Friday, July 31, 2015

Fact -Checking the Torah -- Genesis 4:1-15

Your assignment for this week was to read Genesis 4:1-15.
The second urban legend is whether Qain was a sinner from the beginning.
In fact he was a conformist.  He did what his daddy did.  He was satisfied with that.
Hevel was the rule-breaker, the innovator.  He started herding sheep.  Now, who ever heard of a thing like that?
So when Hevel got immediate respect from Gd for his offering and Qain didn’t, no wonder Qain was mad.  Gd was not just dissing Qain, He was dissing the job he explicitly assigned to Adam, Qain’s daddy.  Why would Gd do such a thing?
But who was Qain mad at?
Not Hevel.  Hevel didn’t do anything to Qain. 
Qain was mad at Gd, and Gd said to him that his fate was in his own hands: if he did right, he would be fine, but if he did wrong, “one sin drags another after it.”
Actually, the Jewish proverb is “one mitzvah brings another in its wake,” but Gd was dealing with somebody who was mad and a mad man doesn’t generally have mitsvot on his mind.
We know what happened next, so we’re faced with the question, why didn’t Gd just command Qain not to kill Hevel?
There’s an ancient story about a mother who had to walk to market and she had to leave her kids alone in the house.  Before she left, she gave them a list of things not to do and the last thing she said was “and don’t put any beans up your nose.”  She came home to find all the kids had wondered why she gave that order and tried it out.  The doctor had to come.
Gd was too smart to tell Qain “and don’t put any beans up your nose.”  He had tried issuing one prohibition and it hadn’t worked.  Now He tried to give Qain the big picture without any commandments at all.
And it still didn’t work. 
Now, there’s an urban legend that killers deserve execution.  All of them.  So Qain should have been executed, right?
The Torah text involved in the answer to that question is Numbers 35:9-30.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

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