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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 4

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And Adam knew Eve his wife - Murphy translates 'the man;' but there is no good reason for this change. The word is evidently used as the designation of the first man, and it occurs exactly in the same connection without the article (Genesis 4:25), where it is rendered "Adam."

Cain. This was the name of the firstborn son of the primeval pair. As appears from the Scriptures, names were bestowed upon individuals in the early ages, as is still the practice in Oriental countries, with reference to some remarkable circumstance in the experience of the parents, or attendant upon the birth of the child. Sometimes the name was changed in the course of afterlife, and a new one substituted, as a memorial of some special attribute of the character, or some memorable event in the history, of the person who bore it. Accordingly, Cain's name has been variously viewed. Some consider it as having been given at his birth; and the subjoined clause introduced to assign the reason of its imposition. It is commonly interpreted as denoting 'possession,' 'acquisition' [ qayin (H7014) being supposed to be a derivative from qaaniytiy (H7069), I have obtained or gotten]; and the name is considered to have been suggested by that exclamation to which Eve, in the ardour of her joy at the sight of a child which first awakened the maternal feelings in her breast, gave utterance. It was an expression of pious gratitude, indicating that it was 'a possession' she valued above everything else.

Gesenius, however, who maintains that the latter clause of the verse stands quite isolated and independent, derives the name "Cain" from a Hebrew word signifying a lance or spear, the weapon of murder, and considers that it was bestowed upon him after he had become a fratricide. Bunsen, wishing to preserve a close adherence to the original, spells it Qayin, and, with Von Bohlen, considers it as denoting 'smith,' in reference to the skill in metallic works for which his family was early distinguished. The doubt that has been expressed by many writers, as to there being any connection between the name "Cain" and the words which immediately follow in the first verse, is strengthened by the marked difference of this passage from Genesis 4:25; because it is not said here, as in that passage, "Eve bare a son, and called his name Cain (cf. Genesis 5:29). Others think, that with minds continually oscillating, after the fall, between grief and hope, the conversation of our first parents would frequently turn upon the advent of Him who was to conquer the serpent, and therefore that the predominant thought which the arrival of the newly-born infant would stir up was very naturally a persuasion that he was the promised seed.

Hence, they render the clause, 'I have gotten a man according to the Lord's word or promise,' as the passage is translated in the marginal reading of Queen Elizabeth's Bible (cf. Haggai 2:5, where the phrase is so rendered). By a third class, who take a similar view, and conclude that our fallen progenitors would certainly, in these circumstances, give expression to their reigning sentiments, by designating this destined victor of the serpent by some appropriate appellation, the clause is understood in this manner, 'I have gotten a man-Yahweh.' They consider the correct form of this latter word to be not Yahweh (H3068) (Yahweh, Jehovah), but Yahªweh (H3068) (Yahaweh), the future tense of the verb of existence, signifying 'he shall be,' equivalent to the phrase, ho (G3588) erchomenos (G2064) "he that should come," which so frequently occurs in the New Testament; and thus interpreted in the proper meaning of the word, the exclamation of Eve is regarded as originating in a direct reference to the first promise (Genesis 3:15).

This view, however, seems liable to various weighty objections. In the first place, although we have assumed the probability that Hebrew might be the primitive language (see the note at Genesis 2:19), there is no positive certainty that it was; and if the passage, as given by Moses, was merely a translation of Eve's exclamation, the name of the Divine Being would naturally be expressed by the word which was in constant use in the historian's age. In the second place, the occurrence of the particle 'et (H854) before Yahweh (H3068) clearly determines that the latter is not to be viewed as part of a verb, but as a proper name; and had there been the supposed reference to the proto-evangelion, the promise of a Redeemer, undoubtedly the definite article would have been used before 'iysh (H376), and the passage have stood thus: 'I have gotten the man, Yahaweh.' In the third place, the name Yahweh (Jehovah), which, according to this hypothesis, was invented by Eve to designate the promised Deliverer, is used throughout the Scriptures as a general name of the Divine Being, and, instead of being the exclusive appellation of the second person of the Trinity, is indiscriminately applied to all the three. For these reasons we reject the proposed interpretation, with others, such as that in the Syriac version, 'I have gotten a man (for the service of) the Lord,' and adhere to the translation adopted in the authorized version, "I have gotten a man from (or by the help of) the Lord," (See instances where the 'et (H854) bears the signification of 'from' or 'by,' in Genesis 49:25; Deuteronomy 34:1; Deuteronomy 2:0 Kin. 33:35 ; and others will be found in Noldius' Concordance.)

Verse 2

And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

And she again bare his brother Abel - Hebrew, 'she added to bear.' "Abel," or, according to the Hebrew, Haabel (H1893), a breath-metaphorically, vanity, weakness, transitoriness (Psalms 39:5; Romans 8:20), or grief, lamentation. The name, if given at his birth, probably originated in the painful sense which his arrival produced in the breast of his mother, by reminding her of the misery and short-lived existence she had entailed on her offspring; or it may be that it was not bestowed upon him until after death, and then it would have a reference to his sudden and tragic end by the violent hands of his brother. This is the opinion of Kennicott, who, after stating it as his persuasion that the name of Abel was given immediately after the murder, and became the only name by which he was thenceforth known and recorded, adds, 'It is remarkable that he is not called Abel in any speech made either of him or to him during his life. He is called "his brother Abel." The word "brother" is repeated seven times (Genesis 4:8-11).' A great variety of opinions are entertained respecting the time that elapsed between the creation of the first pair and the birth of their oldest son.

Since, however, no data are furnished by which we can determine the duration of their residence in the garden of Eden, so it is equally impossible to form any well-founded opinion as to what length of time elapsed before their oldest son was born. One thing is certain, that he was born after the expulsion from paradise; and it may be inferred on Scripture grounds (Psalms 51:5; Ecclesiastes 7:29) that he was also begotten after that great change in the condition of Adam and Eve had occurred. Had his birth taken place while the primeval pair were in the full possession of their original rectitude and immortality, this son would have inherited the same pure and exalted nature, and have come into the world in circumstances equally favourable as the first man was at the period of his creation. But, fallen as his parents had become from their primitive integrity, they transmitted to their offspring a corrupt and disordered nature; and hence, their oldest son, though doubtless instructed by his penitent and pious parents in the knowledge and revealed worship of God, and unexposed to any moral contagion or seductive example from without, yet gave early indications of that moral perversion, that strong propensity to evil, which has characterized the human race ever since the fall.

Of course, Abel was a partaker of the same sinful nature; but, since his heart was given to God early, through faith in the appointed method of salvation, he was made an heir of grace and a subject of holiness. Beyond this solitary notice of the birth of these two forementioned sons, the sacred history gives no insight into the domestic state and household economy of our first parents. It is evident, however, that they lived constantly in the open air, which is by far the pleasantest mode of life when the atmosphere is warm, dry, and salubrious: or, if they sought any covert, the only roof they had over them was the umbrageous canopy of trees. No other protection would they need from the weather in the delicious climate of Eden.

And Abel was a keeper of sheep - literally, 'fed a flock,' which in Oriental countries always includes goats as well as sheep.

But Cain was a tiller of the ground - literally, a servant of the soil [ 'ªdaamaah (H127)], red earth, or arable land. Whether Adam had trained his sons in their early youth to these different occupations, or the young men themselves made a voluntary choice of them as their favourite pursuits, the record is interesting and valuable, as showing that the primitive condition of mankind was very different from that of wild hunters prowling in the forests. Both the pastoral and the agricultural modes of life are incompatible with the rudeness of barbarism; and the co-existence of both in the family of Adam affords conclusive evidence that they lived in a civilized state of society, (see Remarks on Genesis 2:1-25). But objections have been urged against the truth of this record, on the ground of an alleged impossibility that the sons of the first man could, at so early a period as their rising into manhood, have possessed the knowledge or procured the implements requisite for their respective occupations-that Abel could have gotten vessels to hold milk, or a distaff for spinning, cords to tether, or knives to slaughter sheep; and much more, that Cain could have acquired hatchets to cut and fashion timber, tools to make his plowshare, furnaces to make his hammers, a mill to grind his corn, skill and foresight to preserve grain and fruits as seed for a future season, as well as an acquaintance with many arts which the labours of a farmer imply.

It might be sufficient to meet these objections by the statement that there is no difficulty in conceiving that the pursuits both of a shepherd and a farmer could be exercised by the first men in the simple manner in which both occupations are carried on to this day in the East, where the sheep are domesticated, and where the soil requires simply to be scratched, as it were, for the reception of the seed. But the true explanation (see the note at Genesis 2:20) is, that man was taught by God a knowledge of all that was essentially necessary for the supply of his needs, as well as for the duties of his situation; and that he would undoubtedly bring with him both his acquired experience and the implements he had used in the garden, when "he was sent forth to till the ground from whence he was taken."

Verse 3

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

And in process of time - literally, at the end of days. The original words are sometimes used in a vague, indefinite sense, to denote a considerable lapse of time (as 1 Kings 17:7, where they are rendered, "after a while"); in other passages they are used to express a determinate period (2 Samuel 14:26; 2 Chronicles 21:19; Daniel 12:13). There is nothing, however, in the context to show whether that period was a week or a year, an ordinary sabbath, or a sacred anniversary. The probability is, that it was an extraordinary occasion of this kind, a stated periodical season, when the sons of Adam, now advanced in life, and at the head of families of their own, appeared as the representatives and priests of their respective families, as was the practice in patriarchal times (cf. Genesis 8:20; Genesis 12:7-8; Genesis 13:18; Genesis 26:25; Genesis 33:20; Genesis 35:6-7) to present their oblations at the appointed place of worship. The very circumstance of their repairing to that primitive sanctuary together, and for the express purpose of worship, creates an impression that the time was divinely appointed-a sacred season, well-known and recognized by both; otherwise it is difficult to account for a man of such dispositions and principles as Cain choosing to unite with the godly Abel in a simultaneous act of worship. It has been thought not improbable, that a revelation had been early made to Eve similar to what was afterward made to Rebecca (Genesis 25:23) in favour of her younger son, which had roused the jealousy of the older; and therefore, had there not been a special day set apart for worship, we should rather have expected Cain to avoid the time which Abel chose, from dislike and envy of him. It is, however, plainly implied that there was a certain known time at which both were called to worship God together. The clause literally rendered would stand thus: 'And it was at the end of days' (i:e., either on the Sabbath or some sacred anniversary).

Cain brought of the fruit of the ground - the produce of the fields he cultivated, consisting probably of vegetables, grain, and fruit from trees. It is not said to have been the first fruits, but only "the fruit of the ground."

An offering, [ minchaah (H4503)] - a gift or present offered in social life to a superior, in token of respect or acknowledgment; but when used in Scripture as a sacrificial term, it signifies an offering of grain or bread. According to the description given of it as a stated vegetable offering of the Mosaic ritual, it was composed of grain or flour, with oil and incense. But the name, in its primary and widest use, may be considered as including fruits and grain, in a crude as well as a prepared state (Exodus 29:38-41; Leviticus 2:1-3; Leviticus 2:12; Numbers 5:15). In these passages the minchaah is defined a meat or bread offering, and it always signifies an unbloody oblation, in contradistinction to the bloody or animal sacrifices. 'The sense of the word,' as Kennicott remarks, 'is, by the passages referred to, absolutely determined, at least, in the five Books of Moses; because the inspired author, wherever he mentions the word minchaah, as a sacrificial term, certainly uses it in the same sense; especially when he appears so minutely to have fixed its meaning. And, therefore, since the Book of Genesis was undoubtedly written by Moses in the wilderness, after the delivery of the law and the appointment of the sacred rites belonging to the Mosaic dispensation, the word minchaah, when used sacrificially, must be supposed to carry the same idea in Genesis which had been settled upon it by God Himself, before Genesis was composed.'

Verse 4

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:

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. Grotius and LeClerc consider this offering to have consisted of the wool and the milk of the flocks; but the original word, "firstlings," nowhere bears the sense of wool; the Hebrew word "fat" cannot signify milk, consistently with the punctuation of the text: and those articles were not used as sacrificial offerings. [ bªkorowt (H1062), when used in reference to beasts, always means firstlings, and cheeleb (H2459), fat] (Leviticus 3:3; Leviticus 4:8; Leviticus 4:31; Leviticus 4:35). These constituted in later times, by God's appointment, the proper materials of sacrifice; and though the first-born of the flock were wholly devoted to the Lord, yet, in many cases, the presentation of the fat was sufficient, the rest of the carcass being retained by the offerer. If this were the case, it would imply that permission to use animal food had been granted to our first parents, with the institution of animal sacrifices.

The offerings of the brothers were apparently, as represented in our version, very different-that of Abel's an animal sacrifice, while that of Cain's was a bloodless oblation. The original text, however, does not convey the idea of any direct opposition between them; because, literally rendered, the passage would be as follows: 'And Cain brought of the fruit of the ground a minchaah (H4503) to Yahweh; and Abel brought (the same): he also (brought) of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat. And Yahweh had respect to Abel and to his minchaah; but to Cain and to his minchaah He had no respect.' It appears, then, from this translation, that Cain and Abel equally brought a minchaah-a bread offering. Both manifested, by the very act of offering, their faith in the being of God, as well as their sense of dependence upon Him as creatures; and both of them acknowledged, by the nature of their offering-namely, the fruit of the ground, from which their subsistence was derived-His claims to their gratitude as well as to their worship. But Abel brought something over and above the minchaah; and it was in reference to this additional circumstance that the apostle (Hebrews 11:4) calls it pleiona (G4119) thusian (G2378), rendered, in our version "a more excellent," but literally 'a greater' or 'fuller' sacrifice; and that Abel's was a double offering-that it consisted of more materials than one, appears further from the apostolic testimony in the same passage, where it is spoken of as doorois (G1435), gifts, not gift.

And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering. The Hebrew word rendered "had respect to" signifies, not only to look upon with favour, to pay regard to the prayer or request of any one, but also to look with a keen, earnest, penetrating glance. And hence, Theodotion, the Greek translator in the second century, rendered it enepurisen, he kindled, or set on fire. Most writers coincide with this opinion, that the mode in which the divine approval was manifested was by a miraculous flash of lightning darted from heaven, and consuming the sacrifice. To such a view, indeed, it has been objected that the silence of Moses must be considered a strong presumptive proof that no such visible and striking sign of the divine favour was given; and that it is far more likely that the acceptance of the one brother, as well as the non-acceptance of the other, was inferred from an observable difference in the aspect of Providence toward them in their temporal concerns, Abel enjoying during the following season a high degree of prosperity, whereas Cain may have experienced frequent disappointments and severe losses.

The silence of the historian, however, cannot with any propriety be considered as an argument against the hypothesis of a miraculous enkindling: for, in his brief and rapid narrative, Moses passes over numberless circumstances, both interesting and important, the occurrence of which was undoubted. In this particular case of the divine acceptance of a sacrifice, he might consider it superfluous to describe the mode, as their own history and instituted rites had rendered the Hebrew people familiar with it; and when, in addition to this obvious consideration, the language of the apostle is duly weighed, which seems plainly to imply that God testified of Abel's gifts in some unmistakable manner at the time of presentation, it is a fair and legitimate inference that the divine approval was shown by the miraculous descent of fire, kindling the bundle of logs on the altar, as was frequently done afterward (Genesis 15:17; Leviticus 9:24; Judges 6:21; Judges 13:19-20; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1; Psalms 20:3).

This portion of Abel's offering, therefore, would be a holocaust, as were all the sacrifices of which we have any account before the institution of the Mosaic ritual. But this, though probable, is a mere conjecture founded on the record of what was done at subsequent periods; and it may be that on this primitive occasion God 'testified of Abel's gifts' in some other way than by fire from heaven, as the Hebrew phrase, 'the Lord looked upon Abel and upon his offering,' viewed in connection with the sequel of the story, shows that the Divine Being continued for a considerable time after the fall to maintain a condescending and familiar relationship in visible form with the primeval family.

It remains to be noticed that Abel's offering was presented not only on the same occasion, but at the same spot as Cain's; because, although there is no express mention of the fact, it is manifestly implied that Abel as well as Cain brought his offering "unto the Lord" - i:e., as some think, to the east of the garden, where the symbols of God's presence were exhibited, or, perhaps, to a sacred tabernacle (Genesis 4:7; Genesis 3:24.) The circumstances of time and place, then, being exactly the same, one would have expected that the result would have been similar also; but that was not the case; and the question arises, What was the ground of the very opposite reception which God gave to the offerings of the two brothers? It is evident that the cause cannot be ascribed to any marked difference in the material quantity or quality of their respective oblations. Nor is it to be sought in a regard to the antecedent lives of the worshippers; because, though "the way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 15:9), and "it is iniquity, even their solemn meeting" (Isaiah 1:13), there is no evidence that Cain must, at this time, be ranked in such a class.

He not only observed the stated seasons of religion, but, in the opinion of Faber and many others, must have been a man of exemplary conduct, since nothing but the consciousness of high moral rectitude could have sustained him in the settled opinion that, having been guilty of no moral crime or social offence, he stood in need of no expiatory sacrifice. Passing from this in the meantime, the whole tenor, if not the express terms of the narrative, leads us directly to look for the reason of the acceptableness of the one and the non-acceptableness of the other offering in the character of their oblations, and in the temper or motives of the brothers in presenting them. The one offering wanted that which constituted the other, "a more excellent sacrifice" (Hebrews 11:4); and since the deficiency did not originate either in accident or in ignorance, because both enjoyed the best opportunities of learning from the lips of their parents the appointed method of worship, it must have arisen from design-a settled and deliberate purpose on the part of Cain to discard the idea of an animal sacrifice.

Accordingly, the apostle expressly states that Abel presented his oblation in faith; and as faith implies a previous revelation, no conceivable reason can be assigned for the acceptance of his sacrifice, except that the additional blood-offering he brought was made in accordance with a known declaration of the Divine Will, and was a rite instituted by God to typify the work of the promised Redeemer. In observing this rite with pious fidelity, he came before the Lord in the character of a sinful creature, expressing a deep sense of sin, a spirit of humiliation and sorrow on account of it, as well as a firm reliance on the appointed method of reconciliation and acceptance.

Cain's offering, on the other hand, was an act of will-worship, indicating no confession of sin or contrition for it, marked by an arbitrary pride of self-righteousness, a presumptuous disregard of the hope as well as of the necessity of an atonement, and presented deliberately as a thank offering, the only expression of religious feeling which a dependent and rational creature is required to give. By this rejection of an animal sacrifice he avowedly indicated his persuasion that such an offering would be displeasing to the benevolent mind of God, and, while it revolted the feelings of humanity, was a useless effusion of blood, inasmuch as the immolation of an innocent beast had no natural tendency to promote the interests or comfort the mind of man. In short, Cain exhibited the first example of an unbeliever, who rejected all light but that of his own reason, confided in the general benignity and goodness of the divine character, and flattered himself that in offering a portion of his property as a token of his gratitude for all he possessed, the tribute would be accepted, of whatever quantity it consisted, or in whatever form it was rendered. His offering was defective, and offered in a spirit of determined will-worship. This was 'the error of Cain' (Jude 1:11); a renunciation of the benefits of the instituted mode of atonement for sin (Kennicott), and a going about to establish a righteousness of his own (Romans 10:3).

Verse 5

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. He seems to have been naturally a man of an irritable, morose, choleric, discontented, malignant temper; and as the scene described most probably took place at a solemn assembly, in presence of a large company, consisting of their congregated descendants, of whom, according to patriarchal usage, the fathers were the priests, the rejection of Cain's offering was felt by him as a public affront, which wounded his pride and remained rankling in his breast.

Verse 6

And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 7

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.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? The Lord here remonstrates with Cain as a wayward child; and the passage affords a very interesting example of the way in which the family of the first pair were instructed in the nature and right use of his ordinances. It has been translated in many different ways, some of which have greatly increased the difficulty inherent in it; and our own version is not free from this charge. The Septuagint translators, who seem to have had a different text from our present Hebrew copies, render the verse thus-`If thou hast rightly brought, but hast not rightly divided thy offering, hast thou not sinned? Be still.' A far superior translation is given in the Targum of Onkelos, who paraphrases it in the following manner:-`If thou make thy worship, shalt thou not be forgiven? and if thou dost not make thy worship good, to the day of judgment thy sin is reserved, prepared to take vengeance on thee unless thou repent; and if thou repent, it shall be forgiven thee.' What have chiefly thrown a stumbling-block in the way of interpreters are the two phrases "doing well" and "sin lieth at the door." At what door? It is naturally asked. One, like Onkelos, says, at the door of thy tent; another, at the door of thy mouth, ready to display itself in profanity; a third, at the door of thy heart, ready to take full possession of thee; a fourth says, at the door of thy sepulchre, ready to attend thee to judgment, and to bear witness against thee. But none of these are in agreement with the context.

There are two interpretations of this obscure and difficult passage which seem entitled to particular notice. The first, that adopted by Rosenmuller, Maurer, Gesenius, Tuch, Kiel, Jerome, Augustine, Ainsworth, and others, is this-`If thou shalt do good, shall there not be a lifting up?'-namely, of the countenance; i:e., Will you not be happy and cheerful, as a conscious rectitude of purpose and conduct will render you? (cf. Job 11:15; Job 22:26, where the same word is used in the original 'but if' thou shalt not do good, sin lieth at the door, 'ready, like the serpent, to assail you. And unto thee shall be its desire'-sin will strive to overcome you and domineer; 'but thou shouldst rule over it' - i:e., maintain the strict and steady command of your passions, and you will master them (Romans 6:12; Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5; James 4:7), otherwise they will drive you into sin, and make you a slave of evil (Romans 12:21; James 1:14-15). According to this view, God is arguing with Cain as a wayward child. His look is spoken of as indicating the harbouring of evil thoughts or purposes; an antithesis is preserved between the 'fall,' the downcast expression, and the 'elevation' or 'lighting up' of his countenance; and sin is personified as a beast of prey lying in wait (Genesis 49:9), and ready to seize upon his soul. It is objected to this view that the language addressed to Cain is so figurative and rhetorical that he could not have understood it; besides, that the second clause is wholly pleonastic, "not doing well" being synonymous with understood it; besides, that the second clause is wholly pleonastic, "not doing well" being synonymous with "sin."

The other interpretation considers chaTaa't, sin, in the sense of a sin offering-a sense which it most usually bears in the Pentateuch, and frequently in other parts of Scripture (Hosea 4:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:23); - "at the door" or gate, namely, of the garden, 'a sin offering crouching (shall by its blood expiate thy sin). There is a remarkable anomaly in the construction of the clause, which seems to warrant this interpretation-namely, the connection of the sin offering-a word of the feminine gender-with the participial form of the verb in the masculine; and although it is common to account for this by a peculiarity in Hebrew grammar, yet, as the same construction occurs in the Syriac New Testament in the important text, "The Word was made flesh" - where the verb masculine, without regard to the form of the associated noun, adapts its gender to that of the person whom it is used to describe, the Divine Word: so here the same rare mode of expression may be accounted for, and the grammatical anomaly satisfactorily explained, by considering that a male lamb was pointed to as the sin offering.

That this was the view which our translators took of the passage is evident from their rendering of the clause, "shalt thou not be accepted?" which they connected immediately with the offering. But the margin has, 'shalt thou not have the excellency?' i:e., the dignity and dominion belonging to the oldest son, who, next to Adam, was the head of the human family. And this version is preferred by many, as describing the real cause of all the fierce and unrestrained feelings which were at work in the moody breast of Cain. The divine speaker is considered as referring to the special privileges which, in the patriarchal ages the firstborn son enjoyed as the natural heir of the promise, and which Cain seems to have apprehended were endangered or withdrawn from him by the marked token of distinction so publicly bestowed upon his younger brother, who, although not named, was evidently alluded to, because uppermost in Cain's thoughts.

It was the re-instatement of those rights of primogeniture, the restoration of his superiority over Abel and all the rest of mankind, that the last clause promised to him, in the event of his correcting his error, and complying with the revealed will of God. The import of the passage, then, as thus interpreted, may be briefly stated: -`And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? Art thou displeased with the justice of my procedure in rejecting thy service? If thou wert sinless, as thy father before his fall, thy thank offering, in token of thy dependent condition as a creature, would certainly have been accepted. But as thou art in very different circumstances-a sinner-it was necessary to bring a sin offering, to ensure acceptance both to thy person and service; and if thou hadst done so, in the same spiritual frame of mind as Abel, thou wouldst have met with as welcome a reception as he, while the rights of primogeniture would have remained perfectly secure.' This latter interpretation appears to be the true one. It involves a reference to previous instructions (Hebrews 11:4), and a remonstrance with Cain for his wilful departure from the appointed ritual. It accords with the solemnity of the occasion, as well as with the dignity of the speaker; and, moreover, it contains a plain, direct, intelligible admonition, which would doubtless be very necessary in the early history of our fallen race, that no worshipper would be regarded as 'doing well' unless he came with the presentation of a sin offering, which, however worthless in itself, was of great efficacy when viewed in faith as typical of a better sacrifice.

Verse 8

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. And Cain talked with Abel his brother. The original word does not signify, in strict propriety, "talked," but 'said;' and, as the object is frequently omitted after verbs of speaking, Gesenius and others supply it-namely, Cain said (it) unto Abel his brother; i:e. he told him what God had addressed to him, as contained in Genesis 4:7. But, since it is extremely improbable that he would have related an admonition to which he was so indifferent, others have supposed a hiatus or gap in the text, which the Septuagint, the Samaritan, the Syriac, and other versions fill up with the words 'Let us go into the field.' These authorities show that the words were once in the original text, although, as has been remarked, they are not found in the most ancient Hebrew copies-as, for instance, in that one which Origen consulted. Knobel renders the clause 'Cain watched Abel.' But the meaning is obvious; and whether the proposal was made directly by Cain to his brother to accompany him in a walk into the fields, or they happened, in pursuit of their respective occupations, to be together in some sequestered spot, he, under the guise of brotherly familiarity, had concealed his premeditated purpose until a convenient time and place occurred for the murder (1 John 3:12; Jude 1:11).

Whether something had transpired to open up and irritate the wound that had long been rankling in his breast, and he rushed, under the impulse of impassioned feelings, to a deed of violence, he could scarcely have been ignorant of the effects that might follow. He must have seen the deaths of many animals; especially he must have witnessed the slaughter of the victims which his father had often brought to the altar. He must have judged that blows would be equally fatal to human life, whatever the kind of weapon used to inflict them; and therefore, in entertaining the deliberate purpose of sacrificing "righteous Abel" to appease his own jealousy, offended pride, and vindictive spirit, he gave proof of the development within him of corrupt principles, which showed that he was of that "seed of the serpent" which should, in later ages of the world, be at enmity with the "seed of the woman" (Matthew 23:35; 1 John 3:12; Jude 1:11).

The frequent repetition of the words "his brother Abel" throughout the narrative is deserving of notice; but it is especially emphatic in the last clause of this verse, as marking the unnatural atrocity of Cain's crime. Abel's death was the first that took place in the family of Adam; and whether, as some think, a debate had been going on between the brothers on the subject of their recent offerings, and Abel had strenuously maintained the duty of sacrificial worship, he died the first martyr in the cause of revealed religion. Cain yielded to the instigation of the Devil, who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). The brothers were types of the two opposite classes of character, which have ever since divided the world-the humble, believing, and pious servants of God, on the one hand; and the proud, self-willed, worldly-minded upholders of Rationalism and Infidelity on the other. Thus Abel, being dead, yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4), and the posthumous testimony he bears is, that there is but one way in which peace and communion with God can be enjoyed on earth, as well as the mansions of heaven opened for the reception of men.

Verse 9

And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

Where is Abel thy brother? When Cain saw the fatal result of his attack on his brother, he would anxiously endeavour to conceal all traces of his crime by burying the corpse somewhere under ground; and we can easily conceive of him pretending ignorance of what had become of Abel, so far as to join in the search that doubtless would be instituted regarding the missing relative. It might be that a considerable time had elapsed ere the following scene took place; and Cain had probably, in order to lull suspicion, been engaging in the solemnities of religion at the established place of worship, when he was challenged directly from the Shechinah itself.

I know not - `I have not ascertained' (Murphy). This was a direct and unblushing falsehood, and hence, Cain is said to be of the wicked one (1 John 3:12), who was a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). What a difference between Adam and Eve in their simple, trembling confession of the sin they had committed, and the hardened audacity of their oldest son! One sin leads to another; and a criminal, when accused, commonly tries to evade the consequences of his guilt by denial. Thus acted Cain; but from the irreverent, defiant tone he assumed, we may judge the extent of his inward apostasy from God, and the spiritual blindness of his understanding, which deluded him into the belief that he could escape the scrutiny of Omniscience.

Verse 10

And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground - Hebrew, bloods. The word in the plural is commonly used to signify blood as shed-murder. The blood of Abel is said to have had a 'voice that cried' aloud to God-a strong image, founded manifestly on the fact that sin, being a violation of the moral order which God had originally established, all heinous sins cry to Him, as the Governor of the world, for retribution. The violent effusion of human blood being one of the greatest violations of the economy of Providence, outraged nature is represented as crying to God for vengeance upon the murderer; and there was a special reason why God should make enquiry after Abel's blood, because "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Psalms 116:15; Hebrews 11:4). Since murder is often discovered by a train of the most extraordinary and unexpected events, which indicate the hand of God, the metaphor has come into common and familiar use; and hence, the poet says:

`O murder, thou hast no tongue; Yet dost thou speak with most miraculous organ.

This figurative language, however, though first employed in reference to the case before us, is by no means exclusively appropriated to the horrid crime of murder. It is applied in Scripture to every sin, as expressing the necessary connection between sin and its punishment. For every sin has a voice of crimination against the sinner. That voice may not be heard by the transgressor himself, amid the wild storm of passion and the din of the world's pursuits, or because his conscience is seared; but still it is heard by the Supreme Judge (cf. Genesis 18:20-21; Genesis 19:13; Exodus 3:7).

Verse 11

And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; Now art thou cursed from the earth. Here a curse is added to the general one denounced on the ground for Adam's sin. The meaning of the words, according to our version, which is supported by Baumgarten, Knobel, etc., is; that the soil which Cain had cultivated, having drunk innocent blood, would, as it were, in indignation and horror at the awful crime of fratricide, withhold its productive powers; and though he should prosecute his agricultural works with accustomed assiduity, all his labour, industry, and art would now be fruitless; the seasons would be unpropitious, the ground yield little or no return, like the land of Canaan, which spewed out its inhabitants on account of their abominable vices (Leviticus 18:28). The phrase, "which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood," and the first clause of the next verse, seem to favour this interpretation. Or, the words may be rendered, as they are by Rosenmuller, Tuch, Gerlach, Delitzsch, 'cursed art thou from the land,'-your old haunts will no longer be safe for you: you must become an unhappy exile, and seek an asylum in some distant part of the world. The concluding clause of Genesis 4:12 apparently supports this latter view.

Verse 12

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.

A fugitive and a vagabond - condemned to perpetual banishment; a degraded outcast, the miserable victim of an accusing conscience. The Septuagint translates these words by stenoon, kai tremoon sighing and trembling, as completely paralyzed by the constant apprehension of death. But the English version is more in accordance with the context. Augustine remarked the striking analogy between the doom of Cain and that of the unbelieving, obdurate Jews, who, like Cain, killed their brother. Now their fate has been like his-that of weary, uncertain wanderers on the earth for 18 centuries (cf. Deuteronomy 28:16; Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 28:66).

Verse 13

And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

My punishment is greater than I can bear. The original words have been variously interpreted. [ `ªwon (H5771) signifies, primarily, iniquity, sin; and naasaa' (H5375), when applied to God, to take away, when to man, to bear guilt; and hence, the margin of our Bibles following the Septuagint, and the greater number of versions, has 'Mine iniquity is greater than that it may be forgiven.'] The magnitude and atrocity of the crime appeared to extinguish in Cain's mind all hope of forgiveness; and therefore, like Judas, he abandoned himself to wild, reckless despair. Others, taking the sentence interrogatively, render it, 'Is my iniquity too great for expiation?' can the penalty not be inflicted in some other form-a compensation accepted by fine? or, if it must be by my personal suffering, can it not be a defined and limited one? But although 'sin' or 'iniquity' is the primary meaning of the Hebrew term, it denotes also the punishment of sin; and the context seems rather to point to the secondary meaning; because Cain was overwhelmed with a sense, not of the greatness of his guilt, but of the severity of the sentence. His exclamation, "My punishment is greater than I can bear," was prompted by a weight of unendurable misery. He had spurned all offers of grace; there was no sign of penitence, no cry for pardon: but he was fully alive to the terrible sentence which had been pronounced upon him, and he dwelt exclusively upon it, specifying four particulars in which its tremendous character appeared.

Verse 14

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.

Thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth [ haa'ªdaamaah (H127), the red earth] - the portion of ground I have been so long accustomed to cultivate; the place of my birth, the home of my parents, my native country.

And from thy face shall I be hid - i:e., from the symbols of thy divine presence; the usual place of religious assemblies, which, after the expulsion from Eden, the Lord established at the gates of the forfeited paradise.

I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth. Driven from my happy home, and from all association with human society, I am to be banished, a solitary wanderer, without shelter, and without a settled place of abode, in wild, uninhabited regions; or, if I venture to approach the haunts of men, everyone that findeth me shall slay me. Either some of the nearest kinsmen of Abel although there is no evidence that the practice of the Go'el (H1352), i:e., blood-avenger, had as yet been introduced, or, under an overwhelming consciousness of guilt, he expressed an apprehension that every person who should discover him in any quarter would deem himself at liberty, nay, bound, to avenge the crime. Whichever of these views we adopt involves the conclusion, that the population of the world had now considerably multiplied, and in a few years more would be further increased. In explanation of this extraordinary and obscure episode, it may be remarked, that the murder of Abel, being probably the first heinous crime in human society demanding exemplary punishment, God, who still continued His condescending direction of the first inhabitants of the world, thought proper to interpose, and to act as judge in this unhappy case.

The government was patriarchal. Adam, being ignorant both how to prove and to punish the unprecedented crime of murder, and, moreover, unlikely, through the influence of parental feelings to execute justice upon the criminal if convicted, the Lord, who is described in the anthropomorphic style of this primitive narrative, hears of it by the cry of blood which rose "from the ground." And He discovers the crime by arraigning the murderer at His tribunal. The sentence, according to the murderer's own sense of justice, should have been one of death; because that is evidently implied in the last clause of the verse. But, although capital punishment was not inflicted upon Cain, and, for reasons connected with the early state of the world, it was commuted into perpetual exile, the sentence, when thus altered on Cain's urgent petition, was far more severe, as it removed him far away from the means by which his misery, if it should prove intolerable, might be at once terminated, at least in this world. To use the words of Dr. Hall, 'God saw that it was too much favour for him to die; He therefore wills that which Cain wills. Cain would live: it is yielded to him, but for a curse. God rejects him; the earth repines at him; men abhor him; himself now wishes that death which he feared, and no man dare pleasure him with a murder.' The fact is, that his preservation in the special circumstances, as a monument of the divine displeasure would, in the early state of mankind, tend to stamp a deeper brand of horror on the crime of murder than the shedding of Cain's blood would have done; and in the secret remorse of which he must have been the prey, as well as in the consciousness of moral degradation and infamy among men, life would be felt often to be an intolerable curse. `Happier, in my mind, was he that died, For many deaths has the survivor suffered.'

Verse 15

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.

Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. Several versions, the Septuagint, the Syriac, the Arabic, the Vulgate, read, instead of laakeen (H3651), therefore, lo' (H3808) keen (H3651), not so, which is more in accordance with the context. God allayed Cain's apprehensions by assuring him that whoever should dare to shed his blood would be considered guilty of a far worse crime than Cain himself had perpetrated; inasmuch as he would sin against greater light and a better knowledge of the atrocity of murder, now that God had given public and solemn deliverance upon the subject in the case of Cain. The word "sevenfold," which occurs here for the first time, seems to have been early used as a common and familiar phrase for expressing intensity; and in the present context it intimates that any one who should dare to avenge the death of Abel, by taking the life of Cain, would be considered guilty of a more aggravated murder, and be condemned to a far severer punishment than that unhappy fratricide.

The Lord set a mark upon Cain. Conjectures almost innumerable have been formed and expressed regarding this mark. It has been supposed to have been a miraculous change on his external appearance, significant of his offence; a mark imprinted upon his forehead, containing the letters of the divine name, or of Abel's name; the sign of the cross; the leprosy, a general paralysis of his frame, by which his arms especially trembled so violently that he could not carry either meat or drink to his mouth; and finally, a wild ferocity of aspect, that rendered him an object of universal horror and avoidance.

Others have suggested that it was a mental affection, a settled melancholy, or perhaps lunacy, as supposing that remorse, and the total lack of those ordinances that minister comfort to 'a mind diseased,' drove him mad; and Montgomery, in a beautifnl passage of his poem, 'The World before the Flood,' taking up this idea, represents Cain as a poor, haggard, wretched maniac, roaming at large, and suddenly calmed during a violent paroxysm by the soothing influence of music, played by the harp of his descendant Jubal. LeClerc supposed it to be a distinct dress-a meaning which the original word will not bear. Bryant, that it was an impediment in his speech, which was inherited by his posterity, who gradually became dumb, as are the orangutans, his lineal descendants! But all these are mere fancies, unsupported by the tenor of the sacred narrative, and, indeed, they could never have been for a moment entertained by any one who paid the least attention to the Hebrew text.

The original words, literally rendered, are, 'the Lord gave a sign, a token or pledge, to Cain, that no one who found him should kill him;' i:e., God assured him of his personal safety by some external sign or evidence, which allayed his apprehensions from the snares or pursuit of the blood-avenger. This translation is confirmed by the expression of the Septuagint version [which is too (G3588) Kain (G2535), to Cain; not en (G1722), or epi (G1909) too (G3588 Kain (G2535), upon him]; and that God, not unfrequently confirmed his declarations to individuals by the appointment or exhibition of a sign is abundantly evident from many incidents recorded in the Old Testament (cf. Genesis 9:12; Genesis 17:11; Exodus 3:12; Judges 6:17; Judges 6:36; 2 Kings 20:8; Isaiah 7:14, in all of which passages the same word [ 'owt (H226)] occurs).

In this sense, the word 'sign' is frequently used in Scripture. The import of the statement, then, 'that God gave a sign to Cain,' perhaps may amount to no more than this, that the Divine Being strictly charged Adam and all his family to offer no violence to Cain, under the penalty of condign punishment; and that the knowledge of this positive interdict was to the fratricide a satisfactory assurance of his immunity from danger. That such is the proper view of the passage will appear more clearly by translating the connecting particle "and" as Noldius ('Concordance') shows it often is rendered, 'thus,' 'after this manner,' the Lord gave a sign to Cain. But this rendering, though doubtless the correct one, does not bring us any nearer to a knowledge of what the sign given to Cain was. Knobel supposes that it was a sign in the visible heavens accompanied with a revelation of its meaning. But ungodly men would have disregarded that, as they do other subjects of divine communication; and besides, it would have been unknown to the next generation, unless, like the rainbow, it had been frequently renewed. All that can be said with certainty is, that whatever was the nature or form of this sign, it was sufficient to dispel the fear of Cain, as well as to deter others from endangering his life,

Verse 16

And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

And Cain ... dwelt in the land of Nod. This name, derived from a cognate verb, to wander, go be a fugitive, denotes merely the land of flight or exile, No conclusion, therefore, can be drawn from it as to the locality of this region: and although the words "on the east of Eden," which the Septuagint renders 'opposite to' (the closed gate of), Eden, may seem to afford a clue to the direction in which it lay, yet it is vain to attempt identifying it with any particular spot, so long as the site of the primeval paradise remains undetermined. The Septuagint terms it Naid, which M. Cahen, in his French version, suggests to be Nedida, in Arabia, which is to the east of Nubia. The Vulgate considers the original term "Nod" to be applied, not to a country, but to Cain himself. 'And the fugitive dwelt in the land on the east of Eden.'

Verse 17

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.

And Cain knew his wife. Her name is traditionally said to have been Save; and as it was an uninhabited region in which Cain sought refuge, it follows that she must have accompanied him in his flight. No previous mention is made of Cain's marriage; but that is not wonderful in so succinct and fragmentary a history: and whether she was a daughter of Adam or of one of his numerous sons, no objection can be made against the propriety of such a connection, as marriages with near relatives were matters of necessity in the infancy of the human race.

Moveover, the law of incest was not promulgated until long after (Leviticus 18:9), nor was there any necessity for such an enactment, as no practical evils could result from the formation of such unions, when mankind was not yet developed into separate families.

And she ... bare Enoch - i:e., initiating-a suitable name for a first-born son.

And he builded a city. Some, deriving the Hebrew word "city" from a root signifying to be deep, maintain that it was a cave, in which Cain established himself, and thus he was the first Troglodyte. But such an idea is inconsistent with the language of the context, which expressly relates that he "builded (built)" or "began to build"; and whether the habitations erected consisted of huts made of boughs, plastered with clay and thatched with grass, like those in many modern towns of Arabia; whether they were wholly mud cabins, which in early times were (Job 4:19; Job 24:16), and still are so common in the East; or whether they were formed of huge blocks of stone, like the rocky fastnesses of the Rephaim, that have been discovered in such vast numbers in Bashan, they would doubtless be rude and simple structures. Nor must we in our thoughts assimilate this primeval city to the gigantic scale on which towns were extended in later times.

Whether it covered a large or small area, it was fortified, as the original word signifies, by a wall of mud or unconnected stones, or by a fence of cactus-like the briars or prickly pears that defend the modern Jericho, and many other villages of Palestine in the present day. It was a new stage in the development of human society, because it formed the commencement of a settled mode of life; and although many of its inhabitants, like those in ancient Canaan, might continue their agricultural pursuits by tilling small patches of land in the outskirts (cf. Judges and Ruth), yet it gradually led to the formation of different habits, and by the necessities felt and the requirements created, it whetted invention, stimulated industry, and gave a strong impulse to the culture of the useful no less than the fine arts. Although the erection of this city is recorded apparently in the continuous course of events subsequent to Cain's exile, and immediately after the birth of his oldest son, it is probable that centuries had elapsed, and he himself, as Augustine suggests, was an old man, some 500 or 600 years of age, when he laid its foundations.

It was ominous of its future character, that, like Rome in later ages, it was associated with the murder of the founder's brother. Its grand radical defect was its irreligious origin; it was "of the earth, earthy;" and although it is not expressly said that its builder, like those of Babel, aimed at making to himself a name, that he and his might not be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, yet its inhabitants naturally imitated their ancestor, and in its increasing population a society was formed, of which ungodliness, luxury, and voluptuousness were the characteristic features. Even if we do not regard this city as 'the first foundation-stone of the kingdom of the world, in which the spirit of the beast bears sway,' we cannot doubt the prevailing irreligion of the place.

Verse 18

And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.

Unto Enoch was born Irad. The genealogy of Cain's family is here given to the sixth generation. Since the persons mentioned seem to have been the oldest sons, they would be the successive rulers of the city of Enoch, and each in his day be possessors of power and influence. But no details of their personal history or public acts are given-no notice taken even of the duration of their lives, or the age which any of them had attained when his first-born son was born. This oblivion to which the Cainite patriarchs are consigned shows the little estimation in which the Spirit of Inspiration holds mere men of the world; because the growth of this branch of the human family is wholly identified with the progressive development of material forces. Living in a city, they early displayed the intelligence and activity for which inhabitants of towns have ever been distinguished;-both the useful and the fine arts had their rise among them, and they would have been entitled to honourable mention for their industry and inventions, had not the social characteristics of the place been irreligion and ungodliness, which in a few generations led to unrestrained license in vice and sensual corruption. Irad denotes ornament of a city; Mehujael, destroyed or smitten of God; Methusael, man of God; Lamech, a strong, powerful man.

Verse 19

And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Lamech took unto him two wives. The irreligious and sensual character of the Cainites reached its acme in the time and person of Lamech, who is the first polygamist on record, and whether from his bold innovation on the primitive institution of marriage, which produced the most demoralizing effects on the antediluvian world, or from his being the ancestor of a family which acquired so great renown by its inventive talents, he is the only descendant of Cain of whom any memorials have been preserved.

Adah - beauty, ornament.

Zillah - a shadow. These two names indicate the position of these women as first and secondary wife.

Moveover, they mark the introduction of a new era, when other qualities were looked for in the female companions of men than those on which the mind of Adam was concentrated. His affection and lively interest in his partner had been expressed in the name given to her, Eve, the life-giving, the mother of all living. But now external attractions, beauty of features, gracefulness, polished elegance of manners, were become principal objects of desire and admiration. The primitive character of marriage, consisting in the union of one man and one woman, as an institution designed by God for domestic happiness, as well as the propagation of the race, was completely ignored, and wives were increased to gratify the lust of the eye and a fleshly mind. Polygamy, as in the case of Lamech, might be restricted for a time; but the contagion of his example spread with increasing rapidity during the subsequent generations, and gave rise to all that wild incontinence and lawless violence which occasioned the flood.

Verse 20

And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.

Jabal the father of such as dwell in tents, and ... have cattle. Jabal means "flowing". The Hebrew [ miqneh (H4735)] properly denotes possession, property, but always of cattle, in which alone the wealth of nomadic people consists. The word is strictly used only of sheep, goats, and neat cattle, excluding animals of burden (Gesenius). Thus, though born in a city, and bred in a settled state of society, he cultivated migratory habits, and as, from the land surrounding the city being laid under cultivation, but being comparatively sterile, (Genesis 4:12), a more extensive portion would be required for the support of the population, he was obliged to travel to a distance in quest of pastures. Necessity would compel him to remove from place to place, as new pasturage was desired, and consequently to contrive the tent, a convenient kind of light and movable habitation. This constituted the difference between him and Abel, who, though "a keeper of sheep," seems to have been stationary. Jabal was the first to commence the nomadic mode of life; and, as his example seems to have had many followers, it may be inferred, from the encouragement given to the breed of cattle, that the owners found a ready market for all the produce, whether in milk and butter, or for the purposes of clothing, not to add, perhaps, also for animal food. 'This is the nomad life which Abraham and the other patriarchs led, as do most of the Arabs at the present day-a life in which the head of a family, with his children and servants, pitches his tent on a fruitful spot, which is the particular property of no one, and when this is grazed on, moves onwards. Hitherto it would seem that the agricultural and pastoral life, in a state of greater simplicity, were united; but here begins the separation of work and calling' (Gerlach).

Verse 21

And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

Jubal the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. Jubal means "sound" or "music". [Hebrew, kinowr (H3658), a stringed instrument; `uwgaab (H5748), a reed, a musical instrument consisting of many pipes.] Though called an organ, it certainly had little or no resemblance to the modern instrument of that name; but it may be regarded as furnishing the first hint. It was probably a series of reeds of unequal length and thickness joined together, being nearly identical with the panpipe among the Greeks, or that simple instrument called a mouth-organ which is still in common use. The import of the statement in this passage is, that Jubal was the inventor of both wind and stringed instruments of music, and the art of performing on them.

Verse 22

And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.

Tubal-cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. Delitzsch remarks that the Hebrew verb must be construed as neuter, and consequently the proper translation of this clause should be, 'Tubal-cain, a hammerer or forger of every cutting instrument in brass and iron.' The meaning of the name Tubal-cain is very obscure. Gesenius and Delitzsch derive it from the Persian Tubal, earth, and the Arabic Cain, smith; while Bunsen traces it to the hieroglyphic Teb, or Tbl, which signifies dried bricks; and then earthen ore [ nªchoshet (H5178)], which in our version is rendered brass, a composite metal, invented at a period long posterior to this early age, properly denotes copper, principally as hardened and tempered, so as to be capable of being used for arms and other instruments (Exodus 26:13). 'Copper,' says Kitto, is frequently found on or near the surface of the earth; it is soft and easily malleable; and people whose instruments were only of this metal have been known to execute great works, and to have attained an advanced state of civilization. It is probable that the ancients possessed some secret in hardening copper, which has been lost since the more general use of iron threw it out for common purposes. The text itself seems to intimate that great and important discoveries in the working of metals were made by Tubal-cain, rather than that he was the first to apply them to any use. He is not, like his brothers Jabal and Jubal, called "the father" or originator of the art he taught, but "an instructor" of those that worked with it. So strong is our impression respecting the earlier use of copper, and comparatively limited employment of iron, that we would almost venture to conjecture, that Tubal-cain's researches in metallurgy, which led him to great improvements in the working of copper, also led him to the discovery of iron.' The names of the three sons of Lamech all come from a common root, signifying to flow as a river; and the embodiment of such an idea in the names given to them conveys an impression of his pride and complacency that by the inventive genius of his family the tide of worldly prosperity and distinction was rapidly flowing in the direction of his house:

`Studious they appear Of arts that polish life-inventors rare -- Unmindful of their Maker, though His Spirit Taught them; but they His gifts acknowledged none. (MILTON)

And the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah - i:e., beautiful, sweet, graceful. The introduction of her name in this connection is naturally accounted for by the fact that, in a polygamous family, she was the full sister of Tubal-cain. But the Jewish Rabbis subjoin this additional reason, that she was associated with him in the practical application of his art by the introduction of weaving, so that she supplied the materials for clothing, while Tubal-cain invented metallic ornaments of various kinds for dress. The occurrence of her name in this genealogical list is somewhat remarkable; and as no female in Seth's line is mentioned, the particular notice here taken of the wives as well as the daughter of Lamech, corroborates an observation previously made, that female influence was at this period acquiring an ascendancy which might have contributed to the progress of civilization and refinement, had it not been for the introduction of the unnatural and demoralizing influence of polygamy. Thus, early crept in a canker into the constitution of the domestic relation:

`The only bliss Of paradise that has survived the fall.'

Verse 23

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.

Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah. The passage which follows is poetical, as is evident from the use of certain forms of expression in the original, as well as from the parallelistic strophes, which are a characteristic of Hebrew poetry. The insertion of such a rhapsody, which apparently contains neither doctrine nor fact worthy of historical preservation, has greatly puzzled commentators. But as it is the most ancient piece of poetical composition in the world, perhaps this primitive inartificial chant was intended to prove that Lamech was the father of poetry, as his sons were the founders or inventors of other arts. Whether it comprised the whole effusion, or is merely the fragment of a longer poem, it is impossible to ascertain, but its transmission to the times of Moses may be accounted for, if we accept the tradition that Naamah, the daughter of Lamech, became the wife of Ham, through whom, or his son Canaan, the respective ancestors of the Egyptians and Canaanites, it was preserved, until it was afterward embodied in the popular minstrelsy of both countries. The precise import of it has been a subject of various conjectures. Some consider the language of Lamech to have originated in a fear of punishment for his polygamy, and to have been the substance of a reply to his wives, who had been expressing their apprehensions lest he should be involved in trouble or danger by his daring innovation on the established usage of society. 'Have I slain a man to my wounding, or a young man to my hurt? (My offence is trivial compared to the crime of murder.) If, then, God would avenge Cain sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.' But the connection of this poem with the preceding narrative suggests a different meaning; and as the historian had already mentioned the polygamy of Lamech, he proceeds to develop another feature of this man's character as a self-confident, violent, and lawless chief:

`Ye wives of Lamech, hear my voice And give attention to my word; A man I slew, because he wounded me; A young man, because he assaulted me; If, indeed, Cain be avenged seven times,

Then Lamech seventy times seven.'

Since a difference of opinion exists among interpreters whether the verb in the third line is to be taken as a preterite, killed, or a future, I will slay, it cannot be determined whether the speaker was commemorating an actual occurrence, or merely stating what he would do in a possible contingency. Our translators agree with the Septuagint, the Syriac, and the Vulgate versions in considering that Lamech had already avenged himself on a young Cainite who had wounded him, and that this speech was an apology, because the homicidal act, which he explained was perfectly justifiable, having been committed in self-defense. Considering the parallelism, which repeats the same idea in two consecutive lines, there is only one murder spoken of, and not two, as some have erroneously supposed. But most of the old commentators, such as Calvin, LeClerc, etc., as well as all the more recent ones, Kiel, Delitzsch, Ewald, regard the speech of Lamech as an outburst of proud and presumptuous self-confidence-the boast of a bold, bad man, elated with the possession of arms, and believing that with such formidable weapons as his son had invented, he could defy all the world to oppose him in whatever courses he chose to follow-a vaunting menace that he could inflict that summary vengeance which God did not deem it expedient in Cain's case to permit, and that if any should assail him, or do him the slightest injury, the offender would expiate his temerity by an instant and inevitable death.

Short or fragmentary as it is, it affords unmistakable evidence of the wild ferocity of the speaker, and may receive interesting illustration from the pictures which the classic fabulists have drawn of the lawless schemes, the atheistic defiance, and the Titanic audacity of the antediluvian chiefs. Schlegel ('Philosophy of History') takes a peculiar view of this enigmatical fragment of antediluvian poetry. He considers it as referring to an actual occurrence-the effusion of the blood of a youth, not, however, done by Lamech in self-defense, but as a sacrifice, 'indicating that human sacrifices, especially the immolation of youths, which became so frequent and striking a custom of antiquity, had their origin among the race of Cain, deeply imbued even at that early period with appalling errors; and that unhappy delusion originating in a faint tradition of the guilt of their ancestor, a confused anticipation of a real necessity, and of a future reality, contributed to the institution of these sacrifices.

Thus, Lamech, to whom the introduction of polygamy is generally ascribed, was, probably, also the introducer of human sacrifices.' Thus ends the account of the Cainites, whose genealogical roll is brought down only to the seventh generation; and the reason why it stops here is, that in consequence of the intermarriages which now began to take place, they ceased to be a distinct family long before the flood.

Verse 24

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 25

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.

Called his name Seth - or Sheth; i:e., compensation, being derived from a verb signifying to place or replace.

For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. In the bestowment of this name, Eve was not prompted by her own feelings, because her words apparently refer to some divine intimation which she had received, that Seth was to be the heir of the promise-an intimation similar to that which the oracle made to Rebecca (Genesis 25:23), and well calculated to dissipate the despondency and revive the hopes of the parents, who, as may be imagined, had been greatly dejected by their double bereavement the death of Abel and the banishment of Cain.' Hence, Delitzsch calls him a second, Abel, while Ewald assigns to this name the import of seedling or 'germ' - i:e., of the promise.

The occurrence of the name "God" ( 'Elohiym (H430)) rather than "Lord" ( Yahweh (H3068)) in this passage has occasioned a variety of conjectures, and some have even gone so far as to pronounce the whole clause as an interpolation. But this is solely in consequence of their theoretical views as to the use of the divine names, and on no just grounds of critical or manuscript authority. The difficulty is satisfactorily removed by Kiel, who says, 'what Cain (human wickedness) took from her, that has 'Elohiym (H430) (Divine Omnipotence) restored. Because of this antithesis she calls the giver "God," instead of the "Lord".' It appears that the birth of Seth took place a comparatively short time after Abel was murdered; and consequently, although six generations of Cainites are enumerated before it is announced, that event must be considered as long prior to the foundation of Cain's city and the other incidents related in the latter portion of the chapter.

Verse 26

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.

Called his name Enos - or Enosh; i:e., man, weak, frail mortal. The name was a suitable designation to be bestowed by a pious father on a son who, he believed, inherited a fallen and corrupt nature, and it exhibits a state of family feeling in striking contrast to the pride and self-confidence of the Cainites.

Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord. "Men" does not occur in the original. The verb is in the indeterminate or impersonal form, 'they began,' or 'it was begun' to call, etc. "The name," as used in Scripture, expresses the attributes of the person to whom it is applied-in fact, his being, character, works. "To call upon the name of the Lord," denotes to believe in, to trust, honour, and obey Him. Viewed in this light, the worship of the Sethites, which, besides the offering of typical sacrifices, probably consisted in praises and prayers to the Mediatorial Lord, was a solemn declaration of their faith not merely in the God of nature and providence, but also of grace. [This clause has been rendered in several different and even opposite ways, the difficulty being caused by the use of the verb chaalal (H2490), which bears these independent meanings-to bore through, to perforate or pierce, to lay open, to turn from a holy to a common use - i:e., to defile or profane, and finally, to begin.] The margin of our English Bibles reads, 'then began men to call themselves by the name of the Lord.' The Bishops' Bible (1568) has: 'then began men to make invocation in the name of the Lord:'-He having, according to their theory, revealed at that period the fact that Himself would be the Redeemer of men.

Onkelos translates the clause, 'then the children of men ceased to invoke the name of the Lord.' And some others, 'then began men to profane or blaspheme the name of the Lord.' Dr. Benisch has embodied in his new translation the view of Jewish writers, which is this, 'then it was begun to call idols by the name of the Eternal.' According to this last interpretation, which is adopted by many Christian authors also (Heidegger, Van Dale, Archbishop Tenison Selden, Raleigh, Owen's 'Boyle Lecture'), idolatry was introduced in the antediluvian world by the posterity of Cain, if not Cain himself, who, perhaps confounding the sun with the resplendent light established at the East of the primeval paradise, commenced the Zabian worship of the heavenly luminaries, designating the sun as Baal - i:e. "Lord."

A grammatical objection has been urged against such an interpretation of the passage before us, which makes it scarcely admissible (Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia,' under the article 'Noah'). Besides, it is inconceivable that Cain and his sons, of whom, in all probability, he had several before his removal to the land of Nod, however practically irreligious, yet 'living,' as has been remarked, 'so near the Fountain-head of revelation, having conversed with those who had witnessed the rise and first development of man's marvelous history, endowed with that quick, intuitive science which, in the operations of external nature, revealed to them the agency of an Invisible Spirit, and witnessing the wondrous manifestations of God's love and power, with the active ministry of his messengers of light, could fall into atheism, or any other species of speculative unbelief.' If, therefore idolatry was introduced by the Cainites, it must have been at a date posterior to the days of Enos.

Discarding this view, then, we pass to the third interpretation, which supposes that there existed an analogy between the invocation of Yahweh in the days of Enos and the establishment of the Jewish theocracy, God at that period manifesting Himself more clearly than He had previously done to the Sethites as an elect and consecrated people. The symbolical purity of that race, indicated by the distinction of animals into clean and unclean (Genesis 7:2), the name bestowed on the Sethites, "the sons of God," which was the designation afterward applied to Israel, "the presence of the Lord" in the emblem of the resplendent flame between the cherubim, and the privilege of access they enjoyed to the place where the Divine Being manifested Himself, are assumed as betokening that they were taken, in the days of Enos, into a covenant relation with God, and received a special revelation of His character as the Lord the Redeemer. But there is not a shadow of evidence to support the idea of this new and special dispensation with the Sethites. The second, or marginal rendering, which has received the sanction of many Biblical writers of note, bears that the worshippers of the true God, in an age of irreligion and rapidly increasing corruption, stood aloof entirely from their apostate contemporaries; and being distinguished by their adherence to certain rites and observances, as well as by a style of character and conduct corresponding to their religious views, were known as a separate class, who had obtained the designation of the Lord's people. In this sense the phrase, 'call themselves by the name of the Lord,' is synonymous with the expression in James 2:7, 'that holy name [ to (G3588) epikleethen (G1941) ef' (G1909) humas (G5209)] which is pronounced upon or given to you.' The interpretation adopted in the authorized version gives a natural and consistent translation of the original, from which there seems no good reason to depart; because the original words, "call upon the name of the Lord," are used in the sense they usually bear in Scripture, that of performing a solemn act of worship.

Since this clause, however, cannot mean that divine service was then for the first time celebrated, since Adam, Abel, and Seth had long before called upon the name of the Lord, it must either denote that the public worship of God had begun in the days of Enos to be attended to with greater zeal, more heart-felt devotion, and deeper solemnity by the godly portion of mankind; or it must point to the circumstance of a considerable number of Cainites, who, as a family, had long abjured all connection with the paradisiacal altar, returning to the pure faith, and being permitted to mingle with the descendants of Adam in the worship of the true God. Whichever of these various interpretations we adopt, the clause intimates that the public profession of religion had reached a crisis. Designed as an introduction to the sequel of the antediluvian history, it serves, if we adopt the last view of its import, to throw some light upon the obscure passage (Genesis 6:2) with which it seems closely connected, and which describes the ultimate issue of the union between the Sethites and the family of Cain.-It remains only to notice that the occurrence of the divine names in two consecutive verses (Genesis 4:25-26) shows the groundlessness of the theory which maintains that passages distinguished by the use of different designations for the deity were written by different authors.

Assuming this public invocation of the name of the Lord to have been begun when Enos was in the hundredth year of his age, the interval from this date to the 480th year of Noah's age comprises a period of about 1,200 years, according to the chronology of the present Hebrew text, but of nearly 1,600 years according to that of the Septuagint.

Remarks: Only three sons of the numerous progeny of Adam (Genesis 5:4) are mentioned by name; and whether the rest were consigned to oblivion from want of extraordinary incidents in the lives of any of them, the painful episode of Cain's violence to Abel, and the subsequent mission of Seth, as conservator of the true religion, are sufficiently important of themselves to suggest the reasons of their being so particularly noticed. The two events being closely connected in their bearing on the antediluvian congregation, the narrative is constructed on the principle of giving a full detail of the first as preparatory to the announcement of the second; and hence, among all the incidents that chequered the family history of the first pair, the account of one religious solemnity, with its accessories, has alone been preserved, apparently with the view of showing the grounds on which Cain was deprived of the privileges of primogeniture, and of establishing, by the divinely appointed substitution of Seth, the parentage of the future Redeemer.

Although there had not been as yet an authoritative or formal promulgation of the moral law, its obligations were written on the heart of man; and hence, in the absence of all specification of the duties of the second table, the conscience of Cain, which accused him of guilt in murdering his brother, told him also that he deserved the penalty of death for the crime. The apprehensions he expressed of falling by the hand of some blood-avenger, imply the existence of a considerable population in the world at the period of his being sentenced to banishment; and this, we can perceive, might well be the case without the necessity of resorting to the theory of a pre-Adamite race of men. Indeed, this theory, which has no basis of fact to rest upon, is totally unnecessary for any of the purposes on account of which it has been resorted to in this chapter. It could not prevent marriage with a sister in the first age; because, assuming that contemporary races of men had been created in different centers, the men of the primitive generation must of necessity have married with the female members of each first man's family, until it had increased so far as to establish a relationship with the other races at a distance.

Then, as to the foundation of the city which Cain built, it is evident that the citizens who inhabited it were his own descendants, who, at the advanced period when that community was formed, had become a numerous clan. For to suppose that it was composed of an inferior race of men, over whom Cain by his violence or talent for government had acquired the ascendant, as is done by McCausland ('Adam and the Adamites'), is inconsistent with the fear and alarm that he expressed. The blood-avengers of whom he was afraid were, perhaps, the sons of Abel (for what is to hinder us supposing, as we have done-see the note at Genesis 4:5 - that Abel was married and had a family) and the other members of Adam's family, who by that time must have been pretty numerous; because his sons and daughters, mentioned in next chapter (Genesis 5:4), may have been born before as well as after the birth of Seth; and as the latter event, which seems to have taken place soon after the death of Abel, occurred in the 130th year of Adam's age, a sufficient interval of time, whether we reckon by the Hebrew or the Septuagint chronology, had elapsed to allow the human progeny to multiply to the extent of several thousand souls.

Dr. Patrick states that he knew of two individuals in England who in eighty years had 367 descendants. Hamilton ('Pentateuch and its Assailants') mentions the offspring of President Edwards in America, who had a family meeting in January, 1852, a century after the death of their great ancestor, when it was found that their number amounted to about two thousand. 'A very simple calculation,' he adds, 'will show that from the first human pair, allowing the birth of a male only every second year, nearly three thousand persons might have sprung when alive and vigorous; and these, including the descendants of Abel, who may well be imagined disposed to resent and avenge the murder of their progenitor, might have been scattered over a considerable extent of country at the time of Abel's death, enough to account for the fears of Cain.'-The brief sketch here given of the state and habits of the Cainite family confirms the view formerly exhibited (see Remarks on Gen

2) of the original condition of man as that of a social being. The foundation of a city by the oldest son of the first man before we read of pastoral encampments, the erection of permanent houses previous to that of fragile and moveable tents, the cultivation of the soil, together with the storing of grain as seed for a future crop, the rearing of cattle for use in various ways, the rights of private property, the knowledge of iron, and the inventions made both in the useful and the fine arts, indicate a more or less advanced state of society even in the sixth generation, and completely overthrow the favourite theory of those infidel philosophers who delight in representing man as at first a hunter, and in the lowest stage of barbarism:

`When wild in woods the noble savage ran.'

With this Mosaic account of the state of the arts at so early a period, the Phoenician, Egyptian, and Greek traditions exactly correspond; because they all bear that agriculture, the raising of cattle, the arts, and metallurgy, were introduced by the first men, and in the pre-historic ages. It is not, however, a full and particular history that is contained in this chapter, of the industrial activity and resources of the antediluvian world, because no mention is made of the carpenter, the tailor, the shoe-maker, the weaver, and various other departments of labour which were undoubtedly pursued in primitive times. Such a regular and comprehensive view of the progress of society at that early period was entirely foreign to the purpose of the sacred historian. His leading design in the selection of these historical anecdotes was to record what bore favourably or perniciously on the interests of true religion; and accordingly, in noticing a few of the primeval inventors in art, it is believed that he confined himself to the mention of those only who, through the ignorance or superstition of admiring posterity, were elevated to the rank of divinities in pagan mythology.

Jubal was the Ju-baal of the Phoenicians, Jabal and Jubal the Pan and Apollo of the Greeks and Romans; Tubal-cain, or, as some write it, Tu-bal-cain = Vulcan; and Naamah, or in Greek, Nemaneo, a name of Athene = Minerva (Bunsen). To the people whose religious instruction Moses had more immediately in view, those objects of Pagan worship were well known, and his enumeration of their names in the genealogy of the Cainite family served the important purpose of perpetuating the memory of their human origin, as well as of their total want of any title to the divine honours that were paid to them. 'Primitive and what we call universal history,' says Schlegel, 'does not properly commence with the first man, his creation, or ulterior destiny, but with Cain-the fratricide and curse of Cain. The preceding part of the sacred narrative regards, if we may so speak, only the private life of Adam, which, however, will always retain a deep significancy for all the descendants of the first progenitor. The origin of discord in man, arising from his disobedience to God, and the transmission of that mischief to all ages and all generations is, indeed, the first historical fact; but on account of its universality, it forms at the same time a psychological phenomenon; and while, in this first section of sacred history, everything points and refers to the mysteries of religion, the fratricide of Cain, on the other hand, and the flight of that restless criminal to eastern Asia, are the first events and circumstances which properly belong to the province of history.

Under two different forms doth sacred tradition reveal to us the primitive world; or, in other words, there are two grand conditions of humanity which fill the records of primitive history. On the one hand, we see a race, lovers of peace, revering God, blessed with long life, which they spend in patriarchal simplicity and innocence, and still no strangers to deeper science, especially in all that relates to sacred tradition and inward contemplation, and transmitting their science in the old or symbolic history, if we may believe the Sagas of Gentile nations, "on the columns of Seth," signifying, no doubt, in the language of remote antiquity, very ancient monuments, and, as it were, the stony records of sacred tradition. On the other hand, we behold the race of Cain, represented from its origin as one attached to the arts, versed in the use of metals, disinclined to peace, and addicted to habits of warfare and violence; active, energetic, and inventive; but irreligious and sensual, proud, wicked, and violent. This discord, arising from the opposition of feelings and principles between two religious parties, under far other forms than anything we witness; this hostile struggle between the two great divisions of the human race, forms the whole tenor of primitive history.' It was in one word, a contest between religion and impiety, conducted, however, on the mighty scale of the primitive world, and with all those gigantic powers which the first men possessed>.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/genesis-4.html. 1871-8.
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