And the LORD said unto Cain,
Where is Abel
And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
Read Chapter 4
Ephrem The Syrian
But Cain was filled with wrath instead of compunction. To him who knows all, who asked him about his brother in order to win him back, Cain retorted angrily and said, “I do not know, am I my brother’s keeper?” … What then would you say, Cain? Should Justice take vengeance for the blood that cried out to it? Or not? Did it not delay so that you might repent? Did Justice not distance itself from its own knowledge and ask you as if it did not know, so that you might confess? What it said to you did not please you, so you came to that sin to which it had warned you beforehand not to come. Commentary on Genesis;.
God appeared to Cain with kindness, so that if he repented, the sin of murder that his fingers had committed might be effaced by the compunction on his lips. If he did not repent, however, there would be decreed on him a bitter punishment in proportion to his evil folly. .
The divine Scripture always cries out and speaks; hence God also says to Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me.” Blood, to be sure, has no voice, but innocent blood that has been spilled is said to cry out not by words but by its very existence. [It makes] demands of the Lord not with eloquent discourse but with anger over the crime committed. It does not accuse the wrongdoer with words so much as bind him by the accusation of his own conscience. The evil deed may seem to be excused when it is explained away with words. But it cannot be excused if it is made present to the conscience. For in silence and without contradiction the wrongdoer’s conscience always convicts and judges him.
Cain was at once the most wicked and foolish of men in believing that for committing the greatest of crimes it would be sufficient if he avoided other human witnesses. In fact God was the primary witness to his fratricide. Because of this, I think he then shared the opinion held by many today: that God pays no attention to earthly affairs; neither does he see those done by wicked men. There is no doubt that Cain, when summoned by the word of God after his misdeed, answered that he knew nothing of his brother’s murder. He believed God was so ignorant of what had been done that he thought this most deadly crime could be covered by a lie. But it turned out otherwise than he thought. When God condemned him, he realized that God, whom he thought had not seen his crime of murder, had seen him.