The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as THE WAY. This teaching became the final interpretation on the Law and the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah. The Way also became the transitional teaching of the early church. Many of these teachings are contained within modern religious thought, many are not.
The story of Cain and Abel is the first in the Who Is series. Many interpretations of the Cain and Abel story have been written. This effort is dedicated to the enlightenment principles within the story, those which concern the Jesus teaching of the Way.
As to Cain, Cain will come to epitomize the darkened lineage within the generations of man. Cain represents Satan, and many consider him the child of Satan. Cain represents the rebellion within, the assault on righteousness, which through a chain of events will lead to murder. Cain is ungoverned sin, grudge ridden. Cain will become ‘he who wanders’, untethered to any righteous attribution. Poisoned with anger, he will initiate affliction upon mankind. ‘Kayin’ means to acquire, and by Cain and his progeny the acquisition will culminate in whatever manner needed.
‘Hevel’ refers to being empty, and on the surface his name is interpreted as a lack of substance;* also, ephemeral, short lived. A more sophisticated interpretation would view Abel’s emptiness as open or prepared to receive God. The so-called ’emptiness’ of Abel also indicates innocence, and one who can be filled with the righteous spirit of God. Thus, Abel represents and intimately connects the attributes of Faith and Righteousness (see, Righteous Abel P. 1).
Abel is willing to prepare and sacrifice his best to God. He recognizes the source of all good, performs a faithful act, and by giving his best establishes righteous behavior for all men. Abel demonstrates that if filled with faith (faithful) you will tend toward righteous acts. Abel represents the righteous, and thus He (God) who can give blessing, and thus points to the kingdom of God within. Much later in biblical history Jesus will reveal the kingdom within as one of the great secrets of the Way.
Cain is the first person born, the eldest of the twins, Cain and Abel. Later, as Cain sees himself as not only first, but foremost, his problems begin. However, we will begin in chapter 4.1, with “I have gained me a son with the help of God.”“with the help of God.”
It has been suggested that Eve sees herself as mankind’s co-creator with God, and thus unwittingly puts herself in a presumptuous position: God is mentioned second, and Cain is attached to gain, or as ‘Eve’s acquisition’. This viewpoint may seem a harsh indictment of Eve, for in a certain way Eve would naturally see herself in a co-creator role. No matter the interpretation, she can do what Adam cannot do, and assuredly realizes this special role. However, the allegory of Cain and Abel is used to illustrate the nature of man, and how he may too often put himself first, and resist humility. This resistance to humility is later observed in Cain’s offering. Later, Eve will name Seth as ‘granted (to) me’, instead of mentioning her own gain.
In Christian teachings, as well as positive thinking teachings, Eve’s use of the spoken word is often mentioned concerning how a person names their world, and from this naming what then may result (see, Naming, The Way). How do we speak and name before our creations come into being? The lesson of careless words is driven home throughout the story of Cain and Abel. Cain’s life will later become one of striving for gain, including recognition, which will later turn him toward infamy.
The following scripture relates to Cain in many ways: “How can your words be good when you yourselves are evil? For the words that the mouth utters comes from the overflowing of the heart. A good man produces good within the store within himself; and an evil man from evil within produces evil,” Jesus in Matt. 12.35, when he speaks to the Pharisees.
Cain will later tell God that he does not know where his brother is— Cain’s words are lies. He utters inanities, such as, “Am I my brother’s keeper,” when he knows he has already killed Abel. The storehouse within Cain is evil, and as we shall see, Cain will continue to produce evil. He strives after gain and status for its own sake. He is vain and possessive, while Abel accepts bounty and is grateful. Cain becomes distant from God, relying on his own values, the way he sees things; while Abel is growing closer and closer to God, demonstrating a higher pathway and relationship.
At this point we see the difference between teachings which promote a mis-motivated philosophical and overly abundant intellectual pursuit, and those teachings which espouse letting go of self so that the spirit may enter. Both of these kinds of teachings are represented between Cain and Abel. The first is full of explanations and reasons as to why, producing a certain kind of mental sweat and toil and stress, which we will see throughout the life of Cain. The other permits a certain grace and elegance to flow into life’s byways, representing Abel. The one offers reasoning, which is very useful in its proper place, but then takes ‘its reasons’ into every area of personal life: justifying, lying to self and generally corrupting. The other allows for inspiration, a moderated application toward leadership (not rulership), and a gentle spirit which soothes and heals.
The difference between these two approaches is illustrated throughout scripture. Saul is considered headstrong (I Sm. 13.13; 15.11), while David, regardless of faults, demonstrates a heart after God. On a broader scale, man’s pursuit of outward righteousness creates religious law, which becomes an attempt at righteousness from the outside in. Jesus taught the opposite, spirituality (not necessarily religion) from the inside out. It is the law which convicts, but it is the spirit which resolves and sets one free.
Consumed with himself, Cain develops a grasping calculating nature. We will see that he is adept at reaching out, but never reaches or looks within. Cain, after a fashion, is jealous after himself and consumed with himself: he is totally self-absorbed, he is totally self-centered, and he is totally selfish in a way Abel clearly is not. In such a person false-pride and arrogance cannot be far behind.
Cain lacks the attribute of self-inspection. For if the kingdom of God is within, Cain never seeks that kingdom. He cannot look at himself, and as we shall see, neither will he allow the spirit to reflect back to him. Cain continues to pursue himself. Cain appears to seek the most benefit for what he considers the least amount of work, as he will demonstrate with his offering. Of a fashion he is sly and calculates his best advantage instead of maintaining a more noble pursuit and pathway. His nature is portrayed as wholly unrighteous.
THE WAYThe Way teaches that this schism must be healed, not only in understanding or teaching, but within the daily walk which each individual assumes, or pathway. Teaching and pathway are not separated, even though they are two different things. It does not appear that Cain has accepted teaching or absorbed learning from his parents, and as to pathway, those “who leave the path of uprightness” (Proverbs 2.13) describes Cain quite well. While Hebrews 12.13, “make straight pathways for your feet,” describes Abel.
In the Hebrew Bible the schism of good verses evil, righteousness verses sin, is healed by sacrificial means. This ritual is observed during Yom Kippur, or the day of At-One-Ment, which we pronounce a-tone-ment. The ancients knew that losing enough blood would lead to death, thus life and blood were somewhat synonymous. Blood, representing spiritual life, must be shed for remission of sin, else the process of remission holds no spiritual power or authority.
Both Judaic and Christian teachings provide a vision of oneness with God, which might be thought of as the final healing of the schism. Jesus reflects this message of healing the schism in Matt. 5.48, “Be ye therefore perfect,” which means to assume a better righteousness,* but also alludes to animal sacrifice as no longer the way to righteousness, or At-one-ment. Jesus deals with the man himself, and not an outward act such as sacrifice. The Way is a pathway of wholeness (perfect), best exemplified by Jesus himself— completeness, oneness, or wholeness with God. Matt. 5.48 in the New English Bible reads, “There must be no limit to your goodness, as your heavenly Father’s goodness knows no bounds.”
* “Perfection for Matthew means the better righteousness… the total and unreserved obedience to the whole person,” (see, Mt. 5.20). Harper’s Bible Commentary. Ed. James L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988. Print.
Teaching and pathway are intended to yield wholeness, and are intrinsic to both Judaism and Christianity. Without uniting teaching and pathway the enlightenment of the Way remains hollow. This is evidenced in many scriptures: Psalms 19.1-2, “The heavens declare the glory of God…every day it utters speech, every night it reveals knowledge,” illustrating edification as ongoing, continuous; Luke 11.52, “Woe to you Torah experts! For you have taken away the key of knowledge! Not only did you yourselves not go in, you also have stopped those who were trying to enter!” This scripture more closely relates to obstructing relationship or oneness with the spirit, perhaps referring to the purity laws and what Jesus alludes to as ‘dead teachings’, or white sepulchers mentioned in Matt. 23.27.
Throughout his ministry Jesus spoke to Jews who had no spirit awakened in them, and thus no real concept of pathway to God. Under the law they had many rules to follow, there was ritual sacrifice and offerings, but for them God remained one step away. Jesus resolves this problem in two ways. First, by telling them that the kingdom of God is within, and thus immediate, as opposed to reaching God only through law and works at obedience to law. Pathway is present, as God is ever-present.
Secondly, Jesus then provides the teaching that must accompany such a walk. Jesus’ teachings will become Messiah’s final interpretation on the Law and the Prophets, which the Essene believed was the Messiah’s main task. This pathway was known to them, and is mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls as the Way. These teachings are now revealed to us.
Abel seems to comprehend this pathway notion in some fashion, unlike Cain who seems to have no real direction, no pathway, and otherwise remains a dullard. In the Cain series we will observe a continuing decline in Cain, as well as his generations which follow.