Uvalde and Guns:
A Biblical Perspective

By Rabbi Cary Kozberg. May 27, 2022
JPFO Rabbinic Director

Scripture tells us that the first homicide was committed by Cain. Abel, his brother, was the victim. It was the result of the first sibling rivalry:

Time passed, and Cain brought of the earth’s produce as an offering to the LORD. And Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. But the LORD favored Abel his offering; but Cain and his offering He did not favor. And Cain was very upset, and his face downcast. The LORD said to Cain: “Why are you upset and why is your face downcast? If you do well, will you not be lifted up? But if you don’t do well, sin is crouching at the door. It longs to have you, but you must overcome it.” (Genesis 4:3-7)

G-d warned Cain about giving in to his inclination, but Cain chose not to listen and killed his brother:

Cain spoke to Abel his brother…Then it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and killed him. (4:8)

A salient question that is usually not asked: at this time in human history, was homicide wrong? Most of us assume the answer is self-evident: of course, it was! But was it? Homicide had never occurred before, and one reading of the text renders that even God was surprised and shocked. Moreover, it may be understood that Cain’s question about his responsibility to his brother was not rhetorical but genuine:

The LORD said unto Cain: “Where is Abel your brother?” He said: “I don’t know; am I my brother’s keeper?” He said: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.“ (4:9-10)

God’s immediate response was to banish Cain from further contact with human beings. But significantly, G-d did not require Cain to forfeit his own life, nor did God decree that, as a consequence of Cain’s act, the intentional taking of innocent life would be from now on categorically prohibited. [...] .....

"Our efforts should not be to celebrate taking a human life, however depraved, but rather to use force--however regrettably-- to effectively stop the threat that such depravity presents to our lives and wellbeing."


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