According to some commentaries that I have read, Cain was rejected by Hashem in Genesis 4 because he did not offer the first or choice of his field, but rather the dregs or at least standard fare. The way in which Hashem exiled Cain, however, strikes me as similar to the treatment of an idolater, which makes me wonder:

Was Cain an idolater (that is, did he actively worship an idol or indicate an express intent in doing so), or was his sin in being an ineffective monotheistic worshiper (e.g. his theology was right, but his praxis was wrong)?

  • Well, G-d talks to him. So I assume he wasn't. (How could you be an idolater when you have personal contact like that with G-d?)
    – ezra
    Sep 26, 2017 at 18:34
  • Wait... what do you mean as "similar to the treatment of an idolater?" In what way? According to biblical law an idolater is stoned to death, while Cain was given a mark SPECIFICALLY to prevent people from killing him!? Sep 27, 2017 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


Cain wasn't an idolator. Cain was chaos.

I can understand why you'd come to the conclusion (if he wasn't giving his best to Hashem then who was he giving it to?) but Cain himself actually possessed a symbolic character trait which permeated into the whole of human existence. Cain is chaos and disorder.

There's a wonderful article on Chabad which discusses the Legacy of Cain and how his character traits partner with that of Seth to become the standard model for all eras of humanity.


Cain is representative of chaos. Humanity as a whole undergoes Cainian volatility before settling down and establishing new order. Seth (the third sibbling) is representative of stability and order. His name literally means "To Establish" and represents the stable eras inbetween the eras of Cain.

Noah was a descendant of Seth and his wife Naamah was a descendant of Cain.

It's extremely symbolic that the new world would be built between the descendants of these two opposing figures. The idea is that it represents the legacy of both Cain and Seth and how humanity can embody the traits of both from era to era.

Cain wasn't an idol worshiper. Cain was a chaotic individual who embodied the self-destructive character traits that humanity continues to wrestle with. He is representative of the chaos that actively seeks to tear down what we establish in stability.


Not an idolator. In fact, Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to G-d without a commandment - only will of their hearts to express love and appreciation for the world. Cain was exiled because he murdered his brother.

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