God said to Cain, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).
The literal language is “bloods” (plural), not “blood (singular). What is the significance? (1) Does it refer to future descendants? Consider this comment, “The Talmud interpreted ‘bloods’ as referring not just to Abel’s blood, but to the blood of all his potential descendants who will now never be born. When one person kills another, he has not only killed that person but also all those who would have descended from him” (Dennis Prager, The Rational Bible: Genesis, p. 70). This is an ancient interpretation. From this, the Israelites would write, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved an entire world (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). This concept is referenced in the movie Schindler’s List. The Quran even recognized that this was a teaching given to the Israelites, saying – “We laid it down for the Israelites that whoever killed a human being, except as a punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as though he had saved all mankind” (5:32), though some ignore the context and credit this teaching to Islam. (2) Does it refer to current dependents or family? Adam Clarke comments, “Some think…Abel’s widow and children are to be understood” (Clarke’s Vol 1, p.60). If he had a wife and children they lost a husband and father.
Whatever the significance, it is a serious thing to take a human life. There may be many unforeseen consequences. Dennis Prager writes, “Some years ago, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz was giving a talk to lawyers in Hamburg and asked the audience members, ‘How many of you have suffered from the Holocaust?’ A few hands of several elderly lawyers were raised. Dershowitz then asked, ‘How many of you or your family members have had cancer, coronary problems, diabetes, or a stroke?’ This time, nearly every hand was raised. Dershowitz paused, and then asked, ‘How can you be sure that the cures for those diseases did not go up in the smoke of Auschwitz or Treblinka?’ There was stunned silence. ‘Following my talk,’ Dershowitz recalled, ‘Dozens of these German lawyers came up to me and said, ‘We too have suffered from the Holocaust’” (Prager, p. 71). There may be world consequences to taking innocent life. Life should be held as precious.
However, it is not only the taking of life that may have enduring consequences. Influence and actions of all sorts affect others. The proverb says, “Like mother, like daughter” (Ezekiel 16:44). May we each soberly ponder: What affect am I having on the future of this world?