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Genesis Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Genesis 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

Cain. The name “Cain” means “acquisition,” expressing Eve's thankfulness that the Lord was keeping His promise to her, and her faith that her son would grow to manhood. Possibly Eve jumped to the unwarranted conclusion that Cain was the promised Deliverer. Actually, however, he was “of that wicked one” (xTerm 3:12), and thus was the first in the long line of the Serpent's seed.

Genesis 4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Abel. “Abel” means “vapor” or “vanity.” By the time Abel was born, Eve was fully aware of the effect of God's curse on the creation, which was made “subject to vanity” (Romans 8:20).

tiller of the ground. Both Cain and Abel had honorable occupations, Cain producing food for the family and Abel sheep for clothing and sacrifice. As time would pass and populations would multiply, such specializations could provide the basis for trade and optimum implementation of the Edenic mandate.

Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

process of time. Literally, “at the end of the days,” undoubtedly a reference to the “seventh day,” which God had hallowed as a day of rest and blessing (Genesis 2:3). On such a day, men would follow God's example in ceasing from their regular labors in order to have fellowship with God, possibly meeting with Him at the entrance to Eden (Genesis 3:24).

an offering. Such fellowship, however, required that worshipers approach God with an offering that would make them suitable for His presence. Adam and Eve no doubt had instructed their sons that this required a substitutionary sacrifice of innocent blood (Genesis 3:21). Cain, however, chose to bring another type of offering on this occasion.

Genesis 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

Abel. Abel was a man of faith, the first listed in the chapter of faith (Hebrews 11). Since he brought a “by faith ... a more excellent sacrifice” (Hebrews 11:4), it is evident that God had given instruction concerning the sacrifice, which Abel believed and obeyed. The Lord Jesus described him as “righteous” (Matthew 23:35) and even as one of God's prophets (Luke 11:50, 51).

Genesis 4:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

his countenance fell. Cain's anger reflects pride in his own works which, because of that very fact, God regarded as “evil” (xTerm 3:12).

Genesis 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

Why art thou wroth. God's questions reminded Cain that he knew the type of sacrifice required and had no reason to be surprised when God would not accept another.

Genesis 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

rule over him. Note the similar terminology to that of Genesis 3:16b. Just as Eve's desire would be toward Adam and he would lead her, so would an unrepentant Cain become so committed to rebellion that “Sin” (personified as a crouching animal) would become Cain's obedient servant.

Genesis 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

talked with Abel. Abel was a prophet and no doubt urged Cain to repent and believe God's Word, but this only angered Cain further. The Serpent was quickly striking at the Seed of the woman, corrupting her first son and slaying her second, trying to prevent the fulfillment of the Protevangelic promise.

Genesis 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

I know not. Cain thus added blatant lying to his sins of self-righteous pride and murder. However, in one sense, he was speaking the truth. He knew where Abel's blood was spilled but not where Abel himself was. Abel was now the first human inhabitant of Sheol (or Hades), that place in the heart of the earth where departed spirits would reside while awaiting the coming of the Savior (Luke 16:22-26; Ephesians 4:8-10; 1 Peter 3:18-20).

Genesis 4:10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

thy brother's blood. This first mention of “blood” in Scripture prefigures the innocent blood of Christ, which “speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). The voice of Abel's blood cried for vengeance (compare Revelation 5:9, 10), but the blood of Christ speaks of cleansing and forgiveness (xTerm 1:7; Ephesians 1:7).

Genesis 4:11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;

cursed from the earth. The earth had been cursed because of Adam's sin; now the earth itself had been defiled by Cain's sin. God's curse was on the earth; Cain's curse was from the earth. His boastful pride in the fruits he had been able to grow from the cursed earth had been the occasion of his sin, but now he would no longer be able to till the ground even for his own food. Those who trust in their own good works eventually find it impossible to produce them any more.

Genesis 4:12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

vagabond. As yet there was no law given to order man's behavior. Therefore Cain's crime could not be punished by governmental means, but only by its natural consequences.

Genesis 4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

punishment. The word “punishment” is usually translated “iniquity,” and its use by Cain indicates that, for the first time, Cain acknowledged his sin and guilt to the Lord. This may partially explain the degree of mercy shown by God in sparing his life after Abel's murder.

Genesis 4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

every one. Adam had daughters as well as sons (Genesis 5:4), and brother/sister marriages were necessary at least in the first generation, before the accumulation of genetic mutations could make such close marriages genetically dangerous. Since the antediluvians lived for hundreds of years and since they could propagate children for hundreds of years (note Genesis 5:15, 32), the population multiplied rapidly. This concern of Cain's, therefore, was quite realistic. Since Cain could not produce his own food, he would have to purchase it from others, but other people would naturally tend to fear him and try to avoid him or even to do away with him.

Genesis 4:15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

mark. The “mark” is not described. The Hebrew word oth is better rendered “sign.” Whether this sign was a physical marking on Cain's body or a miraculous display of some sort, it was widely known for many generations (see Genesis 4:24) and did serve to inhibit any who might be inclined to slay Cain otherwise.

Genesis 4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

from the presence. Cain thus becomes the type of those “that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9).

Nod. “Nod” means “wandering,” and so may be a figurative expression depicting Cain's vagabond life-style. Since he built a city, however, it probably was also the name of the specific region in which he led this wandering existence.

Genesis 4:17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

knew his wife. His wife was probably one of Adam's daughters (see Genesis 5:4), although it could have been a later descendant, since it would easily have been possible for the population to grow to several hundred thousand by the time of Cain's death.

Enoch. Cain named his son “Enoch,” meaning “dedication” or “commencement,” probably signifying the beginning of a new manner of life.

city. Urbanization is usually considered by evolutionary archaeologists to be one of the first indicators of the emergence of true civilization from a hunting-and-gathering culture (so-called stone age culture). It is significant that true civilized cultures, by this definition, have existed since the very first generation following Adam, with no suggestion whatever of a long evolutionary advance from an imaginary stone age. Evidently Cain, unable to survive either as a farmer or by trade, had to develop his own self-sufficient economy, through the patriarchal clan which he established around his son Enoch and the city which Cain built for him.

Genesis 4:18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.

Lamech. The possible meaning of these names are: Irad, meaning “Townsman,” Mehujael, meaning “God gives life;” Methusael, meaning “Man of God;” Lamech, meaning “Conqueror.” The similarity of some of the names to those in the Sethitic line, as well as their religious “-el” endings, probably indicates that the two families kept in touch with each other and that the Cainitic line continued to believe in God as long as Adam remained alive to exercise some degree of patriarchal leadership.

Genesis 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

two wives. Lamech is the first recorded rebel against the divine command of monogamous marriage. It is probable that Adam died during Lamech's time (by comparison with the chronological data in the Sethitic line) and the Cainites thenceforth became more openly rebellious against God.

Zillah. “Adah” apparently means “ornament” and “Zillah” means “shade.” Lamech's motivation in taking two wives may have been partially physical lust and partially the desire to establish a large clan in the increasingly violent antediluvian society.

Genesis 4:20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.

bare Jabal. Lamech's children were given names associated with their talents: “Jabal” seems to mean “wanderer,” “Jubal” means “sound” and “Naamah” means “pleasant.” “Tubal-cain” is of uncertain meaning but is associated etymologically with the Roman God Vulcan. The inventions of these talented progeny no doubt contributed greatly to the wealth and power of Lamech's clan, and to the increasing materialism of the Cainite civilization in general.

Genesis 4:21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

Genesis 4:22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

brass and iron. Evolutionary archaeologists have attempted to organize human history in terms of various supposed “ages”—Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, etc. The Noahic record, however, indicates that early men were very competent in brass and iron metallurgy, as well as agriculture, animal husbandry, and urbanization. It is significant that both many kinds of bronze and iron implements are known to have been used in the earliest civilizations of Sumeria and Egypt. The same is true of musical instruments, and it is evident that the science and art of both metallurgy and music, as well as agriculture and animal husbandry, had been handed down from ancient times to these earliest post-Flood civilizations. Modern archaeology is confirming the high degree of technology associated with the earliest human settlers all over the world.

Genesis 4:23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

speech. This fragment of Lamech's song is history's first recorded poem, and exhibits the humanistic attitude often typical of both ancient and modern literature.

Genesis 4:24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

sevenfold. A Jewish tradition (no more than that) suggests that one of the men slain by Lamech was his ancestor, Cain himself. In any case, Lamech's boast is nothing less than blasphemy against God in promising protection for Cain.

seventy and sevenfold. Contrast Lamech's vindictiveness with the forgiving attitude enjoyed by Christ, who urged Peter to forgive his brother seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22).

Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

Seth. “Seth” means “appointed” or “substitute.” Contrast Eve's attitude of thankfulness and trust with Lamech's attitude (in Genesis 4:24) of vengeance and pride.

Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

Enos. “Enos” means “mortal frailty.” It is interesting that Eve gave the name to her son, while Seth gave the name to his son. This probably suggests that both husband and wife normally consulted with one another in deciding on appropriate names for their children.

call upon the name. To “call upon the name of the Lord” normally implies a definite action of prayer and worship. It was evidently at this time that godly men and women first initiated formal public services of sacrifice, worship and prayer, replacing the earlier practice of meeting personally with God, as Cain and Abel had done. The practice of individual prayer is also intimated, implying that God's personal presence was no longer regularly available. In any case, an act of faith is implied. In later times, “calling upon the name of the Lord” was accompanied by the building of an altar and the offering of a sacrifice (Genesis 12:8; 26:25; etc.). Since Christ's sacrifice on Calvary, however, men need only call in faith on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

the Lord. The name of the self-existing, redeeming Lord, Jehovah. There is no contradiction with Exodus 6:3, especially if the statement there is punctuated with a question mark: “But by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them?” The obvious answer to this rhetorical question is yes.