Cain, his posterity, and the Priesthood
As always, the "fine print" and standard disclaimer:
The concepts, and commentary presented here do not represent "Official Church Doctrine" of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The information, organization, and presentation of these materials are the sole responsibility of Bruce H. Porter as an individual person, and not as any church official, teacher, or priesthood leader. Copyrighted material contained herein is used only for sources, and reference material. The information contained herein and referenced materials may be read and studied for personal use, and not for any financial gain.
From the beginning, there has always been a conflict between legitimate priesthood authority and the illegitimate leader who rules or demands the right, and "rites" to rule. This is seen even in the pre-earth life as the Son of Morning sought for our Father in Heaven's "honor, which is my power"
36 And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; (D&C 29:36)
1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. (Moses 4:1.)
This "power" (God has no priesthood, he has power, and when given to mankind we call this authority "priesthood") is the authority, knowledge and glory to rule as a God in the eternities. This is what Satan sought for in the beginning as recorded in scripture, not to take the place of Christ, but to obtain the Father’s power and position. Thus becoming the God of Jesus Christ, and doing away with the necessity of the atonement by saving everyone, taking away their agency. It is for this position and authority that Satan tempts wicked men to murder for gain. Mormon records in 3 Nephi that the fall of the Nephite nation came because of the "Temptations of Satan," which temptations have been the same from the time of Cain. Mormon lists 4 key temptations that Satan uses to over throw the individual and the culture (a warning for our time and culture, Mormon and non-Mormon alike). It is interesting that 1st Nephi makes the same list. (What would prime time TV be without these?)
15 Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, (1) and to the puffing them up with pride, (2) tempting them to seek for power, and authority, (3) and riches, (4) and the vain things of the world. (3 Nephi 6:15.)
The conflict is always between the legitimate priesthood authority, one whose right it is to reign and the one who rules or wants to rule. (Moses vs. Pharaoh, Abraham vs. Nimrod and Pharaoh, Christ vs. Herod and the High Priest, etc. etc.). Often the conflict is between the older son who is not worthy for the responsibilities of the birthright and firstborn son, and the younger and more righteous son that is chosen to become the patriarch. This is the pattern set in the Old Testament, and even in the pre-earth as many ancient texts and records teach, (Michael and Satan; Adam and Satan; Cain and Abel; Ishmael and Isaac; Joseph and his 10 brothers; Esau and Jacob; Laman and Nephi.) The oldest written document in the world is an Egyptian temple text, written in dramatic form with stage directions and dialogue, gives the detail of the first conflict between the two sons of the great god Patah. As always the more wicked, tries to usurp the authority bestowed upon the favored or "beloved" and righteous son. (see: The Memphite Theology and Shabbaka Stone).
It appears textually that the conflict in the pre-earth was not between Satan and Christ. Satan "rebelled" against God (not Christ) and by the "power of mine Only Begotten I caused that he should be cast down" (Moses 4:3).
Almost all Ancient texts that deal with the pre-earth speak of the conflict between Satan and Michael or Adam. This confrontation is caused when Adam becomes the first man to be placed on the earth, and given the power to hold all the priesthood keys of all dispensations. Satan withdrew stating that he would not bow down before Adam as the Father of our bodies and the keeper of the patriarchal priesthood keys. His argument was that Adam was "younger" than him and that he (Satan) was created before Adam (D&C 29:36) and should rule over him (Life of Adam and Eve Ch 12-17; see also the Discourse on the Abbaton, and Koran suras 7-11; etc. etc.). Thus, with a body and the priesthood keys Michael or Adam has the responsibility and power ("by the power of Christ") to cast Satan out of the presence of our Father and down to the newly created earth. The Discourse on the Abbaton (Elder Russell M. Nelson has quoted twice in General Conference) states that before Satan was cast down, Adam "removed the writing from his hand" which means a loss of priesthood, and authority. This writing in the hand is seen as a rolled papyrus in the statues of the Egyptian pharaoh's hand and represents his legitimate ancestral right to reign which we call a "line of authority." The "Discourse" goes on to state that Satan's power to move about was cut off by limiting "his bounds to the horizon" (to this earth only) and also that he was cut from "shoulder to shoulder through to the vertebrae." (this is the "OATH" formulary) The conflict is between Adam and Satan and it is for the keys of the priesthood by which this world and the inhabitants will receive glory and exaltation. One of the key responsibilities of the Arch-angel Michael is to "detect" and control Satan when he appears as an angel of light to the righteous (D&C 128:20; 2 Ne. 9:9; see also the Apocalypse of Abraham, where Satan appears as an angel of light and is detected by Michael. Michael is also to hold the keys of the bottomless pit, and will bind Satan in the last days. (D&C 88; 112-115).
Chapter Five of the Book of Moses tells us that Cain was the first born son to Adam and Eve after they receive the Gospel. Vs. 2+ indicates that Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters, and those sons and daughters began to divide into pairs and to have children, before Adam and his wife received understood the Gospel (vs. 6-15). At least three generations were on the earth before Adam and Eve were taught the gospel by the angelic messengers. Then, with the knowledge of the plan of salvation Cain is the first born into a family where he can be taught the gospel his older brothers and sisters rejected and "believed it not" (s. 12, 13). Cain was "born in the covenant", the first, one that will go to primary, young men’s, seminary, institute, family home evenings, and priesthood meetings with his father, thus Eve declares "I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words" (Moses 5:16) as his older brothers and sisters have done. Adam and Eve especially, recognize that there is now offspring to carry on the patriarchal order, one to be a prophet, king and priest to the posterity of Adam, to have all the power authority and possessions of his father. Cain receives the priesthood (and his endowment of power) as he is prepared to officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood.
The Patriarchal Law of Inheritance in the Old Testament is that the first "righteous" born son receives the patriarchal authority: To lead and direct the family as a prophet. To stand as a priest in providing and performing the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. Acting as does a king for the welfare of his father’s family, providing for the temporal needs and protection of his fathers family. It is this patriarchal authority that Eve was excited to see with the birth of Cain, yet, was conferred and given to Abel, the second son born in the gospel centered home. This is seen in verses 20-21 as the "Lord had respect" for Abel's priesthood offering, and had "not respect" for Cain's priesthood activity. The service, sacrifice and faithful activity of Abel was accepted by God as righteous, and more righteous that his elder brother Cain. Thus, because of his faith, the "Lord had respect" for Abel’s priesthood offerings and ordinances, rather than the offerings commanded by Satan that were made by Cain. Don’t think that this is the first time they offered sacrifice they both had to prove themselves in priesthood activity; this story is about the decision to choose another patriarch, the "birthright son" to carry on the priesthood authority and be responsible for temporal and spiritual welfare of all his father posterity. To choose one who will become the Prophet, Priest, and King to posterity of Adam.
It must be understood that when Adam received the gospel (vs. 6-12) Satan was not at work among the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. This is true as there is no salvation without the gospel and no need for the influence of opposition. Adam and Eve learning of the Gospel makes "all these things known unto his sons and daughters" Only when the gospel and the ordinances are given to the family of Adam does Satan need to establish his counterfeit doctrines and priesthoods. In verse 13, it is after the gospel of the Son of God is preached that Satan now comes on the scene "appearing as an angel of Light" (2 Ne. 9:9) saying "I am also a son of God" and commands the posterity of Adam to "believe it not" and "they believed it not." Stating that he was ‘the god of this world’ the posterity of Adam and Eve "believed it not" and "loved Satan more than God". Now with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the Devil in place, equally, for there must be opposition is all things, (Joseph Smith states: "In relation to the kingdom of God, the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God." T.P.J.S. pp. 58-59, 168). Verse13 states "And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish." D&C 29 also teaches us that the posterity of Adam could not die as to the temporal death until they heard the Gospel.
42 But, behold, I say unto you that I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son. (Doctrine and Covenants 29:42.)
To receive the Patriarchal Priesthood (the "patriarchal Priesthood is one of the three Priesthoods referred to by Joseph Smith, TPJS p.323) anciently was and is today "the endowment" to be anointed on earth, a Prophet, King and Priest, and to eventually become such through our faithfulness into the eternities. This priesthood Cain had received as did his brother Abel. Cain was the oldest son of the Patriarch Adam and should (in his mind) receive the inheritance and authority to "rule" over the posterity of his father. The D&C tells us that as we receive this Endowment (D&C 84; the oath and covenant of the priesthood is the endowment. See Pres Lee, Pres Romney) we must covenant to be faithful in the two priesthood and their covenants, and anybody that will "all together turneth there from shall not have forgiveness in this world or the world to come." Cain after he received the priesthood and endowment "hearkened not, saying Who is the Lord that I should know him" (Mos 5:16, 18), and "...Cain loved Satan more than God."
Because of Cain's attitude and wickedness the "Lord had not respect," indicating that the wickedness of Cain would not make him accepted as the rightful priesthood authority. "Satan knew this" (vs. 21) "and it pleased him" but Cain was "wroth" and he was depressed. The Lord gives Cain another chance at the responsibility of the priesthood saying that if he would do well "thou shalt be accepted" and if he does not well "sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee." The Lord is telling Cain that if he does not live up to the covenants and commandments of the oath and covenant of the priesthood (endowment) that he (Cain) will be in Satan's power (vs. 23).
Because Cain had participated in the fullness of the priesthood (the endowment) and knew the oaths and covenants, the signs, and the tokens of the priesthood he would become the "father of his (Satan's) lies" and would be called "perdition" because he would "all together turned there from" and would not receive forgiveness in "this world or the world to come."
To become perdition is explained by the Lord in D&C 76.
31 Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—
32 They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born;
33 For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;
34 Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—
35 Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.
36 These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—
37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;
38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.
39 For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:31-39.)
Notice that to become perdition there are certain requirements in verse 31. 1) "know my power." 2) "been made partakers thereof." 3) suffered themselves to be overcome by the power of Satan. 4) "deny the truth." 5) "defy my power" and in verse 35. 6) denied the Holy Spirit after having received it". 6) "having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father". 7) "crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame".
These statements make it clear that Cain would have to had known the power of God and been a partaker thereof, and received the Holy Spirit, and then turned altogether there from.
Moses 5:24 states that Cain "shalt" be called Perdition "for thou wast also before the world". Many infer that this phrase is saying that Cain was Perdition or a Son of Perdition before he was born here. This cannot be correct, if he were Perdition before this life he would have been cast out with Satan and lost his first estate. All who came to this earth accepted the Fathers plan, and "kept their first estate" The phrase "for thou wast also before the world" tells Cain that he existed in the pre-earth life, kept his first estate and had chosen the correct plan, and that he was to become the firstborn of Adam and Eve in the gospel. Cain had lived in the pre-earth environment, received the priesthood on the earth, officiated in priesthood ordinances and participated in his endowment of power. He eventually made spiritual decisions based on pride and followed Satan and "altogether turned there from" and will now not have a forgiveness of sins in this world or the world to come, thereby he becomes Perdition. (Notice we have power to chose to become "Sons of God " or "Sons of Perdition")
24 For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world.
25 And it shall be said in time to come—That these abominations were had from Cain; for he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God; and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent. (Moses 5:24-25.)
"These abominations:" the secret oaths and combinations that would now be passed on, would be said to be "had from Cain" (vs. 25; see Either 8:15; Hel. 6:26, 27). They would be had from Cain because he knew the oaths and covenants, the signs and tokens of the "fullness of priesthood" of God and Endowed with Power. And then "rejected the greater counsel which was had from God" and "loved Satan more than God." With the introduction of the Gospel Satan declares that he is a son of God, with the introduction of the blessings of the endowment Satan must set up his priesthood, oaths and combinations to counter the power and blessings of exaltation. His goal is to destroy for the offspring of God; that which he lost in the pre-earth "war in heaven": the priesthood, the power to pro-create, and to become a rightful heir of all that the father hath. To do this he must set up his counterfeit organizations, oaths and combinations and he must do it with someone (with a body) who has knowledge of the ordinances and holds the priesthood and received the endowment of power.
Moses 5:26 Cain was wroth and "listened not to the voice of the Lord neither Abel, his brother." This indicates that Abel, now was Cain’s priesthood leader and had already been chosen as the birthright son and received the authority to rule over and give counsel as the Patriarch of the family of Adam, and that Cain in his pride would not sustain the new priesthood authority. So he "listened not to the voice of the Lord neither Abel, his brother." (This, he did as Satan also rejected his priesthood authority in the pre-earth, when he rebelled against the Father’s Plan, and Michael’s Authority).
Moses 5:27, Cain is not alone in his new "religion" but is now combined with a wife and "his brethren". It is a conspiracy of brothers, with Cain as the leader, as Master Mahan, that leads to the murder of Abel. (Cain and his "brethren" are mentioned in vs. 27, 29; Hel. 6:27; D&C 84:16). Cain and his followers enter into and oath and covenant combination as Satan puts them under an oath and obligation in verse 29. An "oath" is always a symbol of sacrifice or death (see IDB "Oath" Gen. 15-17) thus they swear by their "throats and by their heads" that if they tell it they shall surely die. (to swear by their heads and throats is common in the Book of Mormon in reference to the oath used in the Book of Ether, as also the signs and tokens of the Gaddianton organization,
14 And it came to pass that they all sware unto him, by the God of heaven, and also by the heavens, and also by the earth, and by their heads, that whoso should vary from the assistance which Akish desired should lose his head; and whoso should divulge whatsoever thing Akish made known unto them, the same should lose his life. (Ether 8:14.)
In the Anchor Bible series "Ruth" the commentator states that the statement "thus may Jehovah do to me if I fail to keep the oath, is accompanied by a symbolic gesture like the index finger across the throat" which signifies what the covenant maker invites the lord to do if they fail to keep the covenant. This is why in Gen. 15 when Abram receives his endowment that he cuts the animals in half and some he cuts their throats and passes between them displaying the seriousness of the covenant that he is making and that he is binding this covenant with an "oath") This Cain and his followers must also do as Satan says that "thy father may not know it" i.e. that the priesthood may not know of their works, and organization.
Following their oath of obedience and silence Satan binds himself and his power to those who follow his pattern as he (Satan) "swear unto Cain that he (Satan) would do according to his (Cain’s) commands" (vs. 30).
Cain gloried in this new found power and states that "Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness." It is interesting that in the Dead Sea Scrolls Satan is called, in the Hebrew, "Mas-te-mah", to close for coincidence. (To murder for gain or the "Mahan Principle" is not limited to human life, but all of creation).
Following the death of Abel "Cain gloried" in the murder stating that "I am free" free from the bond of a younger brother ruling over him, free from the true priesthood and its righteousness, and free (he supposed) from guilt and anger. With his priesthood leader out of the way, Cain now feels that all that his brother had (i.e. the inheritance) is now his as he states that: "surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands." Remembering the ‘Law of Inheritance’ in the days of the Patriarchs was that the eldest and birthright son got a "double portion" of all that his father had. This is never more evident than in the Book of Mormon as Laman and Lemuel speak about Nephi, their younger brother: "Yea, they did murmur against me, saying: Our younger brother thinks to rule over us; and we have had much trial because of him; wherefore, now let us slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words. For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs unto us, who are the elder brethren, to rule over this people." (2 Nephi 5:3.)
As the Lord questions Cain about his missing brother, Cain reveals the doctrines of Satan and the Mahan Principle which are opposite from the purposes of the priesthood. "Am I my brothers keeper" it's a dog eat dog world, survival of the fittest, this thought and doctrine is opposite of the priesthood which is given to bless others and not yourself. The Mahan principle is to "murder and get gain" to personally prosper at any and all costs, as Satan "tempted" Cain because of his brother's flocks (vs. 38). This doctrine and principle is opposite of the endowment where we covenant to love God and our fellow man. Instead of selfishness and securing for oneself; to sacrifice; instead of competition, to consecrate.
Cain reaffirms (Moses 5:38) that the death of Abel came about because of Satan, and his own "jealously" of his brother's possessions and priesthood position. Cain declares to God: "Satan tempted me because of my brother's flocks: And I was wroth also; for his offering thou didst accept ant not mine:" Abel was the chosen and one accepted, by God to be the new priesthood leader for Adams posterity.
The curse of Cain includes a curse of lifestyle, not of skin color, and is more than he can bear as he was a "tiller of the ground." A tiller of the ground, a farmer is one who lived in a settlement, a sedentary life and home, one dependant upon the earth for sustenance, he must now become a "fugitive and a vagabond" and that the ‘earth will not yield its strength’ (because it swallowed his brother’s blood) to him in his crops, for food, or shelter. In addition he and his posterity lost the rights (and rites) to the Priesthood. In seeking to get; this priesthood position, gain, and riches by the spilling of the blood of Abel, (Moses 5:35 "The voice of thy brother's blood cries unto me from the ground.") the earth refuses to give Cain the necessities of life. A complete change of life style was now required for Cain, even the Earth itself rebelled against Cain as his "brother's blood cries...from the ground." (A real play on words here in the Hebrew).
The skin color is not the curse but a sign of the curse as it was in the case of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon:
21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.
24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey. (2 Nephi 5:21-24.)
The curse of the Lamanites was to become an "idle people, full of mischief and subtlety and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey" and thus they became a "blood thirsty people". The dark skin was not the curse but the sign so that "they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them." Likewise, the "mark" that came upon Cain and his posterity was not a "curse" of a dark skin, but this "mark" was to be for recognition and in the case of Cain, a sign or mark for a blessing of protection.
39 Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord, and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that he that findeth me will slay me, because of mine iniquities, for these things are not hid from the Lord.
40 And I the Lord said unto him: Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And I the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
41 And Cain was shut out from the presence of the Lord, and with his wife and many of his brethren dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. (Moses 5:39-41.)
The Dark Skin, may or may not be the "mark" placed upon Cain we do learn, however, that the land where the decedents of Cain lived was climatically an unpleasant place to live. Which caused a dark skin to genetically appear, again a dark skin as a blessing for survival.
8 For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people. (Moses 7:8.)
The phrase in verse 41 above: "shut out from the presence of the Lord" means to lose the right to the Priesthood, a final curse. D&C 84 states that the priesthood and ordinances are required to be in the presence of God.
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
(Doctrine and Covenants 84:19-22.)
The conflict between Cain and Abel is one of power and priesthood; it is the rebellious and proud son that tries to usurp the title of Prophet, Priest and King, from the chosen younger brother, a pattern throughout the scriptures. Once obtained the unworthy leader will exercise control and dominion in unrighteousness, not realizing that his priesthood or authority ends in wickedness, and he is ‘left unto himself to kick against the pricks and fight against God.’
Cain feels justified as he is the elder, thinking that all that the younger leader has belongs to him (personal possessions and priesthood position). This motif is a standard element throughout the scriptures: Satan and Adam in the pre-earth, in the Garden and after the Fall; Cain and Abel; There is a conflict between Ham the son of Noah and the priesthood that belongs to Shem with the stolen garment, and imitating the priesthood ordinances; Ishmael and Isaac are separated by their mothers as they strive for the covenant blessings and the office of Prophet, King and Priest; There is Esau the elder brother of Jacob who should have had the birthright because of birth order, but, because of not taking the priesthood covenants seriously as he "sells" the priesthood birthright to Jacob, who also obtains the blessing from Isaac by wearing the Garments of the Priesthood. Jacob's sons strive in jealously as Joseph the first righteous born son of the second wife receives the patriarchal responsibility since the firstborn of the first wife, Reuben is unworthy. (the line of authority goes not from first born to second born but, from firstborn of the first wife to firstborn of second wife with concubinical children coming in last) This authority is given to Joseph by Jacob as he gives him the garment of the priesthood (the coat of many colors should be translated from the Hebrew "the garment of many pieces") is given to him. Solomon and Adonijah in 1 Kings 1 strive for the kingship; Laman and Lemuel always murmuring that Nephi their younger brother seeks to rule over them and bind them down.
It is the conflict between the priesthood of God trying to establish Zion, and the oaths and combinations of Satan, between Babylon and Zion, between becoming a Son of God, or a Son of Perdition. The endowed blessings of posterity, priesthood and inheritance that are promised by an Eternal Father to the obedient and the covenants that will instill the power of this promise upon the faithful are the very covenants that Satan will try to tempt us to break in order that we might be in his power. These covenant blessings have counterfeit counterparts in the oaths and combinations of Satan. To destroy the priesthood of God and usurp his power and set up his throne and be like the highest is the goal of Satan and the foundation of the struggle and murder of Abel by his wicked elder brother Cain.
Cain murdered his priesthood leader Abel that he and his descendants would have that right to rule over Adam’s sons and daughters. His pride wanted control, to murder to get gain and power over the souls of the children of men. Abel died before any of his pre-earth promised patriarchal posterity were born into mortality. Abel’s righteous posterity were to be the patriarchs throughout gospel history. It is the father of this family line that Cain murdered so that his line could usurp that authority and right to rule for gain instead of providing priesthood blessings for his brothers and sisters.
The key curse of Cain was the loss of priesthood rights for his posterity. He murdered the rightful priesthood leader before Abel had posterity, thinking to secure for himself and his decedents this priesthood position. In the D&C we see a statement from the Lord about those who threaten the priesthood line:
16 Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.
17 But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves.
18 And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death—
19 Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house.
20 Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.
21 They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation. (Doctrine and Covenants 121:16-21.)
We can see from the above verses that those who "shall lift up the heel against mine anointed" will be cursed and shall "not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation." The sin of "conspiring" to murder the anointed priesthood leader for the sake of position and control for himself and his posterity led to the curse of Cain. Many might question: "is that fair for those who are decedents of Cain?’ It is fair if those spirits in the pre-earth life wanted to participate in the plan of salvation so much so that they agreed to come through that line. Or perhaps even sacrifice some of those blessings for a time for the benefit of others. In my mind these are the valiant and faithful, willing to provide blessings for others with the promise of fulfillment at a later time.
In the Old Testament the Lord outlines what is called the Levirate Law of Marriage. This Levirate Law states that if a birthright son marries and dies before he has a son to pass on the patriarchal authority to, his brother is to marry his wife and their firstborn son is actually the descendant and heir sealed to the first husband, or elder deceased brother, and his wife. This thereby continues the patriarchal line in its proper order. (The firstborn son of the wife of the firstborn son, as in the case with Tamar and Judah) And this proper order is through the firstborn son and his wife. Hence the children are sealed to the father through the mother. This is called a "Matrilineal Patriarchy". (Only the mother knows who her firstborn son is and who the father is) Meaning that the birthright son and patriarch is chosen by the mother, and ordained and set apart by the father or patriarch. (As in the case of Jacob and Esau and many others) This Levirate Law of Marriage is seen below:
5 ¶ If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.
6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
7 And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.
8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
9 Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.
10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.
In the Aramaic Bible, i.e. the "Targums" (which have the oldest, the best, and most complete translations of the Old Testament) speaks of murder of Abel and "the blood that cries from the ground". The word "blood" in these translations is "bloods" and should be translated, the "decedents that would have been born" cry from the ground that swallowed the blood, and seed of Abel’s murder. A note in the Targum Pseudo-Johathan reads:
"Ps.-J. differs from all the Targums in its rendering of the phrase"you brother’s blood." Onq. Reads:" The voice of the blood of the descendants who would have come forth from you brother," which is essentially the same as the paraphrase which we find in the Pal. Tgs. They take the plur. dmy. "bloods," of HT to refer to Abel’s descendants. This midrashic interpretation is well known" (see footnote #24 in "Notes, Chapter 4," of The Aramaic Bible, Volume 1B, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis, Translated and Notes by Michael Maher, M.S.C., The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1987, p. 33.
Thus in the oldest translations, it is the "bloods" or "descendants" that were to come through the patriarchal line of Abel that cry from the ground unto God for justice because of the death of their Father, through whom they were foreordained to come as the patriarchal line of the priesthood.
Seth the new priesthood line (in name only) becomes a replacement for Abel. Moses chapter six teaches that at the birth of Seth, Adam stated: "God hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew." (Moses 6:2) Seth in the Hebrew means "replacement or substitute". Under the Levirate Law Seth would marry the widow of Abel and the firstborn son of that union would actually be the "sealed" descendent and priesthood line of Abel and his wife. This is why the priesthood line is traced through Abel in the D&C:
14 Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah;
15 And from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers;
16 And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man—(Doctrine and Covenants 84:14-16.)
Understanding this we recall that Joseph Smith taught, in so many words, that the ‘descendants of Cain would not have the opportunity to hold the priesthood until the seed of Able had a chance to come to the earth". (the "bloods" or those that cried from the ground) That is that since Cain murdered Able so his (Cain’s) offspring would become the priesthood line, his (Cain’s) decedents could not hold the priesthood until those patriarchal decedents of Able had a chance to come to the earth. Most references to this statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith is contained in the writings of Joseph Fielding Smith:
"President George Q. Cannon remarked that the Prophet taught this doctrine: That the seed of Cain could not receive the Priesthood nor act in any of the offices of the Priesthood until the seed of Abel should come forward and take precedence over Cain's offspring."
(Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection [Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1949], 110 - 111.)
The promise was given that this curse, or restriction, will be removed, when the time comes in some future sphere, when Abel will have posterity. This evidence is collected and published in The Way to Perfection, chapters 15 and 16.
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 2: 177.)
Kindly see chapters 15 and 16, in The Way to Perfection, for further light in relation to the reason why the Negro cannot receive the priesthood. In brief, it is as follows: Because of transgression in the first estate which deprives him in this second estate. Since Cain slew his brother Abel in order to obtain all the rights of priesthood to descend through his lineage, the Lord decreed that the children of Cain should not have the privilege of bearing the priesthood until Abel had posterity who could have the priesthood and that will have to be in the far distant future. When this is accomplished on some other world, then the restrictions will be removed from the children of Cain who have been true in this "second" estate.
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 2: 188.)
President Brigham Young, answering a question put to him by Elder Lorenzo D. Young in a meeting held December 25, 1869, in Salt Lake City, said that Joseph Smith had declared that the negroes were not neutral in heaven, for all the spirits took sides, but "the posterity of Cain are black because he (Cain) committed murder. He killed Abel and God set a mark upon his posterity. But the spirits are pure (i. e. innocent. See D. C. 93:38.) that enter their tabernacles and there will be a chance for the redemption of all the children of Adam, except the sons of perdition."-J. H., Dec. 25, 1869.
(Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection [Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1949], 105.)
President Woodruff, in his journal, records the words of President Young as follows:
The Lord said, I will not kill Cain, but I will put a mark upon him, and that mark will be seen upon the face of every negro upon the face of the earth; and it is the decree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cain until the seed of Abel shall be redeemed, and Cain shall not receive the Priesthood, until the time of that redemption. Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the Priesthood; but the day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.-History of Wilford Woodruff, p. 351.
(Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection [Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1949], 106.)
The Seed of Abel, under the Levirate Law, came through Seth’s first born son with the widow of Abel. Enos then is the descendant of Abel. Through the Levirate Law the list of patriarchs are actually the seed of Abel. (Remember in D&C 84 the priesthood line is traced back through Abel) The patriarchal line and list must be remembered to understand why the revelation of 1978 giving the priesthood to all worthy male members was given at that time. The partial list:
Adam, Seth (the replacement for Abel) Enos (the son of Abel under the Levirate Law) Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem. . . . Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephriam. . .(we know the line continues into our time from the Book of Joseph quoted in the Book of Mormon from the Brass Plates) . . . .Joseph Smith Sr., Hyrum Smith, John Smith, and Eldred G. Smith.
The Prophet Joseph Smith blesses his Father in this Patriarchal Priesthood and declares his line to be that line of the Patriarchs of old:
Thus spoke the Seer, and these are the words which fell from his lips while the visions of the Almighty were open to his view, saying:
Blessed of the Lord is my father, for he shall stand in the midst of his posterity and shall be comforted by their blessings when he is old and bowed down with years, and shall be called a prince over them, and shall be numbered among those who hold the right of Patriarchal Priesthood, even the keys of that ministry: for he shall assemble together his posterity like unto Adam; and the assembly which he called shall be an example for my father, for thus it is written of him:
Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch and Methuselah, who were High Priests, with the residue of his posterity, who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the Prince, the Archangel. And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him, I have set thee to be at the head: a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a Prince over them forever.
So shall it be with my father: he shall be called a prince over his posterity, holding the keys of the patriarchal Priesthood over the kingdom of God on earth, even the Church of the Latter-day Saints, and he shall sit in the general assembly of Patriarchs, even in council with the Ancient of Days when he shall sit and all the Patriarchs with him and shall enjoy his right and authority under the direction of the Ancient of Days.(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 38.)
Joseph then gives his brother Hyrum a blessing indicating that this priesthood continued through him:
"He shall stand in the tracks of his father and be numbered among those who hold the right of Patriarchal Priesthood, even the Evangelical Priesthood and power shall be upon him, that in his old age his name may be magnified on the earth."(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 40.)
Following the death of his father Joseph Smith receives a revelation calling Hyrum Smith to succeed his father.
The . . . January 1841 revelation that called Hyrum Smith to succeed his father, Joseph Smith Sr., as Patriarch (D&C 124:91-96). The revelation said that Joseph Smith Sr., the first Patriarch, who died in September 1840, had appointed Hyrum to "the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him [Hyrum] by his father, by blessing and also by right," implying a chain of Smith family authority over patriarchal blessings, going from the departing Patriarch to his eldest son. In keeping with those words, when Brigham Young ordained John Smith, Hyrum’s son, President Young said he acted in the stead of the martyred Hyrum, who had the authority to appoint and ordain the next Patriarch. The tradition of fathers ordaining sons persisted down to 1932, when death prevented Hyrum G. Smith from ordaining his son Eldred as Patriarch.
(Book Reviews, BYU Studies, vol. 36 (1996-97), Number 4--1996-97.)
Patriarch Eldred G. Smith was born in Lehi, Utah. He is the great-great-great-grandson of Joseph Smith, Sr., the first Presiding Patriarch of the Church. This is the only office in the Church that follows the patriarchal line from father to son, and Elder Smith is the seventh Presiding Patriarch of the Church since it was organized in 1830. (Elder Eldred G. Smith, March 10, 1964, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1964 1 .)
As you may remember that the revelation about the priesthood was given in 1978 and was read to the church on September 30, 1978 at the October general Conference. It was in that year that the retirement of the Church Patriarch was announced, thus ending the seed of Abel’s patriarchal posterity that was to come to the earth before Cain’s posterity could hold the priesthood.
At the October 1979 general conference, President Nathan E. Tanner, counselor in the First Presidency, announced the retirement of Eldred G. Smith as Patriarch to the Church. No successor was mentioned, thus leaving an office vacant that in Joseph Smith’s time was considered to be second in preeminence to the President of the Church. President Tanner explained that the wide availability of stake patriarchs eliminated the need for a Patriarch to the Church. (Book Reviews, BYU Studies, vol. 36 (1996-97), Number 4--1996-97.)
According to the prophecy of Joseph Smith that the seed of Cain would not be able to hold the Priesthood until the Seed of Abel (the patriarchal seed) had a chance to come to the earth and fulfill their responsibility is in concert with the release of Patriarch Smith and the Revelation of the Priesthood of 1978.
This can easily be understood by those familiar with the Scriptures, Church History and the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Old Testament and the Laws that governed the Patriarchal Period such as the Levirate Law need to be applied even in this dispensation and to modern revelation, (for God is the same today, yesterday, and forever) thus bearing testimony of the divinity of this Restored Church and the Priesthood Leadership. Even without many understanding the related events of 1978-1979 the Lord fulfilled the prophecies of Joseph Smith and maintained the integrity of the very Laws of the Patriarchal Age contained in the scriptures.
The blessing of the priesthood to all worthy male members was not due to pressure on the church, from without or from within. It was revelatory in nature and prophesied by Joseph Smith when the changes would be made. The statements made by many general authorities were misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the statements made by the Prophet Joseph, and others coupled with an ignorance of the Patriarchal Period and Priesthood described in Scripture. The changes made in the Church of priesthood worthiness in 1978 were not changes of policies or of doctrines, but were made by divine will and under divine law, fulfilling prophecy, revelation, and the very plan set apart in the pre-earth councils, even before the foundation of this world.