianity)Adam knew his wife Eve intimately, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, "I have had a male child with the LORD's help." Then she also gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel became a shepherd of a flock, but Cain cultivated the land. In the course of time Cain presented some of the land's produce as an offering to the LORD. But Abel also presented an offering — some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you furious? And why are you downcast? If you do right, won't you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it." Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
- – 4:1-8 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
But recite unto them with truth the tale of the two sons of Adam, how they offered each a sacrifice, and it was accepted from the one of them and it was not accepted from the other. (The one) said: I will surely kill thee. (The other) answered: Allah accept the only from those who ward off (evil). Even if thou stretch out the hand against me to kill me, I shall not stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee, Lo! I fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Lo! I would rather thou shouldst bear the punishment of the sin against me and thine own sin and become one of the owners of the fire. That is the reward of evil-doers. But (the other's) mind imposed on him the killing of his brother, so he slew him and became one of the losers. Then Allah sent a raven scratching up the ground, to show him how to hide his brother's naked corpse. He said: Woe unto me! Am I not able to be as this raven and so hide my brother's naked corpse? And he became repentant.
- – 5:27-31 (Translation by Marmaduke Pickthall)
The inherent selfishness of Cain, his jealousy, rivalry, and aggression are central to the story. The disconnection between Cain and his higher nature is so great that he fails to understand and master his lower self even in the face of God's wisdom and hospitality. The account in the Qur'an [5.27-32], similar to one given in the Hebrew Torah, also strongly implies that Cain's motivation was the rejection of his offering to God, but it is an implication and not made explicitly clear.
Though Genesis depicts Cain's motive in killing Abel as simply being one of jealousy concerning God's favoritism of Abel, this is not the view of many extra-biblical works. The Midrash and the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan both record that the real motive involved the desire of women. According to Midrashic tradition, Cain and Abel each had twin sisters, whom they were to marry. The Midrash records that Abel's promised wife was the more beautiful, and hence Cain desired to rid himself of Abel, whose presence was inconvenient. In Islamic tradition, which names Cain's twin as Aclima and Abel's twin as Jumella, Adam wished his sons to marry each other's twin. Because Cain would not consent to this arrangement Adam proposed to refer the question to God by means of a sacrifice. God rejected Cain's sacrifice, signifying His disapproval of his marriage with Aclima, and Cain slew his brother in jealous rage.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ, there is a different view, found in part of their scripture, the Book of Moses (part of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible), which describes that Cain's motive is still jealousy, but it is Abel's livestock of which he is jealous. This translation also holds that it was Satan that "commanded" Cain to make the offering, thus making Cain's sacrifice vain and faithless.
In Christianity, comparisons are sometimes made between the death of Abel and that of Jesus, the former thus seen as being the first martyr: in Matthew 23:35, Jesus speaks of Abel as righteous; and the Epistle to the Hebrews states that The blood of sprinkling ... [speaks] better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:24). The blood of Jesus is interpreted as bringing mercy; but that of Abel as demanding vengeance (hence the curse and mark).
Abel is invoked in the litany for the dying in Roman Catholic Church, and his sacrifice is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass with those of Abraham and Melchisedek. The Coptic Church commemorates him with a feast day on December 28.
According to the Qur'an, Cain buried Abel, prompted to do so by a single raven scratching the ground, on God's command. The Qur'an states that upon seeing the raven, Cain regretted his action [al-Ma'idah:27-31], and that rather than being cursed by God, since he hadn't done so before, God chose to create a law against murder:
If anyone slew a person - be it for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
According to Shi'a Muslim belief, Abel is buried in Nabi Habeel Mosque, located west of Damascus, in Syria.
In classical times, as well as more recently, Abel was regarded as the first innocent victim of the power of evil, and hence the first martyr. In the esoteric Book of Enoch (at 22:7), the soul of Abel is described as having been appointed as the chief of martyrs, crying for vengeance, for the destruction of the seed of Cain. This view is later repeated in the Testament of Abraham (at A:13 / B:11), where Abel has been raised to the position as the judge of the souls:
An awful man sitting upon the throne to judge all creatures, and examining the righteous and the sinners. He being the first to die as martyr, God brought him hither [to the place of judgment in the nether world] to give judgment, while Enoch, the heavenly scribe, stands at his side writing down the sin and the righteousness of each. For God said: I shall not judge you, but each man shall be judged by man. Being descendants of the first man, they shall be judged by his son until the great and glorious appearance of the Lord, when they will be judged by the twelve tribes of Israel, and then the last judgment by the Lord Himself shall be perfect and unchangeable.
According to the Coptic Book of Adam and Eve (at 2:1-15), and the Syriac Cave of Treasures, Abel's body, after many days of mourning, was placed in the Cave of Treasures, before which Adam and Eve, and descendants, offered their prayers. In addition, the Sethite line of the Generations of Adam swear by Abel's blood to segregate themselves from the unrighteous.
Confrontation and consequences
The story continues with God approaching Cain asking about Abel's whereabouts. In a response that has become a well-known saying, Cain answers, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
As "the voice of Abel's blood is screaming to God from the ground", God curses Cain to wander the earth. Cain is overwhelmed by this and appeals in fear of being killed by other men, and so God places a mark on Cain so that he would not be killed, stating that "whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be upon him sevenfold". Cain then departs, "to the land wandering". Early translations instead stated that he departed "to the Land of Nod", which is generally considered a mistranslation of the Hebrew word Nod, meaning wandering. Bible Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Then He said, "What have you done? Your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground! So now you are cursed with alienation from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood you have shed. If you work the land, it will never again give you its yield. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth." But Cain answered the Lord, "My punishment is too great to bear! Since You are banishing me today from the soil, and I must hide myself from Your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, whoever finds me will kill me." Then the Lord replied to him, "In that case, whoever kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over." And he placed a mark on Cain so that whoever found him would not kill him. Then Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
– Genesis 4:9-16 (HCSB)
Qur'an Then God sent a raven which began to scratch the ground to show him how he might hide the corpse of his brother. Seeing this, he cried, 'Woe be to me! I have not been able to do even as this raven has done and so devise a plan of hiding the corpse of my brother.' After this he became very remorseful of what he had done.
– Al-Ma'ida (Sura 5): Verse 31
Pearl of Great Price And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands. And the Lord said unto Cain: Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said: I know not. Am I my brother's keeper? And the Lord said: What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood cries unto me from the ground. And now thou shalt be cursed from the earth which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength. A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the Lord: Satan tempted me because of my brother's flocks. And I was wroth also; for his offering thou didst accept and not mine; my punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord, and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that he that findeth me will slay me, because of mine iniquities, for these things are not hid from the Lord. And I the Lord said unto him: Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And I the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. And Cain was shut out from the presence of the Lord, and with his wife and many of his brethren dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
– Moses 5:16-41
Despite being cursed to wander, Cain is later mentioned as fathering a lineage of children with an unnamed wife of unknown origin (Gen. 4:17), and founding a city, which he named Enoch after the name of his son.
Mark of Cain
Much has been written about the curse of Cain, and associated mark. The word translated as mark ('Oth, אות) could mean a sign, omen, warning, or remembrance. In the Bible, the same word is used to describe the stars as signs or omens, circumcision as a token of God's covenant with Abraham, and the signs performed by Moses before Pharaoh.
The word "Oth" in Hebrew also means "a letter" (of the alphabet). Jewish mysticism, among other ancient lores, assigns spiritual ideas or powers to written letters and verses. The Mark of Cain may be a letter, a verse, a message, or a talisman.
Although most scholars believe the writer of this part of the story had a clear reference in mind that readers would understand, there is very little consensus today as to exactly what the mark could have been.
The Bible makes reference on several occasions to Kenites, who, in the Hebrew, are referred to as Qayin, i.e. in a highly cognate manner to Cain (Qayin). The Mark of Cain is thus believed to originally refer to some very identifying mark of the Kenite tribe, such as red hair, or a ritual tattoo of some kind, which was transferred to Cain as the tribe's eponym. The mark is said to afford Cain some form of protection, in that harming Cain involved the harm being returned sevenfold. This is hence seen as some sort of protection that membership of the tribe offered, in a form such as the entire tribe attacking an individual who harms just one of their number.
Baptist and Catholic groups both consider the idea of God cursing an individual to be out of character, and hence take a different stance. Catholics officially view the curse being brought by the ground itself refusing to yield to Cain, whereas some Baptists view the curse as Cain's own aggression, something already present that God merely pointed out rather than added.
In Judaism, the mark is not a punishment but a sign of God's mercy. When Cain was sentenced to be a wanderer he did not dispute the punishment but only begged that the terms of his sentence be altered slightly, protesting "Whoever meets me will kill me!" For unspecified reasons, God agrees to this request. He puts the mark on Cain as a sign to others that Cain should not be killed until he has had seven generations of children. Lamech, his descendant, thought that the mark was passed down to him and also that it multiplied. In Genesis 4:23-24, he confesses to his wives that he killed two men (possibly one), and that if his grandfather Cain was protected seven times, then he should have it 77 times.
Obviously, certain members of the Brotherhood of Nod draw a connection from the Biblical Cain to Nod's charismatic leader, Kane. While it seems outlandish to outsiders, Nod believers view Kane's vision and apparent immortality (he is alleged to have been active for at least 100 years, suffering what should have been fatal damage at least twice as proof.