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'Am I my brother's keeper?

Posted by ESC on October 17, 2004

In Reply to: Am I my brother's keeper posted by David FG on October 17, 2004

: : : : last night, I went in to a gas station to buy a couple of things. two friendly, african workers helped me. at the cashier station, they asked me if I was my brother's keeper. I hadn't heard the term before and I had some difficulty understanding due to their accent. I asked them to repeat the phrase, and they continued to explain. I had a nice conversation with both of them for a while, somewhat holding up the line ;) yet, I still do not completely understand the meaning of this phrase/term. I found it on this site, and it looks to have some religious origin. any comment would be appreciated.

: : :
: : : It sounds like they were evangelical Christians trying to recruit you. To be your brother's keeper in Christianity means to take and interest in your fellow man and to share his burdens in the way that Christ is supposed to take on the suffering and shoulder the burdens of all mankind. It's a way of asking you "Are you a Christian"

: : When Cain came back from the fields without Abel, Eve, his mother, asked him, "Where's Abel?" He responded, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Eve did not answer directly, and the interesting story unfolded without any answer at all, except what one might read into it. Talmudic scholars may have supplied an answer, I don't know. Everyone who wants an answer has to answer the question himself. Liberals tend to answer, "Yes, you are. WE are." That is, we are responsible for the welfare of our brothers and sisters, of helping those who have fallen to get up, and to try to keep them from falling in the first place. For brothers and sisters read, fellow members of the human race.
: : The conservative answer is, "Hell, no! Why should I waste time and money on my fellow citizens not directly related to me. Let all those other poor bastards accept individual responsibility. If they can't do that, screw 'em!" SS

: I could well be wrong here, as it is a long time since I took any interest in matters Biblical, but I thought that God, after Cain had killed Abel, asked Cain where his brother was (pointless if God is omniscient, but no matter) and Cain replied 'Am I my brother's keeper?'. The point being that we are our brothers' keepers in the sense that we are responsible for their welfare.

Greetings on Sunday morning.

From Bible Gateway. American Standard version of the Bible:

Genesis 4
1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4 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:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 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.
8 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.
9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.