Sunday, November 13, 2011

Questions on Cain for Biblical Folks

Cain and Abel — attributed to Vouet, and to Pietro Novell. Via Organelle.
“And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.”
- Genesis 4: 16-17

Okay, so, I have a couple questions for the Biblical scholars that read this blog. When I read about Cain leaving the presence of the Lord to enter the Land of Nod (and his finding a wife there), I begin thinking that this is a display of tribal thought. Genesis concerns the Israelites and their covenant and creation with their God.

However, I was raised as a protestant and don't know nearly enough about the Judaic tradition to be sure that I'm right. So, why were other tribes or social systems already abundant when Cain left for Nod? And, am I correct in assuming he was probably coming into contact with the early Canaanites?


Jason Miller, said...

Ok. As to whether Cain came in contact with Cannanites, that I leave alone because Adam, Eve, Cain, and Able are Mythical in the purest sense. Moses Aaron etc probably really existed. Abraham and Isaac and so on may have really existed. Adam and Eve etc I assume did not so the question of what people they came into contact with is moot.

Protestants will tell you that Cain married a sister, but this is clearly incorrect since Cain went on to establish the first city AND immediately after Cains expulsion he was concerned about being harmed by people - the leading to the "Mark of Cain".

Now, that still leaves the question that even in the MYTH, why were there people already outside the garden.

Long and short of it is that the story of Adam, Eve, Cain, and Able are part of the J narrative or Yahwist narrative that specifically dealt with Israel as a people and which was written before the Elohist narrative or the priestly source which linked the two narratives together giving us the Pentatauch as we know it.

The Elohist narrative is Genesis 1 and speaks of the creation of the Cosmos (and is based on the Ennuma Elish). The two narratives are woven together to establish a narrative that makes YHVH a god of all rather than just a specific people.

For a good book on Old Testamenr check out "Reading the Old Testament by Lawrence Boadt.

Jack Faust said...

Many thanks, Jason. In the context of contact, I was asking when - during the mythic timeline, or the point of composition and contact - which tribes of people he was imagined to have interacted with. But I suppose that is impossible to pin down.

Harold Roth said...

As evidence of the mythical nature of Cain, the Land of Nod is not a place; it's a state. "Nod" means "wandering" or "exile."

According to Jubilees, Cain married his younger sister, Awan. In a Talmudic story, Cain supposedly killed Abel because they were both supposed to marry their own twin sisters, but Cain wanted Abel's sister because she was prettier.

As far as I know, Cain is considered the mythical ancestor of the Kenites, not the Canaanites. The Kenites went with the Hebrews to the land of Canaan, so if they were going there, they couldn't have come from there. The wife of Moses was a Kenite, for instance. They were more technologically skilled than others around them.