Abel’s sacrifice

Why do you think that God accepts Abel’s sacrifice and rejects Cain’s in Genesis chapter 4?

This is a question that has received numerous answers through the centuries.  Keep in mind that there are no commands concerning sacrifice yet in any of the stories preceding this one.  In addition, in later texts, both blood sacrifice and offerings of the fruit of the ground were acceptable.  What do you think?


About Jeremy

I work at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond, LA. I teach part-time classes from time to time, through Loyola University in New Orleans, Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and St. Joseph's Abbey and Seminary College. I also just finished a doctoral degree in Biblical languages through the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
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17 Responses to Abel’s sacrifice

  1. Jessica Williams says:

    1) maybe God, in his omnipotence, knew that Abel had a purer heart than Cain, and thus favored him and his offering more.

    2) God may have favored Abel because he offered him the firstborn of his sheep, while Cain only offered him fruit. (the Bible doesn’t say that Cain offered the best of his fruit, only that he offered his fruit)

    Its interesting to me that God not only favored Abel’s offering, but Abel and his offering . Typescenes in the Bible show that God usually favors firstborns.

  2. Whittney Smith says:

    Being that Genesis doesn’t give the reader much insight into the story as a whole and even less info on the brothers themselves. I think that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because God knew what was in Abel’s heart. He knew who was offering the sacrifice genuinely and who wasn’t. God also knew what Cain was going to do. Cain did not have faith so therefore his offering was not sufficient enough in God’s eyes for his lack of belief and faith in Him. Like I stated, there isn’t really enough literary info to give a concrete answer so I think this would be the best understanding.

  3. Paige Hinrichs says:

    As readers, we weren’t given a reason for how the two brothers knew what to sacrifice, which is evident is the contrast of their offerings. Abel offered fat portions from first-born stock, and Cane offered fruit. Even though Abel’s offering of livestock is a more common sacrifice (i.e. – Abraham sacrificing a ram), I don’t think God rejected Cane’s sacrifice because it wasn’t typical or good enough. I think the reason God chose to accept one over the other is because he knew their intentions and purity of heart. It says in the Bible that before anyone is born God knows them, which means that He knew the future sinful actions of Cane (killing his brother). That’s why God didn’t accept the offering from Cane – he knew that Abel’s faith was better than Cane’s, and therefore his offering was too.

  4. Heejoong Kim says:

    Both offered valuable sacrifices to God, but I feel Cain and Abel’s incentives were different. Cain had negative incentives in sacrifices, in a way where he wanted to be recognized by God for his own fulfillment. Abel in the other hand, did not care about his own fulfillment but offered the sacrifice to God for God’s own fulfillment. The reaction that Cain shows after God’s decision to accept Abel’s sacrifice shows why God did not accept Cain’s sacrifice. Cain ends up killing his brother Abel. It sort of feels like two people doing community service. One might have the incentive to be recognized as the best worker and to impress everyone in order to get one’s reputation up. On the other hand, another person might do community service because he actually cares about doing his service in the community, no matter if he receives credit or not. It’s very hard to explain what I want to explain but hopefully it is understood by people who read this comment.

  5. Jamal Lawson says:

    Although Cain may have had negative incentives in offering his sacrifice to God whereas Abel’s may have been purer, it also goes to show that Abel offered the very best that he had. He offered God the fats from one of his firstborn animals. Cain, however, simply offered to God what could have simply been surplus from his own gardening. If this is the case, the sacrifice of Abel is purer in that it is a true sacrifice. To give when one has hardly any is a much greater sacrifice than offering when one has plenty. If this is truly the case, then it is no wonder why God would accept the sacrifice of Abel over that of Cain.

  6. Caitlin Ordoyne says:

    It is not said exactly why God accepts Abel’s sacrifice and rejects Cain’s sacrifice. God probably rejects Cain’s sacrifice because he knew that Cain may not have been offering his sacrifice for the purest intentions, but just cause he felt he had too. Abel offered the firstlings of his flock and Cain offered fruit from the ground. Cain’s sacrifice may have been seen as not as important cause he could produce fruit over and over again whereas Abel could offer his sacrifice only once so it had a greater significance. God also probably knew that Cain would eventually murder his brother, so maybe he rejected Cain’s sacrifice for that reason too.

  7. Alexis English says:

    Since there is no previous law stated regarding sacrifices, we really can’t be sure why God accepts Abel’s and rejects Cain’s. Both blood sacrifices and offerings of the fruit of the ground are acceptable, so I don’t believe that it was the actual type of sacrifice that made God accept one over the other, but rather what the sacrifices meant to Cain and Abel. Abel brought the Lord the fat portions of the firstlings of his flock and Cain brought fruit from the ground. Abel’s sacrifice was of the very best of what he had, but Cain’s did not have the same quality, and this can reflect how each of them felt about God. Abel’s sacrifice showed that he believed God deserved the best of what he could offer but Cain’s failed to show that same respect for God, therefore it was rejected.

  8. Philip O. Ramirez says:

    I agree with the rest of my classmates, God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because He know that Abel was doing it with the purest intentions. Though i don’t agree with some the comments stating that He favored Abel because he offered some of his flock. I don’t think God likes sacrifices where death is involved over sacrifices that do not require blood at all. But like my classmates have said, i think it was the true intention of the sacrifice that made God favored Abel.

  9. Jade Tang says:

    I can’t really dispute anything that my classmates have said. For the most part, everything that they said I agree with. Since God is all-knowing, he had to have know whose intentions were pure. I think that was the main reason. The sacrifices were relevant, but other factors played a part in the big effect.

  10. Jeff Ramon says:

    Quite simply, as many others have said, I think God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because of Abel’s sacrifice had more thought behind it and more love. I hate to not seek a deeper meaning for this, but in comparison to our lives, does someone like a hand made gift which probably wasn’t or do you like a gift card to Finish Line? Cain took the easy way out.

  11. Dante says:

    God accepts Abel’s sacrifice and not Cain’s because he just did. It is often said that God is all-knowing so it is easy to say that God knew the intentions behind each sacrifice, but we have read in our study bibles that God may have not known all. I think God just preferred a living sacrifice over crops and Cain got the short end of the stick.

  12. Ruth Carter says:

    I definitely agree with the rest of my classmates on many different points. Because God is omniscient he would have already known the darkness of Cain’s heart and therefore would not accept his sacrifice. Also, although both crop sacrifices and blood sacrifices were both acceptable at the time, the idea of giving up an animal that would continue to produce throughout its life, seems like a greater sacrifice in comparison.

  13. Dylan Kremer says:

    I concur with Jeff and Dante, along with the majority. I believe that God viewed Abel’s sacrifice as higher value than Cain’s “fruit basket”. Also as Jessica said, God’s omniscience could have viewed Abel as more value that Cain, due to his personality. The younger son motif occurs here, as seen in other readings, the younger son is more prominent.

  14. God was probably happy with both sacrifices, but wanted to test Cain to see how he reacted to being rejected.

  15. Amber Donewar says:

    I don’t think God’s rejection of Cain’s sacrifice had anything to do with what type it was. I think he accepted Abel’s because of the intention with which Abel was giving it. In the bible it says that God knows everything about us before we even take our first breath, being so, he would have easily been able to tell that Cain was trying to do and the evil that was in his actions. Abel however, was pure of heart and had no ulterior motive when it came to his sacrifice.

  16. John Hickey says:

    I think that good did not reject kaine’s sacrifice. There were no commands forcing sacrifice, therefore he offered in his own free will. Futhermore God did not say to Kaine that his sacrifice was rejected the author did.

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