The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as THE WAY. This teaching became the final interpretation of the Law and the speaking of the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah. The Way also became the enlightened transitional teaching of the early church.
Through Abel, the character attributes of faith and righteousness are introduced into the story and established as working principles of the Way.
Cain plants his crop. After planting, Cain seems intent on waiting for God to make it rain. “…he first contrived to plow the ground,” Josephus tells us, Ant. bk. 1, ch. 2. “Contrived” is interpreted by many scholars that Cain intends to gain benefit in the easiest manner possible. There seems to be a wave of anger and defiance relative to Cain’s nature and behavior as he “forces the ground,” as Josephus writes. This ‘forcing’ lends to the thought that Cain may not have been much of a farmer. Everything Cain does is struggle and frustration. Although scholars have made much about the conflicts that may have arisen between Cain the farmer and Abel the herder, the crux of this story lies with Cain’s inner man.
Now the story moves quickly forward. “Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil; and Abel, for his part, brought the choicest of the firstlings of his flock.” In contrast, we will first discuss Abel and the meaning of his sacrifice. Abel stands faithful in heart and mind and is pictured as he who loves righteousness for its own sake. He sees goodness in the world and sees God in all things. Abel associates himself with the best, the choicest. Abel recognizes God’s goodness, demonstrating a fundamental faith in his relationship. Abel’s sacrifice is the first faith attribution we observe in the biblical story of man.
Faith will be emphasized throughout the Hebrew and Christian bibles, embedded and intrinsic within all biblical narratives—faith in giving, faith in receiving, and the consequences of the lack of faith. Just as in Jesus’ times, Belief-Faith now becomes the first initiated step into the relationship and knowledge (knowing) of God. Abel demonstrates dedication as foremost.
Cain’s sacrifice is casual toward God.
He gathers whatever grain is handy.
Cain’s offering, however, is the first indication of a problem concerning Cain. In contrast to Abel, Cain seems to gather whatever grain is handy. He makes no special or committed effort as a part of his attribution toward God. There is no mention or indication of Cain’s good intent. Cain seems only interested in ‘getting’, this ‘forcing of the ground’, not giving. He is not thoughtful toward God but is possessed and focused on himself and his struggles. Cain represents the working mind in the negative case; there is no room for the spirit of God.
Cain is associated with the earth, dust, mortal, or earthbound man. He lacks a true vision of a relationship with God. Likened to a man who makes a fist to hold onto his own, Cain cannot let go and thus receive further illumination. For those who walk in the Way the lesson of letting go is straightforward, indicating forgiveness, for no progress can be made otherwise. Cain may hold grudges. As the story progresses, Cain cannot let go of himself.
For his part, Abel tends the flock and would feel blessed by every newborn lamb and kid, and recognize every animal he oversees. Shepherds have times of great activity but also times of rest, even quiescence. Abel stares at the clouds as he oversees the pasturing of his flocks, perhaps musing with many different thoughts. Within the biblical narrative, he is innocent within his person but also represents innocence itself. He represents an open soul, both as a person and before God.
Much as faith is intrinsic to the Way, openness before God becomes a fundamental principle, what is often referred to today as transparency. Abel recognizes the goodness of God. This infers that goodness must also reside in Abel. Cain and Abel both speak to God, but Abel w believes in God’s goodness and who begins the pathway of knowing Him. Abel sacrifices out of gratitude.
Abel is righteous because he has received righteousness from God.
Cain wills not to receive God, while Abel is eager. Abel has received God and has an increasing relationship with God. Personal and intimate would describe Abel’s relationship. Abel personifies the nature of God in man. For the traditional Christian interpretation, Abel becomes the first messianic figure. Being righteous and innocent, Abel reflects Messiah (Righteous Abel P. 2).
According to many theologians, Cain’s offering may have been deemed unworthy, as represented in Gen. 3.20. God makes Adam and Eve more appropriate clothing, providing skins for them as a covering. This requires the shedding of blood, to take an animal’s life and skin it. We see this rite of sacrifice throughout the Hebrew Bible, eventuating in the sacrifice of Yeshua Messiah. The argument goes that Cain’s offering is not a blood offering, the blood representing life, and therefore Cain’s offering is not worthy.
“Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, And Abel (brought his fruit), (but) he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof,” Gen 4.3.
“Fat thereof”, requires rendering the lamb to be adequately prepared.
Cain naturally brings ‘his part’, from that which he had labored. It is not the fruits of his labor that are the problem. There is no biblical notation or indication that Cain took any particular measures to assure the quality of his sacrifice. Cain comes to God of himself, naturally. He sees only his earthly efforts, and works under his perception of labor, the law of his struggle, and thus what he perceives from his labor as good enough for God. Cain is removed from any attribution to God. He comes in his natural self, not his obeisant self, nor righteously. So the argument that Cain does not make a blood offering, inspiring God’s disdain, is a superficial conclusion.
Cain brings the product of his labor, just as we all must. But, as the story progresses, the soul-nature and intent of Cain become more and more the issue. ‘I worked hard for this grain,’ Cain says to himself. ‘I give a fair share,’ he analyzes. The problem is that Cain’s whole approach to God is divisive and possessive, and does Cain give his first or best fruit or best efforts? Cain’s values are in confrontation with God’s values, and Cain holds on to his values dearly.
In the teaching of the Way, Jesus emphasizes the viewpoint of oneness or remaining whole with God, regardless of circumstances. Cain’s divisiveness, or a lack of oneness, here represented as a lack of gratitude and faithfulness, becomes a repeated theme throughout scripture. For example, the prodigal son’s return represents separation, facing the consequences, then resolving the situation by returning to his roots and essentially repenting (gratitude, oneness, or wholeness).
The root problems (separation) of man from God are represented in these brief moments with Cain: lack of faith and faithfulness, lack of gratitude, lack of relationship, lack of unity and oneness with God, insistence on one’s values, with Cain’s case presented as the values of a crude initiate. Cain gives according to the laws and standards he has set up for himself. He is all about his inner law, vanity, and how he perceives conditions. He is not about the grace and goodness of God, nor his relationship to Him. Cain represents the mortal world.
The story of Cain and Abel illustrates many valued principles of the Way. Through the attributes of faith and gratitude, Abel lays the groundwork for man’s future revelation into the spirit of God. By contrast, Cain falls under subjugation to the laws of the deceived Self. It is the ‘I’ which commands him. As we will later discover, Cain continues along this bent, as Cain’s generations will reveal. Concerning the individual, this is in part why enlightenment teachings prescribe ‘ending the self’. ‘Brokenness’ is another term often used, or ‘giving yourself away’. New Testament references to the ‘old man’, who cannot change, are contrasted to the ‘new man’ who can.
This principle of “not my will, but thine” (Mt. 26.39) will later become fundamental to the teaching of the Way and is the epitome of Jesus’s teaching relative to our attractions, desires, and actions. The inner voice from the kingdom becomes more integral to the pathway experience the farther one walks. Cain would have difficulties with this pathway outlook. Essentially, Cain has put himself into subjugation to his mortal or earthbound self and has no cognizance he has done so.
Cain’s nature begins to devour him. His jealousy, so often mentioned, extends from a divergent nature. Cain and Abel are fundamentally different. Cain is often viewed as from Satan’s seed, Abel from the seed of Adam. Whether these two sources of Cain and Abel are understood as literal or allegorical, each sibling’s actions concern motive and attitude and must be inspected. Cain stands in the way of his relationship with God. He wants blessing from God and acceptance. Both his casual attribution in character and his offering are mediocre, even lackluster.
Nothing in Cain indicates gratitude; he may already despise Abel. “The Lord paid heed to Abel and his offering, but to Cain and his offering He paid no heed.”
In this biblical story, God focuses on the good and dismisses that which is in lack. “Cain was much distressed and his face fell.” Cain is shocked. He has no idea how far he has fallen away. The daily intercourse of life grinds and now begins to reveal Cain. Cain’s absence of conscience proves Cain’s lack of acquaintance with the board in his eye. In a certain way, Cain is unconscious. No active witness operates within him. Underneath, he remains completely asleep.
Cain perceives himself psychologically but does not perceive himself as a spiritual being. Fully engaged with his earthly duties, Cain binds himself to his earthly urges, including a self-centered nature that accounts for little outside himself. He broods, he is conflicted, nor does he understand his bondage. Nor does he seem to have any bulwark of love or sensitivity as a counterbalance. He is in no discernible way disciplined into God. At the moment of sacrifice, Cain is revealed. Utter conviction now sits upon him. Cain’s unhealthy loose nature has led him to his slipshod offering.
Even so, God offers to assist Cain. Gen. 4.6, “Why are you distressed, and why is your face fallen? Surely, if you do right, there is an uplift. But if you do not do right sin crouches at the door.” In the world today, sin will stand nearby. Cain’s sin consists of Cain doing whatever Cain wants in whatever manner suits him, including his attributions unto God, made clear by his unworthy sacrifice. “Its urge is toward you,” God tells him, “yet you can be its master.” Much as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, God’s hand remains outstretched.
Does God recognize Cain’s urge to kill? It would seem so. The Hebrew Bible tells in v. 8, “Kayin had words with his brother Hevel.” What words were these? Words like, ‘So you think you are better than me?’ ‘You think God loves you more?’ Cain lashes out with his words, and actions will soon follow. Cain follows his word and seems insensitive to any other voice. How many of us have performed in like manner?
Elements of Cain’s character become revealed. Jealousy rears its head, and Cain’s false pride now surfaces. His false pride will not let him seek God, nor can he release his angst. His efforts are not honored; Cain cannot admit error. Just as when Jesus confronted the scribes and the Pharisees, they believed that the Messiah would confirm them, not convict them. Yet, in the end, false pride and perceived status betray the Pharisees. Trapped within himself, Cain becomes the prisoner of his false pride.
The groundwork for many lessons within the enlightened teaching of the Way stands out in the story of Cain and Abel. Cain’s resentment, jealousy, angry words, false pride, and feelings of humiliation overwhelm him. Cain is now at a point where he seeks to resolve his inner demons at the expense of the outside world. He is incapable of looking into his heart to resolve the issue. Cain will not let go of himself, for himself is what he has gained, just as ‘to gain’ is his namesake. Symbolically, he is the clenched fist, not the open palm. At this point, the desire to kill Abel unleashes completely.
“Come,” says Cain to his brother, “let us go into the field.”