It’s a horrible story. I always assumed the reason for it was because the priestly class liked meat better than vegetables.
But…the root of the story is the same. Farmers are at odds with shepherds in this Early Bronze Age myth, and God is squarely on the side of the shepherds.
This myth, and others like it in the Bible, becomes a license to slaughter Canaanite men, women, and children who just so happen to be on the wrong side of this farmer-shepherd rivalry.
When you look at it this way – as a way to instill a God who protects a nationalistic sense of superiority and rather dangerous prejudices – suddenly the story makes sense.
Maybe no one told him that mainstream scholarship generally agrees this narrative was not written until the Babylonian captivity of the sixth century, almost 1,000 years after the Hebrews had entered Canaan? So yeah, cool story bro, but not really grounded in reality.
a-DNA shows that the Hebrews didn’t enter Canaan, instead the Hebrews and the Canaanites were the same people with different religions evolving from existing religions. The real history of the people in that region of the world at that time is being told by archaeology and a-DNA.
It is an interesting article @Patrick. I appreciate the warnings that can be gleaned from the author’s concerns. My take on the story, and this interpretation are a bit different. As with the story of Adam and Eve, and the first sin, I think that real point of the story is found in the underlying timeless truth, not in the details. For Adam and Eve, the point of the story was that despite living in a near-perfect environment in communion with God, and having only one rule to follow, man would sin. And did so. Because of this, none of us can say that we are innocent. If they would sin, we would sin, and we do so. (I know you reject this concept of sin, but stick with me.) So then, the details of the story are less important and, in fact, those who focus upon them over the fundamental meaning of the story, may tend to get lost in the weeds and assume that the earth is, say, six to ten-thousand years old.
I think that the story of Cain and Abel is conveying just how depraved man can become in merely one generation. This family has gone from paradise to murder in one generation. As the author points out, especially regarding the mark of Cain, that these details can be misused to oppress. But this, clearly, is a misapplication of the story, because the mark was supposed to be one of protection.
Further, to be fair, I don’t believe that the author of the article was very clear regarding the difference between the two sacrifices. He says:
“God showed favor upon Abel’s sacrifice because it was an offering that came from the best Abel had to give.”
Except…the Bible doesn’t say that.
It doesn’t say that Cain brought second-rate fruit of his labor to God. It said he brought “some” of the fruits of his labor to God.
When one reads the text, here’s what it says. You can decide for yourself whether or not there was an intent to give of the first and best, or not:
3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Cain brought fruit of the ground. I don’t know anything about Hebrew, but the NASB renders Cain’s gift in this way. Was it fruit that had fallen to the ground? Was it the spoils? Contrast that with Abel’s offering. Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and of the fat portions. It was the best of the best. But even moreover, God even met with Cain and discussed the issue with him. What, he asked, was wrong? Why was he upset? And he even offered a solution in verse seven. So, I do not believe that the article is at all faithful to the text, and so the conclusions made cannot be valid. As I stated above, there are genuine concerns that one can take from the article. But those do not make up for the fact that the story is not being reported correctly.
To me the story says more of how petty God was. Why does a God need sacrifices offered to him? He throws the parents of Cain and Abel out of paradise. The children grow up in a tough world of disease and famine. One son makes a living by farming and the other son makes a living by being a Shepard. (no one is acknowledging the fact that it took humans millions of years to get to this level of advancement). The petty God wants offering to Himself from these poor men. Why? Sibling rivalry ensues and one son kills the other. It seems like just a made up story by the writers of Genesis in the genre of the day. It is still fiction. And should have no relevance in today’s world.
This is not what the story says:
3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground.
This is a problem with the article too. Judge the text for what it says, not what one assumes it says. That said, to focus too much on the details and not on the central theme, I believe is problematic. One can easily miss the forest for the trees.
Perfectly valid concern. Again, I don’t view the story the way that you do. I don’t know if Adam and Eve were real individuals, or if they were representatives, or if they were mythical. I have my own ideas, but it is too hard to tell from this story. This is why I read the story and try to find out what the lesson is that is being presented. You, ironically, are focusing upon minute details in the same way that others do. Doing so can cause you to come to unintended conclusions about the story.
The point of these stories is that man has a problem with disobedience and pride. And we do. This is a tough world. In it, we will have troubles. But there is a paradise that is available. It’s not fruits and vegetables that gets us there, it is the offering of the firstling that does. The one and only son. This is the solution to the disobedience and pride.
You ask about offerings. God, like any parent, likes to be thanked. In Colossians 1, it tells us that God is pleased when we thank him. It’s not because he’s focused on himself, it is because we are focused upon him. There are very good reasons to be so.
Okay, so what? If it is a fable, what’s the point? If it factual, what’s the point? I cannot say one way or another about whether or not it is fiction, but I can read it and determine why it is there, and what it is saying. The author of the article you posted did the same thing. He came to a conclusion based upon what he thinks the story says… but is he correct?
Do you see a difference between the two gifts?
Usually it’s Bill who changes the subject when a previous claim is proved false, without acknowledging the debunking of the previous claim. But ok, let’s move on to your new claim.
No, a-DNA does not show the Hebrews didn’t enter Canaan. a-DNA shows that a group of people moved into Canaan from the east, over the Euphrates, which is how the Bible describes the entry of Abraham into Canaan, thus.
About 50% of the Canaanites’ genes came from local farmers who settled the Levant about 10,000 years ago. But the other half was linked to an earlier population identified from skeletons found in Iran, the team reports today in The American Journal of Human Genetics . The researchers estimate these Eastern migrants arrived in the Levant and started mixing with locals around 5000 years ago.
a-DNA also shows that this group of new people inter-mingled with the existing Canaanite people, which is what the Bible says happened to Abraham’s descendants. a-DNA also shows that the Canaanites were not eliminated in any genocide, which is also what the Bible says.
a-DNA says absolutely nothing about there being no conflict between Hebrews entering Egypt from Canaan, partly because the Hebrews from Egypt entering Canaan would have had DNA indistinguishable from the existing Canaanite population. a-DNA has nothing to say about the conflict between the Hebrews and the Canaanites, thus.
So does the new study show that there was no war between the Israelites and the Canaanites? Not necessarily, says Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute geneticist Chris Tyler-Smith, who worked with Haber. Genes don’t always track conflict. “You can have genetically similar or indistinguishable populations that are culturally very different and don’t get on with one another at all,” Tyler-Smith says. This might have been the case with the Israelites and the Canaanites—similar genes, but sworn enemies.
“If those populations conquer each other, it probably wouldn’t leave traces that we could easily pick up [with ancient DNA],” agrees Johannes Krause, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, who wasn’t involved in the current work. Perhaps there was a Biblical war that ancient DNA simply cannot see.
So you posted a link to an article, and now say that the article to which you linked is wrong. Ok, thanks for letting us know.
We all commonly post links to articles we disagree with on this forum. Linking to an article does not imply endorsement.
a-DNA results continue to show that the Old Testament stories written in middle east 2500 years ago with little knowledge of science nor history were just fictional stories in the genre of the time and place they were written in. No Abraham descendants because there was no Abraham. Abraham is as genetically invisible as GAE.
a-DNA is showing the real history of the people and of the region thousands of years before the Old Testament was written. This is the real history that the Old Testament writers knew nothing about.
Today to compare the real history of mankind with the ancient stories of the Old Testament and expect to find something factual is ludicrous.
The paper you posted is the evidence.
Details please. Quote the actual paper, and provide your evidence.
The a-DNA history is totally different from the Old Testament myths. This paper supports none of the claims of the OT. No Adam, no Eve, no Noah, no Lot, no Abraham, No Moses. All fictional, made up stories.
The Canaanites inhabited the Levant region during the Bronze Age and established a culture that became influential in the Near East and beyond. However, the Canaanites, unlike most other ancient Near Easterners of this period, left few surviving textual records and thus their origin and relationship to ancient and present-day populations remain unclear. In this study, we sequenced five whole genomes from ∼3,700-year-old individuals from the city of Sidon, a major Canaanite city-state on the Eastern Mediterranean coast. We also sequenced the genomes of 99 individuals from present-day Lebanon to catalog modern Levantine genetic diversity. We find that a Bronze Age Canaanite-related ancestry was widespread in the region, shared among urban populations inhabiting the coast (Sidon) and inland populations (Jordan) who likely lived in farming societies or were pastoral nomads. This Canaanite-related ancestry derived from mixture between local Neolithic populations and eastern migrants genetically related to Chalcolithic Iranians. We estimate, using linkage-disequilibrium decay patterns, that admixture occurred 6,600–3,550 years ago, coinciding with recorded massive population movements in Mesopotamia during the mid-Holocene. We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age. In addition, we find Eurasian ancestry in the Lebanese not present in Bronze Age or earlier Levantines. We estimate that this Eurasian ancestry arrived in the Levant around 3,750–2,170 years ago during a period of successive conquests by distant populations.
You’re doing a Bill. Nothing in what you quoted says anything like what you claimed. Remember, I already linked to an article which debunked explicitly your claim that the a-DNA data disproved the idea of any conflict between the Hebrews and Canaanites.
My claim is that the Hebrews were not “a chosen people”. They were at most a group of people living in this region and time period that invented and practice a new religion. The Hebrews had the same mixture of ancestry as the Canaanites who lived the region and time period.
Oh so now you are abandoning your original claim, and agreeing with me. Thanks for letting me know.
can you tell me what you think my original claims were?
This was your original claim.
- “a-DNA shows that the Hebrews didn’t enter Canaan, instead the Hebrews and the Canaanites were the same people with different religions evolving from existing religions.”
I disproved this, and you promptly abandoned it. You then moved to these claims.
“a-DNA results continue to show that the Old Testament stories written in middle east 2500 years ago with little knowledge of science nor history were just fictional stories in the genre of the time and place they were written in. No Abraham descendants because there was no Abraham.”
“a-DNA results continue to show that the Old Testament stories written in middle east 2500 years ago with little knowledge of science nor history were just fictional stories.”
“The a-DNA history is totally different from the Old Testament myths.”
I challenged you to provide evidence for these claims, and you didn’t. Instead you quoted an article which talked about something else. I pointed out that the article you quoted did not support your claims, so then you switched to this new claim.
- “My claim is that the Hebrews were not “a chosen people”. They were at most a group of people living in this region and time period that invented and practice a new religion. The Hebrews had the same mixture of ancestry as the Canaanites who lived the region and time period.”
Not only was this a considerably weaker claim than your original claim, it now agreed with what I had said earlier; “a-DNA also shows that this group of new people inter-mingled with the existing Canaanite people, which is what the Bible says happened to Abraham’s descendants”, and “a-DNA says absolutely nothing about there being no conflict between Hebrews entering Egypt from Canaan, partly because the Hebrews from Egypt entering Canaan would have had DNA indistinguishable from the existing Canaanite population”.