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The Timshel Songfacts explains: The song was directly inspired by John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden, which parallels the Cain and Abel story in Genesis. The title is a Hebrew word which translates as "thou mayest" and the discovery in the book by a group of Chinese scholars of Timshel's proper meaning in connection with the Cain and Abel account is an important symbol in East Of Eden's storyline. Steinbeck points out this free will to make choices .