Chapter 4: Cain and Abel

Yes, I realize I promised an update back in May, but the truth of the matter is that I’ve been severely sidetracked, and just haven’t had time to blog about my readings lately. So this is the part where I catch back up 🙂 I’ve read 13 more chapters of Genesis since my last post (yeah, I’m way behind my 1-year goal, I know), so let’s start back up and get a move on…

Genesis 4: Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. Gen 4:1-2 shows that Cain was born first, then Abel.

Cain was a worker of the ground and Abel a keeper of the sheep.

Gen 4:3-5 says that in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of fruit from the land. And Abel also brought an offering of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions, and God had favor for Abel’s offering, but not for Cain’s offering.

I believe this ties into the idea of putting God first and making him a priority, showing Him that he deserves the absolute best we have to offer. Where Cain merely brought an offering of fruit to the Lord, Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. Considering that fruit can be quickly grown and is a renewable resource and that the firstborn of a flock is of limited availability, this verse shows that consideration was made by Abel when producing an offering; he gave not only something of more monetary and intrinsic value than Cain’s offering, but he gave the Lord the prime cut, so to speak. This seems to tie into tithing as well. By taking our tithe off the top of our income; giving back to the Lord before we give anything to ourselves, we show that God is a priority above all else.

So, as a result God showed favor for Abel and his offering, but not for Cain’s offering.

Cain became angry, so God said to Cain “Why are you angry? If you do well, will you not be accepted? If you don’t do well, sin is waiting for you, but you must conquer it.” God is basically saying to Cain that he has no reason to be angry – it’s his responsibility to do well in the eyes of God, and if he does then God will show favor for him. If he does not do well in the eyes of God; if he does not put God first, he leaves himself vulnerable to sin, and therefore is left fighting to overcome it.

Despite God’s warning, Cain goes to talk to Abel in the field and rises against him, killing him (Gen 4:8)

in Gen 4:9-10 God asks Cain “where is Abel your brother?” and Cain responds “I do not know; am I my brothers keeper?” But God says “What have you done? His blood cries to me.”

God then curses Cain from the ground that received his brother’s blood. God commands “It shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain responds to the LORD “My punishment is more than I can bear. You have driven me away from the ground and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me. (Gen 4:13-14)” and God says “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD marked Cain to protect him against any who should want to attack him. This goes back to my point made in the story of Eden…although man had risen up and disobeyed God’s instruction, God still offers mercy through his punishments. Cain was outcast and cursed, but God sent him away with his protection. It’s important to me to believe in a God who is just in punishing those who disobey, and those who do wrong (because, in all honesty, people don’t learn without retribution.), but it’s just as important to believe in a God who will never turn his back on you.

So why does Cain get a guarantee from God that he will not be killed, after he, himself, just killed his brother? That’s something I wonder myself…and my best interpretation is that the punishment God had for Cain was between the two of them, and no one else was going to be allowed to punish Cain for his wrongdoings. One crime against God, one punishment from God. What do you guys think?

Cain left the land and settled in Nod, east of Eden. Where he and his wife (not previously mentioned or named) bore a son, Enoch. When Cain built a city on the land, he named the city after his son, Enoch.

Enoch fathered Irad.
Irad fathered Mehujael
Mehujael fathered Methushael
Methushael fathered Lamech

Lamech took two wives, Adah and Zillah. Adah bore Jabal and Jubal. Zillah bore Tubal-cain and a sister Naamah.

Gen 4:23 Lamech says to his wives that he has killed a man for wounding him; a young man for striking him. And in 4:24 he says “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-seven fold.”  — I have to confess that this verse confuses me a great deal. There’s the consideration that Lamech was a wicked man who delighted in having multiple wives to whom he spoke with condescension. This is lightly demonstrated in Gen 4:23 when he says to his wives “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say.” The context seems to indicate a command to listen rather than a plea for understanding from his wives. This also shows a great deal of egotism as he refers to them as “you wives of Lamech,” which could play into the fact that perhaps Lamech is bragging in verse 4:24 and taking delight in his murder by saying that his was far more valiant than Cain’s, and therefore his own demise is deserving of 11 times more vengeance than what God swore upon anyone who struck down Cain. But then there’s the consideration that perhaps Lamech felt remorse for his actions and was saying that he, himself, deserved 11x the punishment that God swore upon the person who struck down Cain. I tend to accept the first interpretation, but would love to know what you guys think.

Genesis 4 ends with Adam and Eve bearing a son, Seth. Eve says “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” which works into the belief that God is a provider and nurturer. Seth goes on to father Enosh, and at that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD (Gen 4:26).

Conclusion: While we are given free will, sin is waiting for us unless we put God first in everything we do. In the event that we falter, it is up to us to rise against and resist sin in order to get back on track. If we let sin consume us, it has nasty, long-lasting repercussions that affect not only those around us, but the generations that follow as well.

Next: Chapter 5 – the descendants of Adam
Chapter 5 shows the timeline of Biblical history that proves to age the world. There’s a lot of science vs. religion debate on this topic, which I fully intend to address 🙂

 

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