Genesis 4:1 - Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain ...

Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." (Genesis 4:1)

Is Cain really the third human?

Sectarian translators and interpreters of Genesis would have us believe that this chapter is describing how a historical Adam, the first human on the planet, together with Eve, gave birth to the third human. This interpretation, however, has several problems.

The first problem is that if Cain is the third human, then how are other humans procreated? In Genesis 4:17 it states that "Cain lay with his wife, but from the text Adam and Eve only give birth to Cain, Abel and Seth.

Where did Cain's wife come from? Did Adam and Eve give birth to a daughter? If so, why doesn't it say that Cain laid down with his sister? This would also mean that humanity is a product of incest, right?

And why would Cain need to have a mark put on him by God, 'so that no one who found him would kill him'? (Gen. 4:15) Where did the others who might 'find him' and threaten Cain's life come from?

We also have Cain speaking with sarcastic disrespect to God, saying:
"I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen. 4:9)
These points and many others indicate these verses are not historical events of the first humans on the planet earth.

Is this a historical chronology?

The reality: This is an allegorical tale, meant to communicate a number of lessons.

The confirmation that this text is allegorical in context is the following verse:
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" (Gen. 4:9)
We know this event is allegorical because God knows everything. God doesn't have to ask Cain where Abel or anyone else is, just as God didn't have to wonder where Adam was when he and Eve were symbolically hiding in Eden. ("Where are you?" (Gen. 3:9)).

The fact is, the speculative interpretations of these verses have no credibility. For example, scholars have established that if this interpretation of these texts is true, humans could only have lived on the planet for about 5,000 years. This creates a real credibility gap because archaeological evidence has traced humans on the planet back hundreds of thousands of years, and the ancestors of humans back millions of years.

And while the precise time measurement of their history - requiring carbon dating - may have some minor calculation error (most agree 5-25% margin of error), there is no doubt that the time span of humanity is far longer than this false historical lineage portends.

Sectarian teachers are thus faced with two choices: Maintain their stance that archaeological evidence is all in error and this is an accurate genealogy of humanity, or consider another interpretation of these texts that can embrace the observation of science.

This is a big reach for the fundamentalists because if they embrace science, they will need to be open to the possibility of evolution - something they have been opposed to. The idea that humanity developed progressively over time through the species is diametrically opposed to the concepts these texts supposedly communicate.

We say supposedly because the interpretation and translation of these texts have been performed by those scribes and clergy that have already been indoctrinated into the supposition that Cain was the third human and this is how humankind developed. Thus the translation and interpretation of these texts are in fact a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Does archeology indicate Cain?

If Cain was the third human then it would be quite easy for science to confirm this. Archeologists would have found no human bones that were older than about 5,000 years ago. Then when they would have found them, these 'early human' remains would be generally the same location.

But that's not what has occurred. Bone and skull fragments have been found far away from the location that is thought to be where Adam and Eve and Cain lived.

Human remains that are hundreds of thousands of years old have been found in Java, South Africa, France, Asia, Northern Europe and other locations.

Nonetheless, these texts in Genesis: 1) have historical significance outside the scope of our sense of chronological earthly history; and 2) focus on specific events in order to impart particular lessons.

For example, if they were historical persons, there would be numerous other events that took place in the lives of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel. Yet we find only a few isolated events. What kind of history of humanity would be so brief about the lives of the supposed first and second humans?

The fact is, this is not a history of humankind. The historical significance is being created by the translators and interpreters. The fact is, most of the "chapters" (actually sections, because some run together) of Genesis were separate scrolls, as each of the genealogies described is divided by what is called by Hebrew scholars a colophon.

A colophon is a separating element, signifying that the next text came from another scroll or manuscript. Most Hebrew scholars believe that there were at least 7 different scrolls that were patched together to form the book of Genesis.

This is also why we tend to see, should we read through all the chapters of Genesis, a jumping back and forth between people and events in terms of chronology.

Where did Genesis come from?

These ancient scrolls were taken from ancient oral teachings that were passed down for centuries, long before they were recorded into writing.

While some teach that Moses wrote Genesis, scholars now admit that different people wrote the original Hebrew scrolls, some of which were translated into Greek before being bound together as though they were one book called Genesis.

Then we must ask, what sort of genealogy is being described here? Were the original scrolls aimed at creating an accurate chronological history of the world? No. This is not a historical text. They were assembled together from multiple teaching traditions that had been passing on certain moral and devotional lessons for generations. It was only later that sectarian institutions attempted to organize and piece together the transcribed scrolls into what would appear to be a chronological history of the world.

This is why these texts do not cover in the least, the long histories of other cultures, such as those of South America, India, China, Egypt and elsewhere. And this is why these texts miss huge swaths of human history.

Rather, the various scrolls that documented the oral teachings of the ancient teachers were recording significant events that took place concerning specific persons: Persons who were sometimes allegorical representations as Adam and Eve, and sometimes historical persons.

This was the ancient method of teaching. A teacher may describe a particular event to convey a spiritual lesson to be derived from that event. Sometimes the events were symbolic. Sometimes they were historical. Jesus used both symbolic events (parables) along with historical events describing David, Samuel, and others as he taught his disciples, for example.

What does the symbolism really mean?

As these various lessons were collected by ancient scholars, some rascals sought to organize them to achieve a purpose they were not originally intended to achieve. Thus we end up with a mix of patched-together teachings of particular events, together with a speculative attempt to tie them together by sectarian scribes that sought to provide credibility for their respective organizations. This occurred among the different sectarian institutions at different times, effectively building upon each other.

Thus, while one can find historical relationships with God through the ages, the intent of the original scrolls was not to create a history of mankind. The intent was to teach us - through some key events - some historical and some symbolic - lessons on who we are and what our purpose in life should be.

In other words, the original lessons are still contained in these verses. God has made sure those lessons have been preserved, and that is what makes this scripture. Perceiving those lessons within the murkiness of the translations and interpretations may be difficult, but there is an ultimate purpose for this: It provides a veil or barrier for those who are not serious about returning home to God.

Remember that in the previous chapter, the symbolic Adam was tossed out of Eden, and a barrier was put between him and Eden so any return to Eden was physically impossible. This took place after Adam ate the symbolic fruit that God asked him not to eat. This barrier to returning to the spiritual realm has innumerable manifestations, including misinterpretations of scripture.

Now we find, after Adam's symbolic fall, that both Adam and Eve (actually "man and his living wife" from the Hebrew) are still cognizant of God, as God has been given credit for the birth of Cain.

However, within the text is a clear communication: The Hebrew word being translated to "Cain" literally means 'possession.' This is combined with the symbolic Eve's statement, "....I have brought forth a man..." of which "I have brought forth" is derived from the Hebrew word קנה (qanah), which literally means, 'to get, acquire, create, buy, possess,' according to the lexicon.

These two words in the verse confirm a deeper meaning than simply the first two humans giving birth to a third human. The verse indicates the beginning of the concept of possession: That we, after our fall from the spiritual realm, began to perceive our offspring and other elements of the physical world as our possessions.

This element of possession is the first phase in the progression of our continued downfall into the depths of the physical world.

Thus we find this event is symbolic, and the central players are also symbolic:

Adam symbolizes each of us individually.

Eve symbolizes us as a spiritual family.

Cain symbolizes our error of conceived possession within the physical world.

As is explained in chapter three of Genesis, we were cast out of the spiritual realm due to our envy of God (we wanted to be "like God" (Genesis 3:5). As we were thrown into the physical world, we were given "garments of skin" (Gen. 3:21) or these physical bodies. Then God placed a barrier between the physical world and the spiritual realm so we couldn't return whimsically.

Now we see the first event of our lives within the physical realm, as we begin to identify with these physical bodies and feel that we "possess" our children and other material possessions. While we can see that Eve still gives credit to God for Cain, this concept of "possession" is what gradually leads to further acts of selfishness, as we'll see later in this chapter.

One of the central reasons the sectarian translators and interpreters of these ancient teachings did not understand this concept is because they, too, were entrapped by the illusion of possession, thinking that they and their sectarian organizations have some right of possession. So they attempted to rearrange the ancient scrolls in such a way as to suggest chronological history, in order to suggest their sectarian religious organization offers the only means to being saved - as well as being the only rightful owners of the supposed "promised land."

This problem is specifically why there is so much violence in the Middle East. Each side is claiming their sectarian institution has the right of possession of the lands they occupy or don't occupy around the Middle East.

The fact is, the Supreme Being owns everything. He owns all the land, all the mountains, deserts, oceans, forests, and every other material element. He owns all of the Middle East: Every speck of sand, every sand dune, and every oasis.

We can know simply that we own nothing on this planet because ownership requires control. Each of our physical bodies will die and decompose, and we will leave them behind. With them, we will also leave behind whatever we thought we possessed. Because we will leave those possessions behind, we have no control over them. Thus we have no ownership.

Only God has ownership because He has complete control over all the elements.

Therefore, it is ridiculous to fight over God's property.

This element, possession, provides a foundation for all the greed, violence and hatred that exists around the planet. We are thinking that we can own the stuff of this world, and what we don't possess, we want to, because we want to own it. This is rooted, again, in our envy of the Supreme Being. He is the rightful owner of everything, yet we want to own what He owns.

Understanding these two lessons: that we are not these physical bodies, and everything is owned and controlled by God, provides our first step in returning to our natural position in the spiritual realm as the Supreme Being's loving servitors.

Consider another translation of this verse in Chapter Four of the New Book of Genesis.