Read Moses 5:16-23.
–What does Cainâ€™s question is verse 16 reveal about him? In what ways might we have this same attitude?
–The fact that Satan commands this offering (v18) is interestingâ€”what do we learn from? Can you think of situations where Satan might motivate you to do â€˜righteousâ€™ things?
–V19: Whatâ€™s wrong with Cainâ€™s sacrifice? It isnâ€™t authorizedâ€”it is supposed to be an animal, in similitude of Christ (cf. 5:6-7). In what ways might we offer sacrifices like Cainâ€™s?
–V21: Note the irony: Cain loves Satan and listens to him, but also wants to please God. Cain thinks that obeying Satan will please God.
–A thought on occupations: thereâ€™s nothing wrong with being a farmer, but it also seems possible that Cainâ€™s occupation created distance between him and the proper sacrifice; Abel could offer one of his own sheep but Cain would have had to trade with Abel to get one. Relevant?
–V23: Iâ€™m touched by the fact that the Lord is still reaching out to. I find this very difficult to do.
–V23: Another translation is â€œat the tent flap sin crouches.â€? What does this image suggest to you?
–V23: The rest of this verse is hard to understand because the PoGP picks up bad KJV translation but it also adds material. Different interpretations:
(1)â€œAnd thou [Cain] shalt rule over him [Satan],â€? because Cain will have a body and Satan will not. This seems like an odd thing for the Lord to tell Cain.
(2)â€œAnd thou [Cain] shalt rule over him [Satan],â€?
â€œCain rule over Satan? Yes. that is the arrangementâ€”the devil serves his client, gratifies his slightest whim, pampers his appetites, and is at his beck and call throughout his earthly life, putting unlimited power and influence at his disposal through his command of the treasures of the earth, gold and silver. But in exchange the victim must keep his part of the agreement, following Satanâ€™s instructions on earth and remaining in his power hereafter. That is the classic bargain, the pact with the Devil.â€? Hugh Nibley
(3) The bad KJV translation could be better rendered: â€œfor you it is longing but you [Cain] shall rule over it [sin],â€? which is a little tricky in the PoGP because of all of the intervening material.
Thoughts on what to do with this verse?
Read Moses 5:26-31.
–V26: â€œWroth.â€? Thoughts on anger; how do you become the kind of person who can accept chastisement?
–V27: Why the reference to Adam and Eve here and what do you learn from it? (Note that Adam and Eveâ€™s perfect family template from the beginning of this chapter did not yield a perfect family!)
–V29: Note the irony that this dark oath is made â€˜by the living God.â€™
–V29-31: Note the elements of authentic covenants here: cutting the throat is the beginning of animal sacrifice and therefore tied to covenant making, new name given, etc.
Read Moses 5:32-41, 45-46.
–V33: Why does Cain say, â€œI am freeâ€?? What does he think that he is free of? Is he right about that? Is the inverse true: (How) does obedience increase freedom?
–V33: â€œIt has been pointed out that what Satan taught Cain and his brethren was not only how to exchange a human soul for a flock of sheep but also how to turn life into property. Through similar secret combinations, Satan still seduces those who love him more than they love God. Great sins of immorality result when people crave things and use other people to obtain them, thus serving their own gratification before God and all else. Here stands exposed Satanâ€™s secret means by which he seeks to destroy our Heavenly Fatherâ€™s children.â€? Richard D. Draper, â€œThe Remarkable Book of Moses,â€? Ensign, Feb. 1997, 15. A big idea.
–V34: What are some situations where we are guilty of sharing Cainâ€™s attitude in v34?
–Thoughts on Godâ€™s use of questions in this passage?
–Note that the curse of Cain and the mark of Cain are two separate things. The curse involves his relationship to the land and is his punishment for murdering his brother. The mark is the result of Cain pleading with the Lord because he is afraid he will be killed by othersâ€”it is meant as a protection to him.
Some more thoughts on the mark of Cain since it is the subject of some Mormon folklore:
(1) The scriptures do not specify what the mark is; the word used is the same word used in the OT to mean a sign or token of a covenant (such as the rainbow or circumcision), which is appropriate here: it is a sign of the Lordâ€™s protection of him. Also, there is no indication that his descendents will have the mark.
(2) The rabbis thought of the mark as a horn (or horns) on Cainâ€™s head and so in medieval art, Cain is pictured as having a horn.
(3) It wasnâ€™t until the period of European colonialismâ€”and African slavery–that the idea that the mark was related to black skin was introduced.
(4) This idea was picked up by early LDSâ€”including some leadersâ€”and was reinforced because of some rather creative connecting of dots (related to Canaanites and the curse of Ham) in Moses 7.
(5) The idea persisted (persists?) among Mormon, but shouldnâ€™t:
There are statements in our literature by the early brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, â€˜You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?â€™ And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They donâ€™t matter any more. It doesnâ€™t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of . It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them.â€”Elder Bruce R. McConkie, â€œAll Are Alike Unto Godâ€?
–Think more about the curse: Cain is initially a farmer, now he canâ€™t be, and now he will wander. This seems to be tied in a literal way to what he has doneâ€”see v35-36. Whatâ€™s going on here? Thoughts on personal application from this? And, thoughts on the interesting, graphic image in v36?
–V45-46: These arenâ€™t as innocent as they sound. Isaiah 5:12 makes a link between these instruments and â€˜party-typesâ€™ and a better translation of v46 shows that the brass and iron are used for weapons. One commenter sees Cainâ€™s family as a â€œmicrocosm . . . of technological prowess and moral failure.â€?
–There are many parallels between Cainâ€™s experience and the Fall: choice, following Satanâ€™s direction, Q-and-A with God after a misdeed, â€˜rule over thee,â€™ curse, relationship with soil, driven out. What do you make of this?
–Big picture question: this as the first story of â€˜regularâ€™ life in the scriptures. Adam and Eve had lots of other kidsâ€”some probably older than Cain and Abel (if we follow the progression of Moses 5)â€”why might this terrible, sad story be the one that gets recorded in the scriptures?