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Cain and Abel
Video 3 of 3
So, here I think the thing to look for is Meta pattern. A Meta pattern is just a fancy word for a pattern within a pattern. So if pattern 1 is the consequences of story A, seem to echo in story B, the Meta pattern is if you look at these four consequences in story B, is there any common denominator in the way in which the echo story A. Is there anything about how they echo in the story.
So the question I want to ask here is are we looking at a straight forward echo or is there a difference between the consequences that we saw in story A and the kind of consequences we saw in story B and if there is a difference, is there a pattern in those differences? Is there a Meta pattern over here?
So it might sound kind of complicated in the abstract but if we actually try it in the story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel and you see it actually kind of make a lot of sense and it is really pretty intuitive, it is not so scary. So if we go back for example to the first consequence of eating from the tree which is exile, Adam has to leave Eden and we say, okay, what we know in the consequences of killing Abel, there was a similar kind of thing, Cain experiences exile but now, ask yourself, is it exactly the same or is it little bit different and if it is a little bit different, how was it different? Well, not exactly the same, Cain is already outside of Eden, Cain doesn’t leave Eden. So what is the way in which Cain experiences exile? Well, the answer is that Cain cannot settle down anywhere, na v’nad tiheyeh baaretz in Hebrew, he was told. He is going to be a wanderer in the land, he will never be able to settle down. So that is one sort of difference in how it is that Cain experiences exile. Adam has to leave a particular place but settle down elsewhere. Cain can’t settle down anywhere.
Consequence number 2, Adam is going to have to work to get bread by the sweat of his brow. Previously the assumption is that the land just sort of provided its bounty, there was really no need for him to get his hands dirty by farming but now, he is going to have to work, he is going to have to bring the bread out of the ground, so to speak by the sweat of his brow. So what about Cain, how does he experiences difficulty in farming? So if you look at the text, the text suggest that even if Cain works hard, ki taavod et-haadamah, even if he work the land, right, like Adam is supposed to be doing, working the land, even if he work the land, the ground is not going to yield its power to you. Lo tosef tet-kocha lach, it is not going to continue to give its power to you. So again, a little bit different in the sense of how Cain experiences difficulty in farming.
Moving on to consequence number three, Adam hides. Well, Adam hides momentarily. He is hiding behind a little bush. Think about what Cain says, Cain says that I am going to spend the rest of my life hiding, I am just going to be off and hiding from you, mepanecha mesater.
And finally, the fourth consequence, ayeh, it is not exactly the same ayeh. Again Adam is temporarily missing, he is hiding behind a bush, so you know he can reappear. In this case, we are talking about somebody who is gone for good, right? Abel has been killed and God is asking about the whereabouts of somebody who really can’t be found very permanently.
So if you think about how it is that these four things differ in a way from these four things, the answer I think really is intensity. The intensity of the consequences increases in story B. everything here is more intense, right? Adam left Eden but he can find home elsewhere, Cain can’t settle down anywhere. Adam is going to get bread by the sweat of his brow but at least if he works out he is going to get bread. Even if Cain works hard, the ground is not going to yield its power to him. Adam hides momentarily, Cain is going to spend his life hiding. Ayeh. Adam is temporarily missing. Abel is gone for good. Everything is far more intense in story B. so that already is a clue, it is a kind of commentary, it is almost saying that there is a relationship between the two but the relationship is kind of like a ladder. You know, if you imagine a little ladder over here. So it is like as you go up the ladder or down the ladder, so there is a greater intensity or if you imagine yourself in an airplane, so when you are landing, your ears begin to hurt. So the lower you get, the more your ears hurt. So imagine that kind of effect it kind of sounds like there is some sort of continuum between story A and when we put story B further down in the ladder and somehow this murder is not just any old sin, any old transgression but it is related somehow to this tree of knowledge story. It is like whatever it was happening in the tree of knowledge story, it is the same kind of thing that is happening but it is like another step down on the ladder and the consequences, whatever they were over here, you are going to have the same consequences just more intense down over here. Now that of course is going to setup a whole new question about Cain and Abel which is ‘how does the story of a murder have anything really to do with the story of a tree? The similarity in consequences and the increased intensity seems to suggest that there really is a relationship over here that this sin of murder, this transgression somehow follows from eating from the tree, it is like the natural thing, the next thing that you are going to face is this challenge of murder but how does this story of sibling rivalry have anything to do with the story of eating from the tree? So that’s going to be a real big challenge and we will talk hopefully about the story of Cain and Abel briefly, if you don’t get to watch my videos on it, then I have written a book on it and you can read that section. The book is called ‘The Beast That Crouches at The Door’, section two is all about Cain and Abel where I explored these kinds of questions but for the meantime, I am really just giving this to you as an example, an example of story A and story B and an example of how you see intertextuality working. You can have these two stories where you really hear the echoes in story B from story A and you could begin kind of tease out what the meaning might be. When we come back, we are going to try to work with this some more and go back to the very beginning, to literarily the very beginning, the book of Genesis, Genesis chapter one, verse one and we are going to ask that Sesame street question, that ‘everything you know, you learned in kindergarten’ question which is basically what does it remind me of, where have we heard these all before?’ If you want to get a head start, look at the first two or three verses of Genesis chapter one, just visualize in your head what is the image I am getting here, where I have seen that image before and again we will come back and compare notes on that.
See you then.
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