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Genesis 4

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.

Genesis 4

4
Chapter 4
Cain and Abel
1Adam had sex with his wife, Eve. She became pregnant. She gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the Lord's help, I have given birth to a son.’ #4:1 Eve knew that God has authority over life and death.
2Some time later, Eve gave birth to Cain's brother. She called him Abel. When they had grown to become men, Abel took care of sheep. Cain worked on the land as a farmer.
3Some time passed. Then one day Cain brought to God some of the fruits that he had grown. He offered those fruits as a gift to the Lord. 4But Abel brought to God some of the first lambs that his sheep had given birth to. He brought pieces of fat from the best of his lambs to offer them to God. Abel and his gift pleased the Lord. #4:4 Abel chose the firstborn young animals to give to God. He killed them, and then he gave God the fat pieces. This is the best part of the meat from the animal. 5But God was not happy with Cain and his gift. So Cain became very angry. His face looked sad. #4:5 Cain was angry because God was not happy with him and his gift. Cain did not try to learn what God really wants as a gift. Instead, Cain showed God that he was angry.
6Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why do you look sad? 7If you do what is right, I will accept you. But if you do not do the right thing, sin will be very near to you. It will be like a wild animal at your door that is ready to eat you. But you must become its master.’ #4:7 God told Cain that, if he continued to do wrong things, sin would destroy him. When Adam and Eve went against God in the garden of Eden, sin started its work. Now people want to do bad things. God told Cain that he must have authority over sin. He must stop himself from doing wrong things. Then God will accept Cain.
Cain kills Abel
8One day Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field.’
While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel. He killed Abel.
9Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel, your brother?’ Cain replied, ‘I do not know where he is. Must I always keep my brother safe?’
10Then the Lord God said, ‘Why have you done this bad thing? Now your brother's blood is lying there on the ground. That is like his voice which is shouting to me for help. 11The ground received your brother's blood when you killed him. As a result, the ground no longer accepts you. It has brought a curse on you. 12When you try to dig the ground, no plants will grow in it for your food. You will travel from place to place. You will not have your own home.’ #4:12 God's question to Cain is like the question that he asked Adam and Eve. That was when they hid in the garden. God knew that Cain had killed Abel. He wanted Cain to say that he is sorry. But Cain was not sorry that he had killed his brother.
13Cain said to the Lord, ‘That punishment is too much! It will give me too much pain. 14Now you are making me leave my home here on the land. I will be far away from where you are. I will be a traveller without a home. If someone sees me, they will kill me.’
15But the Lord said to Cain, ‘No. I will not let anyone kill you. If anyone kills Cain, I will punish that person seven times more than I have punished you.’
Then the Lord put a special mark on Cain. This was to tell other people that they must not kill Cain.
16Cain went away from the Lord. He went to live in the land called Nod, which is east of Eden.
The descendants of Cain
17Cain had sex with his wife. She became pregnant and she gave birth to Enoch. Cain started to build a city. He called the city Enoch because that was his son's name. 18Enoch became the father of Irad. Irad became the father of Mehujael. Mehujael became the father of Methushael. Methushael became the father of Lamech.
19Lamech married two women. One was called Adah, and the other was called Zillah. 20Adah gave birth to Jabal. Jabal became the father of people who live in tents and they take care of livestock. #4:20 In Old Testament times, tents were made of animal skins. You can take tents down and move them. Then you put them back up in another place.
21Jabal had a brother called Jubal. Jubal became the father of people who make music with harps and flutes.
22Zillah gave birth to a son. His name was Tubal-Cain. He used bronze and iron to make tools. Tubal-Cain had a sister. Her name was Naamah.
23Lamech said to his two wives,
‘Adah and Zillah, listen to me!
My wives, hear my words!
A man attacked me, so I killed him.
Yes, I killed a young man because he hurt me.
24If someone kills Cain, God will punish that person seven times more.
But if someone attacks me, I will punish that person 77 times more!’ #4:24 Because Adam and Eve went against God, sin started its work. As time passed, sin became worse. Lamech is proud because he killed the young man. He wants to tell people what he has done. He does not think that he has done something wrong.
The birth of Seth
25Adam again had sex with his wife, Eve. She gave birth to another son. She called him Seth. Eve said, ‘God has given me another child to take the place of Abel, because Cain killed Abel.’ 26Later Seth had a son and he called him Enosh.
At that time, people began to use the name of the Lord to worship him.