The First Fratricide (Genesis chap. 4, verse 8)

Sacrificio_di_Caino_e_Abele,_Giorgio_Vasari_001Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.”And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him.

The verse contains the first words that Cain said to his brother. The biblical author was interested in describing this murder – the first fratricide of the history – for practical purposes that he only knew. Perhaps he wanted to exemplify the struggle between those who believed to be descendants of Cain and those who were descendants of Abel. The very short speech of Cain is best explained by the suffering and the anger of the envious person. It is terrible to see that other persons do what you would like to do. But who is bad? Who is responsible if you have renounced to be what you would like to be?

Let us go out to the field. Cain cultivated the field – in hebr. sadeh – that produced only thorns and thistles (see Genesis 3:18). A land that is unfruitful for those are envious of other persons. A land that is unfruitful for those who don’t make their job with passion and dedication. There is an embarrassing silence graved of consequences. Cain had been attacked by the beast that is lurking at the door (see Gen 4: 7), i.e. the invisible and very dangerous demon, that is the envious person. But by now it was too late to keep it in check. The Hebrew text says that Cain rose up against Abel (in hebr. wayyaqom Kayin el-hevel) as one who no longer supports the presence of another person. Cain becomes a wild beast that destroys the cause of his unhappiness.

The text becomes, if possible, even more laconic and concentrates all of Cain’s hybris in a single sentence: he killed him. He kills him in the field, where there are no witnesses and where the victim cannot shout for help and find relief.

The Bible offers us a suggestion of how anger caused by envy can be addressed.The Bible also teaches that each of us can be happy working in peace, offering ti God the best of our actions. It may be that some journalist might be inspired by these old pages to not say only: he looked like a good person

Simone Venturini


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