story of the serpent, the woman, and the man and the story of Cain and Abel
mirror each other in a variety of ways. The two narratives also differ from each other from a number of points of view. I began to explore commonalities and differences in a previous
post. Interpretation which concentrates on similarities but overlooks differences runs the risk of missing the point of a particular passage entirely.
In the first narrative, the man breaks faith with God, and the soil is cursed on his account. It now yields goodness by dint of pain and exertion, and thorn and thistle abound. In the second narrative, after Cain’s crime, pain and sweat are no longer sufficient to allow him to eke out a living from it. It gets worse from there. He is banished not only from God’s presence, but from the presence of his fellows. But that is not the most basic point of the story. A red thread runs through the book of Genesis, a buried lede if you will.