Cain's offering


Do we know why God did not pay much attention to Cain’s offering but did to Abel’s?

Or are there any interesting theories?




So, it looks like we don’t really know?

I know that animals are the typical sacrifice throughout the OT. How is fruit treated, if at all, in the OT. In the garden of Eden it was the food of choice, wasn’t it (excluding the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil).

I just don’t understand why one sacrifice would be pleasing and the other ignored. What’s going on here in this story. The commentary in the link above seems to hint at the idea that God was testing Cain in some way by making him wait, but I’m not sure I accept that.


Perhaps Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted by God because his deeds were evil. Elsewhere the Bible says:
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:11-12)


Bishop Frederick Justus Knecht’s A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture, page 33, says:
A right intention is the chief thing. St Paul says (Hebr. 11, 4): “By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice exceeding that of Cain.” What was wanting in Cain’s sacrifice? His faith in God and in the promised Saviour was not firm and living, and therefore his worship of God was wanting in reverence and thankfulness. He worshipped Him outwardly, but not inwardly. The gifts which he offered were good, but the intention with which he offered them was not good. Let us learn from this that God does not look merely on our outward works and gifts, but that He looks especially to our intention. “The Lord seeth the heart.”

My two cents…
Perhaps Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted by God because his deeds were evil. Elsewhere the Bible says:
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:11-12)


Abel brought the fatlings of his flock. Cain brought some of his produce. Abel took care to offer the best he had while Cain did not.


Fruit was preferred prior to the flood, after which, something changed in human life conditions as to acquire extra protein.

We know that human lifetimes went off a cliff subsequent to the flood.

Given that grain sacrifices were returned to by the Church, I don’t believe that a sacrifice of that nature made it unacceptable. Methinks Cain’s improper disposition to offer sacrifice was the real issue.



Sadly Genesis does not give us many details in some of the more mystifying passages, such as the one you bring up. I’m still trying to figure out how Cain had a wife if there were only four people in the world, and one of them was just murdered, bringing the number down to three. And yeah, I’ve heard that theory about how Cain must have “married his sister” but the way the passage is written, there is NO INDICATION that anybody else was present and that Adam and Eve had other children until AFTER the murder.

Come to think of it, who exactly were those watcher angels that took human wives for themselves and produced that infamous race of giants known as the Nephilim? And how do angels get sexually aroused over human females if angels are spirit beings?

And let’s not even begin to speculate on that age old question of how Heaven is perfect, but it wasn’t good enough for Lucifer to be second in command so he leads a rebellion against God and expects to win.

One final thought about Cain’s sacrifice: When I was in second grade, our teacher told us the story of Cain and Abel (note that we DID NOT read it in the Bible). She said that “one day Cain picked some rotten fruit and gave it to God” and that was pretty much our exposure to the beginning of the first murder. Well, several years later when i was a freshman in high school religion class, the Marianist Brother asked us all why God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, and me and my classmates (all from different Catholic schools) gave basically the same reason, although through varied versions. So Brother asked us to pull out our Bibles and open them to the story and Genesis and tell him where it says that Cain picked rotten fruit to give to God. Well of course, none of us could find it, and Brother asked “So who told you that story? Some nun?” (FYI—I had a very pretty lay teacher in second grade, so no, in my case it was not a nun, but I digress). Bottom line: Brother told us that some of the things we’d learned in grade school regarding those Bible stories were sanitized “kid friendly” versions of those stories. (Don’t get me started on the sanitized version of Job)!

What i have to wonder after all these years is this: did the teachers telling us those stories intentionally give us the sanitized versions of them? Or did they know ONLY the sanitized versions and just never bothered actually reading the Bible?

Read the Book of Job sometime. It’s pretty horrifying and I actually teared up a bit while reading certain parts. Here’s a spoiler, God never does reveal to Job that it was a test and that he passed. The question of why he had to suffer undeserved traumas and hardships is never answered, and Yahweh actually gets rather annoyed with Job for questioning Him. After Job apologizes to Yahweh, God lightens up a bit and basically tells Job that God Himself has an entire universe to run, that Job is incapable of understanding why human trials occur, and God does explain in a nutshell that Yeah, I know you don’t understand why bad things happen to good people, but can you please just trust Me when I tell you that I know what I’m doing, and whether you or anybody else realizes it or not, YES I really AM in control! THEN in the Epilogue, Job gets everything paid back multiple times over.


Why was Cain’s offering not accepted? God must have been quite materialistic or hated fruits/plant.

Why was Jacob be given the birthright based on a cheat?

And how could Jacob won that wrestling over God?

Those are some of the questions that make our heads spin.

Then again, we may miss out the context the Bible was written. What was the accepted culture / action then? Sometimes we see things through our contemporary lens.

In the case of Cain’s time, was offering other than animal an insult to God or not? We don’t know because a qualifying verse was not included in the passage. Or did Cain know that meat was a better offering but nevertheless did not bother to get it?

But perhaps more importantly, murder is a serious offense and no reason should be good enough to justify committing it. (Note: murder and killing do not have the same implication).


It’s not what is offered it’s the disposition of one’s heart when making the offering.


The Jacob thing is not a mystery. God let him win. [/DUH!]

The point of that story is, if true, that G-d was testing his determination, as a benchmark for his descendants.

Likewise, with Lucifer and Heaven, we have to remember that spirit beings are not human. Heaven, to them, is not a place of comfort and consolation as it is understood by the human mind, but a union with God, in a naturally subservient position. Hell is not to them a place of sensible pain, as they’ve no skin to register the pain, but a separation from God. And the fallen angels preferred to “reign in hell than to serve in Heaven.”



For that matter, what about David and Bathsheba? She was an ancestress of our LORD. Did G-d will her sin with David in order to get her DNA into HIS body?



Come to think of it, if Jesus was a descendant from King David’s lineage through Joseph, but Joseph did not have sexual relations with his wife Mary, then how is Jesus of the line of David?

Why did the ancient Israelites who had seen the power of God rescue them from the Egyptian oppression suddenly decide that it would be a good idea to worship a golden calf that they themselves invented? STUPID!

For that matter, why did King Solomon, the smartest man who had ever lived up that point AND WHO KNEW BETTER, decide to do something as stupid as pay homage to the pagan god Astaroth AND have the nerve to build an altar to Molech! As my old sophomore geometry teacher would say:

“Well THAT was a DUMB THING to do! Yeah, that was a REALLY DUMB THING to do. Yessiree, for a boy of your intelligence, that certainly was A DUMB THING TO DO!”



I do not believe that the text ever does say how long it was after Abel’s murder that Cain married, or how long Cain had the curse before he married. It could’ve even been, say, 50 years in which time the family tree would expand a little (Eve could have born a child, who had their own, and maybe they even had their own). It’s all in Genesis 4.

Interestingly, Islam provides a ready explanation of Cain and Abel (they both had twin sisters), and there are many Christian apocryphal books in Coptic about the earliest days. There were primarily Gnostic sects like the Sethites who managed their own tales about the earliest days.


You’re correct here, but none of this definitively answers the my question or that of the O.P.

Come to think of it, Noah’s curse is also something that never made sense to me.


Hebrews 11:4 teaches us that by faith, (the definition of faith, by the same author, is in Hebrews 1:1), Abel brought an intentionally better offering than Cain. Abel was “righteous,” Cain was simply not.

So it is to be known from this that God favored Abel’s offering because he was righteous, and he sought God. Cain, we can assume, did not put his heart and soul into it???


To your question, yes, sure we can, seeing that God did not find favor with it. :slight_smile:

Dude, we have the benefit of retrospect. We have the whole Bible and subsequent Bible writers have explained all those to us. :wink:

The OP’s question, as I see it, is more of a Bible fun quiz. I say, just take it lightly and have fun. :slight_smile:


(Snipped some bits)

As I’ve read it, the ‘sons of God’ were men from among the descendants of Seth, who until then had been faithful to the worship of God. The ‘daughters of men’ were women from the descendants of Cain. Some of Seth’s people took wives from among Cain’s people, a thing that apparently had been forbidden.

Heaven is perfect. It was Lucifer who fell, not Heaven.

Oh, I pray not.

Worse that that, God gave Satan* permission *to do all that to Job and his family.

My own opinion is that the Book of Job is a teaching poem. It might never have literally happened. Or perhaps it did, but much of the detail is in poetic or mythic form, not to be taken literally.


Because “his heart was swayed” then (after he had started brightly)?

Sorry, couldn’t resist that. :D:p

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