Genesis 4:4 MEANING

Genesis 4:4
Verse 4. - And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock. Either the firstborn, which God afterwards demanded (Exodus 13:12), or the choicest and best (Job 18:13; Jeremiah 31:19; Hebrews 12:23). And the fat thereof. Literally, the fatness of them, i.e. the fattest of the firstlings, "the best he had, and the best of those best" (Inglis; cf. Genesis 45:18; Numbers 18:2; Psalm 167:14); a proof that flesh was eaten before the Flood, since "it had been no praise to Abel to offer the fatlings if he used not to eat of them" (Willet), and "si anteposuit Abel utilitate" suae Deum, non dubium quid solitus sit ex labore suo utilitatem percipere" (Justin). And the Lord had respect. Literally, looked upon; ἐπεῖδεν, LXX. (cf. Numbers 16:15); probably consuming it by fire from heaven, or from the flaming sword (cf. Leviticus 9:24; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1; 1 Kings 18:38; Jerome, Chrysostom, Cyril). Theodotion renders ἐνεπύρισεν, inflammant; and Hebrews 11:4, μαρτυροῦντος ἐπὶ τοῖς δώροις, is supposed to lend considerable weight to the opinion. Unto Abel and his offering. Accepting first his person and then his gift (cf. Proverbs 12:2; Proverbs 15:8; 2 Corinthians 8:12). "The sacrifice was accepted for the man, and not the man for the sacrifice" (Ainsworth); but still "without a doubt the words of Moses imply that the matter of Abel's offering was more excellent and suitable than that of Cain's," and one can hardly entertain a doubt that this was the idea of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews" (Prof. Lindsay, 'Lectures on Hebrews,' Edin. 1867). Abel's sacrifice was πλείονα, fuller than Cain's; it had more in it; it had faith, which was wanting in the other. It was also offered in obedience to Divine prescription. The universal prevalence of sacrifice rather points to Divine prescription than to man's invention as its proper source. Had Divine worship been of purely human origin, it is almost certain that greater diversity would have prevailed in its forms. Besides, the fact that the mode of worship was not left to human ingenuity under the law, and that will-worship is specifically condemned under the Christian dispensation (Colossians 2:23), favors the presumption that it was Divinely appointed from the first.

4:1-7 When Cain was born, Eve said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. Perhaps she thought that this was the promised seed. If so, she was wofully disappointed. Abel signifies vanity: when she thought she had the promised seed in Cain, whose name signifies possession, she was so taken up with him that another son was as vanity to her. Observe, each son had a calling. It is the will of God for every one to have something to do in this world. Parents ought to bring up their children to work. Give them a Bible and a calling, said good Mr. Dod, and God be with them. We may believe that God commanded Adam, after the fall, to shed the blood of innocent animals, and after their death to burn part or the whole of their bodies by fire. Thus that punishment which sinners deserve, even the death of the body, and the wrath of God, of which fire is a well-known emblem, and also the sufferings of Christ, were prefigured. Observe that the religious worship of God is no new invention. It was from the beginning; it is the good old way, Jer 6:16. The offerings of Cain and Abel were different. Cain showed a proud, unbelieving heart. Therefore he and his offering were rejected. Abel came as a sinner, and according to God's appointment, by his sacrifice expressing humility, sincerity, and believing obedience. Thus, seeking the benefit of the new covenant of mercy, through the promised Seed, his sacrifice had a token that God accepted it. Abel offered in faith, and Cain did not, Heb 11:4. In all ages there have been two sorts of worshippers, such as Cain and Abel; namely, proud, hardened despisers of the gospel method of salvation, who attempt to please God in ways of their own devising; and humble believers, who draw near to him in the way he has revealed. Cain indulged malignant anger against Abel. He harboured an evil spirit of discontent and rebellion against God. God notices all our sinful passions and discontents. There is not an angry, envious, or fretful look, that escapes his observing eye. The Lord reasoned with this rebellious man; if he came in the right way, he should be accepted. Some understand this as an intimation of mercy. If thou doest not well, sin, that is, the sin-offering, lies at the door, and thou mayest take the benefit of it. The same word signifies sin, and a sacrifice for sin. Though thou hast not done well, yet do not despair; the remedy is at hand. Christ, the great sin-offering, is said to stand at the door, Re 3:20. And those well deserve to perish in their sins, that will not go to the door to ask for the benefit of this sin-offering. God's acceptance of Abel's offering did not change the birthright, and make it his; why then should Cain be so angry? Sinful heats and disquiets vanish before a strict and fair inquiry into the cause.And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock,.... As he was a shepherd, his flock consisted of sheep; and of the firstlings of these, the lambs that were first brought forth, he presented as an offering to the Lord; and which were afterwards frequently used in sacrifice, and were a proper type of Christ, Jehovah's firstborn, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, a Lamb without spot and blemish; fitly signified by one for his innocence, harmlessness, and meekness:

and of the fat thereof; which is to be understood either of the fat properly, which in later time was claimed by the Lord as his own, Leviticus 3:16 or of the fattest of his flock, the best lambs he had; the fattest and plumpest, and which were most free from defects and blemishes; not the torn, nor lame, nor sick, but that which was perfect and without spot; for God is to be served with the best we have. Josephus (f) says it was milk, and the firstlings of his flock; and a word of the same letters, differently pointed, signifies milk; and some learned men, as Grotius and others, have given into this sense, observing it to be a custom with the Egyptians to sacrifice milk to their gods: but the word, as here pointed, is never used for milk; nor were such sacrifices ever used by the people of God; and Abel's sacrifice is called by the apostle a "slain" sacrifice, as Heidegger (g) observes:

and the Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offering; as being what he had designed and appointed to be used for sacrifice in future time, and as being a suitable type and emblem of the Messiah, and his sacrifice; and especially as being offered up by faith, in a view to the sacrifice of Christ, which is of a sweet smelling savour to God, and by which sin only is atoned and satisfied for, see Hebrews 11:4. God looked at his sacrifice with a smiling countenance, took, and expressed delight, well pleasedness, and satisfaction in it; and he first accepted of his person, as considered in Christ his well beloved Son, and then his offering in virtue of his sacrifice: and this respect and acceptance might be signified by some visible sign or token, and particularly by the descent of fire from heaven upon it, as was the token of acceptance in later times, Leviticus 9:24 and Theodotion here renders it, he "fired" it, or "set" it on "fire"; and Jarchi paraphrases it,"fire descended and licked up his offering;''and Aben Ezra,"and fire descended and reduced the offering of Abel to ashes;''so Abraham Seba (h).

(f) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 2. sect. 1.((g) Hist. Patriarch. Exercit. 5. sect. 20. (h) In Tzeror Hammor, fol. 8. 2.

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