Tides of Sorrow

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1.0 - ORIGINS - Prologue

The sun was setting over the small cluster of goat-skin covered dwellings. The temperature gradually lowered as the day became host to a shroud of deepest indigo. An occasional shooting star coursed through the night sky, vanishing before it neared where the land met the heavens.

A farmer secured the last of his harvest as he spotted his younger brother returning from the sheepfolds. The shepherd looked tired but happy.

Qayin smiled at his sibling. “Havel! How hath thee fared this day?” he asked, slapping him amiably on the shoulder.

“Very well, brother. And what of thy labouring?”

“Good. All be well. I hath graff much to offer our Lord. Come.” Qayin led Havel to the mud-brick building where he stored the abundant harvest.

Havel stood at the doorway, his eyes scanning the produce in their neatly stacked piles, sheaves and bales. He nodded. Qayin’s hard work from the middle of Tisri to mid-Nisan had paid off. All his preparation, irrigation and tilling had indeed brought riches from the land.

“Thou art devout, brother. Thou shalt indeed gain His favour. God shalt be pleased.”

Qayin smiled. Praise from his brother warmed his heart, although he tried his best not to allow it to cloud his perspective. Pride was not to be taken to the extreme. He had to remain humble in the eyes of the Lord, their God and Master. “And what of thine offering, brother?” he asked Havel.

His brother grinned and gestured he follow. Barely one furlong from Qayin’s stores were the folds where Havel herded his sheep and goats. Qayin watched as he entered the enclosure and after a little running back and forth, caught one of the lambs which had been born five days prior to the Shabbat.

Havel spoke softly as the lamb struggled a little before settling in his arms. He brought it over to his brother.

“Your flock groweth steadily,” Qayin said, stroking the lamb’s head.

“Yes,” the shepherd replied. “I am fortunate, too. Nothing doth smite my beasts since they were quickened.“

Qayin nodded, smiling. “We are blessed. He smiles upon us.”

Releasing the lamb back into the fold the two brothers watched as it leapt, butted, pranced and bleated to find its mother. “It shall be a fine sacrifice,” Havel said.

Qayin stared at his brother, disbelief etched on his olive features. “Sacrifice?”

“Yes. I shall offer up its meat and fat to our Lord God, thus He shall knoweth His people to be grateful for that which His divine goodness hath gifted us.”

“No!” Qayin protested. “It is forbidden. You cannot desecrate the altar of worship with slaughter and an untoward offering. By all means, brother, gift Him cloth, woven from the fleeces of your flock or milk from your goats, but one doth not offer meat and blood!”

Havel looked at his brother, incredulous. “You fuss so, brother. The Almighty shalt be not offended.”

“Thou art wrong! He shall be enraged. No such offering can be made in thy God’s name.”

Havel pushed Qayin aside, laughter leaving his lips. “Do not fret, Qayin. Now go rest. Tomorrow we will go forth and bequeath our gifts to God.”

Qayin did not sleep. He tossed and turned, tormented by the anathema his younger sibling intended to commit. It was against their teachings, their understanding. Why would he risk the wrath of their Maker? Such proscription would surely cause their crops and livestock to suffer. And then what would become of them? How else were they meant to manage?

Morning, and with eyes dry and crusted, he greeted the golden streak which sliced the horizon. His heart was, nonetheless, heavy. He had to prevent such canker. Pulling aside the blanket, he rose from his pallet and strode purposefully to Havel’s abode.

Calling his brother’s name, his chest tightened with anxiety when he was awarded no answer. Sweeping the goat hides apart, he looked inside. Havel’s pallet was empty. A strong sense of dread gripped Qayin.

Ducking out of the low entrance, his eyes searched the hill on which the blessed altar was sited. Squinting against the rising sun, he could just make out Havel’s shape ascending to the place of offering. He took a moment to realise the sacrificial lamb was draped around his brother’s shoulders.

He took off at a run, desperate to reach Havel before he committed the unspeakable sin; a blood sacrifice.

In Hebrew, Cain is קין (Qayin) and Abel is הבל (Havel).

Tisri - (in the Jewish calendar) the first month of the civil and seventh of the religious year, usually coinciding with parts of September and October.

Nisan - the first month on Jewish calendar (according to the Torah), coincides with March-April on the civil calendar.

Shabbat - Shabbat or Shabbos, or the Sabbath is Judaism’s day of rest and seventh day of the week, on which religious Jews, Samaritans and certain Christians remember the Biblical creation of the heavens and the earth in six days and the Exodus of the Hebrews, and look forward to a future Messianic Age.

graff -To graft (an obsolete turn of phrase used in biblical times).

quickened - To bring to life (an obsolete turn of phrase used in biblical times).

A/N - In biblical times in that region of the world, lentils, wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, dates, nuts and fish were all quite popular. For snacks, some even ate grasshoppers and crickets. Other meats were rarely eaten except during a celebration.

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