It has almost become a truism that the ground in Gen 1–11 is a character in its own right. While many scholars repeat this insight, few describe the underlying rationale. In this article I address this question by looking closely at the story of Cain and Abel in Gen 4:1–16. My central claim is that this passage responds to an important question raised in Gen 1 and 2: Does the intimate connection between humans and the ground mean that the ground mirrors or aids human action, regardless of the nature of that action? By looking at the interactions of Cain, Abel, God, and the ground in Gen 4:1–16, I argue that Gen 4 presents the ground as an agent responsive first and foremost to God’s will, thus resisting and frustrating human disobedience and violence.

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