Friday, December 01, 2017

A child is born 1: Eve bears Cain & Abel

Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have produced a man with the help of the Lord’. Next she bore his brother Abel. (Genesis 4.1-2)

We can sense Eve’s delight when she gives birth not only to her first child, but, according to Hebrew mythology the first child ever. We don’t have to take the story of Adam and Eve literally to understand her feelings when Cain is born “I have produced a man!” (Cain’s name, qayin in Hebrew) is a play on the Hebrew word qaniyti translated as “produced”. Eve’s own name means “the mother of all living” according to Genesis 3.20 )

There is something quite extraordinary about meeting a new baby for the first time, whether it is your own or someone else’s. A whole new human being has come into the world. A whole new future opens up. We may understand where children come from physically, while the ancient people who wrote this story wouldn’t have done, but there is still a sense of wonder involved in childbirth. Scans can tell expectant parents a great deal about their child – their gender and their health for example – but no one can tell what that child’s personality will be, or what they will go on to do. Naturally their parents will hope for good things, health, happiness, love given and received, but for good or ill, having children opens people up to the unknown.

Sadly, the story of Cain and Abel quickly turns from joy and wonder into tragedy. When they are grown up, Cain murders Abel in a fit of jealous rage, and then becomes a fugitive, leaving the place of his birth far behind him. Eve has lost both her children, in whom she had delighted and hoped, in one of the worst ways imaginable.

·         Have you ever held a very small baby – your own or someone else’s – in your arms? What did it feel like to do so?
·         What do you think those who saw you grow up hoped for you? How did you feel about their expectations? Were they helpful, or did they feel like a burden? Do you think you met those hopes, or do you feel you may have disappointed them?

·         Pray for a child you know and tell God what you hope for them?

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