With our newfound understanding of these ways of interpretation, we can certainly get the ‘literal’ understanding—a case of sibling rivalry and jealousy that ends with the murder of one by the other. Since we haven’t, I’m assuming, killed our sibling, we can just breeze past this passage without ever really chewing on it.
Perhaps you read it a bit more and chew on the message. Maybe the literal idea of murder is not done, but how have we used jealousy to hurt another? Perhaps not as extreme as a beating in the fields, but what about the words I’ve used to describe another, or used to hurt another? How has that led to their demise, or my own?
Go deeper now…What does it mean to be ‘my brother’s keeper?’ Is the idea that we are all out for ourselves—look out for number one, don’t worry about anyone else? What does Cain’s statement say about community, about ‘love your neighbor’, about the ego (me, my and mine)?
At the Spirit level, what is the message of God? Read deeply, is Cain’s experience of ‘curse’ God’s doing, or his own? If God grants us the guardrails to keep us living well and we go beyond them, isn’t our hurt, experience, and pain a result of our own doing?
You see, to read the scriptures well is starting with a question, that leads to new questions, that lead to other questions. Not all questions have immediate answers. Some are left to sit and work like yeast in dough. As we move from a simplistic reading of scripture to deeper levels, we begin to see the dance of Spirit throughout these stories.