The Mark of a Man

Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
~ Psalm 139:7

What was the mark of Cain?

The ever enigmatic Holmes came into the breakfast room where Watson was engaged in the most important meal of the day. Holmes entered with some sort of barbed spear and informed Watson he had worked up a hearty appetite by spending the morning trying to pierce a pig carcase through with a single effort with the spear. He had been unsuccessful, but had gained his objective and was satisfied that he could not with his best effort transfix the pig.

Holmes, of course, is the famous fictional detective and his actions and preoccupations appear most singular, but they were a part of his life’s work. He had a theory on a case in Doyle’s short story, “The Adventures of Black Peter.” Nonfictional detectives, investigators, and forensic scientists research and test various ways of ending life. They find out such things as that it is impossible to crush a human skull with your bare hands. If I recall correctly, it takes somewhere around 1,100 pounds of pressure to crush a human skull, but certainly more pressure than a human being can produce with his hands alone.

We can safely conclude that Cain did not crush Abel’s skull, at least not with his bare hands. To crush his brother’s skull, Cain would have had to use a very heavy object like a big rock, which would’ve been difficult to wield in a close quarter fight. Of course, Cain didn’t have to crush Abel’s skull to kill him. He could’ve caused enough blunt force trauma to do that with a smaller rock, a tree limb, or some of his farming tools, since he was a worker of the soil (Genesis 4:2). Maybe Abel’s death didn’t involve his cranium directly. Perhaps Cain used a stone knife, or throttled his brother with his bare hands. I suppose a spear could’ve been thrown, or used as a lance. We can probably rule out a slower weapon such as poison. Though Cain obviously thought of this act beforehand (Genesis 4:5-7), the language of Genesis 4:8 lends itself to a crime of passion and some sort of fatal act.
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