The Torah seems to imply that it happened immediately after everyone was kicked out of the garden of Eden, but it doesn't give any specific time frame. Maybe it was after Adam already had other kids?

What are the different opinions and sources regarding the time that kayin killed hevel?

1 Answer 1


Bereishit Rabbah 22 writes that Hevel was no more than fifty days old at his death:

רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אָמַר בְּתִשְׁרֵי נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם. רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אָמַר בְּנִיסָן נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם. מַאן דְּאָמַר בְּתִשְׁרֵי נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם עָשָׂה הֶבֶל קַיָּם מִן הַחַג וְעַד הַחֲנֻכָּה. מַאן דְּאָמַר בְּנִיסָן נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם עָשָׂה הֶבֶל קַיָּים מִן הַפֶּסַח וְעַד הָעֲצֶרֶת. בֵּין לְדִבְרֵי אֵלּוּ בֵּין לְדִבְרֵי אֵלּוּ הַכֹּל מוֹדִים שֶׁלֹא עָשָׂה הֶבֶל בָּעוֹלָם יוֹתֵר מֵחֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם.

Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Eliezer said: The world was created in Tishrei. Rabbi Yehoshua said: The world was created in Nisan. The one who says the world was created in Tishrei, Abel was alive from Sukkot until Hanukkah. According to the one who said the world was created in Nisan, Abel was alive from Passover until Shavuot. Both according to this opinion and according to that opinion, Abel did not live more than fifty days.

(Sefaria translation)

In contrast, Midrash Tanchuma (Bereshit 9) writes that Hevel was killed at age forty (hat-tip @Israel Reader):

אָמְרוּ חֲכָמֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, בְּנֵי אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה הָיוּ קַיִן וָהֶבֶל

Our sages, of blessed memory, said that Cain and Abel were forty years old

(Berman translation)

  • Midrash Tanchuma (Parsha Bereishis, 9) They were 40 years old. Commented May 26 at 14:17
  • @Israel Reader feel free to add another answer
    – Joel K
    Commented May 26 at 14:22
  • The problem with Bereishit Rabbah, is that Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer (Chapter 21) says that the event with the sacrifices happened on Pesach (see also Targum Yonasan, Bereishis 4:3), which is more than 50 days from Sukkot (according to Rabbi Eliezer). Commented May 26 at 14:52
  • Were they not born naturally with a 9 month birthing period? Because both opinions seem to say they were born on the 15th day of creation no? Commented May 26 at 16:59
  • 1
    @CuriousYid See Sanhedrin 38b that in the 8th hour, Adam and Eve went to bed, and four people came off. See Tosfos (ad loc.) that this refers to Adam & Eve, and Kayin and his twin. So, this was not a natural 9-month birth. Hevel was born later. Commented May 26 at 18:28

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