Sibling Rivalry > Note 1:


It should be noted that in the Bible there is no explicit mention that Cain ever asked his parents, "Am I my brother's keeper?" or of the influence of the parents on the origin, cause or development of the rivalry between Cain and Abel (The Bible states that this is how Cain answers when God asked him, "Where is your brother Abel?" after Cain had killed Abel).

Although another ancient Hebrew text, part of the Midrash, discusses Adam and Eve's concern about the rivalry between the brothers, and says that Adam and Eve were sufficiently worried about their sons' enmity as to seek to keep them isolated from each other by establishing them in separate households and by giving them different professions, again there is no mention of the origin of this rivalry.

Nevertheless, Cain's response and attitude towards his parents is clearly implicit in the Bible story, as the fact that Cain would respond in such a disrespectful and brazen manner to God is more than sufficient evidence that Cain had had plenty of practice in responding in similar terms to the only other authority figures in his world, i.e., his parents.  Additionally, that Cain would react in such an infantile fashion (essentially with a temper tantrum) to his offering being rejected by God (instead of, for example, in a more adult form, by trying to find some other way to please God) indicates that this was a behavior pattern that had been set in Cain's early childhood.

It may have been that early transcribers of the Bible felt that the causes, development, and consequences of this sibling rivalry situation were so obvious to the readers in their times that they did not feel it necessary to include any explanation concerning the origin or development of the rivalry prior to the tragedy.

It is also possible that this situation was amply discussed in the early oral tradition so that no additional written explanation was necessary.  But, what may have been plainly obvious in those early times is apparently less so in ours.

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