Summary: Do not murder has to do with the value we place on every life.
It was in the Fall that he brought his gift, when the leaves turn and the days grow shorter and the wind begins to blow just a little colder in the evenings. It was his favorite time of year.
The winter was horrible. Nothing grew. Even if he could have plowed a trough the seeds would be wasted. The frozen ground was unyielding. It refused to receive and if forced to accept, refused to give anything back. In the winter he hated the land.
He welcomed the spring with its promise of new life. In the spring, he fell in love with the land again. It seemed to almost beckon him to begin. He endured the heat and weeds and work of summer with patience since he knew fall followed soon. And in the fall he could reap the fruit of his sweat and labor.
So he brought his gift to the Father; the first fruits of the harvest. The best part. It wasn’t exactly what the Father had asked for, but it was what he loved most. And wouldn’t the Father accept so loved a gift? His brother, too, brought an offering, part of one of the animals from his flock. It was bloody and greasy.
Brown dirt stuck to the red meat and the flies swarmed. It was loathsome to smell. They waited there side by side at the alter for the Father to accept their gifts. Then He came. The Father looked first at both men, then at their gifts. Cain waited for His smile. But His smile did not come. His face was cold as the Winter and Cain hated the Winter. The Father looked at Abel and smiled approvingly.
He took the dirty, red meat and without a word vanished. Cain’s beautiful gift, the fruit of his sweat and toil, was left on the alter to wither in the sun.
The emotion he felt that day was not a new one. Cain knew anger. He’d been angry at the land, angry at the weeds, angry at the heat. But this anger was different. It was directed not at something, but someone. Cain was angry with his brother Abel. And in a strange way, the anger felt good.
Then the Father spoke. "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. "
He’d heard of sin. His father and mother had told him of it, warned him about it. As a child he’d been afraid of it. In the field once, he’d seen a serpent slithering among the plants. Out of fear he had crushed its head with a heavy rock. He remembered how the long, slender body had rolled in the dirt, coiling around the rock until all movement stopped. Now, the Father was telling him that sin was crouching at the door. But he felt no fear this time. Only anger.
The Father left and Cain rose to find his brother. "Let’s go out to the field," he said. Abel, always the compliant one, led the way. As he followed behind him, Cain glared at his brother and felt his anger grow. The wind gusted and he caught the odor of sheep on his brother and the anger turned to hatred. When they walked over the crest of a hill where no one could see, Cain shoved his brother from behind, knocking him to the ground. Before Abel could catch his breath and voice a protest, Cain picked up a large stone and raised it above his head. He had wielded this weapon before out of fear. There was no fear this time. Only anger. Only hatred. With all his might he hurled the stone down upon his brother. Just like the snake, Abel rolled in the dirt for a moment, then was still. The last thing