Troublesome Topic: Interesting Thoughts about the Livelihood of Cain and Abel

Cain was the oldest son and Adam taught him how to gain a living from the soil. Abel came later and was trained to raise livestock. Adam had gained some expertise in each of these areas but he wanted his sons to go beyond what he had learned. However, because everyone was a vegetarian until after the world-wide flood, the livestock that Abel raised and cared for was used for things like wool, skins, and bone tools such as needles, but not for food. Oh, there was one more thing some of the livestock was used for – sacrifices. Don’t forget about the sacrifices. So Adam and Cain provided food for the family while Abel provided a number of other things. Adam placed first priority on providing food but followed that up with an almost equal emphasis on having the animals needed for sacrifices. It can be assumed that almost everyone had to help in the fields when the busy times came such as planting and harvesting. But it also appears that Adam assigned Abel to work full-time with the animals; sisters and younger brothers that came along later could help in the fields as needed.

Cain probably thought that his job was more important than Abel’s and resented the emphasis being placed on Abel’s animals. “What good are they if you can’t eat them?” In so doing he was minimizing the importance of the sacrificial system God had set up by His own example. It is apparent from the way God addressed Cain that His desire for sacrifices to be made with the blood of animals was clear to Adam and his children. As time went on, Cain became more resentful and he convinced himself that his produce was just as good as the animals raised by his brother, even though they didn’t have any blood that could be shed. Cain focused only on his effort rather than focusing on the lessons God wanted to teach them through blood sacrifices, e.g. lessons that taught how costly disobedience is, that rebelling against God demands the giving of a life, and the role of a substitutionary death.