No Explanation Suffices
Shortly after reading the creation narratives, we read of the first two naturally-born human beings, Cain and Abel, and their bitter argument which led to fratricide.
Cain and Abel both brought offerings before God. Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain’s was not. Cain and Abel exchanged some words, and then, while out in the field, Cain killed his brother. God was horrified by Cain’s action, and Cain tried to deny responsibility. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)
When Cain and Abel were exchanging words on that fateful day, we read a phrase, “Cain said to his brother, Abel…” (Gen 4:8). This is written in the standard Biblical form for introducing speech. But the very next phrase in the Torah is, “Later, while they were in the field, Cain rose up and killed his brother.” Though the Torah seemed to introduce words which Cain spoke to his brother, the words he said were never recorded. The Torah ‘forgot’ to include them.
It would seem that the Torah purposely omits the words Cain actually said. There could be no words which would justify what Cain did. No explanation for fratricide could ever be sufficient. Since Cain’s words here are completely pointless, and we never find out what he said.
Humanity was a new phenomenon, and perhaps we needed to learn how to interact, sometimes the hard way. But even today, almost six thousand years later, we can learn something from this passage. Often, in the heat of an argument we think we have a very compelling reason to do something drastic; when we take a few steps back and try to consider the situation objectively we see that our reason, whatever it may be, still cannot warrant such an action.
At the end of the day, we all have to find a way to live together in peace. Life is too short for anything else.