Genesis 4 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Genesis 4
Pulpit Commentary
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
Verse 1. - Exiled from Eden, o'er, canopied by grace, animated by hope, assured of the Divine forgiveness, and filled with a sweet peace, the first pair enter on their life experience of labor and sorrow, and the human race begins its onward course of development in sight of the mystic cherubim and flaming sword. And Adam knew Eve, his wife. I.e. "recognized her nature and uses" (Alford; cf. Numbers 31:17). The act here mentioned is recorded not to indicate that paradise was "non nuptiis, sed virginitate destinatum" (Jerome), but to show that while Adam was formed from the soil, and Eve from a rib taken from his side, the other members of the race were to be produced "neque ex terra neque quovis alio mode, sed ex conjunctione maris et foeminse" (Rungius). And she conceived. The Divine blessing (Genesis 1:28), which in its operation had been suspended during the period of innocence, while yet it was undetermined whether the race should develop as a holy or a fallen seed, now begins to take effect (cf. Genesis 18:14; Ruth 4:13; Hebrews 11:11). And bare Cain. Acquisition or Possession, from kanah, to acquire (Gesenius). Cf. Eve's exclamation. Kalisch, connecting it with kun or kin, to strike, sees an allusion to his character and subsequent history as a murderer, and supposes it was not given to him at birth, but at a later period. Tayler Lewis falls back upon the primitive idea of the root, to create, to procreate, generate, of which he cites as examples Genesis 14:19, 22; Deuteronomy 32:6, and takes the derivative to signify the seed, explaining Eve's exclamation kanithi kain as equivalent to τετοκα τοκον, genui genitum or generationem. And said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. The popular interpretation, regarding kani-thi as the emphatic word in the sentence, understands Eve to say that her child was a thing achieved, an acquisition gained, either from the Lord (Onkelos, Calvin) or by means of, with the help of, the Lord (LXX., Vulgate, Jerome, Dathe, Keil), or for the Lord (Syriac). If, however, the emphatic term is Jehovah, then eth with Makkeph following will be the sign of the accusative, and the sense will be, "I have gotten a man - Jehovah" (Jonathon, Luther, Baumgarten, Lewis); to which, perhaps, the chief objections are

(1) that it appears to anticipate the development of the Messianic idea, and credits Eve with too mature Christological conceptions (Lange), though if Enoch in the seventh generation recognized Jehovah as the coming One, why might not Eve have done so in the first? (Bonar),

(2) that if the thoughts of Eve had been running so closely on the identity of the coming Deliverer with Jehovah, the child would have been called Jehovah, or at least some compound of Jehovah, such as Ishiah - אישׁ and יהוה - or Coniah - קין and יהוה (Murphy);

(3) si scivit Messiam esse debet Jovam, quomodo existimare potuit Cainam ease Messiam, quem sciebat esse ab Adamo genitum? (Dathe); and

(4) that, while it might not be difficult to account for the mistake of a joyful mother in supposing that the fruit of her womb was the promised seed, though, "if she did believe so, it is a caution to interpreters of prophecy" (Inglis), it is not so easy to explain her belief that the promised seed was to be Jehovah, since no such announcement was made in the Prot-evangel. But whichever view be adopted of the construction of the language, it is obvious that Eve's utterance was the dictate of faith. In Cain's birth she recognized the earnest and guarantee of the promised seed, and in token of her faith gave her child a name (cf. Genesis 3:20), which may also explain her use of the Divine name Jehovah instead of Elohim, which she employed when conversing with the serpent. That Eve denominates her infant a man has been thought to indicate that she had previously borne daughters who had grown to womanhood, and that she expected her young and tender babe to reach maturity. Murphy thinks this opinion probable; but the impression conveyed, by the narrative is that Cain was the first-born of the human family.
And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
Verse 2. - And she again bare (literally, added to bear, a Hebraism adopted in the New Testament; vide Luke 20:11) his brother Abel. Habel (vanity), supposed to hint either that a mother's eager hopes had already begun to be disappointed in her eider son, or that, having in her first child's name given expression to her faith, in this she desired to preserve a monument of the miseries of human life, of which, perhaps, she had been forcibly reminded by her own maternal sorrows. Perhaps also, though unconsciously, a melancholy prophecy of his premature removal by the hand of fratricidal rage, to which it has been thought there is an outlook by the historian In the frequent (seven times repeated) and almost pathetic mention of the fact that Abel was Cain s brother. The absence of the usual expression וַתַּהַר, as well as the peculiar phraseology et addidit parere has suggested that Abel was Cain's twin brother (Calvin, Kimchi, Candlish), though this is not necessarily implied in the text. And Abel was a keeper of sheep (ποιμὴν προβάτων, LXX.; the latter term includes goats - Leviticus 1:10), but Cain was a tiller of the ground. These occupations, indirectly suggested by God in the command to till the ground and the gift of the clothes of skin (Keil), were doubtless both practiced by the first man, who would teach them to his sons. It is neither justifiable nor necessary to trace a difference of moral character in the different callings which the young men selected, though probably their choices were determined by their talents and their tastes. Ainsworth sees in Abel a figure of Christ "in shepherd as in sacrificing and martyrdom."
And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
Verse 3. - And in process of time. Literally, at the end of the days, i.e. -

1. Of the year (Aben Ezra, Dathe, De Wette, Rosenmüller, Bohlen), at which season the feast of the ingathering was afterwards kept - Exodus 23:16 (Bush). Aristotle, 'Ethics,' 8:2, notes that anciently sacrifices were offered after the gathering of the fruits of the earth (Ainsworth).

2. Of the week (Candlish).

3. Of an indefinite time, years or days (Luther, Kalisch).

4. Of some set time, as the beginning of their occupations (Knobel). It came to pass (literally, it was) that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering. Θυσία, LXX.; oblatio, Vulgate; speisopfer, Luther. The mincha of Hebrew worship was a bloodless sacrifice, consisting of flour and oil, or flour prepared with frankincense (Leviticus 2:1). All tree fruits and garden produce were excluded; it was limited to the productions of agriculture and vine growing (cf. Kurtz, 'Sacrificial Worship,' 140). Here it includes both meat offerings and animal sacrifices (cf. ver. 4). Unto the Lord. Probably to the gate of the garden, where the cherubim and flaming sword were established as the visible monuments of the Divine presence.
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:
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.
But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
Verse 5. - But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. Because of the absence of those qualities which distinguished Abel and his offering; not because the heart of Cain was "no more pure," but "imbued with a criminal propensity" (Kalisch), which it was not until his offering was rejected. The visible sign, whatever it was, being awanting in the case of Cain's oblation, its absence left the offerer in no dubiety as to the Divine displeasure with both himself and his offering. In the rejection of Cain's offering Bohlen sees the animus of a Levitical narrator, who looks down slightingly on offerings of the fruits and flowers of earth; but, as Havernick well remarks, the theocracy was essentially based on agriculture, while the Mosaic institute distinctly recognized the legality and value of bloodless offerings. And Cain was very wroth (literally, it burned with Cain exceedingly), and his countenance fell. In fierce resentment against his brother, possibly in disappointed rage against himself, almost certainly in anger against God (cf. Nehemiah 6:16; Job 29:24; Jeremiah 3:12, and contrast Job 11:15). There was apparently no sorrow for sin, "no spirit of inquiry, self-examination, prayer to God for light or pardon, clearly showing that Cain was far from a right state of mind" (Murphy). Yet the Lord does not forthwith abandon the contumacious and insensate transgressor, but patiently expostulates with and instructs him as to how he too might obtain the same blessing of acceptance which his younger brother enjoyed.
And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
Verses 6, 7 - And the Lord (Jehovah) said unto Cain. Speaking either mediately by Adam (Luther), or more probably directly by his own voice from between the cherubim where the flaming sword, the visible symbol of the Divine presence, had been established (cf. Exodus 20:24). Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? The ensuing verse is a veritable crux interpretum, concerning which the greatest diversity of sentiment exists. Passing by the manifest mistranslation of the LXX., "If thou hast offered rightly, but hast not divided rightly, hast thou not sinned? Rest quiet; toward thee is his (or its) resort, and thou shalt rule over him (or it)," which Augustine, Ambrose, and Chrysostom followed, at the same time "wearying themselves with many interpretations, and being divided among themselves as to how Cain divided not rightly" (Wilier), the different opinions that have been entertained as to the meaning of its several clauses, their connection, and precise import when united, may be thus exhibited. If thou doest well. Either

(1) if thou wert innocent and sinless (Candlish, Jamieson), or

(2) if thou, like Abel, presentest a right offering in a right spirit (Vulgate, Luther, Calvin), or

(3) if thou retrace thy steps and amend thine offering and intention (Willet, Murphy). Shalt thou not be accepted? Literally, Is there not lifting up? (sedth, from nasa, to raise up). Either -

1. Of the countenance (Gesenius, Furst, Dathe, Rosenmüller, Knobel, Lange, Delitzsch).

2. Of the sacrifice, viz., by acceptance of it (Calvin); akin to which are the interpretations - Is there not a lifting up of the burden of guilt? Is there not forgiveness? (Luther); Is there not acceptance with God. (Speaker s Commentary); Is there not a bearing away of blessing? (Ainsworth). Vulgate, Shalt thou not receive (sc. the Divine favor). "Verum quamvis נָשָׂא עַון reccatum condonare significet, nusquam tamen שְׂאֵת veniam sonat" (Rosen.).

3. Of the person, i.e. by establishing Cain's pre-eminency as the elder brother, to which reference is clearly made in the concluding clause of the verse (Bush). And if thou doest not well, sin - chattath, from chard, to miss the mark like an archer, properly signifies a sin (Exodus 28:9; Isaiah 6:27; cf. Greek, ἄτη); also a sin offering (Leviticus 6:18, 23); also penalty (Zechariah 14:19), though this is doubtful. Hence it has been taken to mean in this place -

1. Sin (Dathe, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Wordsworth, Speaker's Commentary, Murphy).

2. The punishment of sin (Onkelos, Grotius, Cornelius a Lapide, Ainsworth), the guilt of sin, the sense of unpardoned transgression; "interius conscientiae judicium, quod hominem convictum sui peccati undique obsessum premit" (Calvin).

3. A sin offering (Lightfoot, Peele, Magee, Candlish, Exell) - lieth (literally, lying; robets, from rabats, to couch as a beast of prey; cf. Genesis 29:2; Genesis 49:9) at the door. Literally, at the opening = at the door of the conscience, expressive of the nearness and severity of the Divine retribution (Calvin); of the soul, indicating the close contiguity of the devouring monster sin to the evil-doer (Kalisch); of paradise (Bonar); of Abel's fold (Exell), suggesting the locality where a sacrificial victim might be obtained; of the house, conveying the ideas of publicity and certainty of detection for the transgressor whose sin, though lying asleep, was only sleeping at the door, i.e. "in a place where it will surely be disturbed; and, therefore, it is impossible but that it must be awoke and roused up, when as a furious beast it will lay hold on thee ' (Luther); i.e. "statim se prodet, peccatum tuum non magis,celari potest, quam id quod pro foribus jacet ' (Rosenmüller). And unto thee shall be his - i.e.

(1) Abel's (LXX. (?), Chrysostom, Ambrose, Grotius, Calvin, Ainsworth, Bush, Speaker's, Bonar, Exell); or

(2) sin's (Vulgate (?), Luther, Rosenmüller, Yon Bohlen, Kalisch, Keil, Delitzsch, Murphy); or

(3) the sin offering s (Faber, Candlish) - desire (vide Genesis 3:16), and thou shalt rule over him. I.e., according to the interpretation adopted of the preceding words -

(1) thou shalt maintain thy rights of primogeniture over Abel, who, as younger son, shall be obsequious and deferential towards thee; or,

(2) "the entire submission and service of sin will be yielded to thee, and thou shalt make thyself master of it," sc. by yielding to it and being hurried on to greater wickedness - a warning against the downward course of sin (Murphy); or, while sin lurks for thee like a beast of prey, and "the demon of allurement" thirsts for thee to gratify thy passion, thou shalt (or mayst) rule over it, sc. by giving up thy wrath and restraining thine evil propensities - a word of hopeful encouragement to draw the sinner back to holy paths (Keil); or, "peccatum tanquam muller impudica sistitur, quae hominem ad libidinem suam explendam tentet, cut igitur resistere debeat" (Rosenmüller); or,

(3) the sacrificial victim is not far to seek, it is already courting thine acceptance, and thou mayst at once avail thyself of it (Candlish). Of the various solutions of this "difiicillimus locus," all of which are plausible, and none of which are entirely destitute of support, that appears the most entitled to acceptance which, excluding any reference either to Abel or to a sin offering, regards the language as warning Cain against the dangers of yielding to sin.
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.
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.
Verse 8. - And Cain talked with (literally, said to) his brother. Διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πεδίον (LXX.); egrediamur foras (Vulgate). The Samaritan and Syriac versions interpolate to the same effect. The Jerusalem Targum explains - "Cainum cure Abele contendisse de vita aetcrna, de extremo judicio, et providentia divina," inserting a long conversation commencing, "Veni, egrediamur ad superficiem agri;" but the obvious supplement is to be found in the subject matter of the previous verse (Hieronynms, Aben Ezra, Gesenius). It is not against this that it argues too much moral goodness in Cain to suppose that he would tell his younger brother of Jehovah's admonition (Knobel); and it certainly relieves us from the necessity of adding to the moral turpitude of the unhappy fratricide by depicting him as deliberately planning his favored brother's murder, carrying the fell purpose within his guilty bosom, watching his opportunity (Bottcher and Knobel, who substitute שָׁמַר he watched, for אָמַר, he said), and at last accomplishing his unhallowed purpose by means of treachery. Beyond all question the historian designs to describe not an act of culpable homicide, but a deed of red-handed murder; yet the impression which his language conveys is that of a crime rather suddenly conceived and hurriedly performed than deliberately planned and treacherously executed. And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
Verse 9. - And the Lord said unto Cain. "Probably soon after the event, at the next time of sacrifice, and at the usual place of offering" (Bonar). Where is Abel thy brother? "A question fitted to go straight to the murderer's conscience, and no less fitted to rouse his wrathful jealousy, as showing how truly Abel was the beloved one" (ibid). Whether spoken by Adam (Luther), or whispered within his breast by the still small voice of conscience, or, as is most probable, uttered from between the cherubim, Cain felt that he was being examined by a Divine voice (Calvin). And (in reply) he said (adding falsehood, effrontery, and even profanity to murder), I know not: am I my brother's keeper? The inquiry neither of ignorance nor of innocence, but the desperate resort of one who felt himself closely tracked by avenging justice and about to be convicted of his crime. "He showeth himself alyer in saying, 'I know not; wicked and profane in thinking he could hide his sin from God; unjust in denying himself to be his brother's keeper; obstinate and desperate in not confessing his sin" (Willet; cf. Psalm 10.).
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
Verse 10. - Satisfied that the guilty fratricide is resolved to make no acknowledgment of his deed, the omniscient Judge proceeds to charge him with his sin. And he - i.e. Jehovah - said, What hast thou done? Thus intimating his perfect cognizance of the fact which his prisoner was attempting to deny. What a revelation it must have been to the inwardly trembling culprit of the impossibility of eluding the besetting God! (Psalm 139:5). The voice of thy brother's blood (literally, bloods, i.e. of this and all subsequent martyrs - Chald. Par.) crieth unto me. A common Scriptural expression concerning murder and other crimes (Genesis 18:20, 21; Genesis 19:13; Exodus 3:9; Hebrews 12:24; James 5:4). The blood crying is a symbol of the soul crying for its right to live (Lange). In this instance the cry was a demand for the punishment of the murderer; and that cry has reverberated through all lands and down through all ages, proclaiming vengeance against the shedder of innocent blood (cf. Genesis 9:5). "Hence the prayer that the earth may net drink in the blood shed upon it, in order that it may not thereby become invisible and inaudible" (Knobel). Cf. Job 16:18; Isaiah 26:21; Ezekiel 24:7; also Eschylus, 'Chaephorae,' 310, 398 (quoted by T. Lewis in Lange). From the ground. Into which it had disappeared, but not, as the murderer hoped, to become for. gotten.
And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
Verses 11, 12. - Convicted, if not humbled, the culprit is speechless, and can only listen in consternation to the threefold judgment which pronounced him "cursed in his soul, vagabond in his body, and unprosperous in his labors" (Willet). And now - either at this time, already (cf. Joshua 14:11; Hosea 2:10), or for this cause, because thou hast done this (Genesis 3:14; cf. Genesis 19:9; Exodus 18:19) - art thou cursed. The first curse pronounced against a human being. Adam and Eve were not cursed, though the serpent and the devil were. If we may not conclude that Cain was thereby for ever excluded from the hope of salvation if he should repent, still less must we explain the Divine judgment down to a simple sentence of banishment from Eden. The fratricide was henceforth to bear the displeasure and indignation of his Maker, whose image in Abel he had slain; of which indignation and displeasure his expatriation was to be a symbol. Different explanations have been offered of the clause, from the earth, or ground, Ad-hamah, which, however, cannot mean more than the ground, which already had been cursed (Genesis 3:17; Lunge), since "the curse of the soil and the misery of man cannot well be compared with each other" (Kalisch); or simply away from the district, the scene of his crime (Kalisch, Speaker's, Rosenmüller, Tuch, Gerlach, Delitzsch), as if all that the sentence implied was banishment from Eden; but must involve in addition the idea that the curse was to leap upon him from the earth, or ground, in general (Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Knobel, Alford, Murphy). Which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. The terrible significance of this curse is further opened in the words which follow. The earth was to be against him -

1. In refusing him its substance. When thou tillest (literally, shalt till) the ground, it shall not henceforth yield (literally, add to give) unto thee her strength. Neither a double curse upon the entire earth for man's sake (Alford), nor a doom of sterility inflicted only on the district of Eden (Kalisch); but a judgment on Cain and his descendants with respect to their labors. Their tillage of the ground was not to prosper, which ultimately, Bonar thinks, drove the Cainites to city-building and mechanical invention.

2. In denying him a home. A fugitive and a vagabond - literally, moving and wandering; "groaning and trembling" (LXX., erroneously), "banished and homeless" (Keil) - shalt thou be in the earth. "As robbers are wont to be who have no quiet and secure resting-place" (Calvin); driven on by the agonizing tortures of a remorseful and alarmed conscience, and not simply by "the earth denying to him the expected fruits of his labor" (Delitzsch). The ban of wandering, which David pronounced upon his enemies (Psalm 59:12; Psalm 109:10), in later years fell upon the Jews, who "for shedding the blood of Christ, the most innocent Lamb of God, are vagabonds to this day over the face of the earth" (Willet). Thus the earth was made the minister of God's curse, not a partaker of it, as some have strangely imagined, as if by drinking up the blood of Abel it had become a participant of Cain's crime (Delitzsch).
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.
And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Verses 13, 14. - And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment (or my sin) is greater than I can bear. Or, than can be borne away. Interpreted in either way, this is scarcely the language of confession, "sufficiens confessio, sod intempestiva" (Chrysostom); but, as the majority of interpreters are agreed, of desperation (Calvin). According to the first rendering Cain is understood as deploring not the enormity of his sin, but the severity of his punishment, under which he reels and staggers as one amazed (Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Calvin, Keil, Delitzsch, Murphy, Alford, Speakers, Kalisch). According to the second, from the terrific nature of the blow which had descended on him Cain awakens to the conviction that his sin was too heinous to be forgiven (margin, Septuagint, Vulgate, Theodotion, Arabic, Syrlac, Onkelos, Samaritan, Gesenins, Wordsworth). The first of these is favored by the remaining portion of his address, which shows that that which had paralyzed his guilty spirit was not the wickedness of his deed, but the overwhelming retribution which had leapt so unexpectedly from its bosom. The real cause of his despair was the sentence which had gone forth against him, and the articles of which he now recapitulates. Behold, thou hast driven me this day - "Out of the sentence of his own conscience Cain makes a clear, positive, Divine decree of banishment" (Lange) - from the face of the earth. Literally, the ground, i.e. the land of Eden. "Adam's sin brought expulsion from the inner circle, Cain's from the outer" (Bonar). And from thy face shall I be hid. Either

(1) from the place where the Divine presence was specially manifested, i.e. at the gate of Eden, which does not contradict (Kalisch) the great Biblical truth of the Divine omnipresence (cf. Exodus 20:24); or,

(2) more generally, from the enjoyment of the Divine favor (cf. Deuteronomy 31:18). "To be hidden from the face of God is to be not regarded by God, or not protected by his guardian care" (Calvin). And I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond. "A vagabond and a runagate" (Tyndale, Coverdale, 'Bishops' Bible'). Vagus et profugus (Vulgate; vagus et infestus agitationibus (Tremellius and Junins). In the earth. The contemplation of his miserable doom, acting on his guilty conscience, inspired him with a fearful apprehension, to which in closing he gives expression in the hearing of his Judge. And it shall come to pass, that every one - not beast (Josephus, Kimchi, Michaelis), but person - that findeth me shall slay me. "Amongst the ancient Romans a man cursed for any wickedness might be freely killed (Dionysius Halicarnass., 1. 2). Amongst the Gauls the excommunicated were deprived of any benefit of law (Caesar. 'de Bello Gallico,' 50:6; cf. also Sophocles, '(Edip. Tyrannus')" (Ainsworth). The apprehension which Cain cherished has been explained as an oversight on the part of the narrator (Schumann and Tuch); as a mistake on the part of Cain, who had no reason to know that the world was not populated (T. Lewis); as referring to the blood avengers of the future who might arise from his father's family (Rosenmüller, Delitzsch); and also, and perhaps with as much probability, as indicating that already, in the 130 years that had gone, Adam's descendants were not limited to the two brothers and their wives (Havernick).
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.
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.
Verse 15. - The condemned fratricide's apprehensions were allayed by a special act of grace. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore (the LXX., Symm., Theodotion, Vulgate, Syriac, Dathius, translate Not so - οὐχ οὔτως, nequaquam, reading לאֹ כֵו instead of לָכֵן) whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. I.e. fully, sevenfold vengeance - complete vengeance (cf. Leviticus 26:28). In the case of Cain's murderer there was to be no such mitigation of the penalty as in the case of Cain himself; on the contrary, he would be visited more severely than Cain, as being guilty not alone of homicide, but of transgressing the Divine commandment which said that Cain was to live (Willet). As to why this special privilege was granted to Cain, it was not because "the early death of the pious Abel was in reality no punishment, but the highest boon (Kalisch), nor because banishment from God s presence was the greatest possible punishment, "having in itself the significance of a social human death" (Lange), nor because it was needful to spare life for the increase of posterity (Rosenmüller); but perhaps -

1. To show that "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

2. To prove the riches of the Divine clemency to sinful men.

3. To serve as a warning against the crime of murder. To this probably there is a reference in the concluding clause. And the Lord set a mark upon - gave a sign to (LXX.) - Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. Commentators are divided as to whether this was a visible sign to repress avengers (the Rabbis, Luther, Calvin, Piscator, &c.), or an inward assurance to Cain himself that he should not be destroyed (Aben Ezra, Dathe, Rosenmüller, Gesemus, Tuch, Kalisch, Delitzsch). In support of the former it is urged that an external badge would be more likely to repel assailants; while in favor of the latter it is pleaded that of seventy-six times in which oth occurs in the Old Testament, in seventy-five it is translated sign. If there was a visible mark upon the fugitive, it is impossible to say what it was; that it was a shaking (LXX.), or a continual fleeing from place to place (Lyra), or a horn in the head (Rabbis), a peculiar kind of dress (Clericus), are mere conceits. But, whatever it was, it was not a sign of Cain's forgiveness (Josephus), only a pledge of God's protection; Cf. the Divine prophetic sentence against the Jewish Cain (Psalm 59:11).
And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
Verse 16. - And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord. Not simply ended his interview and prepared to emigrate from the abode of his youth (Kalisch); but, more especially, withdrew from the neighborhood of the cherubim (v/de on ver. 14). And dwelt in the land of Nod. The geographical situation of Nod (Knobel, China?) cannot be determined further than that it was on the east of Eden, and its name, Nod, or wandering (cf. vers. 12, 14; Psalm 56:8), was clearly derived from Cain s fugitive and vagabond life (vide Michaelis, 'Suppl,' p. 1612; and cf. Furst, 'Lex.,' sub voce), "which showeth, as Josephus well conjectureth, that Cain was not amended by his punishment, but waxed worse and worse, giving himself to rapine, robbery, oppression, deceit" (Willet).

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.
Verse 17. - Domiciled in Nod, whither, impelled by woman's love, his wife had accompanied him, the unhappy fugitive began to seek, if not to find, relief from the gnawing agonies of remorse in the endearments of conjugal felicity and the occupations of secular industry. And Cain knew his wife. Who must have been his sister, and married before the death of Abel, as "after that event it can scarcely be supposed, that any woman would be willing to connect herself with such a miserable fratricide" (Bush). Though afterwards forbidden, the tendency of Divine legislation on the subject of marriage being always in the direction of enlarging rather than restricting the circle of prohibited relationships, the union of brothers and sisters at the first was clearly indispensable, if the race was to multiply outwards from a common stock. "Even in much later times, and among very civilized nations, such alliances were not considered incestuous. The Athenian law made it compulsory to marry the sister if she had not found a husband at a certain age. Abraham married his half-sister, Sarah; and the legislator Moses himself was the offspring of-a matrimony which he later interdicted as unholy" (Kalisch). And she conceived. For even from the unbelieving and unthankful, the disobedient and the repro. bate, God's providential mercies are not entirely withheld (Psalm 145:9; Matthew 5:45). And bare Enoch. Chanoch, "dedicated," "initiated," from chanach, to instruct (Proverbs 22:6) and to consecrate (Deuteronomy 20:5; 1 Kings 8:63). Candlish detects in the name the impious pride of the first murderer; with more charity, Keil and Kalisch see a promise of the renovation of his life. The latter thinks that Cain called his son "Initiated" or "Instructed" to intimate that he intended to instruct him from his early years in the duties of virtue, and his city "Dedicated" to signify that he now recognized that "the firstling of his social prosperity belongs to God." If Luther's conjecture be correct, that the child received its name from its mother, it will touchingly express that young mother's hope that the child whom God had sent might be an augury of blessing for their saddened home, and her resolution both to consecrate him from his youth to God and to instruct him in God's fear and worship. And he builded. Literally, was building, i.e. began to build, "but never finished, leading still a runagate life, and so often constrained to leave the work, as the giants did who built the tower of Babel" (Willet). A city. Vater, Hartmann, and Bohlen discover in the city-building of Cain "a main proof of the mythical contents of the narrative," an advanced state of civilization "utterly unsuitable to so early a period;" but ancient tradition (Phoenician, Egyptian, and Hellenic) is unanimous in ascribing to the first men the invention of agriculture and the arts, with the discovery of metals, the origin of music, &c. (vide Havernick's 'Intro.,' § 16). Of course the עִיר which Cain erected was not a city according to modern ideas, but a keep or fort, enclosed with a wall for the defense of those who dwelt within (Murphy). It was the first step in the direction of civilization, and Kalisch notes it as a deep trait in the Biblical account that the origin of cities is ascribed not to the nomad, but to the agriculturist. Impelled by the necessities of his occupation to have a fixed residence, he would likewise in course of time be constrained by the multiplication of his household to insure their protection and comfort. It is possible also that his attempt to found a city may have been dictated by a desire to bid defiance to the curse which doomed him to a wandering life; to create for his family and himself a new point of interest outside the holy circle of Eden, and to find an outlet for those energies and powers of which, as an early progenitor of the race, he must have been conscious, and in the restless activity of which oblivion for his misery could alone be found. If so, it explains the action which is next recorded of him, that he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. I.e. he consecrated it to the realization of these his sinful hopes and schemes.
And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
Verse 18. - Years passed away, the family of Cain grew to manhood, and, in imitation of their parents, founded homes for themselves. And unto Enoch (whose wife probably would also be his sister, few caring at this early stage to intermarry with the accursed race) was born Irad. Townsman, citizen, urbanus civilis (Keil, Lange); fleet as a wild ass (Murphy); ornament of a city, from Ir, a city (Wordsworth). And Irad begat Mehujael. Smitten of God (Keil, Gesenius, Murphy), the purified or formed of God (Lange). And Mehujael begat Methusael. Man of God (Gesenius, Lange), man asked or man of El (Murphy), man of prayer (Keil). And Methusael begat Lamech. Strong youth (Gesenius, Lange); man of prayer, youth (Murphy); king, by metathesis for melech (Wordsworth). The resemblance between these names and those in the line of Seth has been accounted for by supposing a commingling of the two genealogies, or one common primitive legend in two forms (Ewald, Knobel). But -

1. The similarity of the names does not necessarily imply the identity of the persons. Cf. Korah in the families of Levi (Exodus 6:21) and Esau (Genesis 36:5); Hanoch in those of Reuben (eh. 46:9) and Midian (Genesis 25:4); Kenaz in those of Esau (Genesis 36:11) and Judah (Numbers 32:12).

2. The similarity of the names only proves that the two collateral branches of the same family did not keep entirely apart.

3. The paucity of names at that early period may have led to their repetition.

4. The names in the two lines are only similar, not identical (cf. with Irad, Jared, descent; with Mehujael, Mahalaleel, praise of God; with Methusael, Methuselah, man of the sword).

5. The particulars related of Enoch and Lamech in the line of Seth forbid their identification with those of the same name in the line of Cain.
And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
Verse 19. - And Lamech took unto him two wives. Being the first polygamist of whom mention is made, the first by whom "the ethical aspect of marriage, as ordained by God, was turned into the lust of the eye and lust of the flesh" (Keil). Though afterwards permitted because of the hardness of men's hearts, it was not so from the beginning. This was "a new evil, without even the pretext that the first wife had no children, which held its ground until Christianity restored the original law - Matthew 19:4-6" (Inglis). The names of Lamech's wives were suggestive of sensual attractions. The name of the one Adah, the Adorned (Gesenius), and the name of the other Zillah, the shady or the tinkling (Keil), the musical player (Lange), the shadow (Wordsworth). "Did Lamech choose a wife to gratify the eye with loveliness? and was he soon sated with that which is so short-lived as beauty, and then chose another wife in addition to Adah? But a second wife is hardly a wife; she is only the shadow of a wife" (ibid.).
And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.
Verse 20. - And Adah bare Jabal. Either the Traveler or the Producer, from yabhal, to flow; poetically, to go to walk; hiphil, to produce; descriptive, in the one case, of his nomadic life, in the other of his occupation or his wealth. He was the father - av, father; used of the founder of a family or nation (Genesis 10:21), of the author or maker of anything, especially of the Creator'(Job 38:28), of the master or teacher of any art or science (Genesis 4:21) - of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. Mikneh, literally, possession, from kanah, to acquire, as in ver. 1; hence cattle, as that was the primitive form of wealth (cf. pecus, pecunia); by which may be meant that Jabal was the first nomad who introduced the custom of living in tents, and pasturing and breeding not sheep merely, but larger quadrupeds as well, for the sake of wealth.
And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
Verse 21. - And his brother's name was Jubal. Player on an instrument, the musician. Cf. jobel, an onomatopoetic word signifying jubilum, a joyful sound. Cf. Greek, ὀλολύζειν ἀλαλάζειν; Latin, ululare; Swedish, iolen; Dutch, ioelen; German, juchen (Geseuius). He was the father of all such as handle the harp. The kinnor, a stringed instrument, played on by the plectrum according to Josephus ('Ant.,' 7, 12, 3), but in David's time by the hand (1 Samuel 16:23; 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:9), corresponding to the modern lyre. Cf. κινύρα κιννύρα, cithara; German, knarren; so named either from its tremulous, stridulous sound (Gesenius), or from its bent, arched form (Furst). And the organ. 'Ugabh, from a root signifying to breathe or blow (Gesenius), or to make a lovely sound (Furst); hence generally a wind instrument - tibia, ftstula, syrinx; the shepherd's reed or bagpipe (Keil); the pipe or flute (Onkelos); the organon, i.e. an instrument composed of many pipes (Jerome). Kalisch discovers a fitness in the invention of musical instruments by the brother of a nomadic herdsman, as it is "in the happy leisure of this occupation that music is generally first exercised and appreciated." Murphy sees an indication of the easy circumstances of the line of Cain; Candlish, "an instance of the high cultivation which a people may often possess who are altogether irreligious and ungodly;" Bonar, a token of their deepening depravity - "it is to shut God out that these Cainites devise the harp and the organ."
And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.
Verse 22. - And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain. Worker in brass or iron;related to Persian, tupal, iron dross (Gesenius, Rodiger, Delitzsch). Keil and Furst think this Persian root cannot be regarded as the proper explanation of the name. Furst suggests that the tribe may have been originally named Tubal, and known as inventors of smith-work and agricultural implements, and that Cain may have been afterwards added to them to identify them as Cainites (vide 'Lex. sub hem.'). The name Tubal, like the previous names Jabal and Jubal, is connected with the root yabal, to flow, and probably was indicative of the general prosperity of the race. Their ancestor was specially distinguished as an instructor (literally, a whetter) of every artificer (instrument, LXX., Vulgate, Kalisch) in brass (more correctly copper) and iron בַּרְזֶל, according to Gesenius a quadrilateral from the Genesis בְּרַן, to transfix, with ל appended; according to Furst out of בָּזֶל, from בָּזַל, to be hard, by resolving the dagesh into r. And the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah - the lovely. Considering. the general significance of names, we shall scarcely go astray if with Kalisch we find in the name of the sister of Tubal-cain, "the beautiful," as compared with that of Adam's wife, "the living," a growing symptom of the degeneracy of the times. Beauty, rather than helpfulness, was now become the chief attraction in woman. Men selected wives for their lovely forms and faces rather than for their loving and pious hearts. The reason for the introduction of Naamah s name into the narrative commentators generally are at a loss to discover. Ingiis with much ingenuity connects it with the tragedy which some see in the lines that follow.
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.
Verses 23, 24. - And Lamech said unto his wives. The words have an archaic simplicity which bespeak a high antiquity (vide Havernick's 'Introd.,' p. 105), naturally fall into that peculiar form of parallelism which is a well-known characteristic of Hebrew poetry, and on this account, as well as from the subject, have been aptly denominated The Song of the Sword (Ewald, p. 267).

Adah and gillah, Hear my voice;
Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech:
For I have slain a mum to my wounding (for my wound),
And a young man to my hurt (because of my strife).
If (for) Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,
Truly (and) Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
Origen wrote two whole books of his commentary on Genesis on this song, and at last pronounced it inexplicable. The chief difficulty in its exegesis concerns the sense in which the words כִּי הָרַגְתִּי are to be taken.

1. If the verb be rendered as a preterit (LXX., Vulgate, Syriac, Kalisch, Murphy, Alford, Jamieson, Luther), then Lamech is represented as informing his wives that in self-defense he has slain a young man who wounded him (not two men, as some read), but that there is no reason to apprehend danger on that account; for if God had promised to avenge Cain sevenfold, should any one kill him, he, being not a willful murderer, but at worst a culpable homicide, would be avenged seventy and sevenfold.

2. If the verb be regarded as a future (Aben Ezra, Calvin, Kiel, Speaker's. "The preterit stands for the future... (4) In protestations and assurances in which the mind of the speaker views the action as already accomplished, being as good as done" - Gesenius, 'Hebrews Gram.,'§ 126), then the father of Tubal-cain is depicted as exulting in the weapons which his son's genius had invented, and with boastful arrogance threatening death to the first man that should injure him, impiously asserting that by means of these same weapons he would exact upon his adversary a vengeance ten times greater than that which had been threatened against the murderer of Cain. Considering the character of the speaker and the spirit of the times, it is probable that this is the correct interpretation.

3. A third interpretation proposes to understand the words of Lamech hypothetically, as thus: - "If I should slay a man, then," &c. (Lunge, Bush); but this does not materially differ from the first, only putting the case conditionally, which the first asserts categorically.

4. A fourth gives to כִּי the force of a question (vide Stanley Leathes, ' Hebrews Gram.,' p. 202), and imagines Lamech to be assuring his wives, who are supposed to have been apprehensive of some evil befalling their husband through the use of Tubal-cain's dangerous weapons, that there was no cause for their anxieties and alarms, as he had not slain a man, that he should be wounded, or a young man, that he should be hurt; but this interpretation, it may be fairly urged, is too strained to be even probably correct.
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
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.
Verses 25, 26. - The narrative now reverts to the fortunes of the doubly saddened pair. And Adam knew his wife again. Having mournfully abstained for a season a thro conjugali (Calvin); not necessarily implying that Adam and Eve had not other children who had grown to man's estate prior to the death of Abel (cf. Genesis 5:4). And she bare a son, and called his name Seth. Sheth, from shith, to put or place; hence appointed, put, compensation. For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed - semen singulars (Calvin); filium, Eve having borne daughters previously (Onkelos, Jonathon, Dathe, Rosenmüller) - instead of Abel. Her other children probably had gone in the way of Cain, leaving none to carry on the holy line, till this son was born, whom in faith she expects to be another Abel in respect of piety, but, unlike him, the head of a godly family (Calvin). Whom Cain slew. Literally, for Cain killed him (Kalisch). The A. V. follows the LXX., ὁν ἀπέκτεινε καὶν, and has the. Support of Gesenius, who renders כִּי = אַשֶׁר. (see 'Lax. sub nom.'); of Rosenmüller, who says, "Conjunctio enim causalis כִּי saepius pro relative pronomine usurpatur," quoting, though without much aptness, Psalm 71:15 (com. in loco); and of Sal. Glass, who supplies several so-called examples of the relative force of כִּי, every one of which is perfectly intelligible by translating the particle as quia ('Sac. Philippians 3:2, 15.); and of Stanley Leathes ('Hebrews Gram.,' Genesis 12:16). There seems, however, no sufficient reason for departing from the ordinary casual signification of the particle. Furst does not recognize the meaning which Gesenius attaches to כִּי (cf. Ewald's 'Hebrews Syntax,' § 353), And to Seth, to him also there was born a son. Thus the expectations of Eve concerning her God-given son were not disappointed, but realized in the commencement and continuance of a godly line. The pious father of this succeeding child, however, had either begun to realize the feebleness and weakness of human life, or perhaps to be conscious of the sickly and infirm state in which religion then was. And he called his (son's) name Enos. Enosh, "man" (Gesenius); "mortal, decaying man" (Furst); "man, sickly" (Murphy). Then began men. Literally, it was begun. Huchal third preterite hophal of chalal (Greek, χαλάω λύω), to open a way. Hence "the literal sense of the word is, a way was now opened up, and an access afforded, to the worship of God, in the particular manner here described" (Wordsworth). To call upon the name of the The Lord. Either

(1) to invoke by prayer the name of Jehovah, i.e. Jehovah himself as he had been pleased to discover his attributes and character to men, referring to the formal institution of public worship. "The expression is elsewhere used to denote all the appropriate acts and exercises of the stated worship of God - Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 21:33; 1 Chronicles 16:8; Psalm 105:1" (Bush). Or

(2) to call themselves by the name of Jehovah - cf. Numbers 32:42; Judges 18:29; Psalm 49:12; Isaiah 44:5 (margin). Other renderings need only be mentioned to be set aside.

(a) Then began men profanely to call upon the name of God (Onkelos, Jonathan, Josephus), referring to the institution of idolatry.

(b) Then men became so profane as to cease to call (Chaldee Targum).

(c) Then he hoped to call upon the name of the Lord; οϋτος ἤλπισεν ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸ ὄνομα Κυρίον τοῦ θεοῦ (LXX).

(d) Then the name Jehovah was for the first time invoked (Cajetan), which is disproved by Genesis 4:3.

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.
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