Cain and Abel
Revised: February 2020
A tyro Qabalist might ask: “Why begin the descendancies with sphere three rather than sphere two? Does not 2 come before 3? And does not Fire come before Water?”
Very good queries, and “yes” to the latter two questions. Where the First Matter of creation is concerned, the three modes: Fire, Water and Air, are ONE together, simultaneously, at all times. Throughout the evolutionary process it was, indeed, the Omnipotent mode of Fire that was chiefly responsible for the progressive movement of evolution, but yet together with the other two, up to and including the appearance of the early human species. Also, we might be mindful that before 2 and 3 there is of course 1, Kether.
Where these ‘descendancies’ are concerned, however, the esoteric theme behind the lineage is the advancement and development of human consciousness, and particularly with its physical vehicles for starters, under the regimen of the universal Substance mode, Binah. It is the Binah side of the Tree that builds body-vehicles. Up to the appearance of ‘man’ evolution was propelled through the early stages of matter (mineral, vegetable, animal) from the Universal Subconscious levels. Qabalistically speaking the development and evolution of matter/substance was/is the function of that aspect of the One-Life called Binah; the God-Creator’s aspect called Elohim. Kether and Chokmah were/are inherently within all Substance, but latent until physical vehicles were sufficiently ‘organized’ to express those potencies. With the advent of ‘man’ such physical organisms were able to express a new level of cognition with the advent of self-consciousness, albeit, rudimentary through the primate and very primitive hominid levels. Esoterically we ‘humans’ are yet considered the highest level of primates until we each become ‘realized’ and ‘one’ with the super-conscious state within. That is when we become ‘truly human’. In Genesis 4 the author(s) ‘pick up’ with the drama of us early higher primates from the speaking level of self-conscious awareness (Homo Sapiens). At this level we were (and we still are today) under the auspices of Binah, in Qabalah-speak. Today, through you and me and all of us, she (that is, subconsciousness, considered feminine) expresses Intuition and maintains our physical bodies at the cellular level, plus much more.
So, to begin with Cain, Genesis 4:1-2 informs us that Adam and Eve had two male offspring. Some early religious, secular and evangelical commentators have suggested they might have been twins due to no mention of Eve ever having conceived a separate, second time, until Seth. To a Literal Qabalist the question is moot in that Cain and Abel, like Adam and Eve, are not actual persons but personifications of personality development in a narrative with underlying messages.
If we look up Cain, קין, in a Hebrew dictionary we discover the verb ‘to arrange, shape,’ but also ‘to lament, chant a dirge.’ And with different vowel points it becomes ‘dagger, spear or lance’. Mr. P. F. Case suggests this “refers to the false crown of will-power”. It is also the root of the word קינוי, qinui, ‘a manifestation of jealousy’ according to the Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature.
Cain, קין, qin, sums to 160 by gematria. Another term summing to 160 is צלם, tzlem, ‘image, likeness, shadow,’. Tzlem is also the root of the word צלמות, tzlemoth, ‘distress, great darkness’. Finally, there is נפל, nawfal, ‘to fall out, to waste away’.
Literal Qabalists also consider the temurah of קין, which letters ד מ ט would be substitute. There are no immediate expressions for any combination of these letters, but it is the number behind these new letters that hint other suggestions. In this case the summation of D M T by Hebrew gematria is 53, and one word with that number is חמה, chemah, ‘anger, wrath.’
Furthermore, we are told, Cain was a tiller of the ‘ground or soil.’ The Hebrew word is אדמה, adamah, ‘earth, soil, ground.’ In alchemical and Rosicrucian writings we come to the term Terra Adamica, ‘the earthly man.’ These references have nothing to do with actual farming per se, but imply a person (like you and I) whose consciousness is primarily focused on the physical appearances of this world and preoccupied with worldly endeavors. Adamah sums to 50 by gematria and is equal to חבלי, khobli, ‘pains, sorrows,’ and about sums up the fate of us all with regard our earthly enterprises.
Pull all the above together and it profiles not a mere man-person, but mankind in general through his early stage of development during which he sees a very harsh and hostile environment. Early man is lamenting his hard work against raw Nature with her exacting laws. Attempting to arrange his environment, he cuts out a meager existence by expending his energies forcefully and jealously to protect pathetic accomplishments. The appearances of this world are daunting to him. This is his subconscious shadow side angry and distressed by hunting, gathering and scratching the earth for a mean survival. Where is the joy in this world full of pain and sorrow as he sees his life and existence wasting away at quite an early age. This went on for hundreds of years, learning the physical world. More on Cain a little later.
Then There Is Abel
But now we come to his alleged ‘brother’ Abel. A standard Hebrew dictionary and the Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature defines Abel, הבל, hevel, as ‘vapor, air, breath.’ Its gematria sums to 37 and equal to יחידה, yekidah, ‘the Indivisible', one title for Kether on the Tree. The Aramaic word for God, אלאה, Alah, sums to 37, as does גדל, gadal, ‘to grow stronger; to develop, to flourish; to increase, to multiply.’ And לבה, lava, ‘heart, core.’
The temurah of Abel, הבל, renders the new letters צ ש כ, which sum to 410. There is שמע, shamo, 'to hear' (meditative hearing), and with different vowel points, Sh’m’a, 'the confession of Faith and God’s Unity'. And, הרהר, harhar, 'to reflect, meditate'.
About Abel we are told he was 'a keeper of flocks'. Flock in Hebrew is צאן, tzan, which sums to 141. Equal to this is נאמן, ne-emen, 'loyal, faithful, reliable, devoted'. Ne-emen is also the name of the 22nd Path on the Tree of Life, 'The Faithful Intelligence', recorded in Sepher Yetzirah.
In the Greek Septuagint Abel is spelled Αβελ, which sums to 38 in Greek Qabalah. In the Latin Bible Abel sums to 18. If you develop these carefully you will discover the similarities with the Hebrew above.
All the above number/word associations could be developed further for yourself if you are a serious aspirant of this discipline. However, the most important is the first, number 37, associated with Yekidah within Kether. It deserves special attention. While Binah is predominant in the development of physical bodies, Kether and Chokmah are still strongly present. All the “sons of Adam and Eve” are Sons of God from the very beginning. With Cain’s descendancy the author(s) are making the point that with the Sons of Cain mankind is just not aware of it at this level of development. They do not know their true origin; they do not know that God is within them as in all life; they do not know that Nature is not inimical to their existence and seek their survival in everything ‘out there’ by any means available. This is because, at this level of evolution, they do not yet have manifest the spiritual, mental and emotional faculties to know their world is not what it appears to be.
Abel, the alleged brother, possess the spark of all those attributes hinted at by the other above number/word associations. Abel harbors all that is necessary for the development of those attributes as soon as the physical body is sufficiently prepared. Deep within all the Cains of the world reside the Abels.
When a Literal Qabalist puts all these hints and associations together it should not be too surprising to discover that Cain and Abel are much closer than twins. They are one and the same person. They, together, are you and I, this very minute. And our present world is yet inhabited by legions of Cains.