Cain’s motives are most likely jealousy and anger. Abel is a shepherd and Cain is a farmer. Cain and Abel had made sacrificial offerings but only Abel’s is acceptable to God. After Cain murders Abel, the Lord casts him out of the land, placing a special mark on his forehead.
This mark protects Cain from those who might harm him out of revenge for murdering Abel.
Cain goes on to establish a city. He becomes materially prosperous but is forever alienated from God.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[a] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so[b]; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,[c] east of Eden.¹
Cain is mentioned later in the Old Testament’s Song of Lamech (Gen. 4:24) as the epitome of revenge. He’s also alluded to in the New Testament as “of the evil one” (John 3:12).
Broadly speaking, it seems that Cain represents the abrasive, worldly-minded person while Abel symbolizes the gentle, spiritually-minded person.
God punishes the murderer, Cain, with a life of alienation, but he doesn’t utterly destroy him and, indeed, allows him to materially prosper. Some see this as a sign of God’s inherent injustice, others, as evidence of God’s great love, compassion and mercy.
Since Cain, Abel and Seth (Genesis 4:25) are the only children of Adam and Eve, many believe the Bible does not explain how other human beings came into existence.
In pop culture, Caine (Kwai Chang Caine) is the name of a TV character played by the late actor David Carradine in the 1970′s TV series, Kung Fu. This TV Cain, also known as “Grasshopper” is a wandering Shaolin monk in early America.
The idea of Cain as an archetype of evil or of estrangement is not limited to the Bible and TV. More examples in religious publications, general literature and pop culture are listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cain_and_Abel#Popular_culture
- Cain or Abel (jeanettegullett.com)
- Cain and Abel: Do you ever feel entitled to God’s blessings? (goldenthoughtspot.com)
- Cain and Abel ” Offering and First Murder” (passagebreakbyjerry.wordpress.com)
- Population as Destiny (An Alternative Interpretation of the Bible) (davidhoganwriter.com)
- The Story of Habil and Qabil “Abel and Cain” (halimadjimrao.wordpress.com)
- cain and abel (francesd919.wordpress.com)
- Genesis, Chapter 4 (bibleinterpretationsbyalex.wordpress.com)
- Decreation- Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, Tower of Babel (kellyfeng.wordpress.com)