Q. I’ve just read the story about Cain and Able. In this story, Cain is cursed for killing his brother but goes on to live a long life and have a large family tree… Able is just simply dead. At face value I ask myself, who ended up in the better position here – the dead guy or the guy who goes on to populate a large part of the earth? The biblical story goes on to report that Eve had another male child whose name most people don’t remember and who doesn’t appear to be significant in terms of descendants or genealogy. I can’t understand why the murderer in this story is so blessed while the other brothers are dead or seemingly inconsequential. Please help put this into the context of a loving and just God for me.
A. Reading between the lines one can see that Eve expected Cain to be the fulfillment of the “seed of the woman” prophecy, a man who would defeat Satan and restore the creation to its condition before the fall (Gen. 3:15). When a second son was born she named him Abel, a word that means “vapor, or breath”. The idea was that just as no individual breath is important, neither was Abel, because Cain was to be the fulfillment of prophecy.
It is true that after murdering his brother, Cain led a long life and fathered many children, while Abel just died. But Abel’s offering was acceptable to the Lord (Gen.4:4) which means He knew that it was a model of the coming redeemer. That means Abel died in faith and went to be with the Lord. Meanwhile Cain’s line was responsible for introducing all the things that represent the human spirit in rebellion against God. So you tell me, who got the better part?
Adam and Eve’s third son was named Seth. A few of his more famous descendants were Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, David and Jesus, who did fulfill the Genesis 3:15 prophecy. I’d say that’s a pretty significant genealogy.