|Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
Abel is the mythical second son of the equally mythical Adam and Eve from Genesis, the first book of the Bible. He has the distinction of being the "first" person on record to be murdered. The murder was committed by his older brother, Cain, who made the mistake of offering a vegetarian sacrifice to Yahweh.
As punishment for Adam and Eve wanting to be more like him (i.e. knowing something was right or wrong before doing it rather than after) Yahweh cursed the very soil, which caused it to grow thorny weeds. Adam had to work his butt off just to put food on the table. When his first-born son Cain was old enough, he pitched in with dad and helped out in the field like a good boy.
Adam's snotty second-born son, Abel, preferred to just walk around the hills with his sheep, which could not even be eaten because Yahweh did not authorize a meat diet for humanity until after the Flood (Genesis 9:3). The only thing Abel could do with the sheep he spent all his time raising was offer them to Yahweh as a burnt holocaust. So Abel became the second person (after Yahweh made Adam and Eve some fur coats) to perform the act of killing.
One day Cain brought to Yahweh, in good faith, some of the fruit of the ground he had actually managed to grow (despite the soil being cursed) to offer in thanksgiving to the one who cursed it, but Yahweh had no respect for his offering, despite Cain being the first-born and natural heir to Adam's priestly ministry, because it didn't involve blood at all. So Cain, scratching his head and trying to figure out the rules, decided to kill his brother. Perhaps the killing pleased the Lord, because he saw to it that Cain would never really be punished for his deed: supposedly he would become a vagabond, but (per Genesis 4:16-17) he settled down with a family and founded a city, and God insured that no one would kill him for what he had done (so much for capital punishment!).