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What Did Cain Do Wrong? Jewish And Christian Exegesis Of Genesis 4:3–6

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Chapter Summary

Ancient commentators, like their modern counterparts, confronted many puzzles in seeking to elucidate the story of Cain and Abel. Prominent among these puzzles is the Bible's apparent failure to explain why Cain's offering was rejected, and how Cain realized that it had not met with divine approval. It can be seen that Cain, according to some traditional interpretations of this chapter, directed the criticism towards God; and Jewish and Christian interpreters were consequently faced with responsibility for ensuring that God's reputation as a righteous judge was safeguarded. The differences between Hebrew parent text and LXX are very noticeable, and seem to be related to the two central questions: what was wrong with Cain's sacrifice, and how did he know that God had not accepted it? Careful consideration of LXX is thus called for, with reference to Jewish sources surviving in Greek from Second Temple times which depend on that version.

Keywords: Abel; Bible; Cain; Christian exegesis; Genesis; Hebrew; Jewish; LXX; sacrifice; Second Temple times



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