THE SACRIFICES OF CAIN AND ABLE
By Glen Rogers
“In the course of time.” Literally,
“at the end of days.” What is the end of days suggested by the context? What would contextually mark this particular course of time?
- The serpent too will possess a limited lifespan.
a. The end of a seven-day period.
b. The anniversary of the end of creation. The problem with both of these theories is that they cannot be arrived from the contents of the context.
The only temporal indicator offered by the text is that of the time of harvest. Thus, the course of time from one harvest to the next. We know this because of the type of sacrifice both men are offering. “And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he ALSO brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.”
Both men are offering the offering the same sacrifice – the offering of first-fruits, one of the flock, and one of the earth. Both are legitimate sacrifices. Cain, being a tiller of the ground naturally offers the first-fruit of his crop. Being a keeper of the flock, Able offers his first-fruit of the flock. What implications can we generalize from Able offering up the fat portions of his sacrifice?
a. That the offering of sacrifice had already been regulated by both time and procedure.
It was offered at the proper time – “at the end of days.”
There is no separation of the fat from the sacrifice. It was offered up as a whole sacrifice.
b. These sacrifices were a matter of instruction. How did they know to offer these sacrifices and how these sacrifices were to be offered in such a way that would be acceptable to the Lord? This instruction had to be revealed instruction. Even if they received the practice from their father, Adam still had to have received it from the Lord.
c. Clearly, this was not their first sacrifice.
d. This also offers the possibility that other types of animal sacrifices were also being offered that did not require the separation of the fat portions.
- There are no indicators from the text that the sacrifice of Able had any connection to atonement or even contrition. In other words, this is not a sin sacrifice.
a. There is no sprinkling of blood mentioned.
b. There is no removal of the intestines or the refuse mentioned.
This is a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Cain offered his first-fruits as a matter of thanksgiving. This is the nature if any first-fruit offering. The text says that Able ALSO of his first. Both men are offering the same sacrifice. Why then was Cain's sacrifice not accepted? This rejection seems to stem from Cain's relationship with his brother.