Am I My Brother's Keeper?
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20120318                            20120324                            20120524                            20130309                            20130831                            Morality

Abel keeper of sheep, Cain tiller of the ground.
Cain brought fruit; Abel, firstlings and fat of his flock.
God respected Abel's, but not Cain's offering.
Cain is upset. God asks "Why?
Do well and be accepted, do not and sin will overtake you.
Cain talked with Abel. (later)
In the field Cain killed Abel.
God asked Cain, "Where is Abel?"
Cain: "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
God: "What have you done? You killed him, and are cursed by banishment"

            Genesis: Chapter 4, Verses 1-11

I think the banishment was more for lying to God than killing, which may have been for good cause, probably not. That is probably why Cain answered God's question, "I don't know"; which was true, in a way. Abel was dead and Cain could not know what happens after death. But since Cain knew what God was after, this "truth" becomes avoidance, and in the presence of God, a lie. Then Cain asked,

"Am I my brother's keeper?"

Why would Cain ask that? I think because it was a rhetorical question. Cain knew God would say "No", and thereby deflecting God's attention to his "correctness" and away from his "sin" of murder. But God saw right through that one, ignoring Cain's question. Though his follow-up question about what Cain did is a little puzzling to me, because God answer his own question in the next phrase; or is the question just an expression of surprise or perhaps a warning?

The book "The Bible for Dummies" presents a "consensus" view that is quite the opposite from mine. The answer to Cain's question, not God's by the way, according to the book is, to quote:

"Yes! We are our brother's keeper, and we must do all that we can to protect and assist our fellow human beings in their journey through this life."

Therefore it seems right from the start I have a different view than many about what our instruction are from Genesis and God. It is our "brotherly love" that has put the world out of kilter, our "save lives", and "reduce misery" have only increased our material ability to steal more than we need from God's bounty. We do it to "help" others, raise their standard of living, save them from suffering. But we just keep more people alive, and therefore increase suffering by each saved life, for human life is suffering and death as Buddha pointed out. We attempt to violate this rule at our peril, or perhaps it is God's peril we seek by inventing immortality.