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BROTHER MURDERS BROTHER

 The Quranic narrative is based on Yusuf Ali’s English translation of the Holy Qur’an, while the biblical narrative is based on the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

Qur’an (Yusuf ‘Ali translation)
 
 
 
 
 

5:26 Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam.

 
Behold! They each presented a sacrifice (to Allah).
 
 
 
It was accepted from one, but not from the other.
 
Said the latter, “Be sure I will slay thee.”
 

“Surely”, said the former, (Allah) doth accept the sacrifice of those who are righteous.”

5:28 “If thou doest stretch out thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee, to slay thee: for I do fear Allah, the cherisher of the worlds.”

5:29 “For me, I intend to let thee draw on thyself my sin as well as thine, for thou wilt be among the companions of the fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong.”

5:30 The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones.

 
 
 

5:31 Then Allah sent a raven who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the shame of his brother.

“Woe is me!” said he; “Was I not even able to be as this raven, and to hide the shame of my brother?”

The he became full of regrets.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

5:32 On that account, we ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed the whole people.

And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.

Then, although there came to them our messangers with Clear Signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

 
Bible: Genesis (NRSV)
 

4:1 Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.”

4:2 Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground.

4:3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground,

4:4 and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,

4:5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

4:6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen?”

4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

 
 
 
 
 
 

4:8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him.

 
[Midrash Tanhuma on Genesis 4]
 

When Cain killed Abel, the latter’s body lay cast aside for Cain did not know what to do. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, sent him two pure birds, and one of them killed the other. Then he dug with his claws and buried him, and from him Cain learned. So he dug and buried Abel.

 

4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

4:10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground!

4:11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

4:12 When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

4:13 Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!

4:14 Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me”.

4:15 Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.

4:16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.  

 
[Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5]
 

In civil cases one may repay the money damage and he is atoned; but in criminal cases the blood of the person executed, and of his descendants to the end of all generations, clings to the originator of his execution. So do we find in the case of Cain, who slew his brother. It reads [Gen. iv. 10]: "The voice of the 'bloods' of thy brother are crying unto me from the ground." It does not read "blood," but "bloods," which means his blood and the blood of his descendants. [According to others it reads "bloods" in the plural, because his blood was scattered all over the trees and stones.] Therefore man was created singly, to teach that he who destroys one soul of Israel, the Scripture considers him as if he destroyed the whole world, and him who saves one soul of Israel, the Scripture considers him as if he saved the whole world.

 
 



Sau’a, translated here as “shame”, can refer to the pudenda; the image is one of the disgrace or shame of the exposed body.

The phrase “Let us go out to the field” is not in the Masoretic text, but appears in the Septuagint and other versions.

 
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