Cain and Abel: 10,000 B.C.

Okay, so “10,000 BC” was a somewhat silly movie, but it had some great visuals.

It’s 10,000 B.C.  You live in a tribe of nomadic hunter-gatherers who have recently added goat-herding to your food production repertoire.  But one of your neighboring tribes has started farming—planting and harvesting crops from their single permanent settlement.  Their slash-and-burn technique gave them a couple good harvests until it depleted the soil and stopped producing.

They sacrifice a portion of their crop to El (just like you do with your goats), but El is no longer rewarding them with good harvests.  They work their butts off from sunrise to sunset every day (in contrast to your 14-hour work week), but are receiving very little in return.

Needing to acquire more land because their own soil was dead, they went to war with another neighboring tribe (nomadic pastoralists like you), killing them all.  The battlefield became their new wheat field.

This development troubles you and your people, and you start telling campfire stories to explain what’s going on.  The most well-known story is the one about the two brothers—one is named “Herdsman” (“Abel” in your language), and other is named “Acquirer” (“Cain”). El was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice but not Cain’s, so Cain got angry and killed Abel in a field…


[Shout-out to Daniel Quinn for first suggesting this kind of interpretation to me]

What do you think? Could the Cain and Abel story have started this way?


  1. carlholmes says:

    Oh you tantalizer you. Let me give this some thought. I’ll be back..,

    1. Please feel no pressure to agree with me! 🙂 As I figure this out for myself, I am just thinking out-loud and on-line. I am enjoying giving Genesis a good study; haven’t done that in awhile. I am finding such an amazing story there, one that has so much to say to the biggest problems the world is facing right now.

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