Who was the better person, Cain or Abel?

It is possible to see the tale of Cain and Abel in a different light.

  1. Cain became a farmer. This is very difficult work. Abel opted to be a shepherd, arguably a lazy activity. Why does the Bible seem to prefer Abel?
  2. Why did Abel think that God wanted him to murder (sacrifice) a living being that God created?
  3. How did the two bothers know which sacrifice God preferred?
  4. Is God guilty as an accomplish to the murder because God should not have shown preference?
  5. Shouldn’t the all-knowing God know what would happen when God preferred one sacrifice over another?
  6. Should Cain be punished for murder when he was never told it was wrong?
  7. Is it possible that he just meant to hurt his brother and had no concept that people die?
  8. Why are we not told how the parents of the two boys viewed the episode?
  9. Why didn’t Adam and Eve intervein to reconcile Cain to Abel?
  10. Why didn’t Abel try to explain the situation to Cain and make him feel better?


Do the sacrifices of Abel and Noah disprove Maimonides’s view about sacrifices?

In his Guide of the Perplexed 3:32, Maimonides states that God neither needs nor wants sacrifices, but only “allowed” them because ancient people needed to show God love in this way. Maimonides supported his view with the opinion of some ancient prophets. In essence, he said, God had to deal with the mindset and emotions of people. (This also explains, as I noted in prior Mysteries of Judaism books, why the Torah allowed such things as slavery.)

Does the fact that the Torah states that God accepted the sacrifices of Abel and Noah prove that Maimonides was wrong? We can give at least two replies. First, all it shows is that human nature felt the need for sacrifices from the earliest period of creation. Second, it is possible to see that the Bible is hinting in the tales of the first two sacrifices that sacrifices lead to bad consequences: Cain killed Abel because of the sacrifices – perhaps because of jealousy, God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and not his. Noah seemingly made a party as part of his sacrifice, became drunk, and was abused.