I’ve come to kinda hate discussing the Garden of Eden story. But I can never resist! What did God know nd when did He know it? Could our first parents have sinned when they didn’t yet know good from evil? It sucks me in every time.
But, if the story of The Fall can be viewed s humans seizing the divine knowledge( which, as God confirms, makes THEM —us—godlike) then what does the Cain story mean?
It’s a strange story: Cain, the first human of woman born, kills his brother. He at first pretends ignorance, then when God reveals He knows all about the deed, he expresses NO contrition, nor even fear. He just starts arguing for mitigation of the sentence.
Which God grants, putting a protective mark on him (we think of the “mark of Cain” as a curse but actually it ws a benison) . And God vows to avenge Cain’s wounding sevenfold.
Then Cain goes off east of Eden, marries, founds a city (man’s first city!) and sires a line of descendants, whoinvent and teach mankind animal husbandry, music, and metallurgy. And we have a paean by one of them, Lamech, the father of the afore-mentioned prodigies, who boasts that he has killed a man who wounded him:
“If Cain shall be avenged seven times ,then Lamech, seventy times seven!”
Why didn’t God just strike Cain dead when He initially confronted him? It strikes me that up till this point God hasn’t killed anyone. Everybody’s living for about 900 years. They WILL die, in the fullness of time, but nobody has been stricken down. Whereas later in the Old Testament, after Cain, God kills people wantonly, starting with the Flood, continuing with the Egyptian plagues, Aaron’s sons, Sennacherib, to name just a few.
Does the Cain story represent humanity’s appropriation to itself of yet ANOTHER theretofore exclusively divine Power: power over human life and death?