When trying to understand the meaning of "the cry of Abel's blood," as recorded in Genesis 4:10,I found this interesting article which reads,

In our lesson, taken from here , we look into an interesting Midrash regarding the word “Blood” in Genesis 4:10. וַיּאמֶר מֶה עָשִׂיתָ קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן־הָֽאֲדָמָה׃
Then He said, "What have you done? Hark, your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground! In the Hebrew, the word blood is in plural form (bloods), whereas translations use the singular form “blood”.

I was not aware that blood is translated from "bloods," in the Hebrew, and if i omit "blood," and insert "bloods," into the text in Genesis 4:10, it would appear to change the meaning of the text as follows,

Genesis 4:10 (NIV)

10 The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s bloods cries out to me from the ground.

The text would now appear to be saying,

All the brothers bloods cries out.Which could point to Luke 11:50-51 . This quote helps to explain my reasoning,

Killing and human violence, however, do not stop in the biblical story, nor have they stopped in the contemporary world. Jewish and Christian interpreters across the centuries have seen in the Cain and Abel story a precursor to future murders of innocents up to the present day. For them, the plural of bloods in Gen 4:10-11 and the present tense of the verb, is crying out, in Gen 4:10 point to the blood of later generations still crying out to God in a desperate plea for a reckoning.Taken from here.

Why is "bloods," translated singular as blood, in Genesis 4:10 ?

  • This isn't really an answer to the question, but I am not sure you translation "All the brothers bloods cries out." can stand, אָחִ֔ (brother) is singular - this text literally reads 'your brother's (singular) bloods (plural)' therefore the bloods all belong to Abel. Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 16:15
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    See Gesenius §124. The Various Uses of the Plural form. (124n there deals with this particular word.)
    – Susan
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 17:09
  • @Jonathan Chell-I understand your comment Re: 'your brother's (singular) bloods (plural). Worth thinking about is, Abel spoke through the sacrifice and in the same way (prophecy),he speaks through "the blood," only blood is plural, so in "prophecy," Abel is speaking "through the bloods."
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 19:03
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    As Susan noted. Such Semiticisms were common, even being carried over into Greek (cp. αἱμάτων in John 1:13).
    – user862
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 7:27
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    It is worth noting that the Jewish understanding is that "bloods" is referring to Cain and his descendants, as explained in the Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5. This is the origin of the famous phrase in the Talmud that is also found in the Quran, "Whoever destroys a life, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 20:19

2 Answers 2


Taken from here:

Finally, the distinction between דָּם‎ blood and דָּמִים‎ requires to be specially noticed. The singular is always used when the blood is regarded as an organic unity, hence also of menstrual blood, and the blood of sacrifices (collected in the basin and then sprinkled), and in Nu 2324 of the blood gushing from wounds. On the other hand, דָּמִים‎ as a sort of plural of the result and at the same time of local extension, denotes blood which is shed, when it appears as blood-stains (Is 115) or as blood-marks (so evidently in Is 94). But since blood-stains or blood-marks, as a rule, suggest blood shed in murder (although דָּמִים‎ also denotes the blood which flows at child-birth or in circumcision), דָּמִים‎ acquired (even in very early passages) simply the sense of a bloody deed, and especially of bloodguiltiness, Ex 221 f., &c.

I am not a Hebrew scholar, but from the source(Gesenius 124) it is apparent that "bloodshed", which was the case with Abel, is given a plural form due to the action of the blood flowing from the wound inflicted, rather than 1 singular event. Therefore, your point is well taken; Abel's blood, being plural, speaks to a continuous sacrifice. The author of Hebrews quotes,(Heb. 12:24)

And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

What is apparent is that Abel's blood, either from the sacrifice he made or the fact that he in effect became a sacrifice, is supeceded by the continuous sense blood-shedding of Christ.

  • Hebrews 12:24 is certainly relevant for understanding of my question.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 11:55

Great answer! But one may go further: because of this plural rendering we can further say that Hebrews at 12:24 can then reinterpret Yahweh's Gen 4:10 words (as our Heb author often does), to mean something like "the sprinkling(s) offered by your brother Abel speak(s) to me from the earth" (not soley "the blood from your murder cries out to me for vengeance"). As our Heb author wants, making use of this reinterpretation, an OT image with which to compare the more perfect new dispensation worship of Jesus' own blood sprinkling, saying therein that (as Heb 11:4 and Genesis 4:4 confirm) while Abel's sprinkling was pleasing to him and appeased him, yet the New Testament sprinkling of Jesus' blood pleased him even more, now we have a new synthesis:

There is a EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE that is a sprinkling speaking "better things" than were spoken by Abel's sprinklings (perhaps this is why the 'better sacrifice(s)' of Heb 9:23 are in the plural, even though all christians believe in the one-only, "once for all" -- "ephapax" -- sacrifice of Jesus?).

How do we know there is here an earthly "EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE" and not just a heavenly prolongation of the one sacrifice Jesus offers to the Father?

Because the more eloquent sprinkling cannot offer less, and must offer more, than that of Abel, and thus, too, is offered "from the ground", that is, in our author's portrayal, by earthly ministers (2 Cor 3:6) of the New Covenant, who thus minister Christ's one priestly offering from the ground, from here on the earth. This too is consistent with Our Lord's command ("Do this in memory of me") of the New Law to replicate the offering ("shedding", right? It all fits with this Hebrew plural rendering of "blood(s)"?).

Now perhaps an argument against this is that "blood" in the singular appears only to be found in the Hebrew OT (MT that is), but not in the LXX. Can someone maybe tell me why?

  • You think not Bagpipes?
    – Dr. Dom
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 18:52
  • Bagpipes, wouldn't any OT text (here Gen 4:10) that pointed explicitly or implicitly to a NT text (here Heb 12:24), tend to find its fuller meaning there? If so, you are correct in saying "Hebrews 12:24 is certainly relevant for understanding of my question".
    – Dr. Dom
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 23:46

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