Cain and Abel: Bible and Game theory

Gifts are those things we give to another that are really symbols of ourselves. When someone gives a ring to another person that ring is more than just precious metal, but it carries with it a deep part of the giver for the receiver to hold and care for.  Gifts are expressions of our very "selves".

So if gifts are symbols of the self, then in the story of Cain and Abel, is Cain jealous of Abel not at the quality of the gift Abel gives God, but the quality of Abel's character?

Regardless of what causes God to regard Abel's offering, Cain believed that God's grace and blessing was a zero sum game.  In his day there would be only one birthright given (see the story of Jacob and Esau).  There is only one blessing offered up.  If you think of the Greek stories of special people getting blessed by the gods, such as Hercules or Achilles, then you can see how early humans might believe that if someone has special blessing of God, then that means others do not have that blessing.  Cain believes that Abel gets this special blessing and thus he believes that he cannot get it.  Cain sees God as a zero-sum game.  

This happens around us still today.  There are people who believe they have been "blessed" by God as a result of doing something (saying a prayer or giving money or thinking positive). There are people who believe others do not have the blessings of God because they are not of the right religion.  There are many around us who still hold fast to the idea that God is a zero-sum game in which you either have the blessing of God or you don't.  

Cain believes that the only way to get the blessing of God would be to dispatch of his brother and take him out of the equation.  You see if Abel is not around to get the blessing, the Cain has a better shot at getting the blessing.  So Cain kills Abel.  

Cain then has an encounter with God in which God reveals in verse 11 that Cain is cursed from the ground.  Notice that God is not the one who does the cursing in this story.  Rather, the curse of Cain is a direct result of his actions.  

When you kill someone, people get angry.  Some believe the only way to have justice when you kill someone is to "kill you back".  You know, eye for an eye.  So there will be people who hear about what Cain did and will want to kill him so Cain becomes a "fugitive and a wanderer on the earth" (v.12).

In case you missed it, Cain is a farmer.  And while I do not know much about farming I do know that it is difficult to be a farmer and a wandering fugitive at the same time.  You cannot stay around long enough to see your crops mature and thus you must eat of the early fruits and you will not longer see the ground give you its' strength and mature fruits.  

Cain's curse is not from God but as a direct result of his actions.  His actions are rooted in understanding God as a zero-sum game in which you either have it or you don't.  Then God does something to overturn the ideas of Cain's zero-sum.  

God protects Cain.

In fact God's protection (blessing???) is so much so that Cain is no longer a wandering fugitive as he goes toward the land of Nod because as we read in chapter 5, Cain builds the first city!  

I don't know much about city building, but I do believe that you cannot build a city and be a wandering fugitive at the same time.  

Even though Cain never repents of or seeks forgiveness for murder, Cain still receives the blessing from God!  

God is not a zero-sum game.  

We are all blessed by God.  

Even the unrepentant murderer in all of us.