Am I my brother’s keeper?


The Greek word oikos means “household,” and is the root of our words economics and ecology.  What is our household?  Wouldn’t that mean our family? What is a family?  The Hebrew name Adam is derived from two root meanings:  ‘adam meaning “Man” (masculine form) and ‘adama (feminine form) soil, earth and ground.  Thus, ‘adam was made from the ‘adama, showing the close relationship between humanity and “Mother Earth.”  Adam’s name, therefore, means something like “Ground Man, or Earth Man”.  The Hebrew name for Eve is “Hawwa” which is a unique feminine word and comes from the archaic root live thus becoming “Life-giver” or now known as the “Mother of all living” (Moses 4:26).  How does family, our earth and life link our economics and ecology.

When the Lord asked Cain where Abel was, his reply was “am I my brother’s keeper? As stated in Genesis 4:1-8, Cain became very envious of Abel because his sacrificial offerings were not as great and or accepted by the Lord.  A sacrifice is an ordinance done with exactness and there was no symbolism of this in Cain’s offering.  And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.  And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:  But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.  And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.  And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth?  and why is thy countenance fallen?  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?  and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.  And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.  And Cain talked with Abel his brother:  and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. Genesis 4: 3-8

Today, Cain’s offering would have resembled an economical move which explains how and why he interacted with the Lord (markets) to get what he wanted or to accomplish his certain goal of possession (having more than others). Since economics is a driving force of human interaction, studying it often reveals why people and governments behave in particular ways.  Cain slew his brother Abel, the first sin recorded in the Bible after the fall of man and it was because of covetousness.  “On a national scale we are speculating in unsound practices of social welfare, social security…lucky numbers….pensions and other devices calculated to produce wealth for a particular group without work on the part of the recipients.  We have over-emphasized the American standard of living and under-emphasized the American standard of character and the sound religious principles on which morality if based.  Cain was setting the short-cut pattern to wealth by killing his brother and taking his flocks by force.  We have made some refinements in our procedures since Cain by using the ballot box to get our brother’s property.  We merely vote ourselves into prosperity, and a more abundant life.  However, instead of calling the procedure covetousness, we use such phrases as “the redistribution of wealth.”  We tax “the haves to pay the have-nots.”  We assess the “wills” to provide for the “won’ts.”  We make social security laws, build up relief rolls, and do many things for special classes to be paid for by the money taken from someone else”. Sterling W. Sills

Homer teaches us that not much had changed since those days of our first parents because during the days of the Phaeacians, the noblemen consumed the treasures of Odysseus.  Their society was very much concerned with honor and status.  Trophies, gifts, and treasure were important in that society, thus gift-giving was widespread, but those who gave always seemed to expect something in return.  The treasure circulated from group to group, giving status to whoever had it  The custom of the feast went along with gift-giving. Both the Odyssey and the Iliad mention great feasts often. In many ways, it was a bloody, cruel society.  Raids and piracy were frequent, a change from the more peaceful occupations of earlier generations.  The motto was “To the victor belong the spoils,” and the spoils included people.   Again we see the cycle of pride, avariciousness, greed and covetousness.

Since all our consumption comes from the earth, our ecology plays a vital role in our ability to progress and possess.  Our earth is abundant despite what politicians persuade the populace to believe so long as we are righteous stewards of the land.  Our earth was made for Man not man for the earth.  Our Mother earth is about harmony, balance and life.  All things are for our benefit if we use them for good.  Adam made an altar upon which he made sacrifices to the Lord.  Cain’s heart was centered on material wealth, Abel’s heart was centered on giving back the best portion of his spoils to the Lord in solemnitude of the many blessings of abundance given him, even life its self.

God gave us life, the earth and all that is in the earth and as we become gracious receivers of these gifts, we lay the best portion of what he gives to us on his alter as we sacrifice our time, talents and all that we possess in helping all of those around us, thus becoming our brother’s keeper as well as keepers of the earth.   Was man not created for this purpose? Was the earth not created to benefit man? Was man not to be born into a family and learn how to function in a society.  The pieces of the puzzle make a beautiful picture when we figure out our true purpose on the earth, the societal structure of the traditional family and how it makes us into a well balanced economy and ecology.

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