The first murder involves a brother killing a brother. In contemporary artist Catherine Kaufman’s painting, Cain points a gun toward Abel, who writhes in anguish before he crumples to the ground. The only other biblical account of fratricide appears in the story of David’s son Absalom, who murders his older brother and David’s firstborn son, Amnon. According to author Rendsburg, the Genesis account serves as an apologia for David’s own story, reminding readers that David’s spotted family history is no worse than that of Israel’s earliest ancestors.
Like David’s royal scribes, artist Kaufman has also recast a contemporaneous political event in the guise of an ancient drama from Genesis. The full title of her painting is “Cain and Abel: The Assassination of Rabin”—a reference to the 1995 murder of the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a fellow Jew.