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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: August 2014



Cain and Abel are the first two sons of *Adam and *Eve; their story unfolds in Genesis 4. First-born Cain, whose name is linked to his mother's statement that she “acquired” (kaniti) a son with God's help (4:1), is a farmer; Abel is a shepherd. When Cain's vegetable offering to *God is ignored while Abel's animal offering is favored, God warns Cain against giving in to sin. Nevertheless, the jealous Cain kills Abel. Confronted by God, he famously responds, “Am I my brother's keeper?” (4:9). Protectively marked by God and sentenced to wander the earth, Cain settles in the land of Nod, east of Eden. There he marries and becomes the father of *Enoch, for whom he names his newly founded city (4:16–17). The story makes clear that fratricide is a crime against self, God, and society. Cain and Abel's sibling rivalry also becomes an important motif in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim interpretative traditions and in folklore, art, and literature. For some scholars, the story reflects the conflict between wandering herdsmen and land-bound farmers.


Cairo Genizah: See GENIZAH

Calendar (See also CALENDAR: MONTHS OF THE YEAR). The biblical *festivals have always been at the center of the Jewish calendar. Enumerated in several passages in the *Torah (esp. Lev 23, Num 28–9, and Deut 16), these special days include *Passover (Pesah. or the Festival of Unleavened Bread; it is always first in the list, because it takes place in the first month of the year); the Festival of Weeks (*Shavuot); the Day of Remembrance (later known as *Rosh Ha-Shanah, the New Year); the Day of Atonement (*Yom Kippur); and Tabernacles (*Sukkot).

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