Genesis 4:8-9 – Am I my brother’s keeper?

  8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: [Am] I my brother’s keeper?

Am I my brother’s keeper?


The hatred and jealousy that Cain felt toward Abel resulted in the first murder.

Cain also became the first liar. God asked him “Where is your brother?”

Cain answers, “I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper?” This plays on Abel’s name, “Keeper”

Where is your brother?

In a Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 22: 7) there are three opinions as to why the brothers quarreled:

1. The brothers divided the world between them, one taking all the land, the other all the movables. The one who took the land ordered the other to get off his land and fly in the air. The one who took the movables ordered the other to strip naked because the clothes belonged to him.

2. Their quarrel was about in whose territory the Temple was to be built.

3. That Cain had a twin sister but Abel had two sisters born at the same time as him. Abel claimed both his sisters for himself but Cain wanted the additional one by his right as a first-born to have a double portion.

Many extra biblical works, as well as Hughes dictionary of Islam state a similar reason,

“The occasion of the marking this offering is thus related, according to the common tradition in the East. Each of them being born with a twin-sister, when they were grown up, Adam, by God’s direction, ordered Cain to marry Abel’s twin-sister and Abel to marry Cain’s; (for it being the common opinion that marriages ought not to be had in the nearest degrees of consanguinity, since they must necessarily marry their sister, it seemed reasonable to suppose they ought to take those of the remoter degree;) but this Cain refusing to agree to, because his own sister was the handsomest, Adam ordered them to make their offerings to God, thereby refering the dispute to His determination. The commentators say Cain’s offering was a sheaf of the worst of his corn, but Abel’s a fat lamb of the best of his flock. (Hughe’s Dictionary of Islam, p. 2, quoting Sale’s Koran, I., p.122)

Here are some reasons why God may not have respected Cain’s offering

1) It was fruit from the ground which had already been cursed.

2) Abel came with the first fruits of his offering and it does not say that Cain did the same.

3) It was a bloodless sacrifice.

4) Was it that his attitude was wrong?

Did he come to God for the wrong reasons?

Did Cain come to God with what he wanted or he thought God should have?

He obviously felt that it was what God deserved from him?

Have you done that at church or in your life?

Recently I have tried to come to terms with my attitude with the Lord.

My wife and I also had a lengthy discussion about church that really opened my eyes toward the whole thing.

Why am I going to the church that I attend?

What reasons am I going?

What are my motives?

Praise and worship to God is the beginning of the whole reason for church.

We go to worship and praise God in a community fashion as well as uplift and serve our brothers and sisters in Jesus, those folks who are in the same boat.

If I go just because I want to do something, even if it is what I am called to do then I do a disservice to God, myself, and everyone around me.

If I come to God with any motive other than straight out love than I might as well as not come at all.

When I come to church with myself in mind, when I come expecting a blessing. When I come with my own needs and wants in mind, I have come for the wrong reasons and it will show itself in my interactions with others. My relationship with my fellow brethren will not be right and there will be something missing.

I should come out of pure love. Love for Jesus and a love for others.

Do I love others like I am supposed to?

Do I love my brothers and sisters like I say I do?

Do I love Jesus like I say that I do?

God tried to warn Cain that he had the wrong motives, the wrong mindset and it was going to lead to something worse.

In Matthew 5:21-26 Jesus gives us almost the exact same scenario.

Mat 5:21  Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

Mat 5:22  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Mat 5:23  Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

Mat 5:24  Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Mat 5:25  Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

Mat 5:26  Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

He tells us that if we are at the altar, bringing our gift and the Spirit brings to mind the fact that someone has something against us then we need to stop what we are doing and go make it right before we finish giving our gift to God.

It is a heart thing. Anger leads to murder, not just physically but also spiritually in separation, either in our relationships or with God. If we don’t take care of the problem, no matter how small, when God brings it to us, then it will grow into something more and it will be a bigger problem that might handle us in the end.

God wants obedience and not showy ritual(Hosea 6:6).

Hos 6:6  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

God wants our heart and when He says “stop what you are doing and make it right”, He not only means with others, but also with Himself. All we need to do is listen and keep our mouths shut.

Jesus said that others will know that I am His, not by how theologically sound I am, not by how good I am, but by how much I love (John 13:34-35)

Joh 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Joh 13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

And my question to you as well as myself is: “Am I showing that kind of love?”



About Clint Rodgers

I am a father of 2 wonderful children and the husband of a beautiful woman who has taught me more about compassion for goofballs than I could have ever learned. I have know Jesus for many years but about 5 years ago I truly met Him and now I do my best to follow Him as I walk in this world
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