(Hebrew Pronunciation guide:
The capital "A" represents the "ah" sound as in father,
from the vowel sign qamets.
The small "a" represents the short "a" sound as in
pat, from the vowel sign pathach.
The ā represents the long "a" sound from the vowel sign, sere.
The "e" represents the short "e" sound from the vowel
The ō represents the long "o" sound as in
note from the vowel sign cholem
The "u" represents the long "u" sound as in the vowel
The small "o" represents the short "o" sound as in got,
from the vowel sign qamets chatoof.)
Adam and Eve began their life outside the garden of Eden
in relationship with God, having accepted God's system for restoration
to spiritual life, as taught by the animal sacrifices. As they adjusted
to this new life of labor and hardship, they lived in anticipation of God's
promise of a Messiah/Savior. They dwelled just outside the garden even
though access to it was denied to them by the two cherubim who were guarding
the entrance (Genesis 3:24). This is indicated by the fact that when Cain
left, it is said that he dwelled in a land area just east of Eden.
Adam was the first family priest, the one responsible
for representing the divine value system to his family. It is perhaps,
a leap of faith to think that Adam had a whole system of moral and spiritual
values by which to govern his life, but I suggest that it is quite reasonable
for God to have given him such a code, for he would really have no way
of knowing what was expected of him as a child of God in a world system
controlled by Satan unless such a code was taught to him. It is not reasonable
to think that God slaughtered animals and gave Adam and Eve clothing from
the hides without teaching what the sacrifice of the animal meant in reference
to the Messianic promise, especially in view of the promise stated to them
indirectly at Genesis 3:15. It is suggested, therefore, that what we have
written in Genesis three through six is a basic outline of events and the
vast majority of data that was taught and followed is left unrevealed to
us, but fully understood by Adam and the other family priests as history
There is evidence of this at Genesis 4:7, where God tells
Cain, "if you do right, won't you be accepted?" This indicates
that there was at least ONE standard or set of standards, for properly
relating to God. It would have been taught to all the children by both
Adam and Eve, as well as by Abel as a functional prophet following in Adam's
footsteps (Luke 11:49-51).
It was probably not very long before Eve brought forth
her first born son, whom she immediately associated with the promise that
had been given to them about "her seed" being the one who would
defeat Satan. Although we have only a seed pod of information in the promise
at Genesis 3:15, I suggest that all the details were later explained in
full to Adam and Eve as they would now be responsible for cultivating the
moral and spiritual values that resolved around the Messianic promise.
Included in those details would be the truth that the promised Messiah
would be Yahweh Himself (Immanuel of Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) coming
into the world as a man to defeat Satan (Psalm 110:1) and to bring salvation
to the human race (Isaiah 53:5-6; Matthew 1:21). It would be natural for
Eve to think that her first born son was the fulfillment of the promise
until otherwise indicated. Thus, when the child was born, she proclaimed,
"I have gotten a man - Yahweh." There is a little particle here,
eth, that can be either the sign of the direct object (and something in
apposition to the direct object) or, the preposition WITH, in which case,
it would read, "I have gotten a man WITH (the help of) Yahweh," (NASB,
The KJV renders it "from the LORD," and although
that is certainly true, the use of eth does not justify that translation.
Since both uses of eth are proper, it needs to be determined as much as
possible from the context which translation is better. Up until this point,
the particle has been used 5 times always as the sign of the object. At
verse 5:22 and following, it is used both ways. Thus, both uses can be
justified from the context, and although there is no basis to be seriously
dogmatic toward either one, I prefer the appositional use that identifies
the baby as Yahweh, as I suggested above.
The narrative continues at verse two, "And she continued
to bear his brother, Abel." As a result of this literal translation,
it has been suggested that Abel was a twin of Cain rather than a child
born in a subsequent year. I do not see that it really matters as there
were probably many sets of twins (as well as other multiples) born to both
Eve and her daughters as the years went by. At the same time, I truly believe
that if Cain and Abel were twins, that the language would be perfectly
clear to indicate it.
As the boys grew up, they chose different professions
according to their individual preferences. Both professions were necessary
for life in that society; the vegies of course, were the food supply, and
the sheep were the source of clothing and were for the animal sacrifices
which were conducted as an expression of worship and a teaching aid for
salvation truth. It seems that the meat of the sheep was not used as a
food source because meat was not instituted as a food source until after
the flood (Genesis 9:3). However, I am willing to concede the possibility
that the sheep were eaten (since there was certainly a vast amount of meat
that would otherwise have been totally wasted), and that the permissive
policy after the flood was simply an extension of the animal-food source
to animals other than sheep.
In addition to these choices of a SECULAR profession,
choices had to be made concerning the divine priority - both the issue
of salvation relationship with Yahweh, and the issues of righteous living.
Abel had trusted in the Messianic promise, was living according to the
righteous standards of the divine value system, and was even a communicator
of truth to the rest of the family clan. Cain, on the other hand, had not
trusted in Yahweh, but had his own ideas about how to find happiness and
success in the world. All throughout his life he obviously WENT ALONG with
the system, offering sacrifices and making the proper noises when necessary,
but he never accepted the divine value system, and sought for an occasion
to become a recognized teacher of a DIFFERENT WAY.
The contact that the human race had with God at this time
was very unique, as He interacted with them on a personal level, even communicating
at times with those who were not believers. The means by which God had
chosen to administrate His truth to the people of the earth during the
first 2500 years of man's history, was through the stewardship of the family
priest. That is, men who were functionally consistent in following the
divine value system and specifically chosen by God to be the spiritual
leaders of the family clan. As the population increased, and families became
more separated by distance, the need arose for additional family priests
to perpetuate the teaching of God's word. Thus, God would choose additional
family priests based on their moral and spiritual consistency, and their
dedication to the divine value system. See Topic: DISPENSATIONS
Apparently, this choosing was accomplished through a formal
appearance before God, at which time He would recognize the testimonial
consistency of the individual and formally establish him as a family priest.
At verse three we are introduced to just such an occasion
when offerings were presented before God as an expression of the believer's
salvation trust in God and his devotion to the divine priority in Christian
(Messianic) living. The divine priority refers to God's viewpoint and policy
for representing LIGHT in the world system of darkness. We read, "And
it came about at the end of days," which indicates a consummation
of a time period. It could refer to the end of a sabbath cycle and have
in view the sabbath day, or it could be some other cycle of days, such
as a month or a year. It has been suggested that this "end of days"
refers to a specific point in the life of each man when they would first
be called upon to demonstrate their trust and devotion to God. There are
two things that argue against this suggestion. (1) There was a difference
in years between the two men and such an INITIAL ritual would not occur
at the same time for both of them. (2) The New Testament teaches us that
Abel was viewed as a prophet, an established communicator of God's word
(Luke 11:49-51), and as such, this event recorded at Genesis four, would
not be an INITIAL ritual since Abel was already established as a communicator
before the ritual, and was killed very shortly after this meeting with
Much more likely is the idea that this was a specific
formal meeting with God when He would choose a new OFFICIAL family priest.
This is suggested based on two factors. (1) The fact that Abel received
a formal testimony of being righteous as a result of his offering, and
(2) that after he was killed, he was later replaced by another son, born
after the fact, who was viewed by Eve as the replacement for Abel (Seth,
at Genesis 4:25). Keeping in mind that there were DOZENS of children who
were born after Abel, who could just as well qualify - unless we are dealing
with a SPECIALIZED office that Abel was to take, and which was not offered
to another after his death, until the RIGHT person came along.
The ritual in view involved a testimonial expression to
God by offering an animal sacrifice which indicated that the person had
trusted in the Messianic promise and that he was submissive to the divine
priority - God's viewpoint and policy for living in the antagonistic environment
of Satan's darkness system. Accordingly, at Hebrews 11:4, we learn that
"by faith, Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through
which he obtained the TESTIMONY that he was righteous." And at 1 John
3:12 we are told that Abel's deeds were righteous, that is, in line with
divine viewpoint and policy - the divine priority.
The two men both approached God with an offering and with
the intent of obtaining from God the divine approval to become a functional
family priest. At Genesis 4:4, we learn that Abel brought to God "the
firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions." This makes it
clear that it was indeed an animal sacrifice and not just a presentation
of sheep to God. We also learn that this was what God wanted as an expression
of genuine worship, for "Yahweh looked (with favor) upon Abel and
upon his offering."
The verb is shAAh (as a qal imperfect/c) which means to
gaze intently. The "intent" of that gaze depends on context,
and here, the idea is clearly one of favor or acceptance. As noted earlier,
Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel obtained the desired recognition from God,
that he was righteous. This would then qualify him to be the next family
priest, which was apparently the intent - or at least, the understanding
of Eve, as she commented at the birth of Seth (APPOINTED ONE), "God
has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel" (Genesis 4:25).
Cain, on the other hand, did not follow God's policy for
qualifying to be a family priest. Acquiring a sheep for the sacrifice would
be no problem - that was not the issue for Cain. Access to the sheep raised
by others was not denied, and would probably have been provided in exchange
for equal value measured either in vegies or labor. There is no indication
whether Cain had offered animal sacrifices before, but it is reasonable
to think that he had participated in the ritual, as it would have been
a regular and even mandated activity while he was growing up. But this
is not a NORMAL expression of worship at this time, but a formal meeting
with God to acquire His approval for priestly function. It would be this
occasion where Cain could make his case before God and acquire His blessing
for a different WAY to worship and relate to the world. Cain wanted to
be an official family priest, but not one who would represent the things
of God, but rather, his own ideas of how man should live on this earth.
So Cain came to this formal occasion seeking approval
from God on his own terms instead of God's terms. John further amplifies
Cain's attitude and action by telling us that he was "out from (ek)
the evil one," and because "his deeds were evil" (1 John
3:12). The word evil in both cases is the Greek word, ponāros, which refers
to an infectious, antagonistic evil that seeks to influence and dominate
others. In the first case, the EVIL ONE refers to Satan who possesses a
usurped authority over this earthly world (Luke 4:6; John 12:31). According
to 1 John 5:19, "the whole world lies (exists) in the sphere of the
evil one." That is why Jesus could say of the UNBELIEVING Jews at
John 8:44, "You are out from (ek) your father - the devil." It
is those who have not trusted in the Messianic promise who EXIST in the
sphere of Satan's authority, and under the constant reign of the sin nature
(Romans 6:17). This then applies also to Cain. He had not trusted in the
Messianic promise, that is, he had not believed in Yahweh's promise to
send a Messiah/Savior into the world. Thus, he thought that he could solve
the happiness and the sin issues of life through his own ideas, independent
from what God's policy had ordained. And that makes his deeds evil, and
because they were evil, he sought to influence others, and what better
way to do this than to be a family priest. So here he is, presenting himself
before God, hoping that God would recognize the sincerity of his heart
in wanting to help his fellow man, and accept him as the next family priest.
But God's viewpoint is perfect and His policy is absolute,
and is based on a perfect standard of righteousness that exists because
of SPIRITUAL LAWS which cannot be changed by the whims and fancies of men.
Cain failed to take into consideration the true spiritually depraved condition
of man and that HUMAN WORKS and good intentions cannot solve that condition.
Thus, God did not - COULD NOT - accept Cain and his offering, for his WAY
was inherently inconsistent with that perfect standard of righteousness
and was doomed to failure. This attitude and action of trying to relate
to God through one's own human viewpoint logic and efforts is called "the
way of Cain" at Jude 11.
As a result of God's disfavor toward Cain, he became quite
angry and showed it. The verb, chArAh plus the adverb meodh indicates the
intensity of Cain's anger, for not only does meodh (very) indicate this,
but the verb means to BURN WITH ANGER. And thus, even by itself, the verb
expresses a very intense "burning" of emotional negativity. The
next idea, "and his countenance fell," indicates a change of
facial expression as an indication of severe emotional disruption, and
should probably best be seen as a statement of result that shows the overt
expression of his inner anger. We would say in our modern idiom, "Why
are you all bent out of shape?"
The falling of the face would indicate that as Cain appeared
before God with his offering, he was in an expectant mood, anticipating
a great response of favor from God. We could almost picture him as smiling
with excitement, for he truly wanted God's approval. But when God's rejection
was expressed, his expectations were dashed to pieces. And instead of responding
to that rejection with humility and teachability, Cain's response was from
the self-centered control of the sin nature in the severe anger that comes
from creature arrogance.
But God taught him anyway and called upon his frame of
reference concerning what is RIGHT - giving him another opportunity to
adjust to divine viewpoint and policy.
At verse 6, God challenged Cain's negative response and
then at verse 7, He spelled out both the problem and the solution.
God asked, rhetorically, "Why are you angry and why
is your face all bent out of shape?" The question calls Cain into
account for his actions and at the same time, applies some divine logic.
What has happened, God asked, that justifies you being angry? Did I do
something wrong, or did you do something wrong? But then God answers the
question Himself by explaining both the principle of acceptance and the
reason for rejection.
Verse 7, thus states the divine viewpoint and policy through
the phrase, "If you do right," The verb is yAtabh (hiphil imperfect)
and means to BE good, well, or pleasing (in the qal stem). In the hiphil
stem, it means to CAUSE good, which is then rendered, to DO good or right,
or what is pleasing. This is a general statement of principle which PRESUPPOSES
that the standard of good or right is understood, which of course, it was,
because the requirements for both relationship and fellowship with God,
had been taught to all of Adam's children. In fact, Abel had been an effective
proclaimer (prophet) of these truths over the years. But this situation
is even more specific since it deals with the procedure for becoming qualified
to be a family priest.
So, God tells him that if he does (what is) right concerning
relationship with God and qualifications for OFFICIAL service to God (ie,
trust in the Messianic promise and recognition of the animal sacrifice
as the official teaching aid of the family priest), that there would be
acceptance and promotion (exaltation). But the statement that God makes
refers to PREPARATION in general and not a QUICK-FIX and an INSTANT promotion
for Cain. There is a process of acceptance and promotion to this OFFICIAL
place of service. Abel progressed from functional believer to the office
of PROPHET (proclaimer of truth), and then to the office of family priest.
If Cain recovers - turns around and begins to DO RIGHT - then promotion
will come respective to his progress. If he fails to recover, it is because
he has chosen to follow the sin nature rather than God.
This principle, in general, should be applied to all members
of the human race. If one does what is right (trust in the Messiah) there
is acceptance before God - spiritual promotion (a lifting up). There is
the initial promotion when one becomes a believer, which is basically,
the imputation of God's righteousness onto the believer, as seen with Abraham
at Romans 4:3, "And Abraham believed God and it was calculated to
him as righteousness." And then there is the progressive promotion
throughout the Christian way of life as the believer maintains consistency
in fellowship and growth.
1 Peter 5:6 tells the believers, "humble yourselves
therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the
proper time." And James 4:10, "humble yourselves in the presence
of the Lord, and he will exalt you."
The last part of this statement (or question) has TWO
parts to it and is rendered in a variety of ways by various translations.
(1) KJV: "shalt thou not be accepted?"
(2) NASB: "will not your countenance be lifted up?"
(3) NASB/margin: "surely you will be accepted."
(4) NIV: "will you not be accepted?"
(5) Keil/Delitzsch Commentary: "is there not, if thou art good, a
6) ASV: "shall it not be lifted up?"
(7) RSV: "will you not be accepted?"
(8) NEB: "Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be
9) DARBY: "will not (thy countenance) look up (with confidence)?"
(10) YOUNGS: "Is there not, if thou dost well, acceptance?"
(11) WEBSTERS: "shalt thou not be accepted?"
The first issue is whether it is a question or a statement.
As can be seen, all but one of these render the phrase as a question. This
is because of the adverbial construction at the beginning, which is -
the interrogative Hā plus the negative Lō
natural understanding of this would be, "is it not true that."
However, it needs to be recognized with Gesenius, that sometimes this
construction is used to indicate a POSITIVE or TRUE idea instead of a
negative. He writes, "since it serves merely to express the conviction that
the contents of the statement are well known to the hearer. . ." and "a
surprising communication is introduced in this way (by hālō) in order to show it to
be absolutely true," (Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, Section 150 e, page
474). The BDB Lexicon, page 520 states, "it has a tendency to become
little more than an affirmative particle, declaring with some rhetorical
emphasis what is, or might be, well known."
Thus, either a question or a statement of assertion (surely,
certainly) can be in view for this clause, and although I took the effort
to explain this, it does not really alter the meaning behind God's communication
Whether God said - "Is it not true that, IF . . .
you will be accepted?" or "Surely, IF . . you will be accepted."
- the meaning remains the same. The marginal note in the NASB (Lockman
Foundation) recognizes this optional AFFIRMATION of a truth, while the
text translates it as a question. For the sake of making a decision, I
will translate it as a question, "If you do what is right, won't there
be a promotion (lifting up)?"
The second issue deals with the idea of lifting
up or acceptance. The word is the noun, seāth, which means a lifting up or exaltation.
Thus, "If you do what is right, will there not be
a lifting up?" OR - "If you do what is right, there will surely
be a lifting up."
As we can see from the translations above, some
want to associate this lifting up with the "fallen" countenance, while others
see the idea of acceptance, but in the other 13 occurrences of this noun,
there is no idea of acceptance. In the context as I have developed it, the
issue here is recognition by God that one is qualified to function as an
OFFICIAL family priest. The standard meaning of this noun then (seāth),
a lifting up, an exaltation, a promotion - fits perfectly with the idea
of being approved by God as a qualified family priest.
Thus, the idea is communicated, "If you do what is
right (established policy), won't there be a promotion (a lifting up)?
This could only happen if Cain were to adjust to God's
viewpoint and policy, and "do what is right." This of course,
requires trust in the Messianic promise, and then complying with the policy
of offering an animal sacrifice. But God is not telling him that if HE
does right he would be promoted RIGHT NOW, for recovery itself, would not
qualify him to become a family priest. A life of consistency prior to the
MEETING with God is required in order to be recognized by God as family
The next part of God's answer to His rhetorical question
deals with what is involved when one fails to do what is right.
He says, "if you do NOT do what is right," which
refers primarily to a failure to trust in the Messianic promise, and only
secondarily to the failure to bring an animal sacrifice.
THEN there is a CAUSE for this failure - this volitional
decision NOT to do what is right, and as God continues to address Cain,
He explains it as, "sin is crouching at the door." The Hebrew
word here is, chattAth. This is the first time that SIN is mentioned and
the only time that chattAth is used to refer to the sin nature. It is not
mentioned again until Genesis 18:20, and then occurs often for a total
of 256 times. Here, we see the IDEA or the INFLUENCE of sin that comes
from the sin nature. It is not some ACT of sin, for it is given a type
of animation, that can only refer to the sin nature, which is an active
influence or inclination in our mentality that expresses total independence
from God. We have already studied the sin nature in Genesis chapter three,
and the reader can refer to that commentary or simply see the Topic: The Sin Nature
The word, crouching, is rAbhats, as a qal active participle
- used to characterize the sin nature. The word means, to stretch out or
lie down - sometimes for rest, and sometimes with the idea of making its
lair or home at that location (Psalm 104:22; Isaiah 13:21; Ezekiel 19:2).
This is a PASSIVE idea that is used to indicate a constant presence (or
home) in the life from where the sin nature wields an active and aggressive
influence as it inclines the person's self-consciousness into attitudes
and actions of independence from God. When a person has rejected the viewpoint
and policy of God, the reason is because the sin nature has MADE ITS HOME
in the life and wielded a continuous influence.
Some interpreters want to make this word, sin, refer to
a sin offering lying at the door, waiting for Cain to grab it and offer
it up to God.
There reason for this is that this word for sin is used
91 times in the context of the Mosaic law for a sin offering. This is not
a likely meaning since the use of chattAth as a sin offering did not occur
until some 2500 years after our present setting, and the use of the word
DESIRE and MASTER, has nothing to do with offering an animal sacrifice.
As we continue, we learn of the sin nature, that "its
desire is for you." The word, desire, is teshuqAh, and it refers to
a very intense, compelling force in the soul. It occurs only three times,
and we have already seen its meaning in connection with Genesis 3:16, where
it is used to describe the emotional connection and dependence that a woman
has for the man whom she loves; an intense, compelling devotion. At The
Song of Songs 7:10, it speaks of the intense emotional and compelling devotion
of a man toward the woman whom he loves.
In all three cases, there is the idea of OBSESSION and
POSSESSIVENESS - two times, good and positive, and one time, harmful and
Its desire is for you, then, communicates the INTENT of
the sin nature to control the soul of the person and promote independence
We learn later in Genesis 6:5 and 8:21, that the inclination
of man's heart is HARMFUL (evil) from birth. From Proverbs 22:15a, we learn
that FOOLISHNESS (creature independence and arrogance) is present in the
heart of children, and from Psalm 58:3, that the wicked are ESTRANGED (independent
from God) from the moment of birth.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart (dominated by the
sin nature) is deceitful and seriously sick (out of alignment with God).
At Mark 7:21-23, we see that from the HEART (controlled
by the sin nature) come all the harmful attitudes and actions that are
contrary to the righteous standards of God's divine value system.
At Romans 7:14-23, Paul tells us that the hurtful things
he does come from THE SIN (nature) that exists in his physical body, and
that it is continually waging war against the righteous standards (law)
that exist in his mind.
By comparing all these factors, we learn that although
the HEART is the means by which evil is EXPRESSED, the INFLUENCE comes
from the PHYSICAL mutated mentality genes in THE FLESH, where the sin nature
However, even though this sin nature is a powerful and
even DOMINANT influence in everyone's life, there is still the ability
in man's soul - his self-consciousness, where there exists the capacity
of volition - to resist it. Thus God tells Cain, "but you must master
The focus with, "but you," establishes the presence
and function of human volition (or free will) and makes Cain responsible
for his own decisions. He could GIVE INTO the sin nature influence, as
he has already done in reference to this specific issue - or he can resist
it and accept the Messianic promise, and begin to follow God's righteous
standards. The fact that Cain is an unbeliever, and "of the evil one"
(1 John 3:12), does not mean he CANNOT choose for God, for God requests
this kind of choice from him - and indeed, from all members of the human
race. Jesus put it into perspective when he gave the invitation at John
5:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes
Him who sent Me, has eternal life," and then explained at verse 40,
"and you are NOT WILLING to come to me so that you may have life."
This was Cain's problem. Yes, the influence from the sin nature was strong,
but he was not forced into yielding to it, just as God told him, "but
you must master it." The words must master, are from mAshal, as a
qal imperfect, which means to rule over or to master. Usually this imperfect
tense would be rendered, "but you SHALL rule over it," but the
context requires the idea of MUST or SHOULD. Obviously, they cannot both
be MASTER of the soul, so in order to prevent the influence of the sin
nature from dictating EVERY thought and action in one's life, the self-consciousness
is called and upon and able to resist - sometimes, simply from the standpoint
of SELF-PRESERVATION. In fact, God's standards (as revealed by God's prophets
and from there by societies that have been influenced by God's word) are
directed to the free will of man to make such decisions concerning both
morality issues and the issue of the gospel.
When we learn about or experience something that is adverse
to our personal well-being, quite often we will make adjustments to protect
ourselves. There are also moral standards that a society and individuals
within that society hold to. This does not make a person sinless or RIGHT
with God, but it indicates the function of volition in doing what is deemed
as right and proper in a moral context. So also the message of the gospel
appeals to the self-preservation mode of our self-consciousness and offers
a way of escape from the penalty of sin and the wrath of God. Such an appeal
to man's soul PRESUPPOSES an ability to choose the way of escape, and that
is what Yahweh is doing with Cain. The mastering of the sin nature, or
the RULING OVER of the sin nature refers, then, to the CONSCIOUS resistance
of its influence so that a RIGHT and PROPER decision is made, whether it
be right moral choices, or the choice to trust in the Messiah. Such a decision
in either area, does not remove the presence of the sin nature or its constant
influence on the soul, but it simply resists a particular inclination at
that moment of time.
Cain leaves the meeting with God, still in ANGER mode
and finds his brother. After God rejected him, Cain, still angry, went
to Abel to try to solicit some support from him. When Cain came to Abel
for support or guidance, whatever might have been his concern, instead
of lending any kind of sympathy or support for Cain, Abel gave him a mini
bible class and explained, probably as a repetition of previously taught
information, what was necessary for proper worship of God, and what was
required to qualify as a family priest.
At verse 8, Cain told Abel about God's rejection and all
Abel could do was to repeat the gospel and remind him of the animal sacrifice
that God had instituted as a teaching aid and as an expression of worship.
But Cain's self-centeredness and independence from God, now channeled into
burning anger, was so intense that instead of responding in a favorable
manner to Abel's teaching, he extended that anger to Abel, and he grabbed
that very SACRIFICIAL knife that Abel was using to illustrate the animal
sacrifice, and slit his throat, killing him. We know this was the likely
scenario because the Genesis narration tells us that Cain went and told
his brother, and John tells us that Cain killed Abel with a sacrificial
knife at 1 John 3:12, by using the Greek word, sphadzo.
The next concern in the narrative is the accountability
that God requires from Cain for the murder of his brother.
At Genesis 4:9a, we read, Then the LORD said to Cain,
"Where is Abel your brother?"
Now, of course, God knew what had happened, but God works
in this way with people in order to call them into account so that they
might take responsibility for their actions. He did the exact same thing
with Adam and Ishah after they had disobeyed God in the garden (Genesis
3:9ff). Cain's answer, by claiming no knowledge, denies personal responsibility,
and demonstrates the degree of his creature arrogance and saturation with
Genesis 4:9b, And he said, "I do not know. Am I my
The arrogance of his answer is reflected in his second
statement, but in the first statement we have the stupidity of creature
arrogance. Creature arrogance refuses to acknowledge the character of God.
It rejects His sovereignty, denies His power, and is oblivious to His omniscience.
Can you imagine trying to hide something from God? God knows the secrets
of the heart (Psalm 44:21), and the hearts of men lie open to Yahweh (Proverbs
15:11), and Yahweh searches all hearts and understands every inclination
of the thoughts (1 Chronicles 28:9). But darkness in the soul blinds the
mind to spiritual reality (1 John 2:11), and causes unabashed rebellion
At Genesis 4:10-12, God indicts Cain for the murder of
Abel and metes out the just penalty according to his own righteous standards.
The initial question, "What have you done,"
simply rhetorically calls Cain into account for his actions.
Next, the idiom, "The voice of your brother's blood
is crying to Me from the ground," identifies specifically the act
The punishment upon Cain is twofold.
(1) "And now you are cursed from the ground, which
has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When
you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you."
The word cursed, is Arar, as a qal passive participle,
and is used to indicate that something or someone is under the effects
of some kind of negative influence. In this case,
God will administer a specific influence that prevents the ground from
allowing Cain success in agricultural pursuits. God created and controls
the laws of nature, both in general and specifically for individuals, societies
and nations (Deuteronomy 28:12, 23-24; Exodus 9:23-26). It is no problem
for him to so participate in Cain's life that He could prevent any cultivation
success for him.
(2) "you shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the
This is the result of having no agricultural success,
for he will be forced to wander instead of settling down, and he will have
to beg from others or labor for others, or perhaps simply turn to raising
domestic animals for a living. The two words used here to describe his
nomadic life style are (a) vagrant (nua as a qal active participle), refers
to one who totters and wavers as he roams around. This speaks of the uncertainty
that would constantly plague Cain as to how he would survive. It also speaks
of instability and unreliability.
(b) wanderer (nudh, as a qal active participle), refers
to one who just wanders around, not being able to stay in one place too
long. Such wandering and instability is not very attractive to others and
Cain thinks that he will be vulnerable to the selfishness and disdain of
others, and accordingly fears for his life.
In verses 13-14, Cain appeals to God for physical protection,
reviewing the 4-fold status of his punishment and suggesting that he will
be "open game" for those who think lightly of him. This is a
valid concern and probably emanates from the fact that this is how Cain
would treat others in the same situation.
"And Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is
too great to bear! Behold, (1) Thou hast driven me this day from the face
of the ground; (2) and from Thy face I shall be hidden, (3) and I shall
be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, (4) and it will come about that
whoever finds me will kill me."
Number (2) is the only one that requires special comment.
Whereas, prior to this, God would meet with Cain, even though he was an
unbeliever, that would never again be something that Cain would experience.
At verse 14, Yahweh gave him the protection he desired.
So the LORD said to him, "Therefore whoever kills
Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD appointed
a sign for Cain, lest anyone finding him should slay him.
The word for sign is OTH, which means some kind of sign,
and NOT a MARK, which is the traditional understanding. Notice also, that
this sign is FOR Cain (Hebrew Le) and not UPON him. This SIGN was not a
darkened skin as some actually believe. The dark skinned peoples arose
from Noah's son, Ham, many years after the flood. Nor was it some kind
of mark upon his skin (forehead or hand, as some would fantasize), but
rather, it was probably the very FACT of his existence that served as a
warning to others. God spared Cain, not so much to benefit him, although
it was still possible for Cain to recover spiritually and become a believer,
but to serve as a warning to others of the severe consequences of sin.
For we must recognize that even though Cain's life was spared, he lived
in considerable fear and misery until he died - never knowing who might
slay him, in spite of God's warning - and forever separated from the wonder
of growing things from the ground. It is actually quite impossible to determine
with certainty what this sign was, but it was just as certainly known and
understood by all the peoples alive at the time, and in fact, even a couple
of generations later, knowledge about it was still a part of human society
So, conversation over, Cain began his years of wandering,
taking his wife with him and dwelled in an area east of Eden which became
known as the place of wandering - Nod (from the verb, nud).
Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and
settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
And Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived,
and gave birth to Enoch.
It seems that there is a never-ending wonderment from
many as to where Cain got his wife. It is quite simple. It was one of his
sisters. The divine regulation against such unions was not given by God
until 2500 years later in the law of Moses. The physical danger of procreation
between brother and sister was nonexistent at that time, not really becoming
a problem until the physical environment changed after the flood, and the
harsh rays of the sun began to produce a mutated gene pool.
and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch,
after the name of his son.
The Hebrew construction here is the qal imperfect/c of
hAyAh (and he WAS) plus the qal participle of bAnAh (building), which together
is rendered, "and he was building a city," which indicates only
the function of building, and not the activity of settling down from his
nomadic existence. It was probably for the benefit of his family that he
built an enclosed encampment, and not as an attempt to thwart God's curse
upon him. The word city (ir) need not refer to any kind of TOWN or METROPOLIS,
but simply to a small village which would serve as a semi stable environment
for his wife and children. Cain, of course, continued his wandering and
SHAKY existence as a man who was never able to find a foothold and settle