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A restless wanderer on the earth (Genesis chap. 4, verse 12)

When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth

As happened to Adam and Eve, so it is for Cain. He killed his brother. So he is alone, devoid of belonging to a human family. He is also alienated by God, by his voice, by his precious counsel. Therefore, even the earth refuses to collaborate with him, to give her fruit to a man who spotted the blood of his brother, a man whom mother earth – like Adam – had created. What can a human being do reduced in such conditions?

He will be a restless wanderer, that is, without homeland and constantly moving from place to place. Without a home, a family, roots, Cain is forced to wander from one place to another in search of food that a blood-smeared earth can’t give him. Like Adam, even Cain doesn’t die for transgressing a divine order. He continues to live, though not how he could do it within a vital relationship with God and his family.

Cain lives a nomadic existence. But this kind of life comes not from a blessing, as for Abraham and the fathers. Here, in fact, it is rather a wandering, a begging that is the result of the curse of the ground. A curse which is always renewed not by God’s fault, but by the man who contaminates it with the most serious crime, the real sin: the suppression of a human life. God didn’t curse the ground in which Adam worked. The curse came from man who trusted the political alliances making his homeland a hostile and sterile territory. God doesn’t curse again a soil that, though arid as that of Palestine, would still have given him to survive if Cain had not been devoured by the tarn of envy.

In a sense, here is a worsening of the human condition. If Adam only ate thorns and thistles from the ground (see Genesis 3), here it is said that the soil – adamah in Hebrew – will not give its fruit at all. The fourth chapter of Genesis is inserted in the chapters that precede the story of the universal flood and which describe the progressive deterioration of the human condition, ever further from the original plan that God had established for it.

Simone Venturini


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