Saturday, October 13, 2012

What Did Abel Offer Adonai?

The earth is HaShem's
שמע ישראל ה 'הוא האלוהים שלנו הוא אחד

Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
What Did Abel Offer To Elohiym?
(also posted HERE)

According to Torah the original diet for both humans and animals was vegetarian:
Genesis 1:29 And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed - to you it shall be for food;
1:30 and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is a living soul, I have given every green herb for food.' And it was so.
1:31 And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good....
This seems clear enough. Both humans and animals were created as vegetarians (and arguably as vegans). This state lasted until Noach and his family left the ark after the great flood as I discuss elsewhere.
So, if humans and animals lived in peace and shared a common diet what are we to make of the following? What did Abel offer to Adonai that was more pleasing than Cain's vegitable based offering? Here's the text:
Genesis 4:1 And the man [Adam] knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain, and said: 'I have gotten a man with the help of Adonai.'
4:2 And again she bore his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Adonai.
4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Adonai had respect unto Abel and to his offering;
4:5 but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
4:6 And Adonai said unto Cain: 'Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
4:7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it.'
4:8 And Cain spoke unto Abel his brother. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
4:9 And Adonai said unto Cain: 'Where is Abel thy brother?' And he said: 'I know not; am I my brother's keeper?'
4:10 And He said: 'What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground.
4:11 And now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand.
First, the text says that Cain was a farmer, he grew food. Abel tended the sheep.
It has been assumed by many that Abel raised and slaughtered the sheep for food, however that would contridict the command to be vegetarian. The text merely says that he tended sheep.
At this early period three necessities predominated life: food, shelter and clothing. For the brothers to both be involved in food production would be redundant. The clear teaching here, especially considering the dietary command, is that Cain grew food for the family while Abel tended sheep for their coats and not for their meat.
The most common disagreement with this view is verse four: And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof..... The argument being that Cain produced the dietary fat (and hence presumably meat). Is this what is being taught here?
The Hebrew clarifies this misunderstanding: min cheleb("the fat") refers to the richest or choice part a thing, not to the literal fat (depending on the context). We still use this term in that same way: "the fat of land" means the best.
There was a critical difference between the offering of Cain and that of Abel. Let's re-read the material:
4:3: ...Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Adonai.
4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof....
[i.e. he did the same but Abel brought forth the very best he had].
While Abel offered the best he had (the min cheleb) Cain, it appears, did not. His sacrifice was not pleasing to Elohiym because Cain did not intetionally give his best. This understanding is affirmed as Elohiym says:
4:7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up?...
Cain did not offer his best and so Elohiym did not accept his offering. To serve HaShem we must do so from the heart, offering our very best:
Isaiah 29:13 And Adonai said: Forasmuch as this people draw near, and with their mouth and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear of Me is a commandment of men learned by rote;
HaShem wants our best with love.

I believe in the sun,
Even when it is not shining;
I believe in love,
Even when not feeling it;
I believe in God,
Even when He is silent. - World War II Inspiration in a Cologne Hiding Place
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