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Genesis 4

4
Cain and Abel
1Now the man #The name Adam is the Hebrew word for “man,” so when the word is used with the article (“the”) as it is here, it can be inferred that the writer (Moses) is referring to Adam as “the man.”Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have obtained a man (baby boy, son) with the help of the Lord.” 2And [later] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept the flocks [of sheep and goats], but Cain cultivated the ground. 3And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. 4But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the #That is, the fat that covered the entrails of the animals. Later, in the Mosaic Law, the Israelites were forbidden to eat this fat (Lev 7:23), which was reserved as an offering to God, especially for sin (Lev 4:8, 26, 35; 9:10; 16:25).fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; 5but for Cain and his offering He had no respect. So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and #Lit his countenance fell.he looked annoyed and hostile. 6And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? 7If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” 8Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain #Lit rose up against.attacked Abel his brother and killed him.
9Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he [lied and] said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10The Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s [innocent] blood is crying out to Me from the ground [for justice]. 11And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s [shed] blood from your hand. 12When you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength [it will resist producing good crops] for you; you shall be a fugitive and a vagabond [roaming aimlessly] on the earth [in perpetual exile without a home, a degraded outcast].” 13Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14Behold, You have driven me out this day from the face of the land; and from Your face (presence) I will be hidden, and I will be a fugitive and an [aimless] vagabond on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15And the Lord said to him, “#Some ancient versions read, “Not so!”Therefore, whoever kills Cain, a sevenfold vengeance [that is, punishment seven times worse] shall be taken on him [by Me].” And the Lord set a [protective] #Many commentators believe this sign not to have been like a brand on the forehead, but something awesome about Cain’s appearance that made people dread and avoid him. In the Talmud, the rabbis suggested several possibilities, including leprosy, boils, or a horn that grew out of Cain. But it was also suggested that Cain was given a pet dog to serve as a protective sign.mark (sign) on Cain, so that no one who found (met) him would kill him.
16So Cain went away from the [manifested] presence of the Lord, and lived in the land of Nod [wandering in exile], east of Eden.
17Cain knew his #The simplest explanation for the origin of Cain’s wife is that she was one of his sisters, whom Scripture does not mention specifically, but implies (5:4). It is also possible that she was a niece or more distant relative descended from the original family, but in any case it is evident that the unrecorded children of Adam and Eve married each other. This was possible because the human gene pool was at its purest with Adam and Eve, so at some point their children could begin families of their own.wife [one of Adam’s descendants] and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch; and Cain built a city and named it Enoch, after the name of his son. 18Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech. 19And Lamech took for himself two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah. 20Adah gave birth to Jabal; he became the father of those [nomadic herdsmen] who live in tents and have cattle and raise livestock. 21His brother’s name was Jubal; he became the father of all those [musicians] who play the lyre and flute. 22Zillah gave birth to Tubal-cain, the smith (craftsman) and teacher of every artisan in instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
23Lamech said to his wives,
“Adah and Zillah,
Hear my voice;
You wives of Lamech,
Listen to what I say;
For I have killed a man [merely] for wounding me,
And a boy [only] for striking (bruising) me.
24If Cain is avenged sevenfold [as the Lord said he would be],
Then Lamech [will be avenged] #Lamech arrogantly declares to his wives that if someone kills him, he will be entitled to far greater vengeance since he merely retaliated for harm suffered, while Cain’s murder of Abel was by comparison unprovoked.seventy-sevenfold.”
25Adam knew [Eve as] his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for [she said], “God has granted another child for me in place of Abel, because Cain killed him.” 26To Seth, also, a son was born, whom he named Enosh (mortal man, mankind). At that [same] time men began to call on the name of the Lord [in worship through prayer, praise, and thanksgiving].
4
Cain and Abel. 1The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, saying, “I have produced a male child with the help of the Lord.”#The Hebrew name qayin (“Cain”) and the term qaniti (“I have produced”) present a wordplay that refers to metalworking; such wordplays are frequent in Genesis. 2Next she gave birth to his brother Abel. Abel became a herder of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the ground.#Some suggest the story reflects traditional strife between the farmer (Cain) and the nomad (Abel), with preference for the latter reflecting the alleged nomadic ideal of the Bible. But there is no disparagement of farming here, for Adam was created to till the soil. The story is about two brothers (the word “brother” occurs seven times) and God’s unexplained preference for one, which provokes the first murder. The motif of the preferred younger brother will occur time and again in the Bible, e.g., Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and David (1 Sm 16:1–13). 3In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the ground, 4while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion#Fatty portion: it was standard practice to offer the fat portions of animals. Others render, less satisfactorily, “the choicest of the firstlings.” The point is not that Abel gave a more valuable gift than Cain, but that God, for reasons not given in the text, accepts the offering of Abel and rejects that of Cain. of the firstlings of his flock.#Ex 34:19; Heb 11:4. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected. 6Then the Lord said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? 7If you act rightly, you will be accepted;#You will be accepted: the text is extraordinarily condensed and unclear. “You will be accepted” is a paraphrase of one Hebrew word, “lifting.” God gives a friendly warning to Cain that his right conduct will bring “lifting,” which could refer to acceptance (lifting) of his future offerings or of himself (as in the Hebrew idiom “lifting of the face”) or lifting up of his head in honor (cf. note on 40:13), whereas wicked conduct will make him vulnerable to sin, which is personified as a force ready to attack. In any case, Cain has the ability to do the right thing. Lies in wait: sin is personified as a power that “lies in wait” (Heb. robes) at a place. In Mesopotamian religion, a related word (rabisu) refers to a malevolent god who attacks human beings in particular places like roofs or canals. but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.#Sir 7:1; Jude 11.
8Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.”#Let us go out in the field: to avoid detection. The verse presumes a sizeable population which Genesis does not otherwise explain. When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.#Wis 10:3; Mt 23:35; Lk 11:51; 1 Jn 3:12; Jude 11. 9Then the Lord asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10God then said: What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11Now you are banned from the ground#Banned from the ground: lit., “cursed.” The verse refers back to 3:17 where the ground was cursed so that it yields its produce only with great effort. Cain has polluted the soil with his brother’s blood and it will no longer yield any of its produce to him. that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.#Dt 27:24. 12If you till the ground, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a constant wanderer on the earth. 13Cain said to the Lord: “My punishment is too great to bear. 14Look, you have now banished me from the ground. I must avoid you and be a constant wanderer on the earth. Anyone may kill me at sight.” 15Not so! the Lord said to him. If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged seven times. So the Lord put a mark#A mark: probably a tattoo to mark Cain as protected by God. The use of tattooing for tribal marks has always been common among the Bedouin of the Near Eastern deserts. on Cain, so that no one would kill him at sight. 16Cain then left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod,#The land of Nod: a symbolic name (derived from the verb nûd, to wander) rather than a definite geographic region. east of Eden.
Descendants of Cain and Seth. 17#Cain is the first in a seven-member linear genealogy ending in three individuals who initiate action (Jabal, Jubal, and Tubalcain). Other Genesis genealogies also end in three individuals initiating action (5:32 and 11:26). The purpose of this genealogy is to explain the origin of culture and crafts among human beings. The names in this genealogy are the same (some with different spellings) as those in the ten-member genealogy (ending with Noah), which has a slightly different function. See note on 5:1–32. Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. Cain also became the founder of a city, which he named after his son Enoch. 18To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael; Mehujael became the father of Methusael, and Methusael became the father of Lamech. 19Lamech took two wives; the name of the first was Adah, and the name of the second Zillah. 20Adah gave birth to Jabal, who became the ancestor of those who dwell in tents and keep livestock. 21His brother’s name was Jubal, who became the ancestor of all who play the lyre and the reed pipe. 22Zillah, on her part, gave birth to Tubalcain, the ancestor of all who forge instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubalcain was Naamah. 23#Lamech’s boast shows that the violence of Cain continues with his son and has actually increased. The question is posed to the reader: how will God’s creation be renewed? Lamech said to his wives:
“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
wives of Lamech, listen to my utterance:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for bruising me.
24If Cain is avenged seven times,
then Lamech seventy-seven times.”
25#The third and climactic birth story in the chapter, showing that this birth, unlike the other two, will have good results. The name Seth (from the Hebrew verb shat, “to place, replace”) shows that God has replaced Abel with a worthy successor. From this favored line Enosh (“human being/humankind”), a synonym of Adam, authentic religion began with the worship of Yhwh; this divine name is rendered as “the Lord” in this translation. The Yahwist source employs the name Yhwh long before the time of Moses. Another ancient source, the Elohist (from its use of the term Elohim, “God,” instead of Yhwh, “Lord,” for the pre-Mosaic period), makes Moses the first to use Yhwh as the proper name of Israel’s God, previously known by other names as well; cf. Ex 3:13–15. Adam again had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. “God has granted me another offspring in place of Abel,” she said, “because Cain killed him.” 26To Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh.
At that time people began to invoke the Lord by name.#1 Chr 1:1; Lk 3:38.