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4:1 The man knew Eve his wife- See on Gen. 3:6 To be desired to make one wise. The couple had been commanded to have children before the fall. Perhaps their sin of omission was appropriately judged by humanity being given such a strong desire for sexual experience, which is designed for procreation. What they couldn't be bothered to do now became the very thing humans are crazy to do at all costs. Or it could be that they sinned on their first day of life in the garden. For Adam only got around to naming Eve after the fall; and there was apparently no fruit on the tree of life, which according to Revelation bore its fruits every month.

She conceived, and gave birth to Cain- Think of what the Hebrew word “Cain” means- for he is alluded to by the Lord as the epitome of the “devil”, the “murderer from the beginning”, the archetypical sinner (Jn. 8:44- perhaps because Adam and Eve’s sin was forgiven, whereas Cain was the first impenitent sinner). “Cain is defined on the basis of a double Hebrew etymology, as ‘possession’ (from qana = acquire) and ‘envy’ (from qana = be envious)” (Martin Hengel, Property And Riches In The Early Church (London: S.C.M., 1974) p. 1). Personal possession is almost- almost- inextricably linked with envy, and led to the lies and murder for which Cain was noted by the Lord. To have a strong sense of our personal ‘possessions’ will lead us into the same sins. Indeed, it’s the epitome of ‘the devil’. The naming of Cain would suggest a cynicism in Adam and Eve, although Eve is set up as the prototype for the Lord Jesus [as the seed of the woman] and Adam is the basis for the second Adam, the Lord Jesus. This could all suggest that they later repented more fully.

There is no direct linguistic connection between 'Cain' and 'Canaan', but there may well be a word play, as they sound similar. In this case, the Canaanites with whom Israel were to struggle were to be seen as the spiritual descendants of Cain. But Moses wrote Genesis, presumably during the 40 years wandering. He therefore wrote it in a context- of explaining things to Israel as they stumbled through that wilderness, wondering who they were, where they came from, where they were headed- and which of the myths about 'beginnings' they heard from the surrounding peoples were in fact true. The Israelites, for example, encountered the Kenites [Heb. Qeni], a wandering, nomadic tribe whom nobody wanted much to do with as they were perceived to be cursed (Gen. 15:19; Num. 24:21,22). Gen. 4 explains why they were like this- they were the descendants of Cain [Heb. Qayin], who was punished with an unsettled existence because of his sin.  

And said, I have gotten a man with Yahweh’s help- "Gotten" is really 'redeemed' or 'purchased', and is a play on the word 'Cain'. It could be that Eve hoped that their redemption was to be achieved through this child. Her disappointment in Cain would therefore look ahead to the failure of Israel and the Jewish system to bring about redemption, even if it were in some ways potentially possible through them. It has been suggested that the Hebrew here could be translated "A man, the Yahweh", Rotherham "I have gotten a man even Yahweh", as if she hoped to see Yahweh manifest in this man child. In this case, we would have another indication that Cain could have potentially been the Divinely provided seed and Saviour- but he messed up, because he failed to perceive the need for blood sacrifice to atone for sin. This again would confirm how Jn. 8:44 reads him as a prototype of Israel gone wrong. It could be that we see similar Messianic hopes in the naming of Seth, and also of Noah, whom it was hoped would remove the curse upon the earth (Gen. 5:29 LXX). These early people clearly expected the coming of a Messianic man child, born of their seed. But they were disappointed at every turn- sharpening their need for the Son of God.

4:2 Again she gave birth, to Cain’s brother Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a cultivator of the ground- Adam's curse had been to cultivate the ground; but Abel evidently saw beyond the parameters of the curse, and kept sheep instead. Just as we too can see and act beyond the parameters of our fallen condition, whilst still subject to it. Or this could be another evidence that the judgments pronounced upon Adam were directed at him personally, and not all his descendants were to experience every aspect of them. For not all get their living from the soil. Perhaps we can see in Cain's love of the ground a glorification of the curse; for "cultivator" translates a Hebrew word more commonly translated "servant" or "worshipper". It was by their choice of employment that the brothers were demonstrating their thinking about God. They knew animal sacrifice was required; and Abel concerned himself with this as a means of daily livelihood.

4:3 As time passed- This could refer to some appointed feast or sacrifice day approaching.

It happened that Cain brought an offering to Yahweh from the fruit of the ground- The fact his offering wasn't accepted suggests that animal sacrifice had already been instituted, and Cain was not simply judged as having offered a second best, but rather as having offered something distinctly unacceptable. He failed to perceive that he too was a sinner, needing remission of sins connected with the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22). Perhaps he like many today chose to blame his weaknesses on his parents and environment, rather than taking personal responsibility. Perhaps he lacked the humility to ask his brother for an animal.

4:4 Abel also brought- The Hebrew can mean that he also brought an animal, as if he also brought fruits of the earth as Cain had done. In this case, we see Cain representing the Judaist attitude of justification by works; whereas Abel recognized his sin, and the need for atonement through blood shedding. The works of his hands were offered as gratitude for that gracious forgiveness; whereas Cain thought that his own works alone were the basis for acceptability with God. This same difference in motivation for works is alive and well today.

Some of the firstborn of his flock and of its fat. Yahweh respected Abel and his offering- Many connections are visible in early Genesis to the later law of Moses (here to Num. 18:15-17). There were elements of that law in existence from these early days onwards. The respect of Yahweh was presumably shown by the fire from the cherubim / flaming sword consuming the sacrifice, as happened when Samson's parents offered (also Lev. 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Chron. 7:1) . Yahweh's respect was to "Abel [personally] and his offering", as if a person's sacrifice is "them". We are not simply acceptable to God by making a few cursor movements on a screen, by purely internal ideas. There has to be sacrifice in some form. Heb. 11:4 says that God testified to Abel's sacrifices, because he was "righteous". But his shedding of blood was a recognition of his own unrighteousness. Belief in forgiveness therefore of itself makes us "righteous" in that if sin is forgiven, then righteousness is imputed to us.

4:5 But He didn’t respect Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and the expression on his face fell- The 'faces' of the cherubim and flaming sword did not accept Cain's offering, God did not "look" ["respect"] toward it, and so Cain's face also fell. 1 Jn. 3:12 explains that Cain slew Abel because his own works were "evil" and his brother's "righteous". To trust in our own works is "evil", and to confess our sin and throw ourselves in faith upon the Lord's shed blood is "righteous". We have here presented for all time the root of jealousy- a sense that another is closer to God than ourselves. This has been the deep motive for so much tension and evil between brethren. And we are warned against it right at the beginning of the Biblical record. 

4:6 Yahweh said to Cain, Why are you angry? Why has the expression of your face fallen?- Another example of the questions in early Genesis being rhetorical. God was as ever, seeking repentance and reformation; and He provokes questions in our consciences for the same reason. We too need to probe the reasons for our anger. The question "Why are you angry?" often reveals our own inadequacies and depth failings. The instinctive reply is "Because he / she / you... did this or that". But the ultimate reason is because we have sinned or failed. All through these early chapters we see God's earnest passion for human repentance in the light of human sin, rather than judging or rejecting immediately.

4:7 If you do well, will it not be lifted up?- The Hebrew in this verse is hard to conclusively translate. I have earlier suggested that Cain assumed he was 'doing well', was justified by his own works, and had no sin to be atoned for. In this case, the idea would be: 'If you really are righteous by your own works, would your sacrifice not have been accepted?'. And so the paradox is that by confession of sin and recognition of weakness, we are righteous before God. Acceptable sacrifice, in whatever form, is based around recognition of sin and a rejection of all works-based thinking.

The LXX here is worthy of consideration. Due weight must be given to the fact that the New Testament nearly always quotes from the LXX rather than the Masoretic text [the Hebrew Old Testament]; and when there is a difference between the two texts, the New Testament often quotes the LXX rather than the MT. The LXX here suggests what I have developed elsewhere in this exposition- that the sin of Cain was not in offering non-blood offerings, but in his attitude to his brother Abel: "Hast thou not sinned if thou hast brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it?". His offering was "right", but his attitude to his brother was wrong. It could even be that the Lord alludes here in saying that if we bring our gift to the altar and there remember that we have some issue with our brother- we are to sort that out first, as a priority, otherwise we will be offering unacceptably (Mt. 5:23,24).

If you don’t do well, sin crouches at the door. Its desire is for you, but you are to rule over it- "Sin" could here be read as referring to a sin offering, an animal which God had sent to the door of the sanctuary, providing Cain with every opportunity now to do what was right. Likewise, the sacrificial lamb has been conveniently provided for all sinners and all those who think they can be justified by works. Just as the animal was made to come and crouch down at the entrance to the sanctuary, so God really does all possible to provide us with the way to acceptable fellowship with Him. Cain as the firstborn was the family priest. He apparently lost credibility when the fire came down and consumed Abel’s offering, but not his. Immediately it seemed that Abel was going to usurp Cain as the family priest. Therefore he was told to offer the animal that was ‘crouching’ at the door of the meeting place, and then “unto thee shall be his [Abel’s] desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen. 4:7 AV).   Surely this means that if Cain had openly recognized his mistake and then done the right thing, he would have risen to even higher levels of spiritual credibility with his younger brother.

The language of desire and rulership is taken directly from the curse upon Eve in relation to her desire for Adam. 

"Sin" however can be read literally, as sin. There is a doctrine of a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), whereby we really can be made new people. This is a ladder to reach to the stars. We can overcome sin, bad habits and thought patterns; sin may seek to get us, but we can rule over it. We may well think that we can’t; the way was set, the die cast, the destiny mapped out, the genes determined; our background, upbringing, life path was as it was, and so we are as we are. But we can be made new. Sin need no longer have dominion over us, as Paul says in Romans 6; or as early Genesis puts it here, “you shall rule over [sin]”. We are not debtors to sin (Rom. 8:12)- sin is not inevitable. But most people fail to see beyond the very limited horizons of both their nature and their immediate life. Earth’s curvature means that we can’t see beyond horizons; but we can, if we wish, know what is there.

John Steinbeck, who was hardly a Biblical Christian, was fascinated by the early chapters of Genesis, and his 1952 novel East Of Eden is evidently his commentary upon them. And he finds no place for a 'Satan' figure. Instead, he is struck by the comment to Cain that although sin crouches at the door, "do thou / thou mayest rule over him". Steinbeck concluded from this that victory over sin and the effects of Adam's sin is possible; and therefore we're not bound by some superhuman Satan figure, nor by an over-controlling Divine predestination to sin and failure. There's a passage in chapter 24 of the novel that bears quoting; I find it deeply inspirational, and another example of the practical import of the correct understanding of early Genesis: "It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself onto the lap of the deity, saying, "I couldn't help it; the way was set". But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice; a bee must make honey. There's no godliness there... these verses are a history of mankind in any age or culture or race... this is a ladder to climb to the stars... it cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness... because "thou mayest" rule over sin". The practical inspiration ought to be evident; all further commentary is bathos.

4:8 Cain said to Abel, his brother, Let’s go into the field- This may simply mean that they exited the sanctuary together. The whole record here is replete with connection to the sin of Adam and Eve, Divine questioning, and the subsequent punishment and banishment expressed in very similar terms. At this point, the parallel is that as the serpent "talked" to Eve, so Cain "said" or 'talked' with Abel- the same word is used (Gen. 3:1). We could therefore infer that perhaps the 'going into the field' was a going away from the sanctuary of God, and the talking together was about some form of rebellion against Divine commandment; to which Abel, unlike Adam and Eve, refused to listen.

It happened when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and killed him- The reason is supplied in 1 Jn. 3:12: "And why did he kill him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous". Spiritual jealousy is the root of murder, literal and symbolic. Jealousy of this sort is indeed as cruel as death. John's argument continues, presenting Cain as representative of "the world", the Jewish world in John's immediate context, and "whoever hates his brother" within the ecclesia.

4:9 Yahweh said to Cain, Where is Abel, your brother? He said, I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?- Again, the questions in early Genesis are rhetorical, and this interrogation of Cain matches that of Adam and Eve ("Where are you?", Gen. 3:9); see on :8. Cain, the epitome of 'the devil' (Jn. 8:44), was characterized by the attitude that he was not his brother's keeper. It was for this reason that his sacrifice wasn't accepted; it was not impossible for God to accept non-blood sacrifices (Num. 15:17-21; 18:12,13; Dt. 26:1-4). But the Lord Jesus perhaps offered a commentary on the incident when he said that our offering can only be accepted if we are first reconciled to our brother (Mt. 5:24). Cain's insistent lack of responsibility for his brother was the real sin, and therefore his sacrifice wasn't accepted by God. He wanted to serve God his own way, disregard his brother, justify his jealousy and disagreement with him... to be a private person. But this was the basis of his rejection.

"I don't know" may effectively mean "I know [him] not". Not recognizing our brethren as brethren is an age old sin. Cain as the older brother was indeed his brother's "keeper". Here we see another connection with the sin of Adam and Eve, noted on :8. They were to "keep" the garden (s.w., Gen. 2:15); and they didn't, instead they lusted after the forbidden fruit and Eve chatted with the serpent. We could infer that keeping his brother had been a commandment to Cain; it is this lack of responsibility which is the root of all hatred of our brethren. If care for them is paramount, then hatred is excluded. If they offer better than we do, then our basic sense of care for them will preclude all jealousy complexes.

4:10 Yahweh said, What have you done?- The Hebrew can as well be translated "Why" or "How". Again, God was seeking to probe Cain's conscience, to lead him to repentance. Mary’s words to the Lord Jesus “Why have you done this to us?” are a rebuke- as if she implied that Jesus had sinned / done wrong by what He had done? Surely her faith in a sinless Messiah was now put to a brutal test by a domestic upset; just as, in barest essence, ours is too by such things. Yet notice that she frames those words in the LXX language of Gen. 3:14; 4:10; 1 Sam. 13:11. Those allusions would imply that she felt Jesus had sinned; and yet at the same time as revealing that gross lack of perception, another part of her mind is still back in Scripture.

The voice of your brother’s blood cries to Me from the ground- Perhaps the implication is that Cain had covered Abel's body and blood with soil, thinking God wouldn't notice it. The same idea is found in the souls beneath the altar, where the blood drained down to, crying for vengeance (Rev. 6:9). This again makes Cain the prototype of all persecutors of the Lord's true people, represented by Abel. Whilst there is no conscious survival of death, these metaphors indicate the degree to which the lives [blood] and record of dead believers live on within God. And their lives as it were cry to God for response from Him. The teaching of Rev. 6:9 is that this response will ultimately be at the Lord's return and the final judgment. The phrase 'crying unto the Lord' is frequently used for prayer. But prayer is perceived by God as far more than words verbalized; our life situation, our essential spirit, is read by Him as prayer. It matters not how good we are at verbalizing things; He reads our lives and spirits as a prayer to Him. And so God read the blood of Abel; and that of the Lord "speaks better things than that of Abel" (Heb. 12:24).

The blood of Christ is personified as a voice that speaks to us, a better word than the voice of Abel's blood which cried out it's message (Heb. 12:24 NIV; Gen. 4:10). This is after the pattern of how the commanding voice of Yahweh was heard above the blood sprinkled on "the atonement cover of the ark of the Testimony" (Num. 7:89 NIV). The blood of both old and new covenants enjoined the obedience of God's word upon those sprinkled with it (Heb. 9:19,20). The blood and God's word were linked. The blood of the dead believers in Christ likewise cries out from under the altar, demanding vengeance on this world: on the Catholic, Protestant, Babylonian, Roman, Nazi, Soviet systems that slew them for their faith (Rev. 6:9). To God, their blood is a voice, just as real as the voice of Abel, which cried out (in a figure) for judgment against Cain (Gen. 4:10).

4:11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand- The idea may be that the ground cursed Cain by becoming barren for him (:12); and he was a cultivator of the ground. Hence the Amplified Version: "You are cursed by reason of the earth". Earth opening its mouth may suggest there was an earthquake, as in Num. 16:32; Num. 26:10; Dt. 11:6. The blood was "received"; and the words for receiving blood are used multiple times of how the priests took or received the blood of the sacrifices, reflecting God's acceptance of them. Abel's death was therefore accepted by God; and Cain's evil hand in it was actually part of Abel's final acceptance with God. Truly no weapon formed against us can ultimately prosper, even if it leads to our death.

4:12 From now on, when you cultivate the ground, it won’t yield its strength to you- Again, judgment was appropriate to the sinner. For Cain had cultivated the ground and had thought that the fruits of such labour would be acceptable with God. Perhaps again we see God remembering mercy in this judgment; for cutting off Cain's ability to do his preferred works, of producing agricultural produce, might have led him to subsequently throw himself upon God's grace. And as noted on :8, this is another link with the judgment of Adam. We note that the land not 'yielding her strength' is a term used of how God would judge Israel within the same eretz if they sinned (Lev. 26:20; Dt. 8:18 Heb.). As with the judgment upon Adam, I am inclined to see the judgment as specifically upon Cain, as it was specifically and uniquely upon Adam. We die in that we sinned in Adam, we would have done what he did, and we in essence have done the same (Rom. 5:12). But all the details of his specific judgments are not necessarily true for all men. Likewise, the land would yield its strength to the obedient, and would not do so for the disobedient.

You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer in the land- Again, it appears that a particular area is in view rather than the entire planet. Such wandering until death is the language of the condemnation at the last day, "wandering stars" (Jude 13), dogs wandering rejected outside the city (Ps. 59:15 s.w.). "Fugitive" implies he was being hunted, and that there was some concept at this stage of the Mosaic "avenger of blood" in such cases. Who would have persecuted him? Presumably the other, unrecorded, children of Adam and Eve. Or if indeed Genesis 1 and 2 speak specifically of a creation within the eretz, there would have been other people around. "Fugitive" is the same word used of Israel's condemnation in the wilderness, wandering in rejection (Num. 32:13), and "wanderer" of their wandering in the Gentile world under Divine condemnation (2 Kings 21:8; Jer. 4:1).

4:13 Cain said to Yahweh, My sin- He puts "sin" for "condemnation for sin". In this sense the Lord bore our sins; He was not a personal sinner, but He died the death of a condemned sinner.

Is greater than I can bear- Put together two Bible passages: Cain felt that his condemnation was greater than he could bear, and so God put a mark upon him so he wouldn’t be slain (Gen. 4:13,15). Now 1 Cor. 10:13: God will not allow us to be tested more than we can bear, but will make a way of escape so we can bear it. I take this as meaning that if God is even sensitive to the feelings of a condemned man like Cain, rather like putting an animal to sleep in a humane way... then we who are saved in Christ can take comfort that even in this life, we will not be asked to bear the unbearable, and yet we have the prospect of eternity in front of us when this life is through. And in a very quiet, sober way, we have to respond with gratitude: ‘Wow’. God will not even punish the rejected more than they can bear. This reflects His ultimate grace.

Recognition of personal sinfulness will finally swamp the rejected, as it should have done in their day of opportunity. There may be with some a desperate further appeal for mercy, after the pattern of Cain, who tried to desperately reason with God: "My punishment (220 times rendered "iniquity") is greater than I can bear" (Gen. 4:13 AV). "Bear" is the Hebrew word usually used for bearing away of sin. Cain finally recognized his own sin, and the need for atonement. Adam likewise confessed his sin as a result of God's questioning (Gen. 3:10). Realization of sin will finally be elicited (Num. 32:23 LXX; Ez. 6:9; Jude 15). Cain saw that he couldn't carry away his own sin. His words are surely a reference to the Lord's invitation to take hold of the animal sin offering that was crouching at the door (Gen. 4:7 Heb.). The Lord had offered Cain a way of escape through the blood of the lamb, a recognition that his own works couldn't save him. But he refused that knowledge; only to be finally and unalterably condemned, and thereby taught his desperate need to resign his own works and trust in the blood of the lamb. And so it will be at the last day. If men refuse to  know their own desperation and need for the Lord's sacrifice now, then they will be made to realize it all too late. Zedekiah likewise wept in his condemnation (Ez. 7:27), knowing that he could have taken hold of God's offer through Jeremiah. Note how Cain is "cursed from this land" (Gen. 4:11 LXX)- the land / earth of Israel, the area of Eden before the flood. Being expelled from the land was his condemnation; just as Israel were later cast out of their land in condemnation. He left God's land and lived in the land of Nod / wandering, at the entrance to Eden (4:16). According to the RV margin of Gen. 4:16, Cain lived "in front of Eden"- he didn't go far away from it, he set himself as near to the entrance as he could. Likewise Israel chose to stay "many days" in Kadesh (Dt. 1:46), on the very border of the promised land, after their rejection from inheriting it. It is significant that Israel and Judah were taken into captivity in areas on the edge of the land promised to Abraham- Babylon, just the other side of the Euphrates, and to Egypt, just the other side of the Nile. The point simply is that the rejected will so want to get back into the land / Kingdom. Like Israel, hanging their harps on the trees by the rivers of Babylon, pining for the land they had been rejected from.

Ps. 112:10 speaks of the wicked gnashing with their teeth and melting away, suggesting that the slinking away process goes on even in the outer darkness; they wander, but in their aimless wandering they slowly slink yet further away from their Lord- the one who once fain would have carried them on His shoulders, gathered them under His wings. It's a terrible picture. Cain, in typifying all the rejected, felt that his condemnation was something greater than he could bear (Gen. 4:13). This is alluded to in a telling way in 1 Cor. 10:13: for the righteous, they will never be tested more than they can bear, but a way of escape will always be made possible. But for the rejected, there will be no escape. It will be something too great to bear, and somehow they have to go on existing in that state. Thus the rejected will seek death and not find it (Rev. 9:6), after the pattern of Judas bungling his own suicide after realising his condemnation [thus his bowels gushed, although he was attempting to hang himself]; they will also seek the Lord, all too late, and not find Him either (Prov. 1:28; Jn. 7:34).

4:14 Behold, you have driven me out this day from the surface of the ground- Cain reasons against God's judgment of him; and to some extent he is successful. The judgment is ameliorated. On :8-12 I have suggested that Cain's sin and judgment is based upon that of Adam and Eve. And likewise, the judgment that they would die in the day they sinned was ameliorated. And so for all time we have established God's openness to dialogue, His grace, His willingness to change His judgments, as Israel so often experienced.

Being driven out from the literal ground of the eretz was what happened to Israel when they were taken away from their land  into captivity. Thus again we see Cain set up as representative of rejected Israel, which is how John's gospel and letters likewise understand him.

I will be hidden from your face, and I will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the land. It will happen that whoever finds me will kill me- "Face" can be "faces", and may refer to his expulsion from the sanctuary where the cherubim stood, between man and Eden. There was clearly some kind of vengeance for blood system, as we find later in the Mosaic law. The people he feared would presumably have been his own brethren. Cain seemed to assume that if he was near the sanctuary, he would not be killed; and we see this idea perpetuated in 1 Kings 1:50,51; 1 Kings 2:28. To be sent away from the faces / presence / sanctuary of Yahweh was a tragedy for him; likewise the rejected in the last day will not shrug it off, they will desperately wish to abide in His presence whom they didn't care for in their lives. We today are to love the Lord's presence, and rejoice in it, as David often does in the Psalms.

After the pattern of Cain and Adam (Gen. 3:24; 4:14), and also the idea of the wicked being cast into the darkness of condemnation, it seems that the rejected will be forcibly driven away. Cain was driven out from the faces, the presence of the land of Eden, where the Lord's presence was (Gen. 4:14). Presumably this driving out was done by the Angels. We are left to imagine the ultimate tragedy of Cain going forth from the presence of the Lord (Gen. 4:16 s.w. "face" 4:14), and the rejected 'going away into...' (Mt. 25:46). The tragedy of rejection is well reflected in the way the Lord speaks of how "great was the fall" of the poorly built house (Mt. 7:27).

4:15 Yahweh said to him, Therefore whoever slays Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold. Yahweh appointed a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should strike him- There is no promise that Cain will not be killed, but rather some kind of sign was placed upon him, warning of sevenfold vengeance for taking his life. And this apparently worked, for we will not read of Cain's death at the hands of men, and indeed he went on to have his own children. Again we see God's gentleness even to the condemned; He didn't wish Cain to suffer unbearably, and modified the judgment to that end. And this God is our God. He was open to dialogue even with the rejected Cain; how much more to us.

4:16 Cain went out from Yahweh’s presence- This interview between God and Cain therefore occurred in the sanctuary, with Eden just the other side of it.

And lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden- "Nod" is literally "exile". But he chose to live East of Eden, as near to the sanctuary as he possibly could. Again, we see how the rejected do not just shrug and run away from it all. They will desperately seek acceptance, until the second death takes them. And we too should earnestly seek His sanctuary now, and do nothing at all which might exclude or discourage others from it.

4:17 Cain knew his wife- She could have been his sister. But if we understand the record in early Genesis as only concerning the eretz, the land later promised to Abraham, then she may have been a woman from outside that area.

She conceived, and gave birth to Enoch. He built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch- Cain's judgment to wander and be a fugitive was therefore mitigated in response to his wishes; for he became a settled urban dweller. We marvel at God's consideration even to the rejected. Such is His grace and gentleness. "The way of Cain" is associated in Jude 11 with rampant materialism which replaces God, and also with false religion. "Enoch" means 'dedicated' or 'initiated'; "the way of Cain" was of false religion. Having been expelled from Yahweh's sanctuary, he built a city and dedicated his son as the priest- all east of Eden, as if he liked to think that his city and priest could become the way back into Eden. The city was "dedicated" or "initiated"; it was a city which was identified with a person, namely his son Enoch. All this suggests a religious element to the settlement. Rome likewise was a city founded upon the murder of the founder's brother. "He built" is rendered "he was building" by Keil, as if building the city was what consumed the rest of Cain's life. He spent his lifetime trying to prove the curses upon him as untrue- and yet all the same he died, separated from the sanctuary. And this in essence has been the pattern in so many sad lives.

4:18 To Enoch was born Irad- According to some (H.P. Mansfield, Basil Atkinson), "Irad" means 'urban dweller', and as noted on :17, the idea of urban dwelling had become an obsession with Cain and his family, as if to try to prove wrong God's judgment that he would wander and be a fugitive. All men try to act outside of the parameters of our own judgment for sin, effectively denying their humanity; but unless we throw ourselves upon God's grace, as Cain failed to, then we shall likewise eternally perish. But "Irad" can also mean "fugitive". In this case we would see evidence of the failure of Cain's attempt to stop the curse of being a fugitive, through setting up a walled urban environment for his family. Ultimately, the parameters set by Divine judgment cannot be slid beyond, even though many devote their lives to trying.

Irad became the father of Mehujael- "Formed of God". This might suggest some re-thinking, a recognition that human beings are not brought into being solely by the power of the flesh. But the problem with Hebrew names is that they are capable of a very wide semantic range- Mehujael can also mean "smitten of God", as if God judged him. The same root word for "Mehuja" is soon to be used of how God "destroyed" the earth through the flood (Gen. 6:7; Gen. 7:4,23).

Mehujael became the father of Methushael- "Strengthened man of God". If names are indeed significant, then we may be justified in hoping that for these two generations, of Methushael and Mehujael, there was some revival of spirituality, which came to an end in Lamech. This is typical of human families- generations of unbelief interspersed with occasional generations of belief.

Methushael became the father of Lamech- "Strong youth" or "striker down", as if he rejoiced in his own strength.

4:19 Lamech took two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah- Polygamy is mentioned here along with a number of other things which whilst not sinful in themselves at the time, were all indulged in to a point where finally the earth was full of wickedness and needed judgment. Their names also suggest an emphasis upon the cosmetic and superficial; "Adah" = "ornament", "Zillah" = "shadow".

4:20 Adah gave birth to Jabal, who was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock- "Jabal" means "wanderer". As noted on :17 and :18, Cain had spent his life trying to ensure that the curse of being a nomad would not pass upon him and his descendants. But God's judgment will finally come true, as we see here. The tent dwellers were not a reference to all nomadic peoples on the face of the planet; clearly the reference is to a limited group of people, presumably in the area of the eretz, the land promised to Abraham.

4:21 His brother’s name was Jubal, who was the father of all who handle the harp and pipe- "Jubal" can mean "jubilant". The impression given is of a family who were intelligent, resourceful and given to worldly pleasures. But "Jabal" can also be defined as "pleasure". The picture presented is of a family devoted to their own pleasures and profit.

4:22 Zillah also gave birth to Tubal Cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron- "The lance forger", according to some readings. The idea is of weapons. Lamech not only alludes to Cain (see on :23,24), but includes the name of Cain in his own son. Lamech clearly was the seed of Cain and glorified the fact.

Tubal Cain’s sister was Naamah- "Pleasant / sweet". Her name may be mentioned because of her significance; perhaps she was one of the daughters of men whom the sons of God, the righteous line, intermarried with and were caused to fall away by (Gen. 6:2).

4:23 Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, hear my voice. You wives of Lamech, listen to my speech, for I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for bruising me. If Cain will be avenged seven times, truly Lamech seventy-seven times-

4:24 If Cain will be avenged seven times, truly Lamech seventy-seven times- This proud boast was effectively playing God. For it was God who pronounced seven fold vengeance upon any who touched Cain; and Lamech with no justification simply appropriates such protection to himself, and declares the vengeance even greater. He twisted God's words in order to justify killing a man who touched him in some way (:23). So often this happens; God's words of judgment against a person or His promise of protection for them are twisted around in order to justify human pride and vengefulness. The way the Lamech of Seth's line dies at 777 (Gen. 5:31) might suggest that his proud boast came to an end in death, as does every form of pride.

The Lord in turn switches Lamech's words around when He urges us to forgive seventy times seven each day (Mt. 18:22), i.e. even when repentance appears insincere. In the Lord's book, forgiving is the opposite to the desire for vengeance; our unforgiveness can therefore be traced to a mistaken, misplaced desire to take vengeance ourselves.

4:25 Adam knew his wife again. She gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for God has appointed me another child instead of Abel, for Cain killed him- Here we see yet another hope for a Messiah, a Saviour figure who would be appointed [= "Seth"] by God as the seed of the woman. All these hopes didn't come to anything; perhaps they potentially could have done, and were only ruined by human dysfunction. The whole experience was used to deepen an understanding and desire for the Lord Jesus. "Appointed" can also mean "substituted", which is the more exact meaning of "Seth". He was hoped to be a substitute for Abel, a kind of resurrected form of Abel; but in the end, death is death, and there can be no substitute; only a representative sacrifice which we identify with in faith.

4:26 There was also a son born to Seth, and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call themselves by Yahweh’s name- "Enosh" is the usual Hebrew word for "man" in the sense of a mortal, coming from the root meaning frail or feeble. Perhaps it was this recognition of weakness and mortality which led men at that time to call themselves by God's Name; and the same principle is to be seen today. It is those who perceive their own frailty who call upon themselves the Lord's Name in baptism into Jesus (Acts 2:21). "Call... by" can as well mean to call out to, or to name. The idea may be that the believers now began to call God by His Name Yahweh, although Gen. 4:1 could imply that Name was always known from the beginning. Calling upon His Name may suggest that there developed a conscious division between those following "the way of Cain", and those who identified with Yahweh. To call Yahweh's Name upon you was another way of saying that you had entered covenant relationship with Him (Dt. 26:17,18; Is. 44:5; Is. 63:19; Zeph. 3:9), just as believers do so today through the conscious act of baptism. So maybe this was part of the conscious division developed between the "way of Cain" and that of Yahweh.