Cain and Abel
According to the Bible (the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis), Cain was the first human born naturally. He was the first-born son of Adam and Eve, the first people - created, not born. Cain was a "tiller of the ground", or arable farmer. His brother, Abel, born soon after, was a "keeper of sheep", or pastoral farmer.
One day, Cain made an offering to God of his crops; Abel offered "the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof", which pleased God more. When Cain said so to God, He upbraided him. This made Cain jealous; he talked with his brother, became angry with him, and killed him. This was the first murder (and fratricide). God asked Cain where Abel was, to which Cain made the memorable reply "Am I my brother's keeper?" God's reply was "the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground", and He cursed Cain, outlawing him and making him "a vagabond and fugitive". When Cain said "My punishment is greater than I can bear, because it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me" - there was no one else, other than his parents, if we are to follow the Genesis narrative literally - "the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him". (The 'mark of Cain' has since been used as 'a sign of guilt', a cause of persecution; although originally it was a mark of protection.)
After Abel's death, Adam and Eve had a third son, Seth. (There is no mention of any daughters, nor other mothers for the children of Cain and Seth.)
- Etymological note: It is unclear what the names mean. It has been suggested that Abel means 'emptiness', or 'herdsman'; Cain is 'smith', 'metalworker'. 'Herdsman' and 'smith' may suggest that they are simply generic, occupational, names, as Adam is generally 'man'. In Hebrew, they are הֶבֶל and קַיִן ('Hevel' and 'Qayin'); the Qur'an gives them no names, calling them only 'the two sons of Adam' (ابني آدم ibna ādam).
- To raise Cain is an expression meaning 'to create trouble', either 'to cause an uproar', for example by protesting against a decision, or 'to behave riotously', for example by a drunken night out.
- Kane and Abel is the title of a popular novel by Jeffrey Archer (1979), dealing with a complex series of rivalries, misunderstandings and coincidences between two men, William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, a Pole originally named Wladek Koskiewicz). There is a sequel, The Prodigal Daughter published in 1982), about Florentyna Kane, daughter of Abel Rosnowski, married to Richard, son of William, Kane. She becomes the first female President of the United States.
- For clarification of an unusual spelling error, see Abel - able.