Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why God loved Abel and hated Cain, "fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man". George Patton.

I was watching the movie, Patton, when I first heard that quote and I understood it immediately.

Fixed fortifications gave mobile forces a place where they could close in and destroy the population.  Castles, fixed fortifications are built to protect people from invaders and provide a place of sanctuary for soldiers protecting farm land which is required for crop growth.

The castle cannot be built that is large enough to protect the number of people guarding it.  A person requires 1/4 of a hectare, about .6 acres, of land to produce enough food to feed them for a year.  That is an area of about 162 feet by 162 feet with a perimeter of around 650 feet.  Imagine a "castle" with one person to guard 650 feet or around 200 meters of wall all by themselves.

Yes, it wouldn't be quite that bad.  640 acres has a perimeter of 4 miles and would feed about 1,100 people and that creates a perimeter density of one person every 10 feet.  If we enclosed 4 square miles, with a perimeter of 8 miles enclosing 2,560 acres which would support 4,266 people we still get one person every ten feet.  Make a circle, 1 mile in diameter and it is one person every 20 feet.

And population must be kept stable, at or below the number of people the enclosed land can support.

Farmland is not defensible, so, smaller fortifications are constructed which give enemy forces encumbered access to the farmland.  Suppose an invading force brought along some slaves to farm a region protected by a castle while the castle was under siege?  Actually, all the invaders would have to do is wait out the people in the castle while they took possession of the land which is the means of support for the people protected by the castle.

Fixed fortifications.

God accepted Abel, who raised sheep  and turned from Cain, the farmer.  God appreciated the work of the mobile nomad with his herd and had no respect for the fixed fortifications of the farmer.

In the military we were told that we had to learn to shoot, move and communicate.  Which of these three were most important?  Mobility, then communication and finally, the ability to fight or shoot.

These are hard lessons to apply, but, they make sense.

Today, our fixed fortifications are under assault and in danger of being invaded, as so many fortifications of the past have been, by the environment those fortifications are fixed in.  New Orleans is below the level of the surrounding water.  Los Angeles is in danger from earth quakes.  New York is in danger from rising water levels.  Eventually, all of our fixed fortifications, our cities, will be invaded and destroyed as so many ancient cities of the past have been.

Gen 4:2...And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the
ground an offering unto the Lord.And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his
offering:But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was
very wroth, and his countenance fell.And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art
thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

So Cain desired the stability of the fixed fortification, the farm, the city, more than he desired to please God.

It took me a while to get this. What happened with Cain is the same thing that happened in Exodus.  God gave the people the ability to nomads, to eat and drink wherever they went and in doing this to be safe from invasion.  But, the people without God lived in fixed fortifications, cities, and the people who claimed to want God, Israel, actually cherished the stability of a fixed fortification more than they cherished the protections of God.  And God gave them what they wanted, even though it made them and makes them a target for their enemies.