CAIN AND ABEL
"BUT of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden" (Gen. 3:3). It was taught in a Baraitha, Rabbi Ẓe'era said: "Of the fruit of the tree"—here "tree" only means man, who is compared to the tree, as it is said, "For man is the tree of the field" (Deut. 20:19). "Which is in the midst of the garden"—"in the midst of the garden" is here merely an euphemism. "Which is in the midst of the garden"—for "garden" means here merely woman, who is compared to a garden, as it is said, "A garden shut up is my sister, a bride" (Cant. 4:12). Just as with this garden whatever is sown therein, it produces and brings forth, so (with) this woman, what seed she receives, she conceives and bears through sexual intercourse.
(Sammael) riding on the serpent came to her, and she conceived; afterwards Adam came to her, and she conceived Abel, as it is said, "And Adam knew Eve his wife" (Gen. 4:1). What is the meaning of "knew"? (He knew) that she had conceived. And she saw his likeness that it was not of the earthly beings, but of the heavenly beings, and she prophesied || and said: "I have gotten a man with the Lord" (ibid.).
Rabbi Miasha said: Cain was born, and his wife, his twin-sister, with him. Rabbi Simeon said to him: Has it not already been said, "And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a shameful thing"? (Lev. 20:17). From these words know that there were no other women whom they could marry, and these were permitted to them, as it is said, "For I have said, The world shall be built up by love" (Ps. 89:2). With love was the world built up before the Torah had been given. Rabbi Joseph said: Cain and Abel were twins, as it is said, "And she conceived, and bare (with) Cain" (Gen. 4:1). At that hour she had an additional capacity for child-bearing (as it is said), "And she continued to bear his brother Abel" (Gen. 4:2).
Now Cain was a man who loved the ground in order to sow seed; and Abel was a man who loved to tend the sheep; the one gave of his produce as food for the other, and the latter gave of his produce as food for his (brother). The evening of the festival of Passover arrived. Adam called his sons and said to them: In this (night) in the future Israel will bring Paschal offerings, bring ye also (offerings) before your Creator.
(Cain) brought the remnants of his meal of roasted grain, (and) the seed of flax, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his sheep, and of their fat, he-lambs, which had not been shorn of their wool. The offering of || Cain was precluded, and the offering of Abel was acceptable, as it is said, "And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering" (Gen. 4:4).
Rabbi Joshua ben Ḳorchah said: The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Heaven forbid ! Never let the offerings of Cain and Abel be mixed up (with one another), even in the weaving of a garment, as it is said, "Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together" (Deut. 22:11). And even if it be combined let it not come upon thee, as it is said, "Neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together" (Lev. 19:19).
Rabbi Zadok said: A great hatred entered Cain's heart against his brother Abel, because his offering had been accepted. Not only (on this account), but also because Abel's twin-sister was the most beautiful of women, and he desired her in his heart. Moreover he said: I will slay Abel my brother, and I will take his twin-sister from him, as it is said, "And it came to pass when they were in the field" (Gen. 4:8). "In the field" means woman, who is compared to a field.
He took the stone and embedded it in the forehead of Abel, and slew him, as it is said, "And Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him" (ibid.).
Rabbi Jochanan said: Cain did not know that the secrets are revealed before the Holy One, blessed be He. He took the corpse of his brother Abel and hid it in the field. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: "Where is Abel thy brother?" (Gen. 4:9). He replied to Him: Sovereign of the world ! A keeper of vineyard and field hast Thou made me. A keeper of my brother Thou hast not made me; as it is said, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (ibid.). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: || "Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?" (1 Kings 21:19). "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground" (Gen. 4:10). When Cain heard this word he was confused. And He cursed him, that he became a wanderer on the earth because of the shedding of the blood, and because of the evil death.
Cain spake before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of all the worlds ! "My sin is too great to be borne" (Gen. 4:13), for it has no atonement. This utterance was reckoned to him as repentance, as it is said, "And Cain said unto the Lord, My sin is too great to be borne" (ibid.); further, Cain said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Now will a certain righteous one arise on the earth and mention Thy great Name against me and slay me. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He took one letter from the twenty-two letters, and put (it) upon Cain's arm that he should not be killed, as it is said, "And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain" (Gen. 4:15). The dog which was guarding Abel's flock also guarded his corpse from all the beasts of the field and all the fowl of the heavens. Adam and his helpmate were sitting and weeping and mourning for him, and they did not know what to do (with Abel), for they were unaccustomed to burial. A raven (came), one of its fellow birds was dead (at its side). (The raven) said: I will teach this man what to do. It took its fellow and dug in the earth, hid it and buried it before them. Adam said: Like this raven will I act. He took || the corpse of Abel and dug in the earth and buried it. The Holy One, blessed be He, gave a good reward to the ravens in this world. What reward did He give them? When they bear their young and see that they are white they fly from them, thinking that they are the offspring of a serpent, and the Holy One, blessed be He, gives them their sustenance without lack, as it is said, "Who provideth for the raven his food, when his young ones cry unto God, and wander for lack of meat" (Job 38:41). Moreover, that rain should be given upon the earth (for their sakes), and the Holy One, blessed be He, answers them, as it is said, "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry" (Ps. 147:9).