oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - Genesis 4:8 : why did Cain murder his brother? - research

Volume 26 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1996-8167



The literature on Genesis 4:1−16 advances several reasons why Cain murdered Abel. The majority of commentators believe that Cain killed him because of anger, jealousy or envy. Some suggest that the murder is to be explained by Cain’s depression. Those who believe that Cain was jealous of Abel often confuse jealousy with envy. Then there are those who oppose the idea that Cain killed Abel out of envy, and suggest that God was capricious to reject Cain’s offering. The aim of this paper is to make sense of these divergent views. First, it establishes with whom Cain was angry and why he got depressed. The thesis is that Cain got angry at God and not Abel, and became depressed because he realised that he could not obtain what he desired (God’s favour) on his own terms. It then clarifies the conceptual connection between envy, covetousness and jealousy, and argues that Cain murdered Abel because he envied, resented and hated him for his character and spiritual qualities, and because he lost honour and esteem. It concludes, in contrast to critics, that God was not capricious when he rejected Cain and his offering.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error