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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.
4
1Adam slept with his wife Eve and she became pregnant. She gave birth to Cain, and said, “With the Lord's help I have made a man.” 2Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Abel became a shepherd, while Cain was a crop farmer.
3Sometime later Cain brought some of the produce he'd grown as an offering to the Lord. 4Abel also brought an offering: the firstborn lambs of his flock, selecting the very best parts to offer. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, 5but he wasn't pleased with Cain and his offering, which made Cain very angry and he frowned in annoyance.
6The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? Why do you look so annoyed? 7If you were doing what's right, then you'd be looking happy.#4:7. “Looking happy”: literally, “lifted up.” In the previous verse, the literal meaning is that Cain's “face fell.” So the opposite would be for his face to be “lifted up,” in other words, he would look happy. But if you don't do what's right, then sin will be like animal crouching outside your home, ready to pounce on you. It wants to have you, but you must be the one in control.”
8Later, when Cain was talking with his brother Abel#4:8. The Septuagint and some other ancient versions add here, “Let's go out into the fields.” The way the sentence is structured in the Hebrew does suggest some words are missing. they went out into the fields where Cain attacked his brother and killed him.
9“Where is your brother Abel?” the Lord asked Cain.
“How should I know?” he replied. “Am I supposed to be my brother's care-giver?”
10“What have you done?” the Lord asked. “Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground. 11Consequently you are more cursed than the ground because you soaked it with your brother's blood. 12When you cultivate the ground, it won't produce crops for you. You'll be always on the run, wandering all over the earth.”
13“My punishment is more than I can take,” Cain replied. 14“Look! You're driving me away right now—cursing the ground and banishing me from your presence. I'm going to have to hide and always be on the run, left to wander all over the earth. Anyone who finds me is going to kill me!”
15But the Lord replied, “No, Cain. Anyone who kills you will be punished seven times over.” The Lord placed a mark on Cain so that no one who came across him would kill him.
16So Cain left the Lord's presence and went to live in a land called Nod, east of Eden.#4:16. “Nod” means “wandering.”
17Cain slept with his wife and she became pregnant. She had a son named Enoch. At that time Cain was building a town, so he named it after his son Enoch. 18Enoch had a son named Irad. Irad was the father of Mehujael, Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech. 19Lamech married two women. The first was named Adah, and the second was named Zillah. 20Adah had a son named Jabal. He was the father#4:20. “Father” can also mean “ancestor.” of those who live in tents and have livestock. 21He had a brother named Jubal; he was the father of all those who play stringed and wind instruments. 22Zillah also had a son. He was named Tubal-cain and he was a blacksmith, making different kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-cain's sister was named Naamah.
23At one time Lamech told his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me. You wives of Lamech, pay attention to what I have to say. I killed a man because he wounded me; I killed a young man because he injured me. 24If the sentence for killing Cain was to be punished seven times over, then if someone kills me, Lamech, the punishment should be seventy-seven times.”
25Adam slept with his wife again, and she had a son and named him Seth,#4:25. “Seth,” meaning “substitute,” or “given.” explaining that, “God has given me another child to replace Abel, the one Cain killed.” 26Later Seth had a son named Enosh,#4:26. “Enosh,” meaning “mankind” or “people.” because at that time people began to worship the Lord by name.