The Cain and Abel cycle.

The Cain and Abel cycle is represented on two levels. The first sequence shows Abel's sacrifice and that of Cain; while the second sequence shows the murder of Abel and the reprimanding of Cain by God-Christ.

The cycle unfolds in two sequences of two scenes each. A thick red line underlines the whole scene to mark its unity. The action unfolds out of doors, and should be read from left to right and from top to bottom. The depiction of God with Christ's characteristics can only mark the contribution of a Christian artist, while the death from the bite must stem from a Jewish source. At least two types of interpretation or ways of thinking can be seen here. Either the painter followed instructions, at least for some of the miniature, from Rabbi Moses Arragel, or he used a Christian model which already had these features. One might also assume that a Hebrew manuscript, or one for the use of Jews, could have served as a model, but we are unable to prove any of these theories. The hand of the artist seems to have been directed by knowledge of the biblical text and of Jewish literature.

The miniature depicts the brutality and repulsive aspect of Cain's crime. The position of Cain killing Abel echoes that of a wild beast on its prey, a scene commonly represented in medieval bestiaries. A bite causing death is rarely - and almost never with people - represented in pictorial form. The theme is sometimes depicted in Haggadot but not usually in such detail. The sacrifices of Cain and Abel are not infrequently shown together with the murder of Abel, but God's reproach, even through an angel, appears only in the Golden Haggadah (Add. MS 27210) fol. 2v, Catalan Haggadah (MS 2884) fol. 2r, and Sarajevo Haggadah, fol. 4.