Incognito: My Brother’s Keeper

President Barak Obama spoke to a crowd of over 20,000 at the University of Wisconsin library mall in Madison on September 28, 2010.  In his address, he used a parable about a car driven into the ditch by his predecessors.  But what struck our interest was his comment:  “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

this reference goes back to Genesis 4:9.  Cain murdered his brother Abel over a religious argument – The Lord accepted the offering of Abel but not that of Cain.  So in rage he killed his own brother.  Later the Lord confronts Cain and we have this:

Genesis 4:9  ESV
    Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”

    He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

Cain’s negative, cynical, murderous attitude speaks for itself.  It is not footnoted in the text with an attached moral, but it is clear that we are to understand that we are our brother’s keepers.

The President applied it to political policy regarding programs to achieve fairness and access to health care.  He also felt the need to re-state the negative as an affirmation, and to add both genders.