Loss leads to loss. Diminishment demands diminishment. Such are the physics of relationships. A struggle begins to change outcomes, and it is a very difficult task—as troublesome as time travel to go back and redo what has already begun. Without a new force, the arc of devolving pertains.
The first-born, second-place sacrificer finds the easiest way to be first in everything—to have no rival; to be alone. Here aloneness returns us to ’adam, perceived to be alone. One was made two. Now two are made one. And around we go.
Distance and death are related. Cain begins with distance, “Let us go out to the field.” [A technical note—this line is not found in the Masoretic text, but is found in the Greek, Syriac, and Aramaic persons of this verse. Without this verse, the story is going to great beyond. With its presence, we find ourselves located in one of Cain’s fields, which grew his less than winning “sacrifice.”]
What better fertilizer to grow a better crop (as if that were the key issue in Cain’s loss) than the body and blood of the one who bested him—Abel’s.
We have just heard about a generalized temptation awaiting everyone, around every corner. That temptation is located in the arena of turning a relationship into a competition based on a zero-sum game regarding acceptance or assurance.
A brother is taken into distance and then to death. No remorse. After all, there has never before been a death. There is no social model developed as to how one should feel and respond to having killed (deliberately or not). There is no second thought. The delayed outcome of getting stuck on the horns of knowing and not-knowing has finally begun arriving and has continued to this day—the doom of death.
A previous question to ’shah and ’ish—”Where are you?”—echoes back—”Where is your brother?”
These questions are still alive and being asked. Where are you? Where are your siblings? Where did earth’s integrity/health go? And there is no wiggling away—we are the keepers of self, one-another, and creation.