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Genesis 4

4
Cain and Abel gave things to God
1Adam and Eve slept together, like a man does with his wife, and then Eve had a baby boy. Eve said, “God has helped me make another human.” So she gave him the name Cain. That name means make. 2After that, they had another son, and she gave him the name Abel.
Abel grew up, and he looked after sheep and goats all the time. Cain grew up, and he became a gardener. He dug the ground and grew plants for people to eat.
3One day, Cain brought a gift to give to God. He brought some food from his garden. 4And Abel brought a gift to give to God too. He gave God some of his young sheep and goats. They were the first ones born to their mothers. Abel brought the best bits of meat from those sheep and goats. And God was happy with Abel, and with his gift.#Hebrews 11:4 5But God was not happy with Cain, or with his gift. Then Cain got very angry. His face changed, and he looked very sad.
6God said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why do you look sad? 7If you do the right thing, I will be happy with you. But, if you don’t do the right thing, look out, you will always want to do more bad things. But you have to control yourself and stop doing bad things.”
8After that, Cain went to his brother, Abel, and said, “Let’s go for a walk.” So Cain and Abel went out bush together. While they were there, Cain hit his brother, and killed him dead.#Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51; 1 John 3:12
9Later, God said to Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?”
Cain said, “I don’t know where my brother is. It’s not my job to look after him.”
10God said to Cain, “You did a really bad thing. Your brother’s blood is on the ground. It’s like his blood is calling out to me. It is telling me you killed him.#Hebrews 12:24 11So now I’m going to curse you. You killed your brother, and his blood is on the ground. So I will make the ground bad for you. 12If you try to grow plants in the ground, nothing will grow for you. You will go away from me. And you will walk around in lots of places, but you will not have a home.”
13Cain said to God, “God, you are too hard on me. 14If you make me leave this land where I grow my food, and if you make me go away from you, and if you make me walk around everywhere, so I will not have a home, then somebody will find me and finish me.”
15God said, “I will not let that happen. I’ll tell everybody that if they kill you, then I will punish them 7 times more than I punished you.” So God put a mark on Cain’s head, so that everybody will know that they can’t kill him.
The people born into Cain’s family
16After that, Cain went away from God and went to live in a place called Nod. That country was on the east side of Eden. 17Cain slept with his wife, like married people do together, and then she had a baby boy, called Enok. Cain built a town, and he also called it Enok, after his son. 18Enok grew up, and he had a son, called Irad.
Irad grew up, and he had a son, called Mehujayel.
Mehujayel grew up, and he had a son, called Methushayel.
Methushayel grew up, and he had a son, called Lamek.
19Lamek grew up, and he married 2 women. One wife’s name was Adah, and the other wife’s name was Zillah.
20Lamek’s wife Adah had a baby boy, called Jabal. Jabal grew up and he was the first person to go around with mobs of cows and bulls, just living in a tent, not a house.
21Adah had another son, called Jubal. Jubal grew up and was the first person to play musical instruments. He played a harp and a flute.
22Lamek’s other wife, Zillah, had a son called Tubal Cain. Tubal Cain grew up and made tools from iron and from a brown metal called bronze.
Zillah also had a daughter, called Namah.
23One day, Lamek said to his 2 wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me properly. A young man hit me and hurt me, so I killed him dead. 24God said that if anyone killed Cain, he will punish that person 7 times more than he punished Cain. I reckon I’m more important than Cain. So if somebody kills me for killing that young man, I reckon God will punish that person 77 times more than he punished Cain.”#Matthew 18:22
Adam and Eve had another son
25Adam and Eve slept together again, like a man does with his wife, and they had another son, and they gave him the name Seth. That name means gave. Eve said, “God gave me another son to take the place of Abel, our son that Cain killed.”
26Seth grew up, and he had a son too, and he gave him the name Enosh. At that time people started to call God by his special name Yahweh when they showed respect to him.
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.