I am thankful for Brother Shumway, whom had a friend that he knew when he taught Seminary, whom wrote a wonderful write up about Cain and Abel. This was incredibly helpful to me as It can seem unfair about God, rejecting Cain's offering....but all of this information allows us to see the senerio with much more clarity. Thank you Jan James!
What We Know about Cain
1. He was not the eldest son (Moses 5:1-2, 16)
2. He was a tiller of the ground (Moses 5:17)
3. He had accepted the gospel, but became offended and apostatized (Moses 5:16-24)
“Cain knew the Lord and believed in his father Adam’s scripture, or revelation. But one revelation was enough; he could not bear new ones and fell.”
- Joseph Smith’s Commentary on the Bible, p. 18
“Cain’s great sin was not committed in ignorance. We have every reason to believe that he had the privilege of standing in the presence of messengers from heaven. In fact, the scriptures infer that he was blessed by communication with the Father and was instructed by messengers from his presence. No doubt he held the Priesthood; otherwise his sin could not make him Perdition. He sinned against the light. And this he did, so we are told, because he loved Satan more than he loved God. Cain conversed with his God every day, and he knew all about the plan of creating this earth, for his father told him. But, for the want of humility, and through jealousy, and an anxiety to possess the kingdom, and to have the whole of it under his own control, and not allow anybody else the right to say one word, what did he do? He killed his brother. Then the Lord put a mark on him.”
- Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 104
“Unto Adam and Eve was born Cain, who no doubt was a spirit of a lower division of the pre-mortal realm. The processes of earth-life obedience to the gospel, necessary to return to God’s presence, found Cain rebellious against the family order of the priesthood. Even though the Lord counseled him in the way he could be accepted . . . he rejected the Lord’s counsel and persisted in his rebellion against the patriarchal order, described as the same priesthood that was in the beginning and would be in the end.”
- Meaning of Truth, Alvin R. Dyer, p. 28
4. Cain loved Satan more than God (Moses 5:18), rejected God (Moses 5:25), and worked in evil ways (Jude 1:11).
5. Cain offered an unrighteous sacrifice by order of Satan (Moses 5:18; D&C 10:20-21; Heb. 11:4).
“Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith, he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven . . . As the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared, to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of the atonement instituted after that order; consequently, Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
- Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 58
“But this offering, so advocated by Lucifer, was not in accordance with the commandments of God and, therefore, was a deception. The Lord God, detecting this, told Cain that he could still be saved from Lucifer if he would hearken unto his words, but if he would not, that notwithstanding he would rule over Satan, (because of a resurrected body) he nevertheless would become the father of all lies to the children of men, and he himself perdition because of the initiation of these principles unto the children of men upon the earth.
“Cain continued to follow Satan and covenanted with him to establish more firmly these doctrines upon the earth. This was all done through he principles of priestcraft, involving unrighteous dominion over the lives of men, which constitutes the very plan of that great Sacrifice for a remission of sins.”
- History of the Church, 2:15-16
6. Cain was tempted by greed to obtain Abel’s possessions (Moses 5:38).
7. Cain slew Abel (1 John 3:12; D&C 84:16).
“To think that Cain would glory in obtaining dominion in the empire of evil, and in becoming the author of falsehood and holding the sceptor of power in the kingdom of darkness, is almost beyond belief. . . . Here we have the first and most pronounced case in history of one glorying in wickedness. Cain chose knowingly but not intelligently. He killed his brother, not so much for his flocks as for the glory of being Master Mahan. Not so much with the expediency of obtaining his brother’s worldly possessions, but to cut off without posterity that righteous brother, and, because Satan had commanded him!”
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Way to Perfection, p. 100-101
“The difference between God and the devil is that God creates and organizes while the whole study of the devil is to destroy.”
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 13:4
8. Cain became a Son of Perdition (Moses 5:24).
“As Adam represented the Lord on earth, so Cain acted for and on behalf of Lucifer. Indeed, this first murderer of all murderers is himself Perdition. . . He will rule over Satan himself when the devil and his angels are cast out everlastingly. Cain apostatized, left the church, and, as Abel’s blood cried out against him, fled from the presence of Adam and the faithful saints. He thereupon set up his own government, both civil and religious, patterned after the Adamic theocracy, except that Cain received no revelation and the Lord gave him no direction. Hence, his government was illegitimate; it imitated the true order but was man-made and Satan-inspired.”
- Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 167
9. Cain was cursed for his wickedness: he was given a mark of blackness (Moses 5:40), he would become a fugitive and vagabond (Moses 5:37-38), and the ground would no longer yield to him (Moses 5:37-38).
“Here be it observed that unlike his father, Adam, Cain himself was cursed; Adam was not. In the Lord’s judgment of Adam, the earth was cursed ‘for thy sake,’ while in Cain’s case the cursing was personal. To Cain’s labors the ground henceforth would not respond to his tilling thereof. It would not yield of its bounties as of yore. Cain had polluted the ground by spilling thereon his brother’s blood. . . Instead of a vagabond, the Revised Version has wanderer. Cain was condemned to perpetuate disgrace and reproach among men; to perpetual horror in his own mind. His conscience full to the brim with guilt would haunt him wherever he sojourned and make of him a nomad and an unwanted guest. No one would seek his presence because with him was terror and dismay.”
- Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, Reynolds and Sjodahl, p. 169
10. God protected Cain and permitted him to live (Moses 5:40).
“Notwithstanding his wickedness, the Lord spread a protecting canopy over Cain that in case others recognizing him as his brother’s slayer, should slay him also. To the end that other evil men should not slay him the Lord ‘set a mark upon Cain.’”
- Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, Reynolds and Sjodahl, p. 171
“When men have come into our midst as corrupt as the devil himself, many have supposed it would have been better to have cut their throats with a feather and exposed their sink of corruption, and let them go to hell where they belonged, than to have borne with them as Brother Joseph Smith did; but this course would meet with a conflicting argument. To stop a man in his career would be taking away his agency. Cain was permitted to live, peradventure, he might repent of his wickedness, and redeem a portion of his time, and thereby obtain a glory and salvation, though not a full salvation . . .”
- Brigham Young, History of the Church, 7:366-367
11. Cain chose his path himself.
“If Cain had fulfilled the law of righteousness as did Enoch, he could have walked with God all the days of this life and never failed of a blessing.”
- Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 54-55
“In the exercise of agency, where man chooses to follow evil rather than good, such as it was, in varying degrees with those who followed Lucifer in the pre-existence and also as with the sons of Adam who disobeyed God and hearkened unto the teachings of Lucifer, he himself can become an agency of evil, to promote this influence within the perimeter of his existence, be he a servant, a king, or a dictator. Cain, the son of Adam, developed evil tendencies, whereas as a master of lies and deceit, and because of his rejection of God, he became a son of perdition.”
- The Meaning of Truth, Alvin R. Dyer
“Every soul coming into this world came here with the promise that through obedience he would receive the blessings of salvation. No person was foreordained or appointed to sin or to perform a mission of evil. No person is ever predestined to salvation or damnation. Every person has free agency. Cain was promised by the Lord that if he would do well, he would be accepted . . . If men were appointed to sin and betray their brethren, then justice could not demand that they be punished for sin and betrayal when they are guilty.”
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:61
“Jesus knew that one of His apostles would be a devil. But it was not foreordained that Judas should be a devil. He chose that part himself, in the exercise of agency. He betrayed the Son of God and brought upon himself the dreadful fate which befell him. So with Esau. He had equal opportunities with Jacob. Cain had equal opportunities with Abel. God told him that his offering would be accepted if he would do right. God pled with him; his father, no doubt also pled with him to forsake sin and unrighteousness. But he took the other course.”
- George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p. 112
12. Cain involved himself in secret combinations with Satan (Moses 5:29-31; Hel. 6:27; Ether 8:15).
13. Cain will have power over Satan after he is resurrected (Moses 5:30).
“Satan could act only through his representative, and the success with which Satan prevailed in bringing to pass his wicked designs depended on the willingness of his associate in sin to spearhead his purposes. Cain was an ideal conspirator with Satan in those iniquitous schemes. Cain was the evil type. It is here where Cain can be said to rule over Satan because Satan, as we have pointed out, could accomplish his nefarious ways no faster than Cain’s movements allowed. Cain, no doubt, will be resurrected and in his resurrected body will be greater, if we understand it correctly, than Satan, having no body of flesh and blood ever could be. Thus, Cain would be the most powerful and this rule over Satan.”
- Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, Reynolds and Sjodahl, p. 163
Using the Book of Mormon to Better Understand the Curse upon Cain
• What is the best definition for each term?
1.“Soar cursing, because of their iniquity” (2 Nephi 25:20-21)
a. Skin of blackness
b. Cut off from the presence of the Lord
2. “Become like a flint” (v. 21)
a. Loathsome, not enticing
b. Hard-hearted, will not hearken unto the prophet
3. “Delightsome” (v.21-25)
The Dark Skin
“The dark skin was placed upon the Lamanites so that they could be distinguished from the Nephites and to keep the two peoples from mixing. The dark skin was a sign of the curse. The curse was a withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord. The dark skin . . . is no longer considered a sign of the curse. Many of these converts are delightsome and have the Spirit of the Lord.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:123-124
“So it was a blessing to the Nephites after all to have the Lamanites on their doorstep to stir them up to remembrance. . . No matter how wicked and ferocious and depraved the Lamanites might be (and they were that!), no matter by how much they outnumbered the Nephites . . . They were not the Nephite problem. They were merely kept there to remind the Nephites of their real problem, which was to walk uprightly before the Lord.”
Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, p.376
Dispelling False Doctrine
“The opinion is held by many members of the church that because the negro was neutral in the great council, held in the heavens before the foundations of the earth were laid, he has been punished with a black skin. There is no evidence, as far as found, to justify this belief. On the other hand, there is ample evidence to support the Church doctrine that all who have been permitted to come upon this earth and take upon themselves bodies, accepted the plan of salvation.”
- Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, 3:73
Egyptian and Priesthood History - Abraham 1:21-28
Who was Pharaoh, king of Egypt, a descendent of? (Abr. 1:21-24)
Who was Ham’s wife?
Who was she a descendent from?
Who were the Canaanites? (Moses 7:6-8)
n Note that this land of Canaan is different than the land of Canaan Abraham is promised (Abr. 2)
Note the insight from your student manual:
“At times in the past, the power and authority to act in the name of the Lord was bestowed upon only a few worthy males and withheld from all others. In the days’ of Moses leadership of the children of Israel, for example, only the tribe of Levi had the privilege to hold the priesthood. Our day is the long-promised day when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood” (p.32).
Do we know why it was this way?
“For many years preceding the time of Abraham the descendents of Egyptus occupied and governed in Egypt. They extended their dominion into the land of Canaan and oppressed the people, but the time came when the people of Asia, who were of the Semitic race, rebelled and made war on the Egyptians and conquered the country, driving the original inhabitants farther south and up the Nile. These Semitic people known as Hyksos, or shepherds, for they had many flocks and herds, were in possession of the land of Egypt for many years before the time of Abraham. Their rule lasted for some five hundred years, and they were in possession of the land when Joseph was taken into Egypt. It was a Hyksos king who befriended Joseph and who was friendly with Abraham and Isaac. While these people occupied the land of Egypt, they were called Egyptians, although they were relatives of Abraham and Joseph, being descendents of Shem.”
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:169-170
“It is generally believed that the curse placed on Cain was continued in his posterity and that through the seed of Ham this curse was brought through the flood. Since Ham was the son of Noah, we must conclude that it was not Ham who had the black skin and was a descendant of Cain. However, there is in the Church the general belief that Ham married a woman who was a descendant of Cain, and in this way the curse of Cain was continued after the flood in Ham's posterity. Some of the brethren who were associated with the Prophet Joseph Smith have declared that he taught this doctrine. That the wife of Ham was a descendant of Cain seems to be embodied in the following passages in the Book of Abraham: (Abraham 1:21-24 cited.) We see that the wife of Ham was named Egyptus, which name signifies ‘that which is forbidden.’ We know it was the custom in those early times to give to children names conveying a definite meaning based upon some striking event connected with birth or early life, or to point out and fix attention on some peculiarity of character or habit which they may have formed. . . . So it appears very probable that Egyptus was so named because she partook of the curse of her fathers. Moreover, this thought is strengthened in the statement that from Ham sprang the race which preserved the curse in the land. The implication seems to be very strong that this curse preserved through the seed of Ham was a curse which came from the other side of the flood.
Joseph Fielding Smith, Way To Perfection, pp. 103-105
Who is “Egyptus” in verse 23-24?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:
“Two women of note, a mother and her daughter, both carried the name Egyptus. The mother, a descendant of Cain, was the wife of Ham; the daughter was the mother of Pharaoh, the first ruler of Egypt. Abraham says that in the Chaldean tongue Egyptus ‘signifies that which is forbidden,’ meaning apparently that Ham married outside the approved lineage. (Abra. 1:20-27; Gen. 6:2.) (Mormon Doctrine, p. 214.)
The Curse of Cain - Abraham 1:26
“Cain was cursed with respect to the Gospel, the society of believers and earthly prosperity. The lineage of Cain carried with it a continued curse with respect to the privileges of the Gospel but not with respect to the ‘the blessings of the earth’ (prosperity) nor to ‘the blessings of wisdom’ (knowledge, judgment, discernment, etc.). The ‘curse’ spoken of in this verse is the one that came to Cain and was passed on through his posterity to the time Ham took Egyptus to wife. Abraham's expression that Noah ‘cursed’ Pharaoh as to the Priesthood could mislead us to conclude that Noah had personal responsibility for keeping the Priesthood from his grandson. Obviously, the righteous prophet followed the Lord in continuing to withhold the Priesthood from the descendants of Cain.
- Judd King, Pearl of Great Price Commentary, p. 309
"the Pharaohs would fain (happily, willingly) claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry" - Abraham 1:27
“While it appears that the righteous first Pharaoh would have delightedly claimed the Priesthood rights through his righteous grandfather, Ham, he did not attempt to do so. However, the Pharaohs who followed the first did not continue to live according to this righteous deficiency but rather attempted to claim the Priesthood rights through Ham to Noah. ‘Therefore’ suggests ‘for that reason’ or ‘because of that.’ Abraham's father, Terah, followed the Egyptian and Chaldean gods to the point of wanting Abraham to be offered as a human sacrifice. There seems to be some relationship between these Pharaohs' attempted usurpation of the Priesthood and Terah's willingness to follow their idolatry. The first Pharaoh who was righteous imitated the Priesthood order without attempting to claim it. Apparently, by the time of Terah other Pharaohs used the imitation of the Priesthood order to lead people to idolatry, one of which was Terah.” - Judd King, Pearl of Great Price Commentary, p. 309
“. . . [For] reasons which we believe are known to God, but which he has not made fully known to man.”
- First Presidency, 15 December 1969
- During this time of restrictions, Church leaders did teach that these children of God would someday receive these blessings.
There is much that I do not know. I do not know the details of the organization of matter into the beautiful world we live in. I do not understand the intricacies of the Atonement, how the Savior’s sacrifice can cleanse all repentant people, or how the Savior could suffer “the pain of all men” (D&C 18:11). I do not know where the city of Zarahemla was, as referred to in the Book of Mormon. I do not know why my beliefs sometimes conflict with assumed scientific or secular knowledge. Perhaps these are matters our Father in Heaven described as the “mysteries . . . of heaven” (D&C 107:19) that will be revealed at a later date.
But while I don’t know everything, I know the important. I know the plain and simple gospel truths that lead to salvation and exaltation. I know that the Savior did suffer the pain of all men and that all repentant people can be cleansed from sin. And what I don’t know or don’t completely understand, with the powerful aid of my faith, I bridge the gap and move on, partaking of the promises and blessings of the gospel. And then, as Alma teaches, our faith brings us to a perfect knowledge (see Alma 32:34). By moving forward into the unknown, armed only with hope and desire, we show evidence of our faith and our devotion to the Lord. – Bishop Richard C. Edgley , Ensign, Nov. 2010
What can we share with others when asked about this apparently “politically incorrect” dilemma?
§ Do you believe in the Bible?
§ Who held the priesthood in the days of the tribes of Israel?
§ When is the first time (that we know of) that God has allowed all worthy males to hold the priesthood?