There is so much more we would like to know about these early stories, but Moses tends to give us the bare facts. Sometimes, as in Genesis 5, he rushes through thousands of years with barely a notice except for a name.
And yet, this isn’t really Moses’ book; it is God’s. And as God, through Moses, tells Israel of her history, He also reveals quite a bit about himself.
The first man, the first woman, the sin, the first family, and now, in chapter four, the first murder. The story, however, is about more than murder.
Notice the Lord’s conversation with Cain: It’s full of “brother.” God says to Cain “Where is your brother?” Abel says “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God says: “Your brother’s blood cries out from the ground.”
And then Cain’s response: “My punishment is more than I can bear. You are driving me from the land. I will be hidden from your presence, I will be a restless wanderer.
God created humans to share a brotherhood, to look out for each other, rejoice with one another’s successes, mourn with one another’s failures, support one another in times of need and encourage one another in times of struggle. But when self-centeredness enters the picture, murder is where the sin ends up.
Who is in control? Who has the preeminence? Who is getting their way? Who is getting the attention? Even “who is right?” These are the things that divide us, fracture families, separate communities and start wars. It’s been that way since the beginning, and it’s always been an abomination.
It’s interesting that the story of Cain is followed by the story of Lamech who is such a self-centered man that he responds to his own assault with murderous vengeance, claiming the right of God to exact revenge. The interesting part is that God doesn’t say anything in rebuke to this. But you are supposed to get the point. Lamech is disgusting, and this is the real image of the self-centered and prideful person.
Sometimes, God doesn’t render a judgment. But you get the point anyway.