(58) Whether it was properly said with respect to Cain: “I have gotten a man from the Lord?” (#Ge 4:1). Here there is a distinction made, as to-from some one, and out of some one, and by some thing. Out of some one, as out of materials; from some one, as from a cause; and by some thing, as by an instrument. But the Father and Creator of all the world is not an instrument, but a cause. Therefore he wanders from right wisdom who says, “That what has been made has been made, not from God, but by God.”
(59) Why the sacred historian first describes the employment of the younger brother, Abel, saying: “He was a keeper of sheep; but Cain was a cultivator of the earth?” (#Ge 4:2). Since, although the virtuous son was in point of time younger than the wicked son, yet in point of virtue he was older. On which account, on the present occasion, when their actions are to be compared together, he is placed first. Therefore one of them exercises a business, and takes care of living creatures, although they are devoid of reason, gladly taking upon himself the employment of a shepherd, which is a princely office, and as it were a sort of rehearsal of royal power; but the other devotes his attention to earthly and inanimate objects.
(60) Why Cain after some days offers up the first-fruits of his fruits, but when it is said that “Abel offered up first-fruits of the first-born of his flock and of the fat,” “after some days” is not added? (#Ge 4:3û4). Moses here intimates the difference between a lover of himself, and one who is thoroughly devoted to God; for the one took to himself the first-fruits of his fruits, and very impiously looked upon God as worthy only of the secondary and inferior offerings; for the expression, “after some days,” implies that he did not do so immediately; and when it is said that he offered of the fruits, that intimates that he did not offer of the best fruits which he had, and herein displays his iniquity. But the other, without any delay, offered up the first-born and eldest of all his flocks, in order that in this the Father might not be treated unworthily.